Sunday, July 29, 2007

You Can Take The High Road Or You Can Kevin Lowe!

Brian Burke, general manager of the Anaheim Ducks is in a hairy situation. His left winger Dustin Penner is currently being poached by Kevin Lowe of the Edmonton Oilers, for a mere $21.25 million for a five-year contract. The Ducks have the right to match the offer in order to keep him.

While saying he had no problem with any team tendering an offer sheet to a restricted free agent such as Penner — a rarely utilized mechanism within the parameters of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NHL Players Association — Burke made it clear he is none too happy with how Edmonton general manager Kevin Lowe went about it. Burke said. "I certainly think this could have waited until Monday. I think it was a classless move, timing-wise. I was not notified until the agent faxed it in. I would have thought Kevin would have notified me. I thought that was gutless."

Burke also pointed to the seven-year, $50 million offer extended by the Oilers earlier this month to Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, a bid the Sabres immediately matched to retain the high-scoring left wing. "This is the second time this year, in my opinion, that Edmonton has offered a grossly inflated salary," Burke said. "It impacts on all 30 teams. I think it's an act of desperation by a general manager who is fighting to keep his job."

Additionally, it raises questions on the Michael Nylander case of 'Did he take the job or didn't he take the job?', as Kevin Lowe is considering legal actions against Michael Nylander for taking a deal with the Washington Capitals after supposedly agreeing to a mult-year free agent deal, leaving my Blueshirt New York Rangers franchise. Not sure I believe Kevin Lowe's side of it at this point.

So here is the downside to Kevin Lowe's behavior -- Dustin Penner is a good forward, not a great forward and the Anaheim franchise is yet to secure their two powerhouses, both yet contemplating retirement -- Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne. To address those potential voids, the Ducks signed unrestricted free agents Mathieu Schneider and Todd Bertuzzi in July, bringing the club less than $2 million from the salary cap for next season. These level of offers are driving up the cost of mid-range players and will set dangerous precedent for what players will expect to be paid -- soon to reverberate throughout the League.
(on my greed side, I will admit the ridiculous five and seven year deals with Chris Drury and Scott Gomez were over-the-top; I may regret my 'glee' three years into these contracts).

These are dangerous times in the NHL, and though currently occurring in the Western Conference, beyond the cost of players skyrocketing, the gentlemanly ways of hockey GM's talking to each other may be on a down slide. We are seeing a transitional stage of the NHL post-lockout, when rules were put into place to protect franchises and 'even' the playing field for all owners; we are now going into an NHL where ethics are in question and players' loyalties are threatened by the big dollar.

Not sure if anything has changed. Should be fun to watch. Not sure I'd want to work for a hockey team!



  1. I agree completely. The Oiler$ are definitely playing a dangerous game here. Look at the new Oiler$ precedent: If a 1st year pro (an undrafted late bloomer no less!) scores 29 goals and a dozen assists, he's entitled to over $4m. If the second season is a point per game campaign (a la Thomas Vanek), that player is entitled to be one of the highest paid players in the league!!!!! Talk about fiscal insanity.
    As far as the Rangers signings of Gomez & Drury, there is a huge difference: Contracts signed by UFA's can not be introduced as evidence in salary arbitration hearings. Therefore, the inflationary effects of these contracts are not nearly as pronounced as those signed by RFA's.

  2. I am just grateful that during our brief "Is Lundquist resigning?" phase of the off-season, we weren't taken advantage of by a Kevin Lowe or the like. Whew. I remember a number of bloggers speculating that GM's were just going to make random huge offers to Henrik, fully knowing that the Rangers wouldn't have had a choice but to re-sign under any financial conditions -- just to stick it to Glenny Boy after grabbing 2 of the 3 picks.

    All of this smells a little of Keenan to me!!?

  3. Well Said TDR~

    A vital piece of this crazy puzzle is that Perry and Getzlaf are both RFA's next season and will have to be signed. Both are more valuable than Penner and this could handcuff Burke if he decides to match the offer. Lowe was wise to sign his RFA's prior to his aggresive and legal tactics this summer. With all this money to toss at Penner and Vanek why couldn't the Oilers sign Ryan Smyth to 6-7 million last year? Toronto Maple Leafs 2007-2008 feels that what goes around comes around! Next year watch 29 other GM's smile and take a long look at Edmonton's RFA's.

    TML 2007-2008

  4. Then there is always Peca becoming a Ranger and not Toronto....could be, who knows....


  5. The Leafs would take back a solid asset in Peca to Center the third line. Unfortunately, this requires trading/dumping Matt Stajan who at 23 years of age has plenty of speed and is strong defensively. In today's hockey era players like Matt signed at an inexpensive rate are valuable assets to ones team. Look no futher than Anaheim and Buffalo last season.

    TML 2007-2008

  6. This GM Kevin lowe is going to get killed for a couple of seasons, because his (un)restricted free agents will be available and the league will look to put him in a similar situation.

  7. Honestly, I think Lowe knows he made a huge mistake with Smyth and others, and is now doing whatever he can to save his job for a season or two more. He's barely treading water in Edmonton and is tryignt o do whatever he can to tread a little while longer.

    So he's willing to scrifice draft picks later for moderate success now, since the missing draft picks will be someone else's problem.

  8. jibblescribbits,..i think you may be right. all subsequent stories i have read about this point to that. maybe there is a management spot for "the Captain". ;)


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