The couple missing pieces
Over the season and especially in the playoff’s it became apparent that a little tinkering is needed to the roster. Veteren experience and reliability seems to be the new mantra coming out of the front office in Edmonton but not at the expenses of dismantling the core group. Finding a defenseman and a winger whom both have leadership qualities and Stanley Cup experience will weigh heavily on the minds of Kevin Lowe and his staff. Around draft day in June seems the most likely time a decision will be made since one way or another the Doug Weight contract scenerio will have been played out. The funds left over either way will determine who they can obtain to fill those roles and if the ownership group would be willing to spend an extra million or two to make it all come together.
Down the road the Calgary Flames spent more on thier rosters this season and perhaps they didn’t get the results they wanted, but if the ownership group and the fans and have a little give and take it could be accomplished. If in Edmonton the season tickets could be in the 16,000 area with only 1,100 to spare they could sell out 30-35 games a year the funds could be available. That essentially with the 5% increase in tickets prices could be allocated in signing Doug Weight to a three year contract and adding the two veterens needed.
Now barring if the money is available whom would be considered a good candidates for the veteren positions and what would be the cost. Now if someone were to mull over the current rosters in the NHL to see what is available they may find that Edmonton’s old leader Glen Sather may be there best trading partner.Two possible individuals come too mind on thier team who may be a perfect fit for this young team and both are Stanley Cup winners. Hopefully for the Oilers the intangibles these individuals bring can be ingrained into younger players for the future.
First off is ex-Oiler Adam Graves who at 33 still has gas left in the tank and a change of scenery could jump start his game after 4 years of playoff hockey. Noted his point total has dropped from 53 to 40 and 26 over the last three seasons but so has his ice time and shots on net as well. He did manage to score 38 and 23 goals in 98-99 and 99-00 so thier is a possibility Adam
with new linemates could be in the 20- 25 goal range over the next couple seasons. With the new lease on life that would be given to him and a increase of ice time most likely on the second line with Mike Comrie and Anson Carter point totals could increase.
Primarily Adam will bring leadership, work ethic
and two Stanley Cup rings into the dressing room which will be used to inspire his teammates. Plays a typical rough and tumble style and will leave it all on the ice
every game. However his foot speed is lacking but thats nothing a speedy pair of line mates can’t make up for. Adds the same dimension to the second power play unit has Ryan Symth does to the first someone to cause traffic in front of the net. Luckly Adam would not have to take as much physical abuse as in the past since the younger pups would relieve him of most of the work. Has had a good reputation for defensive play in his career eventhough his numbers as of late do not dictate that.
Never the less Adam is exactly the type of role player Craig MacTavish is looking for on his bench to throw on the ice in crucial situations.
Second on that list is underated defenseman Sylvain
Lefebvre whom came over to the Rangers from the Colorado Avalanche two seasons ago and may not want to be part of the rebuilding program in New York. He will be turning 34 at the begining of next season and the move may give him a couple more kicks at the cat before it’s all said and done. Coming into next season Sylvain
is exactly what the Oilers are looking for in a defenseman because of his reliability in his own zone and prowess on the penalty kill. Most of all he rarely makes a mistake and he has 129 playoff games under his belt with his veteran savvy will bring accountability to the defense core.
Adding a player such as Sylvain will give MacTavish more options with his specialty teams by giving Janne Niinimaa and Tom Poti they rest needed for the power play. When trying to hold a lead or shadowing against the teams top lines Lefebvre could make the difference by doing the little things right. Although he does not play exceptionly aggressive in front of the net or put up big numbers offensively his other skills make up for those short comings.
A couple hitches in this scenerio are the salaries of both players and players or picks wanted in return but things have a way of working them selves out.
Currently the Rangers would like to reduce thier payroll and most likely would be willing to pay for three million of the salaries if they get a deceint return. With the extra second round pick from the Bill Guerin trade the Oilers have the option to give up a draft pick, prospect or a player.If the Edmonton Oilers only had to pay approximately three million and salary and give up the above mentioned picks and players a deal could eleviate the first round exits that have been haunting this team for the last three years.