It’s kind of like Christmas in reverse.
Remember how it was when Chris Pronger became an Edmonton Oiler?
It was ‘Wow! Look what we got!’
Now, with Marc Pouliot, Ryan Potulny, Patrick O’Sullivan, Robert Nilsson, Ethan Moreau, Mike Comrie, Fernando Pisani, Ryan Stone, Aaron Johnson and Jason Strudwick departing, it’s an entirely different deal.
It’s like ‘Wow! Look what we got rid of!’
Free Agent Frenzy arrived at 10 a.m. Thursday and Comrie, Pisani, Stone, Johnson and Strudwick dropped off. All of a sudden, the Oilers were down in the low $40 million area in terms of committed salaries for next season and GM Steve Tambellini was sitting pretty after drafting Taylor Hall and doing a first-rate job of mucking out the stalls in less than a week.
You have to be careful, mind you, not to give Tambellini too much credit for his job mucking out those stalls.
Two of the players with big buyouts this year were the two guys he brought here in his first trade deadline deals — O’Sullivan and Alex Kotalik. He does get half points, however, in that it was Phoenix and Calgary in the end who actually bought them out.
Tambellini didn’t put himself in position to actually go out and enjoy Canada Day (and isn’t it just wrong that everybody involved in Canada’s game can’t have that day away from the game), but he had his own agenda. Four hours had passed and 20 players had switched squads before he made a move.
When he did, it didn’t move the earth. But it offered more evidence that the Oilers have an actual plan of what kind of team they intend to become here and that they don’t intend to stray from the plan.
Nobody is going to be doing cartwheels down Jasper Avenue because they signed Kurtis Foster.
Chances are you might have to walk several blocks down Jasper Ave. to find anybody who’s ever heard of Kurtis Foster.
But he’s six-foot-five and 220 pounds and is 28 years old.
That he has a heavy shot from the point and produced 42 points while playing 71 games with Tampa and was only a minus seven makes him the No. 4 defenceman and a point man in place to replace Sheldon Souray.
Don’t hold your breath on that happening soon, however. Souray’s big salary and debatable health resulted in nary a nibble Thursday. Remember it was well after July 1 — when the free agent cupboard was starting to get little bare — when the Oilers finally did the deal to bring him here on the first place.
Pretty much a journeyman with plenty of minor league time on his resume and only the one real breakout season, Foster doesn’t come with the same sizzle as Souray did.
But there appears to be some steak there.
While $3.6 million over two years is a tad pricey, Foster fits the specs for this squad going forward.
And that’s the thing today. Everything is going forward now. It’s now next season.
There’s certainly a lot of pieces to the puzzle to find and put together for the short term and especially for the long term.
Short term, the GM isn’t done.
“We’ve got some things in the mix,” said Tambellini of the less frenzied days of free agency coming up, adding that his time will now be split on that and putting together the parts for the minor league team in Oklahoma City.
But consider the big picture now. It’s pretty much been ‘blowed up’ now.
‘Blowed up real good.’
“We’ve moved a lot of different parts of our team, of our staff,” said Tambellini after Thursday’s shift at the office.
“Now we can start inserting people. Now you can start to see a different looking club than last year, for sure.
“We have more top end skill and we’re definitely a lot bigger.”
But it’s at a time like this you need to step back and not just look at the big picture but at the big team picture, the one down the road with a Stanley Cup in it.
How many guys in that picture are on this team right now? Maybe six.
It’s a start. But just a start.