Brewer says wait and see

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

Eric Brewer isn't sold. While the theory is a salary cap will provide the Edmonton Oilers the level playing field they've been looking for in signing players, pursuing free agents and competing on the ice, Brewer isn't convinced that translates to a return to Stanley Cup contention.

"In the end, we're going to have to play and see," Brewer said.

"We can say this and that about how it's going to help us, but, in the end, we have to play well regardless of what line-up we field.

"You always want to draw positives from these kinds of things, but, to be honest, I never felt it was an unfair playing field ... this is what everyone wanted, so here it is. Let's see where we stand."

With a proposed cap of $39 million and a bottom end of $21.5 million, the tentative agreement will narrow the gap between traditionally free-spending teams and the have-nots to a maximum of $17.5 million.

In 2003-04, the Detroit Red Wings topped the NHL with a payroll of $77.8 million, followed by the New York Rangers at $77 million. At the other end of the scale, Nashville spent $23.2 million. The Rangers missed the playoffs.

The penny-pinching Predators earned a post-season spot for the first time in the team's six NHL seasons.

"Never once did I ever think because Detroit had this team or Colorado had that team we were going to lose a game," Brewer said. "I never once went into a game thinking we weren't going to win. I can honestly say that."

The 2004 Stanley Cup final is the most recent example money doesn't necessarily buy happiness. The Calgary Flames went to the final with a payroll of $35.2 million before losing to Tampa Bay, which spent just $33.5 million in salary. The Oilers spent $30.8 million and missed the playoffs.

"It's about managing your team," Brewer said. "It doesn't matter what (economic) system you put in place, the team that does that the best, more times than not, will win."


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