We talked last night about the Oilers roster and the players who might be in trouble. I suggested some of the smaller forwards were in danger and that “tweeners” like Pouliot lacked a specific area of strength and that will impact them.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t roles for these guys. If Pouliot can establish himself as a strong PK option there could be life for him should he survive the summer roster flush.
Tonight I thought we could discuss players and player-types who are likely going to be coming to Edmonton this summer:
- Two veteran goalies: One veteran addition would be the case with any coach; in fact Roloson is fairly likely to return based on whispers heard in Ourtown. However, with Quinn as coach and an aged Roloson as the starter I think it’s reasonable to suggest that the Oilers will acquire a veteran backup for Roloson. Where this puts Deslauriers is anyone’s bet but this club didn’t bring Quinney in to miss the second season.
- Status quo on the blue: Quinn probably likes the look of Visnovsky, Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Staios, Smid and Strudwick on the blue. He’ll probably take a liking to Peckham as well. Should the Oilers need to move Gilbert for hitting up front during the summer I can see the club signing a 2M UFA from the two-way D tree (Kurtis Foster please). One thing we can be pretty sure about: kids like Chorney, Wild and that group would have to blow the doors off to make the big roster out of TC. This is quite different than earning the opportunity in the minors and I think that’ll be the way defenders make their way to the big club over the next several years. Matt Greene “learn at the big league level” era development is over.
- Center gets a boost: I think Horcoff and Gagner return in the middle and we’ll see what they do with Cogliano. Should they decide to keep the two kids in the middle, then the Oilers are probably going to move Brodziak over to RW and bring in a veteran center like Blair Betts or PJ Axelsson. Along with a veteran starting G, I’d bet good money the Oilers add an actual center to this roster over the summer.
- Left Wing Unlocked: The turnover at this position has been stunning. If the Oilers’ brass wants a humbling experience they might want to trace the position from spring 2006 to today (and all the way through, let’s not forget Glencross) and suggest to the new regime (Tambellini, Quinn, Renney, with Lowe peaking through the keyhole and MacTavish idling in the driveway listening on shortwave) this is an area that needs re-work. Dustin Penner simply has to be better, Ethan Moreau needs to be a calming influence and a strong veteran hand, Robert Nilsson needs a U-Haul and Ales Kotalik (or any other UFA) needs to have size and skill. I think the Oilers probably sacrifice a small F (Cogliano?) for some veteran size and grit on LW. JF Jacques is also a factor here, as is Steve MacIntyre.
- Little (Right) Wing Unlikely: I think Ales Hemsky is about to get a huge boost in PP time. Hemsky spent 4:14 on the PP last season, and Quinn asked 5:40 from Sundin and others when he was in Toronto. I’m having a hard time marrying Patrick O’Sullivan’s size to Quinn’s roster preferences (especially considering Hemsky, Gagner and Cogliano) but he’s a PK man and can do some other things so we’ll see. Pisani (if healthy) will be worked hard all year long in multiple roles. Zack Stortini will certainly have an elevated role and might end up playing stretches with skill centermen. Pouliot is a complete wild card, especially if Brodziak moves over from center. This position will be bigger by a bunch from the spring. Chris Neil might be an option.
- Callups: The AHL team is going to get a facelift this summer with a bunch of minor league veterans signed. I think we should play close attention to the names signed because some of these guys might end up playing in the NHL under Quinn in Edmonton. Should a Pouliot start slowly, I think the Oilers are of a mind to plug in a veteran. Since Edmonton doesn’t have any of those players, expect a half dozen to be airlifted this year. I’m thinking names like Boyd Devereaux, Jeff Taffe, Brad Winchester, Alex Henry and Tomas Kopecky.