Is this the end of the Red Ox? It probably is the end in Edmonton, at least. In a rare bit of actual Oilers news (rare for this time of year), Liam Reddox announced yesterday that he has decided to sign over in Sweden with Vaxjo.
Reddox said that if the Oilers had given him a one-way deal he would have played for them for the league minimum, but management wasn't prepared to do that. With a glut of future fourth liners already in the system, it didn't make sense to guarantee Reddox a spot when he could easily be outplayed by others at training camp.
This will probably end up being a good move for both parties. Reddox will get a chance to hone his game in the Swedish Elite League, which is reasonably well suited to his style. Also, given that Vaxjo will be playing its first season in the SEL in 2011-12, a former NHLer like Reddox should get plenty of opportunity. Reddox will be highly motivated while playing there, and if it translates into a strong season he could end up back in the NHL in no time.
The Oilers probably would have loved to keep Reddox in the fold as a call-up since he's a decent penalty killer, but not on a one-way deal. Reddox simply didn't produce enough to justify his roster spot; effective though he was while shorthanded. The Oilers' pipeline is going to be overflowing soon, so it's probably right for the organization to give tryouts to the other fourth liners that are coming who also have two-way deals.
Some Other Headlines:
- Vacouver is going to the Stanley Cup Final blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.
- Once again Tampa Bay rallied and won a must-win game to stave off elimination. Game 7 should be one hell of a gooder.
- The St. John Sea Dogs have punched their ticket to the Memorial Cup Final with two wins to start the tournament. They are the first QMJHL team to make the final since Quebec won it all in 2006. Tomas Jurco leads the tournament with 4 goals (including one off his head) and an assist in St. Johns' 3 games. Depending on how things finish, his performance could see him move up some draft lists. Huberdeau has 2 goals and 2 assists in the 3 games.
Host Mississauga beat the Owen Sound Attack tonight, which is a small measure of revenge for them. Mississauga blew a 3-2 series lead in the OHL Final and relinquished the league championship to Owen Sound, but now the St. Michael's Majors have a bye to the semi-final. Meanwhile, the Owen Sound Attack will play the Kootenay Ice in an elimination tie-breaker to determine who will play the Majors for the chance to appear in the final against St. John.
- Brian Rafalski is hanging up the skates. It's been a very good career for one of the best undrafted players ever. In 11 NHL seasons, Rafalski appeared in the Stanley Cup Final 5 times. Leaving $6 million in salary is not an easy thing to do, but when it comes to careers, Rafalski's was as full as it gets.
This leaves some major question marks for the Red Wings going forward. If Nicklas Lidstom retires, it will leave Brad Stuart as that team's number one defenseman. Ruslan Salei and Jonathan Ericsson are both Unrestricted Free Agents, so GM Ken Holland will have to basically rebuild the entire blueline of his team. Either way, expect a dropoff from the Wings next year.
- It's looking more and more like it was a very good thing that Dany Heatley didn't come to Edmonton. The 30 year old had just 3 goals in the playoffs for the Sharks, and is coming off statistically his worst full season ever. Last year Heatley had just 2 goals in the post season for San Jose and he's only managed to ripple the netting 15 times in 66 playoff games. Almost fully half of those tallies came in Ottawa's 2007 Cup run, when he had 7 goals.
In hindsight, Oiler fans are happy that Heatley didn't come and improve the team enough to ruin its chances of finishing 30th and drafting Taylor Hall. Hall has the potential to be as good as Heatley, and for a much longer span of time.
- Is the NHL ever going to make the announcement that all the people of Manitoba are waiting for? Are the Thrashers leaving the NHL money pit that is Atlanta and moving north of the border? It would be the second time an Atlanta team has moved to Canada (the other of course being Edmonton's hated rivals down in Calgary), but it's more important than that. It means that an American team is coming to Canada rather than the reverse for the first time since those Atlanta Flames. It's a good sign for the strength of the Canadian hockey (and financial) market.
It seems pretty obvious that the Thrashers will be sold and relocated at some point. If Winnipeg gets them, what will the team be called? Calgary kept the Flames moniker when they got Atlanta's last team, but the people of Winnipeg seem to want the Jets. It'll be a blow to the prestige of the NHL to not only have a failing team that was once the Jets, but also another failing team that turned back into the Jets. Will the new Winnipeg team do better on merchandising if they go back to the Jets name, or if they change the name and force all the devotees to buy new jerseys, car flags, nick-nacks and doo-dads?
- At least one man high in the Oilers organization is happy that the Canucks are going to the Stanley Cup Final. Jeff Tambellini, Steve's son, has the opportunity to win it all. Steve managed the feat with the Islanders back in 1980, and he's got to feel good about his son's chances. It's got to be hard to preside over a 30th place team, but the Oilers will have their day in the sun down the road. No one will begrudge Tambo if he's cheering for the Northwest Division rival in the final round.
- Finally, we all remember articles like this one back in 2009:
Jagr is quoted as saying that Edmonton would be his first choice for an NHL return and that he "[will] never forget" that Edmonton pushed so hard to get him back then. Apparently the former NHL star has developed a case of Alzheimers, because when asked about his NHL return this time around, he didn't even mention the Oilers. In fact, Montreal came up because they are a Canadian team, but not the Oilers.
The reason is probably very simple: the Oilers don't want him anymore. They aren't starving for offensive help on the wing and to give him ice time over a young, developing forward like Eberle would be a mistake. The one benefit would be that Jagr could really help the kids to grow and mature mentally in the game, and he could probably teach them a few tricks as well. But that benefit doesn't mean a thing if he's robbing the Oilers' best youngsters of ice time, since they are all on the wing. If Jagr was a center, you can bet your buns the Oilers would want to sign him for the interim between sucking and being respectable, but he isn't. Besides, who would want to play here at that point in their career? If Jagr comes back, it will be to try to win. Edmonton can't offer that to anyone quite yet. Don't feel slighted, Oiler fans. It just doesn't make sense for either side.