Project: Rebuild, the Build-Up

Edmonton Oilers: last place team in the NHL. A team barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic team. The Oilers will be that team. Better than it was before...

Better, stronger, faster.

The last instalment of this series was posted after a whirlwind Deadline Day. Many things have come to light since then, most notably is the rapid retreat from the cap ceiling. On March 4, the Org was only sitting a stifling $2-million shy of the cap. As of today, August 10, we can breathe comfortably with a ~$10-million cushion. Of course Samwise and Andrew have yet to sign, but we've got plenty scratch to spare.

the UFAs
Moreau (waivers)
Nilsson (buyout)
O'Sullivan (trade)

Brule (re-signed)
Deslauriers (re-signed)
Dubnyk (re-signed)
Foster (signed)
Fraser (trade)
Gerber (signed)
Jacques (re-signed)
MacIntyre (signed)
Strudwick (re-signed)
Vandermeer (trade)

Gone are the expensive and ineffective; enter the inexpensive and large. While Fraser should be an asset in a checking role, his most appealing feature is his affordable cap hit and short term. Vandermeer is an overpay, but a UFA by the end of the season. Foster's deal is affordable and short, although it remains a bit of a gamble.

SMac and Jason Masterton return to Edmonton for peanuts and should see most of the games from the press box. Our goalie hydra is back, with a fourth head in Martin Gerber peering up from the depths of the A. Brule signed a cherry deal to avoid arbitration (helped by ATL's tossing of MacArthur into the shallow-yet-crowded FA pool) and the Org continued to pay Jean-Francois Jacques because, clearly, he's worked a gypsy curse of blindness on Steve Tambellini.

Overall, nothing you can get really mad at. Tambi sacrificed the three biggest goats on the team and managed to escape the worst of the cap ramifications. As predicted in the previous instalment, Steve went for big first, player second. Character seems to have rounded out his wants and all of these new additions seem to bring a lot to the table in that regard.

However, it's far from all good: the goalie situation is more than a little muddled; qualifying (and then signing) JDD & JFJ seems to be akin to flushing dollars down a toilet; and not a shred of clarity has been found in the Souray clusterfuck. Still, Steverino has earned a passing a grade this offseason and, given good numbers and length for Gags/Cogs + a possible Souray transaction, he just might start the season looking like a serviceable NHL General Manager.

As an addendum to the OUT column, we should probably include Pat Quinn whose "promotion" will allow Renney to step up and begin tinkering with the circuitry of the team. Where once was an old-timey line roller who relied on players' instincts, there will be a tactician (once more) who will attempt to hardwire the players' game in order to maximize development and, hopefully, success. Tom's already altered the coaching staff and it will be interesting to see how the bench dynamic develops when patrolled by Krueger-Buchberger-Smith.

In the IN column, we could bring the Entry Level contracts into the picture (Eberle, Paajarvi, Hall), but it remains to be seen who will break camp in the Bigs. The safe bet is Hall. Eberle is 50/50 (PPG+ in his AHL tryouts = satisfied management). Paajarvi could prove to be a longer shot than some think. While the Swede might have the greatest physical gifts and most rigorous experience (played vs. men for two seasons), there's a solid chance the Org will have him fire up his engines in OKC. Again, no telling where they'll land until Training Camp, so best to focus on the NHL players of the roster (which is why I've left out the AHL signings of Grioux et al).

So, now we wait. We wait for the last two RFAs to lay ink on paper. We wait for our starting goalie/MVP to stand in front of a judge in Sherriff Joe's county. We wait for Steve's vet forward to manifest itself into Eric Belanger (pleasepleaseplease), or Brendan Morrison (pleasenopleasenopleaseno), or nobody (better than Brendan Morrison). We wait for training camp and the myriad of answers it will bring to the questions swirling around the Org. Most of all, we wait for the NHL Regular Season to start so we can all start ignoring everything else in life. Moreso.

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