Thursday, 28 June 2012

Edmonton Oilers: Upcoming Predictions

So the UFA frenzy is just around the corner and who knows how the Oilers will look in a few short weeks. It's possible that the Oilers are able to pull a rabbit out of the hat and soon to be UFA Justin Schultz signs with the Oilers. One thing for certain, Steve Tambellini will keep his cards close and will be very meticulous when it comes to any player movement within the organization.

I'm not going to discuss what could happen or what won't happen over the Summer, but I will have a little fun predicting players who I do know will be here this upcoming season!

Upcoming Predictions:

Taylor Hall - Will most certainly suffer from another head injury, my guess from an inadvertent flying object.

Jordan Eberle - Will continue again to show-off his phone-booth prowess with the puck but will once again be the bridesmaid at next years NHL awards.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Will ignore everyone's recommendations and show up to training camp faster and stronger but not bigger. Reebok will finally cave in and issue an extra small jersey for a NHL player.

Jeff Petry - Will continue to over compensate the length of his stick. Bigger isn't always better... whatever that means.

Nick Schultz - Will tally more points than Tom Gilbert.

Ladislav Smid - Will tally more points than Paul Bissonnette.

Shawn Horcoff - Will relinquish his jersey number after being offered 1000 rubles from Nail Yakupov. Horcoff misunderstood and thought Nail said rubies.

Ryan Smyth - After a long and frustrating contract negotiation, Steve Tambellini signs Ryan to a bonus loaded contract and than tells coaching staff to slot him on a line with Horcoff for the entire season.

Ralph Krueger - Will lead the Swiss National Team to its first ever World Championship Title.

Taylor Fedun - Will be this year's Cinderella story... end of story.

Hopefully this won't be the last of my off-season predictions for the upcoming year...

Monday, 25 June 2012

Nail Yakupov, Ales Hemsky and Magnus Paajarvi

With the first overall pick of the 2012 NHL draft, the Edmonton Oilers are proud to select Nail Yakupov.

Despite the hockey media concocting rumours that the Oilers were skeptical of the Russian, it came as no surprise that the Oilers chose the best player of the draft. Unlike previous drafts, Nail Yakupov was the clear number one pick by all scouting agencies. The only question that loomed over the first pick was whether the Oilers were going to run with the best player available or commit to the need of the team.

By choosing the best player available the Oilers have created a bit of a log jam on the right wing. The team has corralled an elite talent of forwards who posses an offensive flare but unfortunately lack a physical presence that is sorrowfully missed. Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle has established himself as a world class player and will be going nowhere but the first line. The underlining question in Oilerland is who will be playing right wing on the second line?

Rumours are swirling that recently re-signed right winger Ales Hemsky is on the trade block and teams have been inquiring about the often injured forward. With the addition of Yakupov, one has to wonder where Hemsky fits in with the 29th placed team. Although a no movement clause was not enclosed in the new contract, it is believed that Kevin Lowe deigned that he would not trade Hemsky in the first year of his contract. Of course this is just speculation, but it never bodes well when a team trades a player shortly after signing a new contract.

Unlike Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers will grant Yakupov every opportunity to make the team for this upcoming season. Nail is a natural right winger but he would not be completely out of place if the Oilers were to play him on the left side behind Taylor Hall. Don't be surprised if you see Nail playing both wings during training camp, and if so who is in more jeopardy of losing their job, Hemsky or Magnus Paajarvi?

After a strong rookie campaign, the former 10th overall struggled last year splitting the year between the Oilers and the farm team. Paajarvi will be entering his third year as an Oiler and big things are expected of him. It's still too soon to determine if Magnus is the real deal or a flop, but he still has considerable trade value, perhaps more than Ales Hemsky.

With all this talk that Ales Hemsky will be moved, hockey fans and media forget the love that Lowe has for Ales. Because of his past injury problems, the Oilers would be lucky to obtain a middle pairing defenseman for Hemsky. On the other hand, a young player with lots of promise could easily be traded for a young top four defenseman with potential.

When it comes to drafting players, the best philosophy has always been in drafting the best player available! One can always acquire teams needs through trade and free agency, that's why teams have General Managers.

So is the log jam on the right or is it on the left?

Friday, 1 June 2012

Edmonton Downtown Arena & The Missing $100 Million

If you build it, the money will come!

Word has it the proposed downtown arena has the green light and the shovel should be hitting the ground before hell freezes over. In all seriously though, the released video and pictures of the new arena look promising and in a few long years the City of Edmonton will be the envy of all municipalities in Alberta. Edmonton will be basking in it's glory of potholes and higher taxes while Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge will have fresh asphalt roads and new community centres.

Does this rant sound familiar?

I truly don't understand why people are so afraid of spending money! So what if it means Daryl Katz will collect $200 without passing GO! Or a new building will make Northlands obsolete!

Most people who are opposed to the new arena hate the idea of tax payers money being used to support a hockey team that is owned by a Billionaire. Sure Daryl Katz could build his own rink, but why should he! Any smart business man uses other peoples money to create opportunities for his business, it's called using your brain. Katz orchestrated a sweetheart deal with the city but lets not forget the benefits that will be enjoyed by all Edmontonians and Albertans.

This is a classic case of the rich getting richer, but I have sneaky suspicion that if the Oilers were still owned by the EIG we wouldn't be seeing as much opposition. This idea of a downtown arena is nothing new, before Katz the EIG were researching about building a new barn in the downtown core. For some unknown reason a few people in Edmonton are uncomfortable with a Billionaire residing in this fair city; for me we can't have too many.

It's no secret that there is no love between Katz and Northlands. When the new arena is completed, Northlands will be left in the cold and will have to find new and creative ways to utilize the old barn. Northlands will be without a tenant along with the $35 Million they receive from the city for maintaining the arena. Is Edmonton big enough to sustain two NHL size arena's? I guess we'll find out.

So we know the new arena is going to cost no more than $450 Million. As of today, $350 Million is accounted for but there is a question mark on the remaining $100 Million. From the get go, the city was hoping the provincial and federal government would help with the funding of the new arena. Neither government wants any involvement with any project that benefits wealthy sports philanthropists. Fortunately for the city, the Alberta government has created a loophole that will allow the city provincial funding without political repercussion.

This loophole was created a few years ago known as the MSI. The Municipal Sustainability Initiative was designed to spread provincial money to all municipalities in Alberta. The money is allocated based on population and area of the city. This year, Edmonton will be receiving $167 Million from the MSI fund; based on the last few years, the province has set aside 18% of the MSI for Edmonton.

Now here's the kicker, the city has already budgeted the next few years to use the MSI for projects across the city. The money has already been accounted for, but what hasn't been accounted for is the 56% increase in the fund by 2016.

The provincial government allocated $896 Million across Alberta and have decided to bump the MSI to $1 Billion in 2 years and $1.6 Billion by 2016. Edmonton should continue to receive 18% of the fund and by the time the arena is finished the city will have an extra $150 Million from the MSI.

Mayor Stephen Mandel has already anticipated the increase in the fund and has not designated this money to any future budget. Let's be honest, city council would not have agreed to the framework if they didn't have the $450 Million accounted for. The MSI is the perfect solution for the city and the province where both parties get what they want.