Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lowe keeps the off-season interesting

The Oilers GM is at it again.

Kevin Lowe tendered his second offer-sheet of the summer, this time luring Dustin Penner to Edmonton for $21.5M over 5 years. For anyone counting, that's a raise of $3.8M per year for the Ducks forward after only one full year in the show.

They used to blame big market teams for ratcheting up salaries. In the new NHL, it's a way to put cap pressure on your competition. Or just cure the fact you can't lure an UFA. I'm not sure which is Lowe's master plan.

Lowe hasn't had a lot of luck in the open market. Sure, he snagged Sheldon Souray. But what if the former Montreal defenseman hadn't waited for an offer from the Rangers? I'm sure Souray had a number of potential offers July 1. But two weeks later, buying teams have significantly less cap space after their initial spending spree. The market for big-ticket UFAs dries up.

If Lowe's plan is the former, it could backfire if Brian Burke refuses to match the offer. Penner is a great asset for the Ducks but not irreplaceable. Lowe will be left hoping he gets more out of Penner than he did Joffrey Lupul.

Either way, Lowe has definitely spiced up the NHL's dog days of summer.

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