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.