HTR Oilers Workshop: WWKLD?

I don’t know if HTR members have the patience (or the attention span) for this sort of thing but… How about a little speculation workshop? From time to time I like to ask myself What Would Kevin Lowe Do? (I try to keep this to hockey matters but sometimes I can’t help myself) So now the question for you is what would you do to build the 2003-04 Edmonton Oilers?I went to the NHLPA website the other day to check on some salaries when I was reminded that the Oilers’ lineup is extremely fluid these days. They only have four returning forwards, six returning d-men and one returning goalie. Currently the Oilers are only on the hook for $15.84 million in salaries when they typically spend between $28-30 million per year.

I’ll give you the depth chart, the RFA’s, and the rookies of note and you can fill in the blanks. Do you re-sign vets to fill positions? Do you slot in rookies? Do you make deals? Can you do all of this while staying under budget? Just tell me which 12 forwards, 7 d-men and 2 goalies you would have on your roster and total up the damage to the owners. Suggested trades are cool, too. Just guess the RFA salaries, but be reasonable.




M. York ($2.0M) J. Chimera ($500K)

A. Hemsky ($1.1M)

R. Dvorak ($2.0M)



R. Smyth ($3.0M*) M. Comrie ($1.1M*)

E. Moreau ($1.5M*) S. Horcoff ($600K*)

F. Pisani ($350K*) M. Reasoner ($900K*)

G. Laraque ($1.4M*) B. Swanson ($400K*)

B. Isbister ($1.8M*)

* 2002-03 salary (approx.) not incl. bonuses



R. Torres ($1.0M) J. Stoll ($800K)

J. Rita ($1.0M) J. Niinimaki ($900K)

T. Salmelainen ($700K)

– rookie salaries are ‘guesstimated’



E. Brewer ($2.5M) C. Cross ($1.05M)

S. Staios ($1.1M) M. Bergeron ($410K)

A. Semenov ($700K) S. Ferguson ($550K)


J. Smith ($2.2M)

B. Allen ($700K)


D. Lynch ($650K)

J. Horacek ($500K)

– rookie salaries are ‘guesstimated’



T. Salo ($3.9M)


T. Conklin ($450K)

J. Deslauriers

– rookie salaries are ‘guesstimated’

21 Responses to HTR Oilers Workshop: WWKLD?

  1. sabres48 says:

    I dont think everyone is an edmonton oilers fan…..and so why should those who arent waste their time? Therefore…i dont think many people care about what kevin lowe is going to do.

    I mean, I sure as hell wont waste my time doing that for i team i could care less about


  2. cwthrash says:

    Not to be a complete ass, but didn’t you just waste your time in writing that?

    If you really don’t care for the team, why bother to put up anything? Unless your going for the antagonist angle, doesn’t make much sense if you think about it. Respect on the other hand can go a long way.

    I don’t really care either, but I’ve haven’t posted anything in a week and I thought this would be a good place.

  3. MossRocks says:

    Well, I guess the whole exercise is a little too involved for this group. I thought it might be a little much, but I gave it a shot anyway.

  4. MossRocks says:

    There are plenty of HTR members who would like to be GM’s, so I thought I would give them a realistic problem to figure out. I used the Oilers as my example because that is the team I know the most about.

    Let me turn it around on you then. What would you do with the Sabres? Drury, Connolly, Brown, McKee, Tallinder, Kalinin and Satan are all RFA’s. Do you move Zhitnik’s bloated contract? Buffalo has a small market budget because it can’t draw fans and its owner could barely afford to buy the team. Regier has to keep a balance between the marketability of the club and the budget. Can they afford to re-sign all of those players and keep Zhitnik and Satan? How would you balance the budget and put a good product on the ice?

  5. mikster says:

    You’re a real class act. Very nice of you to do that. Hopefully he appreciates it.

  6. cwthrash says:

    Personally, I like ideas like this. Gets people to thinking (if they want to).

    I thought about trying to go a little in depth about a few teams; Chicago, Nashville, Phoenix for example. Just to get away from what is the norm around here. But I guess we both know what the outcome of that would be.

    Still, could be interesting if I get the time. Who knows?

  7. mikster says:

    Thing is that even if you guys may not get many commenst on certain articles, even if they are on the Preds…Hawks…or Yotes…, we still post them because they are good and you gain respect for the most part.

    I’ll try to do this one soon! But, thanks for the great articles you two submit.

  8. MossRocks says:

    Not a bad idea – you just need a decent depth chart (this can be hard since you’re never right, if you know what I mean) and then the list of RFA’s. Nashville and Chicago would be interesting to me.

