Friday, July 23, 2010

PAULLY SAYS: Whats a Lou to do?

JEFF SAYS: Paul Aumack is now a contributing member the Oil Patch since things are getting a little busy for me. The longtime Oilers fan, who lives in sunny Kamloops, B.C., will write about anything and everything that's copper and blue. Enjoy: 

After the euphoria about hearing my good friend, Jeff Cummings, getting a new job wear off, we had a little talk about the NHL canceling the contract of Ilya Kovalchuk.

We both acknowledged the hypocrisy of the NHL when there are other contracts as well that make a mockery of the CBA, Marian Hossa with Chicago, Roberto Luongo with Vancouver, and who can forget "my wife hates this town" Chris ****'n Pronger with Philadelphia.

Teams front load the contracts in the productive years of their players and after the age of 35 the hit against the salary cap drops significantly.

If the player retires(after the age of 35) their salary does not count against the cap thereby freeing the team.

Why do I bring this up? While I was musing I realized maybe Lou Lamoriello, circumvented the cap for a reason. This is what he said after the contract had been nullified by the NHL:

"We should not have these" he said to the press, "but they are legal under the CBA."

When asked why they made the deal, the GM blamed his boss. "You would have to speak to ownership about that", he replied.

Lou has stated from the beginning he did not like the contracts being signed that insidiously went against the CBA even though they are legal. Did he do it on purpose to show the NHL how foolish this loophole has become?

To me this man has been one of the best general managers since the 90's. He knows the ins and outs of the CBA(anybody remember his brilliance in ridding himself of Vladimir Malakhov) and always has a plan up his sleeve so to say. Should be interesting to say the least what comes about from this mess.

Update from Lou:

"We are extremely disappointed that the NHL has decided to reject the contract of Ilya Kovalchuk. The contract complies with the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We will have no further comment until the process outlined in the CBA is complete.

Lou always keeps us guessing doesn't he?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SHIT-TASTIC: Too little, too late for NHL to quash salary loophole

Put on your shit-kickers, Gary Bettman, because there’s a shit-storm a comin’.

And that shit-storm could become a massive shit-hurricane by the time collective bargaining agreement expires in 2011. It’s enough to make residents at Mr. Lahey’s Sunnyvale Trailer Park tremble.

At a time when every hockey pundit out there is enjoying his or her summer vacations, the NHL drops a bombshell by quashing Ilya Kovalchuk’s crazy 17-year, $102-million contract with the New Jersey Devils because it circumvents the salary cap.

Even TSN’s Bob McKenzie was enjoying his time off tweeting photos from a Bon Jovi/Kid Rock concert tonight. Unbelievable.

According to the NHL, the last five years of Kovalchuk’s contract was the obvious deal breaker. Everyone knows Kovalchuk will retire in the last five years of the contract, which will see him earning $500,000 a season.

Kovalchuck will be 44 by the time the contract expires — the same contract Devils GM Lou Lamoriello admitted will screw the league during a press conference today.

Yep, it’s a pretty silly contract. But it’s too little, too late for Bettman to clean up the extremely shitty mess.

The shit-pile has been accumulating ever since the league allowed the New York Islanders to sign Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, $67.5 million contact back in 2006.

Roughly four years later, NHL owners and GMs are taking advantage of a loophole by offering up shitloads of front-loaded salaries.

And Kovalchuk’s contract is no different than Chris Pronger’s deal he signed with Philadelphia last summer, or Marian Hossa’s in Chicago. Where was the NHL then?

Pronger’s seven-year extension — worth $35-million — will see him earning $525,000 in the final two seasons on the contract. Hossa will earn $1 million or less during the final four years of his 12-year, $62 million contract.

And here’s an interesting thought: what’s to stop Steve Tambellini from signing Taylor Hall to a 25-year, front-loaded contract after his third season.

Yup, things are going to become even shittier.

FACING OFF: Madden or Wellwood could be good fits

The Oilers might be a much younger and somewhat grittier team with the deals Steve Tambellini has swung in recent weeks, but he needs to track someone down to play centre.

The Oilers still have problem down the middle with the lack of reliable centremen, especially when it comes to special teams and the third and fourth lines.

Newly acquired Colin Fraser was 47.8 per cent (376 out of 787) on the faceoff circle two seasons ago with Chicago and he is the right pick-up for the Oilers. Fraser does offer a lot of defensive upside, which is why he’s ideal for the team’s second penalty killing unit.

And then there’s obviously Shawn Horcoff who won 53.9 per cent of his faceoffs back in 2008-09, but he slid a bit last season mostly because of a bad shoulder.

Horcoff was 46.4 per cent (621 out of 1337) on the circle and that’s slightly less than Sam Gagner (336 out of 709) and Ryan Potulny (389 out of 820) who were both 47.4 per cent on the dot.

As far as the stats are concerned, the Oilers are in desperate need of a reliable centreman.

