What would it look like? Would we like it? How much pain will there be? Will Jordan Eberle be an Oiler in September? How much money will be spent in free agency? Will Andrew Ference land on LTIR?
PETER CHIARELLI IN HERE COMES SUMMER!!
- Top-pairing D to partner with Klefbom (Travis Hamonic or Jason Demers)
- Second-pairing D to partner with Sekera (Sami Vatanen or David Savard)
- Third-line C if they trade Nuge (a right-hander probable)
- Scoring winger if they trade Eberle (Laine, or other)
- Offload unwanted contracts (Fayne, Korpikoski)
- Backup goalie (could also be a G who slots below Brossoit but has NHL experience)
- Re-stock the system (major needs in goal, scoring forwards, looking draft, college CHL FA)
A smart man once told me that the way to build a strong hockey team was to spend the money and resources on:
- A quality goaltender
- Four NHL defensemen who had experience, a range of skills, and could play the toughest opposition.
- Three centers who could impact the game offensively, with two who could play a two-way role.
- Four wingers (two lines worth) who could play on the scoring lines (two) and impact the game in a complementary role alongside those centers.
The Oilers have some of those things, but how many of them can we be certain of?
- A quality goaltender? I know many people who do not believe Cam Talbot reaches that level.
- Four actual NHL defensemen? I buy Andrej Sekera and believe Oscar Klefbom is there, if healthy. After that? I like the trending on Brandon Davidson, but he isn’t there yet. You know who else I count as an actual NHL defenseman? Mark Fayne. So that is three (Sekera, Klefbom, Fayne).
- Three centers who could impact the game? Yes! Music. We are there.
- Four wingers who could play on scoring lines. This is a sticky area, one we have glossed over a bit in our zest to make that Eberle-for-Hamonic deal. If we’re honest, the Oilers have three of the four (Hall, Pouliot, Eberle) and an intriguing batch of people trying to win the fourth job now that Teddy Purcell is sunning himself in Sunrise (I would list Patrick Maroon and Nail Yakupov, you may want to have Zack Kassian on the list).
If we take a moment and suspend reality, and assume moving forward that the men in place will in fact deliver in the roles suggested, we get:
- Cam Talbot—a quality goaltender
- Four NHL defensemen—Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Mark Fayne and Brandon Davidson.
- Three C’s to impact the game—Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Drasaitl.
- Four wingers (two lines worth)—Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Benoit Pouliot, Patrick Maroon
What do you want to improve this summer? And what do you want to tear down. Careful, because if you flush Mark Fayne without a superior option, then you are in fact doing what every Oilers general manager has done since 2006 summer.