On the day he took over the Edmonton Oilers, Peter Chiarelli knew Connor McDavid would be part of his new team by the fall. The young center would be added to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and prospect Leon Draisaitl, the trio possibly becoming a formidable 1-2-3 combination down the line. The trick, of course, was to build up the middle at the other positions without compromising the quality and depth at pivot.
Chiarelli added goalie Cam Talbot, and defenders Andrej Sekera, Adam Larsson, Matt Benning, Kris Russell. He also got Oscar Klefbom’s name on a real value contract. All of those things without compromising the center position and its magnificent future.
Turns out, coach Todd McLellan likes to run Leon Draisaitl on 1R with McDavid, making it necessary to find a legit center-wing to slide up and down the depth chart as required. That’s one (of two) major procurement items for the summer. That ‘need’ dominates the forward list this summer.
TARGET FORWARDS, 2017
I am looking for forwards who cost less than $6 million per year and (hopefully) can be used in the face-off circle.
- RC Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche. UFA 2023. Makes $6.3 million but he has to go on the list based on rumored availability. He is 50.5 faceoff percentage and scores 56 points per 82 games. Over 250 shots, too. Interesting option, would cost the moon.
- LC Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche. UFA 2019. His salary is $6 million but I can’t leave him off the list. If Peter Chiarelli can find a way to grab Duchene, I will walk all of Jasper Avenue naked, singing ‘TipToe Through the Tulips’ while playing a ukulele. And who doesn’t want to see that? 62 percent faceoff percentage. Scores 60 points per 82 games, in the same range as Nuge and Eberle.
- RC Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning. RFA 2017. This is a really interesting option for Edmonton, however unlikely he’ll be available. Made $3,333,333 during his last contract, 56 points per 82 games and 52 percent in the dot. A very good player.
- RC Bryan Little, Winnipeg Jets. UFA 2018. He will make $4.7 million next season and then hit free agency. FO percentage is 55.6 and he averages 53 points-per-game through his career. You may not think he is an option, but he hits free agency during a timely summer.
- RC Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers. RFA 2017. Made $2.625 million this past season and is a very interesting player. Averages 46 points per 82gp, and had a 52 percent faceoff percentage last season. Like this player.
- RC Elias Lindholm, Carolina Hurricanes. RFA 2018. Makes $2.7 million this coming season, averages 40 points per 82 games and has a 55.6 faceoff percentage. A longshot acquisition, there are reason to really value this player (and perhaps overpay). Does Edmonton have the assets? He is just 22.
- LC Vladimir Sobotka, St. Louis Blues. Signed to a nifty $3.5 million for the next two seasons, he looked quite capable during the postseason run. Unsure of the pricetag (or is St. Louis would consider trading him) but worth discussing.
- R Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens. Now in the injury prone stage of his career, that may make him more available. Habs would trade him for the Nuge? He is averaging 47 points per 82 games and makes $3.75 million through 2021.
- LC Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild. RFA 2017. He made $3 million this year and is due a raise for sure (81gp, 26-43-69 while playing wing). FO% 49.5 for his career and averages 51 points per 82 games. Good player.
- L Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres. UFA 2018. Will make $5.25 million and then head to free agency, averages 50 points per 82 games and is a bull. A lot of noise around him but as a scorer and PF there’s a lot to like. Had 25 EV goals in 2016-17.
- RC Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils. UFA 2021. His salary is $5.75 million and his faceoff prowess (54.6 percent) is quality. Added attraction? Righthanded. He has averaged 46 points per 82 games during his NHL career, shy of both Eberle (62) and Nuge (55).
- R Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils. Undersized goal-scorer has posted 30 and 26 in his two seasons with the Devils. Would be an interesting addition, makes $4.65 million through 2021.
- R Tobias Rieder, Arizona Coyotes. He’s making $2.25 million this coming season, RFA at that time. Can PK, check like a demon and if the Oilers acquire him he can’t score shorties against them anymore. A fine young player.
- RC Ryan Strome, NY Islanders. RFA 2018. Makes $2.5 million and is poor (42.7) in the FO circle. Scores 40 points per 82games. His name was brought up by Darren Dreger recently, suspect he could be available this summer.
- LC Boone Jenner, Columbus Blue Jackets. RFA 2018. Makes $2.9 million on his current deal and is 50 percent in the circle. Averages 39 points per 82 games and every Oilers fan in Christendom will tell you they had him ranked ahead of David Musil on draft day.
- RC Brandon Sutter, Vancouver Canucks. Stop it! I wanted to be thorough is all! UFA 2021, he has a NTC that might be an issue. Making $4.375 and FO%54.3. Righthanded. Per 82 games, he scores 31 points.