And if Tambellini is looking to make another splash this summer, it might not be a bad idea to pick up John Madden to a Mike Comrie-like contract.

The 37-year-old made $2.75 million with the Blackhawks last season, and he could sign to an extremely cheaper contract based on his age.

Adding Madden, who scored 23 points and had a winning faceoff percentage of 53 last season, could also provide some much-needed leadership to a very youthful hockey team.

But if Tambellini is looking long term, there’s also Kyle Wellwood who was a reliable faceoff guy for the Canucks at 53.8 per cent.

The 27-year-old scored 14 goals and 11 assists in 75 games last season, and given his past history with his lack of conditioning, Wellwood could agree to a longer contract somewhere around the $1.5-million mark.

Wellwood is a risk, but he’s an ideal third-line centreman who doesn’t take a lot of dumb penalties.


A team that wins in the NHL must consistently win faceoffs, as far as last season’s stats are concerned.

The West Division-leading San Jose Sharks had the best faceoff team in the league at 55.6 per cent. Boston was second at 52.6, followed by the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks at 52.4.

The worst faceoff team was the worst team in the NHL last season. The Edmonton Oilers were dead last at 46.4 per cent, followed by the Colorado Avalanche at 47.7, and the Calgary Flames at 48 per cent.

Monday, July 5, 2010

GETTING IT DONE: Khabby's doctor hands out bad news, Tambo gets a B

It appears signing Nikolai Khabibulin last year was as dumb as my two-week hiatus from blogging recently.

Tyler Dellow, a blogger for, apparently scrounged up an interesting find while digging through documents after documents filed in the goaltender’s DUI case.

That find: a letter dated back on May 24 from his doctor who says Khabibulin is still under “activity restrictions” after a January surgery to repair a lumbar disc herniation and a weak right leg.

“We hope for a full recovery, but that has not occurred at this time,” wrote Dr. Robert Watkins in the letter.

“He is making progress and we will reevaluate his condition in June 2010.”

So in other words, that’s 12 weeks.  That’s more than half the time longer than expected for his recovery.

Meanwhile, Khabibulin’s cap hit is $3.75 million every year until the end of the 2013-2014 season, according to

If the Oilers want to hold on to Devan Dubnyk and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers one more season, it might not be a bad idea. Both are restricted free agents.


Steve Tambellini has accomplished a lot since drafting Taylor Hall, an 18-year-old who was ranked No. 2 by NHL Central Scouting.

I’m already over the decision because Hall is fast and he can put some excitement back into Oilers hockey.

But without getting too off topic, Tambellini has done a good job with free agency, but I wouldn’t call it stellar.

The Oilers are done with Ethan Moreau, Patrick O’Sullivan, Robert Nilsson, Marc Pouliot, Ryan Potulny and Riley Nash.

But who is in is what’s interesting and cheap. Picking up D-man Kurtis Foster for $1.8 million per season for two years was a smart move.  Getting Colin Fraser to a $825,000 per season contract will fix the hole on centre in the Oilers’ fourth line.

Brining back Steve MacIntyre was also a good move — a good idea to protect “the kids.”

On the other hand, reportedly offering $7 million over four years for Derek Boogaard was a tad ridiculous.

And not getting rid of Sheldon Souray at the draft is something that should affect his post-season grade from the Oil Patch.

Hopefully, Souray might realize he’s stuck in Edmonton and he will have to play and condition much harder to get out of Alberta’s capital. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TAMBO TUESDAY: Renney is head coach a year earlier and the writing is on the wall for Hall

Didn’t see that coming.

On top of a new surprising coaching change for the Edmonton Oilers, the other news of the day was a deal between the Florida Panthers and the Boston Bruins

It was a move saw Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell for defenceman Dennis Wideman and Boston’s coveted 15th pick.

Earlier, I suggested the Oilers should and must get Boston’s 15th pick if they ever swapped for first and second. I guess I can throw that out the window.

There is, most likely, something that can be read from this trade. Horton is an upstart winger who has scored 20 or more goals in each of his last five seasons in the NHL.

And Taylor Hall is a winger, so something tells me general manager Dale Tallon is beginning to build his team for a guy like Tyler Seguin, a natural centreman.

Steve Tambellini also told reporters today that he knew that deal was going to happen after talking with Tallon.

So now, it appears, a hat has been tipped for the Oilers to pick Hall on Friday.


The Oilers have also made its third coaching change in three seasons — it was expected, but it was a year too early.  

Pat Quinn will take on a senior advisor role with the Edmonton Oilers while Tom Renney will take his place behind the bench.

Quinn was signed for two seasons as head coach of the Oilers and it was expected he would take on a more managerial role after that contract expired.

What I don’t get, and what a lot of fans probably don’t understand, is why make the coaching move now? Steve Tambellini was too vague on why the move was made a year early.