    Of course the CBA complicates things tremendously but you could still evaluate what would give you the best hockey team for 2003-04 at a certain budget. (In your own opinion, of course) You have to keep the future in mind at least a little bit, but it’s impossible to predict what should be done four years ahead of time. I think maybe too many GM’s focus on crazy long term plans instead of just trying to put a good team on the ice every year. Balancing this with the prospect management is not as hard as trying to rebuild and/or spend in a vicious circle.

  9. Slavik says:

    12 Forwards:

    York 2 mill

    Cullen 1.75 Mill

    Reasoner 900K

    Horcoff 600K

    Chimera 500K

    Comrie 1.1 mill

    Klatt 1 mill

    Isbister 1.8 mill

    Torres 1 mill

    Rita 1 mill

    Leclerc 900K

    hemsky 1.1 mill


    Brewer 2.5 mill (i thought he made 1.5, or did he get a new deal?)

    Cross 1.05 mill

    Ference 900K

    Vaananen 800K

    Staios 1.1 mill

    Semenov 700K

    Bergeron 410K


    Salo 3.9 mill

    Conklin 450 K

    29.2 million dollar payroll

    Well didnt have much time so i threw that to gether for the fun of it.

  10. jofa says:

    Definitely something I’ve been thinking about lately. With the depth in forwards on the Oilers, and the rookies pushing for roster spots, Lowe does have a lot of options this year.

    I think Lowe has done a good job of amassing a lot of young offensive talent that, if he is able to keep them together and they are able to live up to their potential, could develop together into a really strong and talented core. Right now we are able to put out four excellent lines, which is a good change from the days of depending heavily on the first line (ex. Weight, Guerin, Smyth). If there are problem areas, it might be a lack of puckmoving defensemen, lack of size at center, and possibly goaltending. Based on these ideas, here’s my plan:

    Trade Salo to Colorado for Skoula and draft pick. Salo has probably taken the Oil as far as he can, and his $3.9M salary is a lot to take for a small market team. Skoula is still affordable, can help on the PP, and has size.

    Package Comrie and Jani Rita to Carolina for Jeff O’Neill plus ???. Comrie faded big time in the second half, and his lack of size was pretty much to blame. Lost his confidence and creativity, and was pretty much non-existant in the playoffs. With bonuses, I think his salary pushed $3.5M as well. Rita is still a good prospect, but I think he’s been pushed back behind Torres and Stoll. O’Neill would address size down the middle and would be a great fit on the Oil.

    Trade Moreau, Dvorak and Salmelainen for Noronen and JP Dumont. Noronen is a great young goaltender who could take over from Salo. Younger, cheaper, and more potential. Moreau is a hardworker, but ultimately replaceable, while Dvorak just doesn’t seem to be cut from the same Oiler cloth as the rest of the team (like Hecht last year, perhaps?). Salmelainen is probably going to be a good winger, but again, lack of size may make him expendable.

    So, with the changes, the lineup would look something like this:

    Smyth – O’Neill – Hemsky

    Isbister – York – Dumont

    Torres – Stoll – Laraque

    Horcoff – Reasoner – Chimera

    Brewer – Semenov

    Skoula – Staios

    Smith – Cross




    To be honest, even if Lowe doesn’t make any moves this offseason, I think the Oilers have a strong squad throughout and will do well. It will likely be impossible to compete against Colorado in the division, but they should again make the playoffs and this time challenge for the second or third round.

    Who knows if any of these trades would be of interest to the teams involved, but kind of represents the type of players I’d like to see the Oilers go after…

  11. jofa says:

    a) why bother reading an Oilers article then?

    b) why “waste your time” putting it down?

    like mossrocks replied to you, Buffalo and Edmonton aren’t that different, in that they are both young teams with potential but tight payrolls. Makes being a GM for a team like these that much more challenging…

  12. cwthrash says:

    My approach would be slightly different from what you did here, but I’d basically have the same info on a certain team as you did.

    I don’t even like to predict what will happen next season. Too many factors that I can’t know of go into such assumptions, and it’s just not my style to act like I know the future. Maybe more of an analysis of the team like their needs, info on how their RFA signings are progressing, players in the system, etc. I’d probably won’t focus much pass this season since things will definitely change, just mention the elements I know will be a part of the team in the future.

    If I get the time, it will probably be Chicago. You know of course I’d have to do something similar for Atlanta (couldn’t help myself).

    Get what you mean about never being right. Not much of a problem for me. After never being right so much, I’m used to it. Hasn’t stopped me yet.

  13. MossRocks says:

    Interesting choices… Yes, Brewer makes $2.5M in the second year of his deal that paid him $1.5 last year. Choosing not to sign Smyth or Laraque is interesting but avoiding Jason Smith’s contract is understandable. One question – you added Vaananen, Ference, Cullen and Leclerc but no mention of how the Oilers would obtain them? You must have something in mind, because it seems to be well thought out.