TARGET FORWARDS, 2017 (UFA)
I haven’t added names like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, because it seems unlikely the Oilers will be able to afford shopping in that end of the pool.
- R T.J. Oshie. He scored 33 goals, he is going to get a massive payday and it won’t be from Edmonton. Oilers will make a call though.
- LC Martin Hanzal. He averages 43 points per 82 games and has a FO percentage of 56.4. He is 30 and did not have a strong playoff, but he is certainly a Chiraelli player. Plays a heavy game, has skill and knows Gretzky. Huzzah!
- R Justin Williams. Old as the hills and twice as dusty, someone forgot to tell him it isn’t 1975 anymore. Three Stanley’s in his career, Game 7 witch, perhaps he can be convinced.
- LC Nick Bonino. He averages 38/82 points and 48 percent on the dot. Bonino is 29 and my suspicion is he will re-sign with the Penguins. Still, an interesting option.
- R Ales Hemsky. Like a brilliant Euro sports car your last four girlfriends left you over, Ales Hemsky puts a spell on you. Per 82 games, he is posting 42 points since leaving Edmonton. Had two healthy seasons before getting into only 15 last season, but it wasn’t his fault. They had to order a part all the way from Coventry, England. The car still starts, but not when it rains or is sunny.
- LC Brian Boyle. He averages 22 points per 82 games and had a FO percentage of 52.2. He made $2 million a year ago and is 32.
- R Jaromir Jagr. Just 45, he made $5.515 last year because of course he did. Ridiculous age, ridiculous longevity, I saw him last winter taking about 10 percent of the warmup and spending the rest of pre-game staring at about 60 sticks while some poor schmoo had to stand there waiting for Aretha Franklin to decide. Pure diva. Proceeded to score a goal 50 seconds into the game. I would love to see him as an Edmonton Oiler.
- R Drew Stafford. Had a poor season (58gp, 8-13-21) and makes a lot of money ($4.35 million last year) and at 31 this may be the exact wrong time to sign him. He is a Chiarelli type player, so there’s a chance he ends up here.
- R Jarome Iginla. I don’t think he’s coming here, but wanted to include him to make a point. Chiarelli signed and traded for a few veterans who appeared to be too old/done, and found a way to make them productive. It is possible Iginla ends his career here.
- L Patrick Sharp. Depending on health and price, he could be a reasonable option. Made $5.9 million a year ago but wasn’t healthy and had subpar boxcars (48gp, 8-10-18). That’s his worst season in 14 NHL campaigns. Still, PC would value his leadership and skill. He is 35.
POSSIBLE 2017-18 ROSTER
This model has the Oilers signing free agents Martin Hanzal and Jan Rutta, while dealing Jordan Eberle for Jason Demers. That’s a good deal for sure, Bob mentioned it on his show (in fairness, the first person to mention it to me was speeds). The Oilers are eventually going to find a volume shooter for McDavid and that’s probably next step, 2018 summer.
DRAFT ELIGIBLE EV POINTS-PER-60
- Nick Suzuki 3.17
- Gabriel Vilardi 3.06
- Nico Hischier 3.04
- Owen Tippet 2.99
- Cole Guttman 2.95 (USHL)
- Jonah Gadjovich 2.94
- Cody Glass 2.80
- Evan Barratt 2.76
- Eeli Tolvanen 2.73 (USHL)
- Kole Lind 2.73
I’ve been looking for this all winter and spring, finally found (thanks, Todd Cordell!). It won’t change much in the final rankings, but Cole Guttman will be added to my list.
It was awesome. Just five years after entering the league, the Edmonton Oilers brought Stanley to the west. It was surreal and beautiful and it took forever to put it into context. Man, what a feeling. I remember so many things about that game, the most prominent recall being Kurri to Gretzky for the game’s first goal. I have described it in detail here many times, from the mind’s eye and memory. It is here, still gives me chills. Ridiculous to witness those years plus the McDavid future. Blessed.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Today at 10, TSN1260. A fun show, lots of entertaining guests. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, Big Mouth Sports. We remember May 19, 1984 and everything from the guy who got kicked out early in the game to the Lumley EN goal.
- Scott Mitchell, TSN. New to the Jays beat, Mitchell has six stories a day to write!
- Matthew Iwanyk, TSN1260. Nuge or Eberle? Who is leaving town?
- Corey Pronman, ESPN. His Top 100 list is out and we will talk draft 2017! Finally!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. Talk soon!