Wednesday, June 10, 2009

UFA Bargain Hunting - Michel Ouellet

Remember this guy? My bet is that most people won't. He put up 40 points in 46 regular season games this year as a 26 year-old which would be pretty good if it was in the NHL instead of the AHL. Yet, I'm intrigued by the possibility of bringing this player to Edmonton for a three main reasons: his NHL track record on the PP, his NHL track record at EV and his likely cost.

Firstly, he can bring something to the power play. Surely this list will have had some changes to it after this year and Ouellet might not even make the ice time requirement, but Tyler has shown in the past that Ouellet can perform at a very high level on the PP, i.e. better than any Oiler not named Hemsky.

Secondly, his even strength performance at the NHL level has been very good. Again, Tyler mentioned this at the start of the season when Ouellet was traded from Tampa Bay to Vancouver. The up-shot? In 2007-08 Ouellet played for the Lightning and managed to post 2.88 GFON/60 and 1.92 GAON/60 at 5v5. He scored 2.00 P/60 and was a +12 5v5 which led the team by 9. He was 6th in 5v5 ice time and 7th in QC among Lightning forwards so he did all this in a somewhat sheltered role. In 2006-07 Ouellet played a very similar role on the Penguins but with middling results, namely 2.77 GFON/60 and 2.77 GAON/60.

I am convinced that this is a pretty good NHL player. He's certainly shown more than a guy like Marc Pouliot and, given his likely price, will be a better bet to outperform a contract than Robert Nilsson. I don't know what his price point is going to be but I imagine he's probably expecting a pay cut since he cleared waivers twice and even cleared re-entry waivers once. If I were managing the Oilers I would try to get this guy to sign on for a long term deal at small money. Normally, that's a pipe dream but how bad does 5 or 6 years at $900,000 on a one-way deal sound if you've been riding the buses, unwanted by anyone in The Show for the last year?


Coach pb9617 said...

I love it. They are going to be desperate for contracts that can be outplayed and he fits perfectly.

If you can manage to have him and Pouliot on the team in place of Nilsson and Moreau, $2.4 million is enough to land one of the plethora of goalies available.

Vic Ferrari said...

Good stuff, Scott. And I'm sure there are a lot of other guys like this out there too.

The fact is that if they sign him to a long term one way, as you suggest, then even if he falters the Oilers can just send him to the minors and not have the cap hit (said Vic, casually spending millions of Katz's money).

I mean there are dozens of really useful NHLers who could have been had for a song when they were in their early/mid twenties.

Visnovsky, Glencross, Penner, Hejda, Pisani as far as current and recent Oilers. Patrick Sharp, Joel Ward, Briere, Cleary, Rene Bourque ... surely dozens more "probably would've cleared waivers recently" guys out there who are now hot properties.

As you say, the Oilers have precious few guys who are likely to outperform their contracts, in terms of helping you win games. It's not an easy situation to undo. I'm sold on this kind of idea.

Scott said...

I totally agree that there are many guys who would have been available for less than a million per in their early-mid twenties. The problem of course is identifying who those chaps are. Ouellet is a good case because he's performed quite well at the NHL level in the past. Another thing his AHL performance indicates is that there are probably a ton of guys who don't have gaudy scoring totals in the AHL who could be useful NHL players.

Coach pb9617 said...

Another thing his AHL performance indicates is that there are probably a ton of guys who don't have gaudy scoring totals in the AHL who could be useful NHL players.

Tyler Spurgeon is one.

Bruce said...

Scott: I like Ouellet, and I like everything about your suggestion except the 6 years part. Way too long for a guy who got waived by the bottom-feeding Lightning and sent down without a second thought by the Canucks.

I also expect he might be available for closer to the league minimum at this point.

2 years, $1.5 MM.

Scott said...

I appreciate the concern Bruce but the term is the whole point. That way, if he works out, it pays off big. Having a serviceable player playing somewhere between the minimum and a million for two years is good but locking him up for the five or six prime years of his career at that rate is great. Now, no player will do that if they have any negotiating leverage so in order to achieve it you'll need to make a bet when the player looks less attractive. If you're willing to put the player in the minors if he's not working out (and realistically he should be able to help the minor league team win games) it's a pretty high reward / low risk proposition.

Black Dog said...

Good stuff Scott. He's the type of guy (times three) that the Oilers need.

Lets hope Tambellini shows some sense although if they keep adding big contracts he may have no choice but to beat the bushes.