Thursday, February 8, 2007

Pulling the trigger

Local papers have been quiet lately on the Big Question on everyone's minds: when are the Oilers going to make a deal? Either as buyers or sellers, the Oilers will have to straighten out this freakishly unbalanced team, and they have until the February 27th trade deadline to do it. Well, a CP story today sheds some light on Kevin Lowe's thinking:

"If you look over our recent history, there's been years when people counted us out," said Lowe, who added Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov at the 2006 deadline on the way to the Stanley Cup final. "They just assumed we'd be sellers and we ended up being buyers. I'm still optimistic we'll be in that mode. I've been operating on that basis for some weeks trying to be prepared, but it's still too early to tell."
Is this team a rental player or two away from making a playoff push? Maybe, if they're pretty good defenceman. Then again, if they were any good, they'd likely be UFAs that came at the expense of a decent roster player and a high round pick. Problem being, this team hasn't played well for almost three months and it seems like it'd be a waste - in the tradition of the New York Rangers of Toronto Maple Leafs - to mortgage the future on an early playoff exit. I guess that's why I have such a sports boner for restricted free agent Joni Pitkanen - he suits our needs and the Oilers would have a pretty good shot of re-signing him beyond this season. However, that doesn't mean he's available. Bobby Clarke lurks in the shadows of Flyers management, but sadly for the Oilers he isn't the trigger man in the GM's office anymore.

Compounding matters, when I flip through "team needs" in my latest copy The Hockey News (a drunken subscription purchase, I swear), half of the league is looking for impact, puck-moving defenceman. So, even though the lack of trade buzz creates a meaningless hole in my existence, I can see why Kevin Lowe hasn't made a trade yet. These are tough times for Oilers fans, tough times that began somewhere around five days after Game 7 of the 2006 playoffs (Ales Hemsky's six year deal being the lone glittering gem of off-season acquisitions). Standing on top of the High Level Bridge, I look skyward and cry out to the Hockey Gods, "Let my people go!"

Worst case scenario: The Oilers blow a first round pick and Raffi Torres on Brad Stuart (who later re-signs with Anaheim), and, riding the gas fumes of an exhausted Dwayne Roloson, lose the last playoff spot to Phoenix by one point. Then when MacTavish is fired, EIG hires Mark Messier based on his "leadership" to instill a sense of accountability in the dressing room. In the off season, Ryan Smyth signs with Anaheim, playing on the first line with Teemu Selanne and Andy MacDonald. The Oilers gas the next season, but not enough to get a top round pick. In June of 2008, Super Oilers fan Mike Winters is found in a closet hanged by his own belt, with his pants down, in a death mercifully attributed to the "Oilers sucking" in the Edmonton Journal.

The first step in avoiding this grim fate is a win tomorrow night against the Chicago Blackhawks. Anything less and I'll start watching the Raptors.


Andy Grabia said...

I think they play the Hawks tomorrow, brother, but I'm glad you got your game face on.

"but it's still too early to tell..."

What the hell is he talking about? Is he watching a different team than the rest of us? Because I'd like to watch the "Oilers that are cruising into the playoffs" channel that he's watching each and every night. Maybe Gene Principe is funny on it, too.

mike w said...

>I think they play the Hawks tomorrow

Fixed! I was just testing you... (cough)

Garnet said...

You may wish to consider that Lowe is in fact a seller in the market, but is being coy. You know, like sometimes to lower a guy's price I pretend I want to _sell_ crack cocaine, but in reality ... wait, forget I said anything.

Anonymous said...

Smyth ends his career in Toronto in exchange for Tucker!

Andy Grabia said...

Smyth ends his career in Toronto in exchange for Tucker!

People in Edmonton not from the maritimes would lose it. That is a sure fire way for Lowe to get his ass canned.

The Puck Stops Here said...

The Oilers blow a first round pick and Raffi Torres on Brad Stuart (who later re-signs with Anaheim)

Wouldn't he be RE-signing with San Jose?

mike w said...

technically, no. No wait, I was drunk. Er, AARHGAHHH@!

Doug said...

Good post, except that I'd peg the start of the tough times about a week earlier than you do.

Katie O'D said...

Do you think Lowe is waiting for other teams to start sucking? The Bruins are real close to losing hope for a playoff spot. Maybe he thinks that he can get Stuart easier if they're out of it. And if that's not the case then his behavior is completely irrational and he might be doing meth.