  14. MossRocks says:

    I expected two different approaches, one pretty radical approach (like you used) and the other more in line with what Lowe will actually do. As you said, the team will be pretty good if he does his best to put the same team on the ice as last year.

    Good evaluation of Rita – I think the Oilers are finally going to have to start choosing prospects to keep and to move. I’m betting the Oilers still give him one more camp though.

    I don’t mind Skoula, but don’t you think there’s a little more out there for Salo? I really don’t know but that would have to be a good pick – Ballard would be nice too. My actual problem with the Salo deal is that I don’t think the Oilers have a prayer of getting Noronen. He’s cheap and the Sabres are trying to move Biron and likely go with Noronen and Ryan Miller.

    Good job with the cash. You’re at exactly $30M which the Oilers could do especially if the CAN$ stays high. (I guessed Smyth $3.7M, Smith $2.5M and Laraque $1.4M – he actually only made $1M last year)

  15. jofa says:

    Yeah, and although there are a lot of changes (so a little more radical), I wouldn’t expect them all to happen right away – more likely over the course of one or two seasons.

    Hard to say what the value of Salo would be. I’d like to think it was fairly high, but its hard to say. Never would have expected Cechmanek to go for a 2nd rounder, and I don’t know if that would impact other goalie trades or not. I’d be interested in what you thought about Salo? Do we keep him as a consistent goaltender who can play a lot of games, or move him in the gamble that we can find a young star who may have a real breakout year?

    Wasn’t sure who the Sabres were putting their confidence in between Biron/Noronen/Miller. All three are excellent young goalies, so if Biron were available, that could be an option as well. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Ottawa’s minor leaguer Ray Emery too, although he couldn’t come in and play the number of games that Salo plays right away.

    I realized after that O’Neill is a winger, so those lines would have to adjust slightly. With York, Horcoff and Chimera all capable of playing center or wing, it would be too hard to shuffle a centerman in somewhere.

    I’d also still like to see Rita have a chance at training camp and maybe even a roster spot this fall. It sounds like the ingredients are there to be great, but they also said that about Cleary…. Like you said, they will probably have to make a decision which of the rookies/prospects to go with, so he could end up as good trade bait if Torres and Stoll move ahead of him on the ladder.

    I don’t know if you watched the Isbister/Laraque experiment that MacT used as a line late last season (can’t remember who centered them), but that was definitely an intriguing option as well. Pretty hilarious to watch Laraque then Isbister hold off one or two defenders at a time in the opposition corners, cycling back and forth. The two of them could hold a play in the corners for a minute or so at a time, until a scoring opportunity presented itself. If Laraque could score, he’d be a pretty unstoppable power forward…

    Be interested in hearing your thoughts on what the team should do…

  16. camp says:

    i sure that edmonton will tade swanson and moreau because they can be replaced much cheaper and with the freed up cash they can sign trevordofsky who would be a perfect fit in the system and is exactly what they are missing. plus he would probably come real cheap.

  17. jofa says:

    Swanson’s salary ($400,000) is definitely not too much. I don’t know if you can get much cheaper than that, but I think he is definitely replaceable. I really don’t think the guy will find another NHL gig, as there’s nothing about the guy that is that exceptional. He’s already been leap frogged on the depth chart by a number of centers, and I doubt we’ll ever see him lace up as an Oiler again.

    Moreau is one I think may also be moved. He’s a workhorse, and it sounds like the players have a lot of respect for him, but he’s also somewhat replaceable, and his salary is pretty high considering the plumber-type role that he has on the team. He would have some trade value as well, probably packaged with another player, or on his own for a draft pick.

    Tverdovsky might be a decent pick up if the price were right. He’s slumped recently, but he had some really good seasons a few years back. Don’t see him play much, so I’m not sure what he’s like. I get the feeling he’s a playmaker and PP specialist who probably shies away from contact, but again, I don’t know enough about him. We could REALLY use an offensive defenseman to run the PP, which was BRUTAL last season. Getting a powerplay last year was worse than playing 5 on 5!

  18. MossRocks says:

    I would like to change the team a little bit this year. Last year’s performance was mediocre all round, especially in the playoffs. Some of what I would do would be in line with what you mentioned…

    This team has to make room for Rita, Torres and Stoll. Cleary is already gone, (thank goodness) and Moreau and Swanson have to be next in my opinion. Laraque needs to be re-signed and I like the Isbister combo. In fact that is the only reason why they should hang on to Big Bad Brad. He needs to crank it up a bit, to give the Oilers their money’s worth. I’d give up on the experiment already, but I can’t see them getting much in return so he gets another chance in my book.

