Will the Edmonton Oilers re-sign Sam Gagner to a long-term deal? Is Ryan Jones on the outs? Can the current management improve their depth?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis examines the options facing the Oilers in their contract talks this summer with RFA Sam Gagner, which are, “ Sign him to a one-year deal, and defer a permanent decision until next year. Sign him to a two- or three-year deal, buying some free agent seasons but not committing long-term. Sign him to a long-term pact that locks him into the team’s core.” Ultimately, Willis believes they should avoid locking him into a long-term deal.
Jim Matheson reports on Ryan Jones’ decline this season, claiming the Oilers offered him to the Ottawa Senators in a failed effort to land Ben Bishop.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gagner is a restricted free agent this summer, but with arbitration rights, which could make negotiations more delicate. I think Gagner wants a long-term deal, and I could see his agent pushing for six years at $4.5-$5 million per season. The Oilers would prefer a two-three year bridge deal, probably around $4 million per. He could receive an offer sheet, but if he or the Oilers file for arbitration, he becomes ineligible to get one. If they don’t go the arbitration route, however, I doubt he gets an offer sheet, as to date in today’s salary cap era, only one player (Dustin Penner) has been successfully signed to one. As for Jones, he’s a UFA this summer and I don’t expect he’ll be re-signed.
SPORTSNET.CA: Mark (no relation) Spector questions if the Oilers current management can deliver the depth this off-season the young roster currently lacks and desperately needs if it is to finally become a playoff club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers fans have been patient with current GM Steve Tambellini and his rebuilding plan, but that patience is coming to an end. Fans are starting to boo the team, the local media is starting to question the club’s direction, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an Oilers blogger supporting the current management.
Yes, they’ve done well drafting and (for the most part) developing young talent, but they’ve been lacking skilled depth in veteran talent for far too long. Part of the problem is the city of Edmonton isn’t a prime destination for free agent talent, but in recent years, the Oilers tried to bring in experience and character on the cheap, and the results speak for themselves. With over $52 million invested in 16 players next season, they won’t have a lot of cap space to bring in the depth they need, especially if Gagner is re-signed, unless they go the amnesty buyout route with Ales Hemsky or even Shawn Horcoff.
Ultimately, I don’t see Tambellini losing his job this year, but the moves he makes in the off-season will determine how long he remains in the job.