With today’s announcement of the signing of Justin Schultz to a one year deal worth $3,675,000, the Oilers have graced fans with a full complement of players for us to begin obsessing about this Labour Day long weekend. After going through the initial reaction of the signing, I figured this is a good time to take a look at the full picture of what MacT and co. have in store for Oil Country this coming fall.
First, let’s talk about the contract. While many articles are citing MacTavish’s quote of “Norris Trophy Potential” as the main reason why the money was so big, I think the bigger picture can be seen on this other quote from the same media availability: “We’re gonna be a very loyal organization, we’re gonna look after our players”. Lest we forget, it was the Oilers with MacTavish as the tip of the spear who wowed/conned Justin into coming to Edmonton. The organization went to great lengths to beat more worthy candidates in the Schultz sweepstakes of 2012.
The way I see it, MacT here is paying not just for a player, but for a reputation and laying the ground for future acquisitions. Since Dustin Penner (at the time), the Oilers have been hard pressed to convince a top end player to call Edmonton his new home. Reasons abound: perceived hostility from management when dealing with uncomfortable situations (Smitty’s trade, Souray’s banishment); a losing culture; an infinite rebuild, and so on. By overpaying this time, the team looks smart, loyal, and committed to a plan. If dishing out an extra million now means getting the help you need later, I think that’s a bargain.
Now with Justin on board, the roster has a full complement of 23 players (if we include Marincin and Draisaitl). The black hole in the middle remains, but the reality is it won’t be a problem until it is. The plan here seems to be to roll with what’s on deck (plus maybe one addition for training camp, think Andrei Loktionov) and sit back, observe and reassess at around the 20 game mark (nov. 21st). I suspect the team might carry 8 d men for the first 8 games and will give Nurse a taste, but he will go back to Junior. All signs point to Judge Drai staying for a longer stint. If the fab 5 (Nuge, Arco, Drai, Lander, Gordon) struggle, I suspect Petry might be the first hombre out of town in a trade.
The team still has a cap space (before bonuses) of $4,182,500 and a reserve roster of 47 (45 if Drai and Nurse go back to Junior). There is still flexibility to bring in a body or two to training camp.
For now though, with a full roster waiting for us in a couple of weeks, let’s give the summer of 2014 one last hurrah.
Happy long weekend everyone.