    I would keep the defense the same because I think Brewer, Smith, Staios, Semenov, Cross and Bergeron will be a very stout six with Ferguson as the seventh guy. I would move Brewer or Smith, but I think the Oilers should keep them together for one more year.

    I’m not sure I have a good answer for a Salo trade. I see Biron, Noronen, Hurme, Finley, Emery and possibly Blackburn as the only available goalies cheap enough and possibly available. Biron is a little overpaid right now at $2.2M and I’m not so sure Noronen is available. Hurme might fit the bill along with Conklin until Deslauriers is ready after the CBA lockout/strike, but he’s dicey. Finley is a long shot and might raise a controversy with Deslauriers later on. Same likely goes for Emery.

    I don’t mind the O’Neill move, (actually he’s a pretty good centre also) but that would give the Oilers two $3M+ (base salary) forwards and I don’t know if they can really afford that. They can’t give up on Comrie yet – the Oil can hardball him on the contract this time around. He has no arbitration rights or anything – they’ll get him for a decent price this time. (those bonus triggers will require a little more work)

  19. MossRocks says:

    Forgot my lineup,

    Smyth Comrie Hemsky

    York Horcoff Dvorak

    Isbister Stoll Laraque

    Torres Reasoner Chimera

    Brewer Staios

    Cross Smith

    Bergeron Semenov



    This is assuming Smyth, Smith and Comrie are reasonable; accepting $3.5M, $2.5M and $1.5M base salaries respectively. This budget comes out to $29.2M for the year, which isn’t bad. Moreau and Swanson are pending trades. Isbister, Salo and Smith would be the next out the door.

  20. jofa says:

    Interesting to read. Lot of similar thoughts on the team. I kind of feel the same way about Dvorak as you do about Isbister, as I’m not really convinced he will fit into the Oil system very well – like Hecht or Dopita before him. Isbister definitely didn’t make an impact a lot of nights, but as a power forward, I think we can still be patient with him for a season or two. Bertuzzi had about 6 sub-par seasons before he broke out big time at about age 26, which is about where Isbister is now…

    Definitely the priority has to be making room for the prospects. Stoll, Torres, Rita and maybe guys like Salmalainen and Bergeron are ready for a chance at a roster spot, so its important for their development. I agree on Moreau, and I’m pretty sure that Swanson will never lace up for the Oil again. Chimera and Pisani, I’m not sure about. Both had good rookie seasons, but can we really expect much more out of them?

    Brewer is curious. Could still continue to develop and grow, but he does seem to make some of the worst decisions from time to time. His first pass out of the defensive zone can be brutal and dangerous at times.

    Looking forward to a full season of Hemsky, as that guy was really impressive in the second half. Looks like the Oilers found a gem in Ales… Hopefully some of these new prospects have similar results this season.

  21. marcoup says:

    Everybody has time…..except leaf fans cuz there too busy dreaming!!!!

    Here is my team….Kevin listen up!!! Make a blockbuster with San Jose to bring some Praire boys home.

    Edmonton gets youth, size and speed and SJS gets a solid vetern leader/defenseman and a vetern goal scorer to bring SJS back into contention

    Trade for: $5.75M

    Brad Stuart – Alberta native 6’2″ 210lbs 1.75M

    Mike Rathje – Alberta native 6’5″ 235lbs 2.025M

    Patrick Marleau – Sask native 6’2″ 210lbs 2.0M

    for: $ 6.75M

    D – J. Smith $2.2M

    D – S. Ferguson $.550M

    LW – M. York $2M

    RW – R. Dvorak $2M

    Trade Salo ($3.9M) for cheaper (younger) goalies like:

    – Blackburn 1.1M (Rangers)

    – Vokun $1.2M (Preds)

    – Roloson $2.2M (Wild)

    **If need trade Moreau for picks and move up Rita, we’ll refrain b/c we need his leadership, grit and speed on the 3rd line**

    The lineup looks like this……

    Smyth, Marleau, Hemsky

    – Marleau’s the missing piece a big fast Centerman

    Torres, Comrie, Laraque

    – Comrie will work better on the 2nd line

    – Laraque will be the key performer to make this line work

    Moreau, Horcoff, Pisani

    – great 3rd line, grit/size/speed/defensively sound

    **My favourite Line**

    Isbister, Reasoner, Stoll

    – solid/fast 4th line

    Day to day scratches:

    LW – Rita

    C- Swanson

    D – size and speed throughout

    Brewer, Rathje

    – youth, speed, size

    Staois, Cross

    – Gritty, speed

    Stuart, Semenov

    – size, grit


    Bergeron, Allen, Haakana, Lynch


    Roloson, Conklin

    Final budget: $27.25M

    Gains: – Playoff Goalie

    – Solid, Gritty Defense

    – Finally the OIL get there big centerman

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