Exiting the System, Goodbye

With a new coach (Pat Quinn) and a change in direction (away from pure skill, toward size and grit) it might be time for the Edmonton Oilers to bring in all the failed 1st rounders, the marginally talented minor league free agents, the NHL bargain UFA’s looking for a roster spot and playing time.

For an exceptional number of “fringe” Oilers and “regular” Falcons, this summer and fall are a definite crossroads. Some of these kids are going to be traded and still others may not get contracts. And those who do make it to TC will have a harsh reality facing them: If they can’t make the grade under Pat Quinn this fall, a bunch are going to be gone. Either via waivers, trade or plane ticket to Europe.

I think we can safely name 10 forwards who are likely to be there on opening night (barring trade, but one assumes if they are dealt a replacement will be coming back in the deal). They are Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Patrick O’Sullivan, Kyle Brodziak, Ethan Moreau, Fernando Pisani and Zack Stortini.

The strong candidates from the AHL (and fringe major leaguers) for slots 11-14 are a diverse group:

  1. Robert Nilsson
  2. Marc Pouliot
  3. Steve MacIntyre
  4. JF Jacques
  5. Liam Reddox
  6. Gilbert Brule
  7. Rob Schremp
  8. Ryan Stone
  9. Ryan Potulny

speeds has a post up about many of their players and the waiver situation. Basically all of these guys have to either be traded, make the club or clear waivers before playing in the AHL. Alexei Mikhnov is another name out there: The last time we saw him the big Russian didn’t show much in the passing or checking department, but he has size and hands. His most recent KHL season (52gp, 16-19-35 +25–he led his team in plus minus) looks a lot like the last one, and his size (listed at 6.05, 215) keeps him in the picture. We don’t know that he’ll be coming over for TC, but with a new coaching staff it’s a good idea to have a look at what’s available.

I’m also hoping the Oilers grab a forward from the bargain UFA tree. The two clubs who played in the SCF this season had a few of them throughout each roster, and you can see why a veteran (even an average NHL veteran) has the edge in the big games over young players trying to establish themselves.

Which brings the question: how much should a contending club rely on inexperienced players? Even one player (Matt Greene, not to pick on him, is an obvious example) can cost a club a tremendous amount in a 7-game series.

Another question: say we’re in Vegas and can bet on the 4 players who’ll win the final roster spots (as listed above, and we’ll include Mikhnov). Who would you bet on?

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