Lowe, Scott Howson and the coaching staff will be assessing the roster and decisions will be made and notably what to do with Isbister.
High on that list will be deciding whether to qualify him, shop him at the entry draft or offer a multi-year deal at a reduced rate. Of course Brownlee thinks it will be the two latter ones.
The Oilers will qualify Jani Rita to retain his rights, but is almost a certainty he will play in Finland or Sweden next season. The Oilers think it is unlikely he will make their roster and h'd need to clear waivers to go to Toronto.
Michael Henrich will most likely not be qualifed or Bobby Allen.
Most likely to go to arbitration. Jason Smith, Eric Brewer, Radek Dvorak. The Oilers have 10 players eligible for that route.
If Lowe wastes Jani Rita simply by letting him go back to Europe I'm going to be super pissed. I am sure Lowe won't let an asset with the potential Jani does like Brownlee is proposing, I think same thing will happen with his as what happened with Chimera a couple year ago and with Torres last year (or atleast is sures hell better)
As far as Rita is concerned, I would imagine it's more the certainty of Europe that appeals to him. There is no guarentees of a season here next year and certainly no guarentee he'll have a regular roster spot. So, he spends a year in Europe, playing in a top six role, get some confidence back and comes into camp in '05 like gangbusters with a chip on his shoulder.
I suggested he should spend a season in Europe a few months ago, and I like the idea of him doing it.
Let Rita go. I don't understand people here always praising the guy. What has he shown? The only thing I see is another bad first round pick who has turned into a bust. I don't really give a rip if we ever see him again. get a pick or something for him and deal him before everyone else in the league catches on he is a bust too.
Edmund, what you're proposing is very un-Lowe like. That's making a complete waste of an asset. Rita has shown as much as a lot of kids who HAVE gotten a chance - he's simply stuck in a numbers game with Moreau and Smyth being locks before the year, and with Chimera and Torres (Torres earned it, dunno bout Chimera) with one way deals, so he was pretty much screwed from the out set when you add in Izzy to the situation.
With a long term lockout looking more likely than ever, I'm starting to wonder if Rita going to Europe might not be the best decision for all involved. He's already spent 3 seasons in the AHL, is a 4th season really going to do much for his development at this point? It's obvious he needs a change of scenery, and maybe this way he goes back home, plays on the big ice and maybe gets some confidence back and his head screwed on straight, and through it all the Oilers still own his rights if they want them. His trade value might even improve, him being in Europe can't be any worse than being tagged as a 'career AHLer' if he stays in Toronto much longer.
It's true that he may keep his act in Europe...but it's not like his absence is going to leave some gaping void in our starting lineup. I'm sure the Joey Moss Cup can be won without him.
And if he does go home for keeps, what does that say about his desire to play in the NHL?
If by some miracle of rationality there is hockey next season, perhaps the Oilers' thinking changes on this and they decide to make room for him. But if there's no NHL hockey for at least next season, Rita in Europe isn't the end of the world.
Rita in Europe because there is no NHL is one thing -Rita in Europe becauase he doesn't think it'll ever happen for him in Edmonton is another thing. I strongly feel Chimera and Izzy (and I'm a supporter of Izzy) should be moved if that's whats needed to get Rita to sign here and to make room for him to play a decent regular shift.
I no longer see Rita as a top 2 line guy. But there are really only 90-120 of those guys in the NHL anyway. If he's a third liner, so be it.
I wouldn't mind this scenario:
Trade Isbister or let him walk. It's a bit of a risk, but Torres has shown that he can be much more than anyone expected (25-20-45-100 player), so the Niinimaa trade is not that bad at all.
Sign Rita to a two-year 700K/yr. one-way contract a la Torres and Chimera. If he's destined to be a 3rd line 15G 15A 30P guy, he's not going to learn that game on the farm where he's expected to be an offensive leader. He can fill in on the top two lines if someone is hurt, but he'd be like Chimera and play between 40-60 games in year one.
If this team could pay Dan Cleary close to 1M bucks to sit on the 4th line and press-box last season, what's the harm in spending 300K less to have Rita fill that role???
If Rita can chip in here and there and develop some defensive responsibility and improve his physical game he can be a good NHLer. Expectations get the better of fans some times. If Rita can be a decent NHL player (when you look at the other 1st rounders in 99) you'd have to call him a decent pick. Heck, he'd be a heck of a lot better than Henrich, Riesen and Kelly!
Worst case scenario:
He doesn't pan out, the club puts him on waivers and he's taken because his contract doesn't scare anybody off and is a decent player. Isbister finally becomes a HEALTHY 25-30 goal, 60 point player who runs people over.
If Rita can chip in here and there and develop some defensive responsibility and improve his physical game he can be a good NHLer.
Thus the namedropping of Jere Lehtinen during traing camp last September by Lowe and MacT in reference to the game they'd like Rita to emulate. They probably see that the only way Rita makes this team is as a bottom six guy, then perhaps work his way up.
The question is, can Rita adjust to that expectation and put in an honest effort to learn both sides of the rink?