I'm not particularly impressed with the work the Edmonton Oilers did in free-agency. Andrew Ference seems like an overpriced piece, and a bit of a redundant one too for a club that already employs Nick Schultz. That Boyd Gordon price tag is a bit of a laugher, but you know what, so was Manny Malhotra's 3 year, 7.5 price tag when it was first signed in the summer of 2010. Had Malhotra not suffered a freak accident, he would've been worth every peeny of that deal. Anyway, I'm a big Jason Labarbera fan.


In summary the Oilers improved their depth, but they're still extremely small down the middle - RNH, Gagner, Gordon, Smyth is, yeah, pretty underwhelming - and still well below average along the blue-line.




Speaking of the Oilers blue-line, Edmonton signed Chicago Wolves defenceman Brad Hunt to an entry-level contract on Saturday. Hunt is a pretty smart puck mover with above average wheels, and while he doesn't look like an NHL player to me, it's cool to see an undrafted player of his ilk work hard and get a shot.




So this Tweet is pretty great:

For what it's worth, an organization that's ignoring advanced statistics and hockey analytics is probably up a creek. That said, you definitely don't want your players thinking about shot attempt differential on a shift-to-shift basis. In other words "Let's not look at this like Moneyball" is exactly what you want to hear from your players, and exactly what you don't want to hear from the executive in charge of putting together a team...




Personally I really disliked what Dave Nonis did with the Leafs over the past week. The Clarkson signing is rich, particularly in term, but at least the forward the Toronto Sun is calling "Wendell Clarkson" is a supremely useful top-six forward...


On the other hand, buying out Grabovski to free up cap-space for Bozak is a phenomenally stupid move. Inexcusable in my book. Grabovski is so clearly, by any objective measure other than face-off percentage and including the eye-test, the superior player. Everyone except Grabovski's stupid *expletive* coach and the numbers challenged in the Toronto media seems to know this.




Or do they? It seems pretty odd that Mikael Grabovski, seemingly alone among his UFA class, remains unsigned at this point. The Belorussian two-way centreman was getting married this weekend - so the delay could be a personal thing - but I bet he scared at least a couple of teams off by breaking the "in the room" Omerta, and putting Carlyle rather publicly on blast on his way out of Toronto.


For what it's worth, I loved that from Grabovski... 




Another forward who was lost in the suffle in the opening twenty-four hours of free-agency? Pint-sized centreman Derek Roy, who agreed to a one year pact with the St. Louis Blues (pending a physical) on Saturday.


Derek Roy was completely invisible in the postseason for the Canucks, and had a down offensive year while playing a more defence oriented role in both Dallas and Vancouver. Combine Roy's lack of size, with his lack of production, and the fact that he had some off the ice issues during his short stint in Vancouver (he was photographed on the town repeatedly down the stretch, and didn't even meet the media on locker room clean out day) and you have the one high-end NHL centreman who failed to cash in on the open market this July...




Here's the thing about Derek Roy: the lack of production is something of a mirage, the off-ice stuff isn't something I'd care about (especially considering Roy is now entering his second straight contract year and should be pissed), and most importantly: Derek Roy is still really good at playing hockey. This one year bridge deal Roy's about to sign in St. Louis reminds me somewhat of Raffi Torres' one-year deal with Vancouver in 2010-11 (following a similar complete playoff no-show in Buffalo in 2010). The Blues are getting themselves a hell of a player without having to commit much of anything...




Everyone is praising the work Jim Nill did in Dallas in adding three centres overnight on the eve of free-agency (and pretty good ones too in Seguin, Horcoff and Peverley). They should be, Nill has had a tremendous offseason in my book.


But how about the work Doug Armstrong put in on the open market this weekend? Keith Aucoin, Maxim Lapierre, and Derek Roy - three useful centreman, all signed affordably, and Armstrong didn't have to give up any asset treasure. That's some savvy work.




How has no team snapped up Tom Gilbert yet? So far Gilbert and Grabovski look like the leading candidates to be this summers Daniel Winnik.




I'm curious to see what Keith Ballard does in Minnesota next year. Ballard never worked out in Vancouver for whatever reason, but before that he was a steady top-four defenceman who could handle tough minutes and still chip in offensively. He put in seven quality seasons like clockwork before being traded to the Canucks and promptly falling into the hole at the Springfield Mystery Spot.


Will he re-find his game on a club that could certainly use a swashbuckling defenceman who can chew up minutes? Or will he continue to languish at the fringes of the league for no good reason? 


I'm hoping for the former. I also think the Keith Ballard of old would be a pretty nice defence partner for Jared Spurgeon...




It's interesting to see that no one has signed Manny Malhotra as of yet. Malhotra, you'll recall, is the centreman who Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis refused to play or trade last season, because he didn't believe he could protect himself at the NHL level. I'd imagine Malhotra will have to wait until late Summer and try to scare up a PTO...




Now that the opening "frenzy" portion of free-agency has closed, there's still quite a bit of talent on the market for teams to sift through. Tom Gilbert we've already mentioned, Latendresse is worth taking a shot on for a team in need of secondary scoring, and the likes of: Dustin Penner, Dan Cleary, Peter Mueller, Damien Brunner and Brad Boyes can certainly help a good team win hockey games.


Oh yeah, and Mikael Grabovski is probably a top-line centreman available for fifty cents on the dollar. Someone has to be kicking those tires feverishly, right? RIGHT?!



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kbooks said:

... Right or wrong Grabovski did not fit in with Carlyle and thus it is better for the team and Grabovski that he move on. He will sign somewhere (Anaheim, Calgary, Washington) and return to being a solid 2nd line center. It just wasn't going to happen in Toronto.

Mactavish has moved some bodies around and signed lots of fringe guys but doubt in makes much if any difference on the ice next season.

Very impressed with Jim Nill and his activity. Dallas will be a much better team next season as a result of his moves. That is assuming that Seguin realizes the tremendous opportunity he will be afforded with Dallas as a 1st line center. If he is smart he will take a lesson from Patrick Kane and leave the partying to off season or not at all if he really wants to be a star in the NHL.

Derek Roy's drop off in play reminds me of Tim Connolly. I hop I am wrong for Roy's sake and St. Louis but I think his days as a premier scorer in the NHL may now be behind him.

I have felt the same about Tom Gilbert for a couple of years now. It seems we always expect fallen stars will return to their former days of glory. It does happen occasionally but more often then not players just don't come back. Sorry Gilbert, Boyes, Latendresse, Kaberle, Komisarek, Ballard, and others

I agree with Jaxx's assesment on Grabovski.
July 07, 2013
Votes: +0

Jaxx said:

Grabovski cap hit and fit (team style & player style)
all factors against grabbo. bozak was ahead of grabbo in those departments. the success toronto has this past year was more because of bozak than grabbo - both could not stay with bolland added, grabbo and his cap hit just had to leave.
he will find success on a team that allows him to use his free-wheeling ways. he's a solo artist at centre, and needs plugger type wingers - not top 6 guys.
look at it this way - playing with "better" players will make those players less effective (if that makes sense) because of the solo game he plays. he's not selfish, its just that he plays a individual game rather than a team game.
July 07, 2013
Votes: -5
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