I have looked at this thing from every angle and it still comes back to Jesse Puljujarvi. The No. 4 overall selection in the 2016 draft, he is visually dynamic and has reached the age where men with his pedigree find the range as NHL players. Peter Chiarelli should be able to rely on him, but we didn’t see enough from him a year ago to make JP a lock for a skill line this fall. Peter Chiarelli appears to have decided to proceed as if Jesse Puljujarvi is ready, or that is my read going into free agency. Is this a position he can defend? Sure. Is it dangerous? Unless he has a backup deal in his hip pocket that can be cashed at any time during the season, my answer is yes.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Oilers could sign a scoring RW in free agency, overpaying on a one-year deal if necessary, and have the depth chart set up in a far more promising fashion. It sounds like, based on what we are hearing, PC is going to add an end of the roster type player and then see how things play out.
The bottom line: The Edmonton Oilers continue to build toward a goal that will reach its zenith in the years to come, perhaps 2020 or 2022. The window to win, currently open, will receive no extra push this summer. At the deadline? We’ll see about it then. I will tell you this is not my preference and I believe there is real danger here. A step back, while the Calgary Flames push to the top of the Pacific Division, is a noxious thought for Oilers fans. I do not see the Flames as the class of the group at this time.
No one is suggesting PC blow the budget this summer, but a one-year deal for Radim Vrbata or another veteran scorer could offer cover for him, Todd McLellan, and frankly Jesse Puljujarvi. If we head to free agency and see Edmonton sign fringe options, everything comes into play. That means Leon on RW is a real possibility. A dive in goal differential early in the year is possible, meaning a stumble until a fix can be found (at a price more dear than the current cost in summer). This is my opinion.
- R Ty Rattie. Always liked him. Had him ranked No. 29 overall in his draft year and still think he’s NHL calibre. He is a good scorer at the AHL level, but size (6.0, 195) and speed are average. He belongs to the Eberle/Gagner family of forwards, so there should be no surprise that the Oilers are looking at him. Righty shot, there may still be a path to an NHL career.
- L Brandon Pirri. This would be a fine choice, he averages 20.65 NHL goals per 82 games. Pirri would be an added skill player and should be considered a plug-and-play. Also took 250 faceoffs and won 57 percent of them. Very good.
- RC Landon Ferraro. I’d sign him anyway. Ferraro is coming off a knee injury but it sounds like he’s ready to go and getting interest from several teams (including Edmonton). He is shy offensively compared to the other two men, but he has utility (C-R, PK) and could be very useful in those roles.
IS THAT IT?
Oilers seem to be in the market for a depth RW on AHL/NHL deal and a depth dman on similar type contract. Nibbling around edges of roster.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 30, 2017
- RD Christian Folin (51gp, 2-6-8). He is big, young, mobile and skilled. I think Folin would be a wise investment even if it doesn’t turn out long term. This is the kind of bet that could really benefit a team in the cap era.
- RD Cody Franson (68GP, 3-16-19). Franson on a one-year deal would be fine by me, the only worry being Todd McLellan. Franson isn’t a fast train, McLellan likes his defense to be mobile. Is Franson faster than Fayne?
- LD Yohann Auvitu (25gp, 2-2-4). He’s so not famous but there are some things to like about him. Puck mover, some chaos, older rookie this past season with New Jersey.
- RD Jason Demers (81gp, 9-19-28). Veteran isn’t a free agent but there’s apparently talk of his being dealt. Owns a large contract ($4.5 million for four more years) so the Oilers can’t take the contract. Too bad, he would be a nice addition.
Chris Tanev and Tyson Barrie are also being mentioned, can’t see either man heading here unless Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is heading the other way. I don’t see it.
CURRENT PROJECTED LINEUP
Plenty of work to do, this cannot be in dispute. I keep reading comments from Oilers fans worrying about the Flames, but the Flames are chasing as are the Oilers. The Anaheim Ducks, ladies and men. You are missing the point and buying in to issue framing if Calgary is your concern. Add them to the list, but the Ducks are the enemy. That’s a fact.