Saturday, July 29, 2006

More hockey chunklets

As you may have noticed, there's not so much happening out there in these dog days of summer. Still, a couple interesting things have lodged themselves in my eyes as I dutifully scoured the internet this morning, looking for something — anything — to write about a couple days after the fact to remind our five or six readers that we haven't done the normal thing and started to go outside and enjoy the weather. AND SO:

• Saw this on at work last night, but apparently the Ducks have gone all coo-coo caa-caa and decided that d-man Vitali Vishnevski, a young, prickly defensive standout and arguably one of the league's best open-ice hitters, is somehow not worth his arbitration award of a one-year, US$1.55-million contract, and are rumoured to be shopping him. Personally, I just don't see how this could be true, for reasons implied above. Though his career -11 doesn't really support the claim, I've always been of the mind that this guy is a stud on the blueline, and I see no possible reason for Burke to think otherwise, unless he's unreasonably displeased with his lack of production. (According to Earl Sleek, his lone goal last season was the result of a "distracted St. Louis Blue" depositing the puck in his own net.)

Sure he sometimes puts himself out of position looking for that big hit, but overall, he seems to me like a guy worth keeping around for a US$440,000 raise. I know the Ducks are close to the cap with US$39.5-mil committed so far and a Bryzgalov yet to sign, but really, what did they think Vishnevski was going to get if he went to arbitration? Anyhow, the news naturally has our eternally hopeful Lowetide salivating all over his Stan Weir jersey, and while I agree that Vishnevski would be a great addition to our top four, I can't help but think that Lowe is done dealing with Anaheim.

• And speaking of Lowetide (apparently, the only blog I read anymore — OTHER THAN OURS, OF COURSE), Lain posted a rumour today that the Oilers are fairly close to signing winger Petr Sykora, with a price tag of US$2.85-million being bandied about for a year's service.

If it's true, I'm not sure how I feel about this. While the guy has been scoring around 20 goals and 50 points for the last five years, he's never come close to matching his 35-goal, 81-point breakout year with Arnott and Elias on the Devils' top line, and I'm not sure what he's supposed to bring to the Oilers, or indeed where he would fit. With Hemsky and Lupul holding the top two spots, Lowetide had Sykora inserted on the third line with Reasoner and Moreau. As intriguing as it would be to see how a woefully underrated playmaking centre like Reasoner would respond to a linemate of Sykora's offensive talents, dropping him in checking line duty might be a mistake, considering how much Sykora sucked on Anaheim because of his limited role. Sykora might make a good utility guy, but it seems like you're more likely to get your money's worth by giving him top-two minutes.

Anyhow, he could be worth a flyer, but I think his price makes this a gamble. Or maybe Lowe's just piling up assets in the hopes he can flip for a decent defenceman closer to the deadline. (Personally, I think Lowe might actually be considering just going with his defensive squad as it stands, unsettling though that may be. Bear in mind this is the guy who had to be absolutely convinced that Conkannen and Morrison couldn't hack it before he swung a deal for decent goaltending. I can totally see him doing the same thing with our blueline.)

• Finally, this is apropos of nothing, but I had a dream last night that Toronto, in the eternal quest to find someone would could "play with Sundin," traded a few picks to the New Jersey Devils to bring back Alexander Mogilny and his US$3.5-million salary. This was so eerily close to something that I could see JFJ actually considering that I had to comb through my usual news sites when I got up to convince myself it wasn't true. Leaf fans, your GM is an idiot even in my dreams. Just thought you'd like to know.


MikeP said...

While I agree that Conkkanen blew up big time, when was the last time Lowe had such a gaffe with a defenceman?

He got attacked for giving up Brewer, Lynch, and Woywitka even for Pronger, but that one turned out damn well in the end. Anything at all for Lynch and Woy after last season would be a miracle.

He got rid of Poti when the getting rid of was good, picked Staios out of the refuse pile, dumped Semenov before he was worthless... he's doing ok by the blueline. I didn't (and don't) trust the Roloson signing merely because Lowe has yet to do much right with goalies, but if Lowe says a dman is (or is not) the real goods, I trust him explicitly.

lowetide said...

I have very little doubt that Smid is going to be a terrific D or that Hejda can pull down enough minutes to be the new Cross or Ulanov.

The top 4D is my concern. MacT and Lowe must be betting that MAB can play a season four inches taller than he is and that no one will get hurt.

It's a stretch imo.

Pleasure Motors said...

Uh, also, and I want to mention this only because no one else has yet, but do you remember how shaky Jason Smith was when he wasn't playing with Chris Pronger? For whatever reason, maybe his youth, Bergeron in the four slot isn't the one I'm entirely worried about (though him sans Pronger is certainly scary as well). Having the non-Pronger-partner Jason Smith as our number one defenceman though? I can already see myself swearing and disgustedly draining beer in mid-November while two of our three defensive pairings give up odd-man rushes like this was a peewee practice.

When is it you're expecting Lowe to make a trade, Lowetide?

lowetide said...

I think they could make a deal at any time. Hey I'm a very positive person but come on here, we've got three NHL defenders, a specialist in Bergeron and guys who could adjust quickly or fall on their ass.

Odds are some will make it and others won't, but when the difference between 7th and 10th is the wink of an eye the Oilers need to have more established defensemen.

Add to that the fact that Lowe isnt going to leave his coach out to dry...

Anonymous said...

Why do you need to dream when JFJ is an idiot in reality...I sometimes dream he wasn't our GM then I smile, and I laugh, and the sun shines bright again...then I wake up and we still have 3 D signed for 15 million and 21.75 million tied up in 4 players with Sundin being the only established star... ='(

Randy in the Med Hizzo said...

When was the last time Lowe had such a gaffe with a defenceman?

Back when salary dumps were in vogue...
dumping Janni Niinimaa doomed the Oilers power play for two years.
Brewer had hardly turned into the KingHell defensive darling of the National team -- as advertised by the Oiler press machine. Similarly, Woywitka was an Lowe-acquired, much-puffed-up hometown boy who's actually a career AHLer.
Ulanov... while likely the hardest working Russian in the League is a five defenceman at best. Don't get me started on Cross.

Adamn! said...

how can you say (at this point anyway) that Woywitka is a "career AHLer"? Even forgetting that he's supposed to be a blue-chip prospect (which is why St. Louis agreed to take him), you can't judge him so early on in his career. There's a difference between a 21-year-old coming up through the system and a washed-up 36-year-old who only has a handful of NHL games under his belt, even though they might be playing in the same league at one point...

MikeP said...

randy, yup, no arguments - he acquired Woy as a bluechipper, but Woy didn't pan out. So he dumped him while his value was high; ditto Brewer and Lynch.

Janne's hardly lit up Long Island since the trade either. Maybe he would have done better if he'd stayed in Edmonton, but smart money says otherwise.

Randy in the Med Hizzo said...

Yeah, I was a little hard on Woywitka, but it stems from the Comrie trade... I get the feeling that Lowe wanted to get a Northern Albertan kid coming the other way to yet again rub Comrie's face in it. Like he did all night long during the Grant Fuhr jersey retirement night.
Then Woy got puffed up, as did the entire Oilers farm system, until people actually got to see the Road Runners stink it up. Sigh.