a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

01/23/13 Odds and Ends: Subban, Paajarvi, Arena Deal


The TSN Quiz was an interesting one on Wednesday night. When asked their opinions about PK Subban's fate, two of the three panelists leaned toward a trade, including Bob McKenzie.



You can watch the January 23rd edition of Canada's favorite game show here or at tsn.ca/nhl. Said McKenzie:

"They're [the Canadiens and Subban] probably at least 2.5 to 3 million per year apart on where they want to be. Ultimately I think this ends up with a trade."

Aaron Ward also agreed that Subban could potentially be traded. If that were to happen the Oilers would certainly be one of the teams interested in his services, and they'd have the assets to get a deal done as well. But it would also require some serious salary shuffling and could spell the end of one of the Oilers' talented youngsters.

The Oilers have around $20 million in cap space next season, and only 14 players signed. Only four defensemen (if you include Potter) are members of that 14-man group. One of the expensive ones coming off the books is Ryan Whitney, and Subban would certainly be an improvement on him. The trouble is 2014-15, when the Oilers will have around $46 million to sign virtually an entire team of players, save for Eberle, Hall, Yakupov and potentially (though perhaps not) Horcoff.

By then both Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz will be onto their second contracts, and a precedent has been set by Hall and Eberle. Yakupov will be due the following year. The Oilers can't afford to pay Subban what he's asking for - which must be in the $4-6 million range - and retain everyone else.

The trouble with moving on Subban is actually two-fold: the cost in cap space that he will eat up, and the cost in assets that will need to go the other way. Both of those things will make a trade a troublesome proposition for a lot of teams, as they generally have an excess of one or the other and not both.

But can the Oilers afford not to make a deal like this, even if it means giving up a skilled, young forward? At what point do nights like Tuesday against the Sharks build up enough that balance on the roster becomes paramount?

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Ben Eager's loss is Magnus Paajarvi's gain. It's unfortunate that Eager is once again experiencing concussion symptoms and is out indefinitely, but now is Paajarvi's chance to show that he is still good enough to play in the NHL. With both Ryan Jones and Eager out of the lineup, there's a spot available - at least temporarily. As far as two-way forwards go, the Oilers aren't exactly bursting at the seams.

Paajarvi played just 9:30 on Tuesday night, including 1:41 on the penalty kill and was a minus-1. He had two shots (from the outside, but not terrible ones), and otherwise his stat line is pretty empty so far. Paajarvi has some ability to move up and down the lineup, and having bottom-six forwards go down is good for him as he can plug those holes well enough. With the expectations greatly tempered, might he regain his form? That will be up to him, of course.

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It's no secret that this blog has been a proponent of the downtown arena project, and it's good to finally see the debate (at least about whether or not to build the thing) is over. Even if the arena doesn't end up having all the myriad benefits that it's credited with (which remains to be seen), the one benefit it will certainly have is that it will shift the focus of the City to downtown, which should be the showpiece of any great city.

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