I admit to hoping Peter Chiarelli rips apart the Leftorium this spring and summer, but will probably have to be content with a small flush. Caleb Jones has been signed by the organization, and seems destined to start his pro career in Bakersfield (with NHL time possible). Let’s start with the depth chart among signed players for 2017-18 (including slide rules Jones and Ethan Bear).
PROJECTED 2017-18 DEFENSIVE DEPTH CHART (BEFORE CHANGES)
The left side is solid with four (Sekera, Klefbom, Davidson, Nurse) options, although Brandon Davidson may not be here come the fall. After that, there are four AHL hires with at least some NHL experience, plus Betker and young Jones. Edmonton had 19 defenseman on the team’s 50-man list (17 and two slides), and will likely run with at least 17 next season.
At the NHL level, we seem to be an expansion draft away from Kris Russell signing, and for our purposes today assume the team brings back all RFAs listed above. I am not specifically concerned with how the NHL team is constructed in the fall, but rather what we might see in terms of spring and summer signings. Let’s have a look.
- LD Ziyat Paigin. He just turned 22 and his size (6.06, 210) makes him an attractive candidate for the current Oilers. I think he is sometimes miscast online, he seems to be a mobile defensive defender who happens to possess a giant shot. I think he is the most likely to be signed among drafted blue.
- LD William Lagesson. He turns 21 later this month, and has two more years of eligibility in the NCAA. I spoke to Simon Boisvert on the Lowdown before Christmas and he said Lagesson ‘has a certain potential, but he needs to play in the AHL asap.’ If the Oilers consider him a legit prospect, and I bet they do, Lagesson probably gets a deal, or is traded.
- RD Filip Berglund. Turns 20 in May, and has enjoyed a productive season. Playing in the SHL most of the year, he has been playing depth minutes while posting seven assists. I imagine the Oilers will be pleased to keep him with Skelleftea next year, with an eye to playing a more prominent role.
- RD Vincent Desharnais. He turns 21 in late May, and is completing his second year of NCAA hockey with Providence College. It is difficult to project him into pro hockey (he hasn’t played all of PCs games, but there have been some good reviews), so it is wise to guess he stays at least one more year in college.
- RD John Marino. He turns 20 in May, but will have only one season at Harvard on his resume. Marino has played more than a lot of freshman blue, but I think we see him stay another year in the NCAA.
- RD Ryan Mantha, Niagara IceDogs. He was drafted by the NY Rangers, but they chose not to sign him. We have talked about him before, and Brock Otten wrote about Mantha here, ranking him as the No. 1 overage player in the OHL.
- LD Daniel Brickley, Minnesota State-Mankato. Oilers have been mentioned in regard to Brickley in the past. His NHLE is 40 points, and he is 6.03, 203.
- RD Darren Raddysh, Erie Otters. Former teammate of Connor McDavid, he is a steady defender with two-way ability. Nothing flashy, but he can play. Otten ranked him as the No. 2 option among overagers in the OHL.
- LD Gavin Bayreuther, St. Lawrence University. He has been a player of interest for some time and was having a strong season year (more than a point per game) before his injury. Should have a lot of interest.
- RD Aaron Irving, Everett Silvertips. It may be just an AHL deal, but I believe he can play pro and he addresses an extreme area of need for the organization.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Let’s assume the Oilers keep the 14 names I listed above, and add Kris Russell via NHL free agency. If we project 18 defenders (no slides), that means they can sign Ziyat Paigin, William Lagesson and Ryan Mantha (as an example). Buying out Mark Fayne (likely) would allow Edmonton to add another player to the 50-man list.
CURRENT 50-MAN LIST