Friday, February 27, 2009

On the Ice and In the Office - Parallel Narratives

As a fan, it's always important to believe that your team is doing as much as possible to win both on the ice and in the office. For fans of the Edmonton Oilers, last night was disappointing on the ice as we watched the Columbus Bluejackets dispatch of the Oilers quite handily in yet another lacklustre home effort. This morning, fans of the Edmonton Oilers could be quite disappointed with the performance of the front office. So often we hear that it's difficult to make trades because of the salary cap or because other teams are just asking too much for a given player. Last night, Ossi Vaananen was put on waivers.

For some time there has been talk of acquiring a veteran defenceman to help this team. I'm not convinced that it will make a huge difference to the performance of the team and so would be unwilling to part with much of anything in order to acquire said player. Luckily, Vaananen didn't cost any assets except cap space (and money), which the Oilers have in spades.

Vaananen is a 27 year old defenceman who is making 1M this season and will be an UFA next season. Vaananen was a contributing member of the Flyers this season, playing in 46 games and amassing a Corsi of -165 (the team is -200) playing the 5th most difficult minutes among Flyers defencemen (min. 20 GP). He was +28-28 at EV (the team is +112-113) this season (excluding EN goals) and has a PDO number of 102.2. On the PK he logs the third most ice time per game among Flyers D and ranked 5th (of 7) in GA/60. (statistics courtesy of Desjardins and Ferrari). Two seasons ago (his last in the NHL), Vaananen performed at a similar level for the Colorado Avalanche. On a good team he is an effective third pairing defenceman. For the Oilers, this could be very helpful. Vaananen is probably better than both Strudwick and Peckham at this stage of his career. He would also provide cover if the Oilers decide (like they should!) to deal away Steve Staios. This isn't a huge miss and Vaananen is probably worth less than a standings point to this team, so the need for righteous indignation is not great. In this way it is just like Craig MacTavish throwing out Fernando Pisani, Ethan Moreau for the final minute against the Blue Jackets. It probably wouldn't have made a difference either way, but it's still stupid.

Ossi Vaananen was claimed off of waivers this morning by the Vancouver Canucks, a team with much less of a need on defence than the Edmonton Oilers. It's a simple and smart move by Mike Gillis that he should never have been able to make.

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