“We must have the right people in the right spots going forward,” said Tambellini during today’s news conference.

By the way, Renney has a lot of work to do. In five seasons coaching the Rangers, Renney’s team failed to make the playoffs twice and the crew never advanced to the second round.

And After finishing dead last as assistant with the Oilers, Renney says he will need to create a new attitude within the dressing room. That will be a tough task. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

OUTSIDE THE PATCH: Shut the hell up, Murray

Probably the worst thing to ever happen to the Ottawa Senators is, without a doubt, promoting Bryan Murray to the team’s general manager.

The guy can’t keep is stuttering lips shut, and because of that, some fans in Edmonton are more than likely suffering from a bad case of déjà vu going into the draft and free agency.

Fans have been put through a giant soap opera with the whole Dany Heatley saga last season thanks to Murray who dangled the disgruntled star forward to Steve Tambellini in exchange for Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid.

Back then it was a great deal and fans were buzzing about it. That, however, obviously came to a crashing halt thanks to Heatley who wanted nothing to do with Edmonton.

Looking back, I can’t say I blame Heatley for the mess. He was a player who did have a no-trade clause on his contract. Edmonton wasn’t on his list.

Murray told reporters he wanted to get a deal done of before July 1 and “the Oilers had the best offer on the table.” I’d say that was a pretty arrogant move on Murray’s part since he obviously defied Heatley’s no-trade clause.

Now Murray is feeding the media frenzy in Ottawa again by scrumming with reporters about the team’s star centre, Jason Spezza.

“He didn’t come in and say ‘I have to be traded,’” Murray said, explaining about his meeting with the forward who was frustrated after the team’s first round loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“He said he wouldn’t object to one. I said, ‘Well, unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. You’ve signed a long-term contract. We’ve committed to you. You’ve committed to us. We will look at everything that’s going on to help out hockey team, but I’m not going to make a bad trade.”

Comments like this from Murray make my blood boil, especially after last summer’s fiasco with Healtey.

And I don’t think there is a GM in the entire league that hangs out their own dirty laundry in front of the media like Murray.

Oh, and it gets better.

He talked about Anton Volchenkov who, apparently doesn’t want to re-sign in Ottawa and because of that, Murray is interested in a defenceman.

There’s been some talk that Murray has some interest in making a move for Sheldon Souray.

Let’s just hope Murray stays quiet this time around.

Friday, June 18, 2010

FORTUITOUS FRIDAY: Pisani, Seguin, Daum and a hankerin’ for some heroin beer

It’s quiet, too quiet as far as Fernando Pisani’s agent is concerned.

Pisani, who made $2.5 million this season, is set to reach free agency after July 1 and so far, that could happen since Oilers brass have not talked to him, reports Jim Matheson with the Edmonton Journal.

Pisani’s agent, Mark Witken, told the newspaper he’s also still waiting for a call.

Obviously, Pisani will have to agree to a pay cut, like somewhere around $1.3 million or less. It’s too bad since he was prolific in the 2006 NHL playoffs by scoring game winning goals.
He’s also battled through bad injuries and struggled through a possible career-ender: ulcerative colitis. You have to respect a player like that.

Unfortunately, if Pisani doesn’t bite on the pay cut, he’s gone.

Others who will probably hit free agency include Jason Strudwick, Aaron Johnson, Mike Comrie and Ryan Stone.

I’d expect Comrie will stay in Edmonton, or at least offered a deal, given he was a strong, two-way player when he was healthy. And the same can be said for Stone.

When it comes to the blueline, Steve Tambellini could be looking to others in the free agent market for some “minor” tweaking.

By the way, Tambo will more than likely begin to negotiate with the mentioned players after the draft since he will be making a deal or a few deals in Los Angeles next weekend.


During a NCAA recruit-like tour of Edmonton Thursday, Tyler Seguin says it would be a “win-win” situation if the Oilers drafted him.

Seguin appeared to be really savvy when it came to answering questions from the media, and that’s something surprising considering he’s only 18.

And Hall was the same way during his tour of the city last week.

Tambellini and company do have a tough decision to make, but those who read this blog already know how I feel about who the Oilers should draft.


Tambellini says he’s getting a flood of calls from teams interested in Edmonton’s top pick, and that includes Flordia GM Dale Tallon. Florida is rumoured to be offering up Nathon Horton and the Panthers do have the third overall pick. All I can say is good luck with that bad deal.

Letting go Rob Daum this week was also bad for the Oilers considering he coached an AHL franchise without Devon Dubnyk, or most of last season without Taylor Chorney, Theo Peckham and Ryan Potulny. Daum deserves to be in the NHL and I’m betting he will be back somewhere in the league in three to four years.

And here’s a thought: Oiler fans paid big bucks to watch a last place team all season long at Rexall Place, and that includes dropping $8 for a plastic cup of beer. How about cutting a buck or two from the current beer cost next season to say, “thank you fans”?