In the fairly short history of the Edmonton Oilers (NHL division), there have been only five general managers (I am cheating a little by excluding Larry Gordon). I have been having a thought (my thoughts take longer to arrive now, don’t know why) about the Oilers and defense in the last few days.
I always say the Oilers used to be good at identifying useful defensemen (Huddy to Gregg, JSmith to Staios) but they cannot find them anymore. I think the real problem may be that the Oilers are procuring the same player-types as they did at the turn of the century. The rest of the NHL world is chasing mobile, quick thinkers and sharp passing men. The prototype for an NHL defender has changed, when will Edmonton? Or have they, recently?
Let’s try this: Here are the five Oilers GMs and the first major defenseman they acquired, plus the first substantial draft pick during their tenure.
- Glen Sather—Lee Fogolin and Kevin Lowe
- Kevin Lowe—Eric Brewer and Matt Greene
- Steve Tambellini—Ryan Whitney and Oscar Klefbom
- Craig MacTavish—Mark Fayne and Darnell Nurse
- Peter Chiarelli—Andrej Sekera and (possibly) Ziyat Paigin
Too soon to know on Chiarelli, but the MacTavish list looks a bit throwback compared to what NHL teams are searching for (technically Nikita Nikitn belongs there, but Fayne has played and NN really didn’t in his two seasons) at this time. If we take the defenders drafted (early in their time) by recent GMs, we get this:
- Steve Tambellini—Troy Hesketh, Kyle Bigos, Martin Marincin, Jeremie Blain and Brandon Davidson.
- Craig MacTavish—Darnell Nurse, Ben Betker and William Lagesson.
- Peter Chiarelli—Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, John Marino and Ziyat Paigin.
I think there is a little—just a little—evidence here that suggests a change in the weather. All of PCs picks have something they can do with the puck—pass, shoot, carry. Hesketh, Bigos and Betker are tall trees with some puck issues, and much of the game carried by Marincin and Lagesson is defensive. Two-way blue. More please.
BRUCE GARRIOCH REPORTS
My wife is on to me. When you have known someone for 35 years, you sort of know their b.s. and their tendencies. For instance, I embellish a bit. When I am describing something to her, I think she cuts the story in half and then divides by four. Or if I have a quarrel at work, I will wave my arms and talk about quitting because of what the boss said—and she will respond with “what exactly did the guy say.” You have to know who you are dealing with in life.
- Bruce Garrioch: Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could be a busy man. He’s made it quite clear he’s willing to listen on the No. 4 pick in the annual crapshoot, especially if he’s able to get a top-end blueliner in return. As much as the Oilers need to think about the present, they have to consider the fact they’re going to get a good player with that selection. There is talk teams have been calling the Oilers about forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. As many as seven or eight teams are looking for top-six forwards at the moment so there’s a strong market. Source
I trust Garrioch. I have interviewed him and he is a very smart guy (I asked him the same question three times in an attempt to get inside info, and he responded by calling me on it—which is pretty damned funny). I think he is unlikely to post things just for the hell of it, so when we read him it is vital to parse the words. Here is what I get from the verbal above:
- Chiarelli let the NHL world know that the No. 4 overall pick is in play, but in the meantime he loved watching Matt Tkachuk and they might just keep him. If they trade, it will be down to get Mikhail Sergachev—but only if a real NHL D option is part of the return.
- PC is discussing the $6 million men, and there are lots of teams in play, so there is no established target—there could be interest in all three, depending on the team.
I believe that is what Garrioch is saying.
OH, THOSE BLUE JACKETS
- Bob McKenzie, TSN1040 Vancouver: “The sense that a lot of people are getting right now is that the Columbus Blue Jackets are not sold on Jesse Puljujarvi at that spot, and that they may be looking at a more positionally-oriented name, and that is a center. Specifically, two centers come to mind. One is Logan Brown, who’s the big 6-foot-6 American from St. Louis who plays for the Windsor Spitfires, who has been kind of rocketing up the draft charts. The other is Clayton Keller, another American who broke a lot of Patrick Kane’s records at the U.S. national program that he’s been a part of for the last couple of years. Now, he’s a small center. He’s Patrick Kane dimensions as well.” Source
This has been hinted at in recent days, but McKenzie put it well here. Bottom line: CBJ are not sold on Jesse Puljujarvi, but they apparently are interested in a center, not Matt Tkachuk. Someone could trade up to get the Finn or Tkachuk and it puts the entire top 10 into a sudden state of chaos. If you look at my list, it could get crazy after the top two overall:
- C Auston Matthews, Zurich Lions (Swiss-A).
- W Patrik Laine, Tappara (Sm-Liiga).
- R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (Sm-Liiga).
- C Pierre-Luc Dubois, Cape Breton (QMJHL).
- L Matthew Tkachuk, London Knights (OHL).
- LD Mikhail Sergachev, Windsor Spitfires (OHL).
- C Clayton Keller, USNDTP (USHL).
- LD Olli Juolevi, London Knights (OHL).
- LD Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia Sting (OHL).
- C Logan Brown, Windsor Spitfires (OHL).
As crazy as it sounds, there is a possibility that Edmonton will have their choice of Puljujarvi and Tkachuk at No. 4 overall. Unlikely, but possible. Some possible scenarios:
- Draft one of Puljujarvi, Tkachuk or Sergachev at No. 4 overall. (I have given up on Edmonton drafting Dubois).
