Ethan Bear and the Seattle Thunderbirds won the WHL Championship last night, Bear helping the cause in a 4-3 OT win. Bear had two assists last night, and was 1-9-10 in the six game series. Many posters have mentioned the idea of Bear playing for the Oilers next year, something that seems like a stretch. Defense is a tough position to play and stepping up one level at a time (and learning at pace) is ideal. That said, what if he plays well in training camp and pushes for a roster spot? I’d still send him down and that’s no shot at the young defenseman. I think the Oscar Klefbom template (17 NHL games at 20; 60 NHL games at 21) should be the most aggressive for Edmonton’s defenders. Depth is no longer the issue it once was, and if Bear can continue to progress he should be an Oiler for a long time.
POSSIBLE RECALL OPTIONS 2017-18
If we make a list of outside-the-NHL-players who might be able to help the Oilers (40 games or less with the big club a year ago) it’s actually impressive compared to previous seasons:
- Goal: Nick Ellis
- Left Defense: Griffin Reinhart, Dillon Simpson, Ziyat Paigin
- Right Defense: Mark Fayne, Ethan Bear
- Center: Joe Gambardella
- Left Wing: Jujhar Khaira, Joey Laleggia
- Right Wing: Jesse Puljujarvi
I think some of these players will make the opening night roster (Puljujarvi, Khaira possible, Reinhart if he is still here) but there is some depth developing in Bakersfield.
PETER CHIARELLI SUMMER LIST
- Get Connor McDavid signed to a long-term contract. ($10-13 million times 8?)
- Get Leon Draisaitl signed to a long-term contract. ($7-8 million times 8?)
- Negotiate the expansion draft rapids without giving up a valuable piece of the future. (Griffin Reinhart, Jujhar Khaira, Mark Letestu the possible pool)
- Find a way to trade Benoit Pouliot off the roster. (trade with LV or buyout)
- Find a second pairing D with two-way acumen. (Shattenkirk, Hamonic, Franson, Kris Russell)
- Find a bottom 6F who can help the offense. (Hanzal, Bonino, Derek Ryan)
- Find a way to cover off buried contracts. (Fayne)
- Make enough cap room to get everyone in under the number with enough room to spare for the trade deadline.
The picture is coming into view now, this week we’ll look at trade targets. The free-agent pool isn’t strong this year, but there are some attractive options. Today, let’s look at possible outgoing roster players.
WHO IS LEAVING?
Last year’s list was most likely (to least likely), this year I’m going to go with most valuable first. PC has shown a willingness to trade very valuable pieces and I doubt this summer will be any different. One thing that is certain: There are far fewer trade pieces this summer, meaning these men listed are more likely to actually go:
- LC Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. His offense has been lagging for a couple of seasons, but the Nuge has exceptional two-way value (it was on display during the playoffs, especially the SJS series). Carolina is often mentioned as a destination, I always thought Detroit would be the perfect destination. Internal replacement is here (Draisaitl), external (Hanzal) is a free agent.
- R Jordan Eberle. He is the obvious ‘odd man out’ based on salary ($6M) and role (scoring winger) but you have to be able to replace that player before sending him away. If Edmonton decides to use Leon Draisaitl as a RW, then sending Eberle away (and auditioning Jesse Puljujarvi in the 2R role) could happen this summer. Todd McLellan has other options too (Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula) but none of these men have scored 10 goals, let alone 20. Eberle may stay another year for this reason. Lots of people dumping on his value right now, if you look at the RW depth chart he may have more value to Edmonton than on the open market.
- No. 22 overall selection. I think PC would trade down but not out. By that I mean Edmonton could trade this pick for No. 34 and No. 57 or something along those lines.
- Future draft picks. This would have special appeal for LV I imagine, the Oilers may be able to figure out a way to fill one of their holes by sending away futures.
- L Benoit Pouliot. By hook or by crook, he is leaving. That’s my take. If he gets bought out, Pouliot could end up being a productive player on a contender by the fall. If he gets traded, he could be a fan favorite in Vegas by Christmas. He gone.
- LD Griffin Reinhart. I imagine he’ll be chosen in the expansion draft, but if he isn’t selected the Oilers may see fit to deal him off for a similar talent at another position. Maybe Curtis Lazar is available.
- RD Mark Fayne. Buyout seemed like the likely option, but the Oilers may choose to buy out Benoit Pouliot instead. Fayne may have another year in Bakersfield.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT JESSE?
I wrote about JP the other day, and his still unclear offensive potential. Lots of feedback on it and I think it will be one of the very interesting subjects of summer. For me, the Oilers summer, in terms of procurement, breaks down like this:
- Find a second pairing RHD who can play effectively in the role next season and grow with the team. I listed Mark Pysyk the other day, your mileage may vary.
- Find a center who can play a two-way role as 2C or 3C as required. I chose Martin Hanzal as the Oilers best option and do think they will be a player in his free-agent decision.
- Find a winger who can play with skill and be responsible without the puck. I chose Kris Versteeg in that role, there are others (depending on price point) available in free agency.
Edmonton is going to have an active summer, hell we’re likely to see another college signing (Foo?) before the summer actually hits. It is going to be a very important summer, because balance and depth are vital on the 23-man roster by opening night.
As for Jesse? Ideally he could flourish on a 3line with Nuge and (say) Drake Caggiula. I don’t think it will work out that way, mostly because JP’s cap bonus is going to force the Oilers to send him back to the AHL until much of the bonus burns off. Auditions are over in Edmonton, JP may benefit from a year in the KHL or Sm-Liiga.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A condensed show (Canada-Norway will be finishing up) this morning. Scheduled to appear before noon, TSN1260:
- Scott Burnside. Seems the Nashville Predators are unhappy with the doings of Kesler and Getzlaf. Huh.
- Tom Lynn, Veritas Hockey. NHL player agent talks expansion.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Who is most likely to go among Oilers veterans?
- Sunil Agnihotri, Copper & Blue/The SuperFan. How much importance should Peter Chiarelli put on the final year of Connor McDavid’s entry-level deal?
I’ll be at 10-1260 via text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!