The Oilers didn't need to do anything until next year. Makes perfect sense! Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Putting From The Fringe

You know what makes this world great?  Everybody’s entitled to an opinion. There are lots of times that the staff at OilOnWhyte Industries will disagree with each other, but that’s the beauty of working with different ideas. If everybody came together and said the same thing, we’d be a boring lot.

Well…a more boring lot.

The great thing about opinions? Sometimes, your opinion is right. Other times, less so. Take that time when the Oilers signed Cam Barker and how I didn’t think it would be nearly the short order disaster it would be.  It was, and I was wrong.  Or, take that time when I thought the Oilers should’ve taken a defenceman (Adam Larsson) with the first pick in the 2011 NHL Draft because it was blatantly obvious that although this team was far away from the playoffs, they needed help on defence, and fast.  They took RNH, and while I didn’t agree with the pick, he’s turned out pretty good so far.

If you don’t know, Damien Cox is a columnist for the Toronto Star.  And it’s also fair to say that I don’t often agree with Mr. Cox’s positions, especially when he’s talking about hockey (which is a fair amount of time).  Today is no exception, and normally I’d just let it fly across my desk.

Today, my hand was forced.  Guess why?  Well,  the Oilers are absolutely killing themselves by extending Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle for the dollar amount and term offered, of course.

Have some of this.

So how, exactly, can we explain the seven-year, $42-million extension signed by Hall on Aug. 22, three months before he even turns 21, a year before his first contract expires and five years before he could become a UFA?

Well, the short answer is, you can and you can’t.

You can by believing the Oilers think Hall is a superstar, that they’ve cleverly locked him up until 2020 and that other clubs have been doing the same with players of similar age and experience.

But really, what the Oilers have done is blown past the very safeguards that were supposedly put in place to protect them, haven’t they?

They didn’t even need to talk to Hall until next summer, at which time they’d have a better read on his ability and, quite likely, a new CBA might put the team in a more favourable position.

Taken from “Edmonton Oilers damage rules design to protect them“, 06 September 2012.

Safeguards?  Damaging rules?

Come again?

Yes, the Oilers “didn’t have to talk to Hall until next summer” (or Jordan Eberle, for that matter), which would have been a smashing idea now, wouldn’t it have?  I mean, there’s no reason we’d like to install a vote of confidence in this guy, right?  Let’s let him twist in the wind for an entire season with no extension on the board.  It’s not like the guy can play.  Better yet, let’s let him twist during a lockout.

I make the argument that the Oilers did quite well on Hall’s contract.  Yeah, it’s a lot of money.  He’s not going to get the intermediate contract because he’s not an intermediate player.  Sam Gagner gets Sam Gagner contracts because he’s proven to be a pretty good second  line centre who might not be at his peak yet.  Taylor Hall gets a Taylor Hall contract because he’s already an elite force at age 20.

What kind of ‘better read’ could we team have on Taylor Hall?  Does he have a pair of antenna that we don’t yet know about?  Can he whip up a walnut salad that would prove to be a difference maker?  Exactly what good would it do to put off Hall’s extension?  Purely speculation, but I have a nagging feeling that Taylor Hall is going to continue to perform at or better than the level he is currently performing.  The guy already drives the play at age 20 and is scoring at a .75 points per game.  How much more can we evaluate before opening up the coffers?

Do you seriously think that Edmonton would gain that much of an advantage to let him go into the final year of the ELC without a new deal?  What if he scores 40 goals in a full year?  The price of poker would go through the roof.

You can make the argument that Taylor Hall is making too much, or that Jordan Eberle is making too much, there’s a little bit of flexibility there.  But, these guys have been in the league for two years now.  It’s not a nine game tryout.  You know what you’re getting with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle (or at least, you should know what you’re getting with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle).

One more.

The richest team in Canada, the Maple Leafs, doesn’t have a single outstanding salary commitment in place anywhere close to that of Hall or Eberle despite having a superior team (albeit, also a non-playoff one) the last four seasons.

This is rich.  Cheesecake rich.

Technically, you’re right.  The Maple Leafs *did* have a superior team last year by six points.  The superior Maple Leafs got that way by finishing 35-37-10 (80 points) compared to the much lowlier Oilers, who limped to the finish line with 32-40-10 (74 points).  If you’re going to take the technical route, then you’re right, the Maple Leafs about 8% more superior than the Oilers.  Technically,  you’re right about the whole outstanding contract thing, too.  But the Leafs do have John-Michael Liles inked for nearly $4M over the next four years, and everybody seems to be happy with Mike Komaserek’s performance at 4.5M a year, right?

But technically, you’re right.  There are no six or seven year deals on the Leafs.

Technically, tomatoes are a fruit.

You know what makes this world great?  Everybody’s entitled to an opinion.

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Tags: Edmonton Oilers Jordan Eberle Taylor Hall

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