- Oilers could trade No. 4 to Winnipeg for D Jacob Trouba and No. 18 overall (maybe need to add there, I hate making trade ideas).
- Oilers could trade No. 4 to Arizona for No. 7 and No. 20.
- Oilers could trade No. 4 to Buffalo for No. 8 and something.
- Oilers could trade No. 4 to Montreal for No. 9 and something (Mike McCarron would be interesting, Habs fans keep offering Pierre Bouchard).
OILERS MOCK, JUNE 15
- No. 4 overall—R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (Sm-Liiga). Big winger with terrific speed and built in two-way ability. Dynamic player, No. 2 all-time in WJC scoring (one behind Jagr). Did not wow offensively in pro, dominated against his own age.
- No. 32 overall—L Tyler Benson, Vancouver (WHL). A Chiarelli-type who would be ranked higher but for injury (Pronman still has him inside his top 20). Rugged player, a nice get if available here.
- No. 63 overall—RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (SEL). Swedish Poster has given us a splendid scouting report, and his size (6.03, 209) and range of skills. I keep going back and forth between Berglund and Hronek here, but the Swede fits the Chiarelli template.
- No. 84 overall—RD Jordan Sambrook, Erie (OHL). An intelligent two-way defender, good speed, passer and creative. He is 6.02, 185 and will need to work on his defense but looks like he has all of the tools.
- No. 91 overall—G Mikhail Berdin, Team Russia (MHL). He posted a .929 SP in Russia’s top junior league. Butterfly goalie, great athlete.
- No. 123 overall—C Connor Bunnaman, Kitchener (OHL). Throwback player, if this was 1975 he would go in the first round. Range of skills, likely shy on offense but has size and two-way acumen.
- No. 149 overall—C Jonathan Ang, Peterborough (OHL). Speedy center who is creative, I think he is a bit of a boom bust (but that is the range where you take that player). High skill, could end up being a fine complementary player on an Oilers skill line.
- No. 153 overall—R Zak Zborosky, Kamloops (WHL). A tweener in terms of size, his hands got him 32 goals in 58 games. He is a 1996, looks like he has the skill to play pro.
- No. 183 overall—G Colton Point, Carleton Place (CCHL). Giant goalie with good rebound control, no idea about the league he is playing in.
- My list.
Talked to couple of sources & there's growing skepticism Lucic & Kings will be able to get something done. Term is the big sticking point
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) June 14, 2016
I do believe (as we have discussed) there is a good chance Milan Lucic signs with Edmonton on July 1. Note: This is not my preference. I would prefer Peter Chiarelli sign Jason Demers and keep the forward group intact. The choice may be this:
- Sign Jason Demers as a free agent (overpay, with term) and keep Hall.
- Sign Milan Lucic as a free agent (overpay, with term) and trade Hall for D.
I encourage you to consider coming over to the dark side. Jason Demers: It’s the right thing to do.
Buyout window opens on Wednesday. #Oilers have Andrew Ference and Lauri Korpikoski as candidates. Sure sounds like AF will got LTIR route.
— Alex Thomas (@Alex_Thomas14) June 13, 2016
As Alex mentions, Ference is unlikely to be bought out (injured) and I am unsure a later window (won via arbitration filing ala Justin Schultz last year) would help—he is injured. Korpikoski has been mentioned by this blog as a possible buyout, but based on usage one year ago suspect Todd McLellan has plans for him. I should also mention that Mark Fayne has been mentioned a few times, notably by David Staples who writes a compelling article about buying out the defenseman. I do not agree with a word of it, but know many of you agree with David on this player so may find it a worthwhile read. If the Oilers decide to buyout Fayne, we could hear about it as early as today.
I had a question sent to me yesterday in regard to Ference and a buyout. It is important to put yourself in the player’s position here, in my opinion. If AF retires, he does not receive the salary guaranteed him when signing the deal with Craig MacTavish. Would you do that? Seriously? I think it we are honest, simply retiring and walking away from the money is a non-starter.
Second, the Oilers do pretty well going LTIR with Ference. The team will have to make a paper transaction before the rosters are sent to NHL offices (demoting Leon and other draft eligibles to Bakersfield) but can recall them in real time after moving Ference to LTIR. It costs Katz money, but the cap hit is actually better in doing it this way. I am sure we will have 10 or more posts about expansion draft issues, would encourage you to take a prayerful watch on that issue—we simply do not know the rules that will impact teams at the expansion draft.
There have been rumblings about the possible availability of Winnipeg Jets defender Jacob Trouba, sounds like nothing is shaking. Yet. An article by Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun quotes the Jets general manager.
- Kevin Cheveldayoff: “So trying to trade him? No. The rumours and stuff that everybody hears, it’s interesting. Because they don’t come from inside the negotiation room. They come from imaginations and different scenarios that this time of year just automatically brings. Standing here today, there’s nothing that’s not on the table.” Source
As mentioned above, I do wonder about the Oilers and Trouba. If the Jets had interest in Matt Tkachuk (Keith did pretty well there), perhaps something around Trouba and No. 18 overall? Long shot for sure.
Let. It. Go.
Randy Carlyle being hired by the Ducks is possibly the most fascinating coaching move of the century. For me, the possibility of Sami Vatanen coming available is higher today because of it, and it is possible other finesse players could be more vulnerable to trade. Peter Chiarelli may be able to improve his team by one stop shopping, but Anaheim has a dire need at LW and that could mean losing Hall.