Lots of talk about small moves by Peter Chiarelli this summer, likely due to his media avail on Tuesday. PC talked a lot about seeing this group grow and about progress made together. It sounds great, but new talent is the lifeblood of an organization and change is inevitable. Add legit cap issues on the horizon? We’re going to see action.
WHO IS LEAVING?
Matt Hendricks won’t be back, David Desharnais and Andrew Ference too. There will also be new players, or fringe players from last year playing major roles. Expect more Jujhar Khaira and there’s a chance Tyler Pitlick finally plays a full season in 2017-18.
The big item is cap restructuring. With two massive contracts on the way (Leon this year, McDavid next), we’re going to see something resembling Billy Guerin for Anson Carter and it very well could happen this summer. Change? Get used to it.
CURRENT 50-MAN (RFA’S INCLUDED)
- The current estimate (my estimate) is 38, with all of the strikethroughs gone baby gone. I’m not certain about guys like Iiro Pakarinen, who has expansion uses but is probably at the every end of the “NHL winger” depth chart on this team.
- The NHL blue and goaltending look set, but with the Sekera injury (and Todd McLellan’s preference for Kris Russell over Mark Fayne) we’re likely to see changes. Reinhart out (expansion draft) and Russell plus a RHD (Pysyk, Petrovic) seems likely.
- Lots of things in play up front, including Benoit Pouliot out and Zack Kassian signing a two or three-year deal.
- As much as Chiarelli’s avail suggested he wanted to see this group for a longer period, the cap and roster pressures won’t allow it. Adding Russell and a RHD mean change somewhere, probably on the wing.
CHIARELLI’S SUMMER LIST
- Get Connor McDavid signed to a long-term contract. I look every day to see if anyone with a louder voice than this blog is talking about the outer marker ($15 million per season). The Oilers negotiation with 97’s side is going to be limited, because anything below that number represents real value. I keep reading these “he’ll take $9.7 million for the good of the team” tweets and that strikes me as unreasonable. If he signs for eight years and $97 million ($12.125 million per season) that will represent a bargain contract.
- Get Leon Draisaitl signed to a long-term contract. I keep hoping $7 million because that’s manageable this year, but the young man kept filling the damned net! It might be $7.5 million (Bob mentioned that number yesterday) and PC will need to move some deck chairs but the team can manage it. More inexpensive wingers required!
- Negotiate the expansion draft rapids without giving up a valuable piece of the future. Everyone is thinking Griffin Reinhart and that makes a lot of sense. LV must be interested in young players who can grow with the group, meaning GR and Laurent Brossoit plus Jujhar Khaira could all be on the Golden Knights list. None of these names would be terminal for the Oilers.
- Find a way to trade Benoit Pouliot off the roster. There is no easy road here, and I remain hopeful the organization decides to hold off on buying him out if a trade can’t be made. It is in the realm of possibility that BP recovers his offense, and remember he was very effective with McDavid (and McDavid with he) not so long ago. The reality is Edmonton has to offload some of their expensive wingmen and Pouliot is the obvious choice.
- Find a second pairing D with two-way acumen. This has now morphed into getting an entire second pairing for much of the season since the Sekera news. If the club could grab Pysyk after the expansion draft, that would be a very strong addition. Russell on a one-year deal is probably good business (Brian Campbell is out there, but would he be interested in Edmonton?) but the contract may require more seasons and you should be prepared for it.
- Find a bottom 6F who can help the offense. Martin Hanzal would be ideal and it does look as though a center who can win faceoffs may be the target. I will explore the forwards available (free agency and trade) tomorrow morning, seems as though we’re going to see that kind of addition in the next three months. Brian Boyle?
- Find a way to cover off buried contracts. Reading the tea leaves, seems Fayne is likely to play again in Bakersfield and give the team defensive cover. Pouliot’s situation is different and the club could buy him out, but that takes on some challenges of its own.
- Make enough cap room to get everyone in under the number with enough room to spare for the trade deadline. If the Oilers add Mark Pysyk and Brian Boyle as the major moves of summer, there will be some exits. I think we will see a more substantial move than those acquisitions and suspect an expensive contract from the forward group is heading out of town. Never trust the general manager to tell you exactly what he is thinking. I know that may be your mindset, as the Oilers have employed men who did it in the past. PC didn’t tell us his plans this week. Pretty sure.
DYLAN WELLS SIGNS!
The look of Edmonton’s goalie depth chart has changed completely since the day Peter Chiarelli took over. Back in May 2015, the signed men were Ben Scrivens, Laurent Brossoit, Tyler Bunz, Frans Tuohimaa.
Wells has had one strong OHL season (.916SP this season) and a mammoth playoff (.930SP, again this spring). He posted save percentages of .893 and .871 in his two other junior seasons, so we’ll look for him to post impressive totals in Peterborough this year before turning pro fall 2018.
I think the Oilers are close now to filling out the roster of goalies for next year. Talbot and Brossoit in the NHL, Ellis and Starrett in the AHL and perhaps a veteran Bakersfield signing to offer cover at the minor league level (Starrett could play in the ECHL for much of the season).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JARI KURRI!
I loved watching him play. A 200-foot winger with eyes in the back of his head and supreme chem with Wayne Gretzky, I met him a few times back in the day and he was a very nice fellow. Verbal from the mean streets of Finland suggest he remains a good guy, always makes me feel good to know there are at least a few left on the planet. He was a sublime hockey player, it was a privilege to watch him play.
JESSE PLAYING AT WHC’S TODAY!
Word is he is on a feature line against the USA (with Sebastian Aho & Mika Pyörälä). Fill the net young man, prove that coach wrong and then do it again and again. No mercy. JP has been the subject of several posts on this blog over the spring, but the baffling handling by team Finland really surprises. The game is underway, updates available here.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning with lots of news to discuss. 10 this morning, TSN1260 and scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Jesse Puljujarvi, Leon Draisaitl and the summer ahead for the Oilers.
- Don Landry, CFL.ca. The CFL is gearing up, we’ll look at some of the big stories entering camp.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Will the Ottawa Senators beat Pittsburgh? Will Nashville get past Anaheim? Who wins Stanley? Plus some Oilers rumors.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!