Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan took a little over one year to identify and move three very flawed players who—on a better team—could help in important areas. Justin Schultz (mobile, helluva move driving in from the blue line for offense), Nail Yakupov (as God is my witness, that man has talent) and Anton Lander (gritty, smart, two-way C) are all gone away, and the organization is replacing them with men who possess a wider range of skills and who also lack a fatal flaw. This is the hope, anyway. In sending those men away and bringing in Adam Larsson, Kris Versteeg and Drake Caggiula, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan are hoping to find some peace of mind. We wait.
PROJECTED OPENING NIGHT ROSTER (AS OF 10/10/16 5PM)
I think that is right, no use adding up the dollars until we see Versteeg’s deal. The Oilers could go any number of ways, including running Lander on the roster until Versteeg is ready, but we can see the group heading north (old baseball phrase meaning breaking camp) and draw some conclusions. Galling for me to see Kris Russell arrive so late and project ahead of others, for me that gives the team a real disadvantage in these Calgary games—four points that are precious. Sekera—Russell is not going to be better than Sekera—Fayne, pretty sure.
LOOKS LIKE WE MADE IT!
In the words of the great philosopher Barry Manilow, looks like we made it—and for some of these men the climb to NHL opening night 2016 has been a long and winding (bump-bum) road. Tyler Pitlick has been trying to make the grade since 2011 as a pro, and Jesse Puljujarvi was still in grade school at that time. Anton Slepyshev is basically trolling both Bogdan Yakimov and Gerry Fleming now, so close to an NHL job for the second year in a row. And what about the college men? Incredibly, Drake Caggiula and Matt Benning are still here, and could break camp with the Oilers. If they do, and Versteeg signs, 14 of 23 men would have been acquired by the organization since Peter Chiarelli arrived. That is turnover.
Anton Lander has played in 193 NHL games and I hope he gets 600 more, but Edmonton had a real issue in their bottom 6F. Several incumbents are slow trains and most of the new additions—Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev, Tyler Pitlick—are good to great skaters. Something had to give, and that is even before we start talking about offense. Lander could remain an Oiler and I have always cheered for him, but not having inside champion like Todd Nelson means he is at yet another crossroads and an orphan in roster conversations. Here are a bunch of talented players on waivers Edmonton may be interested in, listed in the order I would select them:
- R Teemu Pulkkinen, Detroit Red Wings—He has some extreme positives (scores goals!) and some famous negatives (Teemu Pulkkinen skates funny, but does get there). He is a small forward, Edmonton will pass on him and someone is going to get a helluva player.
- R P.A. Parenteau, New York Islanders—A 20-goal man making just over $1 million who gets waived this late is fairly rare. He is small, not fast, but is fantastic with the puck. Power-play issues? Hire the man. Seven of his 20 PP goals last year came on the 5×4.
- RC Mark McNeill, Chicago Blackhawks—He has a nice range of skills, and I could see the Oilers grabbing him. His draft resume suggested he was good at most everything, without a dominant skill. He has somewhat run in place during his AHL time, but his NHLE from last season is 29 points. Important to remember Edmonton is still building, and a useful RHC who could post 30 points a season would come in pretty bloody handy from 2016-2020.
- LD Mattias Backman, Dallas Stars—My favorite player-type, wide range of skills and underrated in some areas (mobility and offense).
- RC Erik Condra, Tampa Bay Lightning—Oilers should consider him for the PK ability alone. He is a luxurious 4C.
- G Scott Wedgewood, New Jersey Devils—Holy hell he had a strong 2015-16, both AHL and NHL. No idea if he is a good goalie.
- R Seth Griffith, Boston Bruins—He is a very strong offensive player in the AHL but is small and lacks top end speed. AHL history has miles and miles of these players. Tweener is my guess.
- R Tyler Randell, Boston Bruins—Drafted by Chiarelli and he is a Bruin-type. Non-zero chance he gets taken by Edmonton in my opinion, speed will hurt his chances.
- G Mike Condon, Montreal Canadiens—Had a .903SP last season, so ranks in and around the Gustavsson. Very doubtful Edmonton adds him.
- LC Greg Campbell, Columbus Blue Jackets—Former Bruins C during the glory years, he would be very familiar to Peter Chiarelli. Mark Letestu fills his role on the roster, doubtful addition.
I do not think Edmonton gets any of these guys, preferring to run with their current group. Calgary gets Pulkkinen, book it.
BAKERSFIELD CONDORS ROSTER
Condors PDF is here. Oilers have some players down there they will need this season and beyond. Hoping for good performances from Jujhar Khaira, Kyle Platzer, Jordan Oesterle, Laurent Brossoit and others.