Depth Chart July 2009

Steve Tambellini certainly isn’t finished (this is not a playoff team) but it does look like the next move is some time in the distance. As opposed to the salary post of a few days ago (scroll down), I thought it might be an idea to list the roster in terms of depth at position. I’m stretching a little in some cases but wanted to include everyone with at least an outside chance of consideration for the 2009-10 Edmonton Oilers.

Goal
  1. Nikolai Khabibulin
  2. Jeff Drouin Deslauriers
  3. Devan Dubnyk
  4. Bryan Pitton
  5. Andrew Perugini

Should this list stay the same, the chances of Dubnyk seeing NHL action this year are solid. I imagine the Oilers will shore up the position with a signing/waiver pickup similar to last season’s acquisition of Dany Sabourin.

Defense

  1. Lubomir Visnovsky
  2. Sheldon Souray
  3. Tom Gilbert
  4. Denis Grebeshkov (RFA)
  5. Steve Staios
  6. Ladislav Smid (RFA)
  7. Jason Strudwick
  8. Theo Peckham
  9. Taylor Chorney
  10. Cody Wild
  11. Johan Motin
  12. Alex Plante

The Oilers could begin the season with the depth chart and be solid at the major league level. This isn’t Calgary’s blue but there are veterans here and a decent mix of skills. We keep hearing the Oilers will move a D to address F and if they do it’s likely a defender will be added to the mix.

The Springfield group is going to need some help. Peckham has proven he can play in the AHL (a very good league) but Chorney and Wild are currently around the Mendoza line in the minors. Motin has SEL experience but he’s still a new hire and one imagines Alex Plante will be a deer in the headlights for most of the winter.

Center
  1. Shawn Horcoff
  2. Sam Gagner
  3. Marc Pouliot
  4. Andrew Cogliano
  5. Gilbert Brule
  6. Ryan Potulny
  7. Rob Schremp
  8. Tim Sestito

The position most lacking at this point. The Oilers have a bona fide NHL center (Horcoff) with a complete skill set and two gifted kids who are not yet playing at “NHL average” for their position and minutes. It’s a bit of a black hole for this team and was under the previous coach too, and I can’t imagine the Oilers standing pat in this area.

There does seem to be an underlying feeling in the organization (going way back) that Marc Pouliot could fill a bigger role. MacT’s “Carbonneau” comments are evidence, as is this quote from Kevin Prendergast in March 2008:

  • “He played out of position [in the NHL], wasn’t comfortable and had a couple of bad games and put himself in the doghouse and rightfully so for the mistakes he made. I think we’d have to play him at center though and make the decision that we’d have to live with [his mistakes] for the short term. He just needs consistency; don’t be afraid to make mistakes because they’re going to happen but limit the mistakes.”

Pouliot played 141 NHL games under Craig MacTavish and made some progress (MacT mentioned he’d done as much during his final PC as coach). Perhaps the organization plans on bringing in a few players from the Boyd Devereau tree (quality AHL veterans) to push him. The Oilers have all summer, but this would explain their lack of action (so far) in this area.

Left Wing
  1. Dustin Penner
  2. Patrick O’Sullivan
  3. Ethan Moreau
  4. JF Jacques
  5. Liam Reddox
  6. Ryan Stone
  7. Chris Minard
  8. Geoff Paukovich
  9. Slava Trukhno
  10. Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson

This position has seen so much turnover in the last couple of seasons I’m tempted to say the club should just stay the course with this group. Penner is not a complete player and in fact is a liability in some important areas of the ice, but the results have been good in his time as an Oiler. O’Sullivan is a real shooter and we should get a better idea about him over a full season. Ethan brings veteran leadership (!?!?!?!) and grit and based on the Oilers own estimates JF Jacques is a nice in-house option for making this team difficult to play against in 09-10.

Reddox never gets any respect but is surviving at the NHL level and could be a useful part in 09-10. Paukovich makes the list because Rob Daum liked his progress (this courtesy of Guy Flaming who is lapping the field with Oiler prospect coverage again this summer) and Trukhno is on the list because he’s so damn skilled there’s always going to be a chance. Minard was just hired yesterday and is likely an AHL signing.

I’ve included MPS here for two reasons: First of all, a line in Redline Report (“He’s also got good size and strength, and has been competing against men in the Swedish Elite League all year, so he may be ready to step in and play in the NHL right away”) and the Oilers penchant for elevating players early. It’s highly unlikely, but there’s enough of a chance for me to list him.

Right Wing
  1. Ales Hemsky
  2. Robert Nilsson
  3. Fernando Pisani
  4. Zack Strotini
  5. Steve MacIntyre
  6. Jordan Eberle
  7. Colin McDonald

Hemsky is a quality player and central to this team’s success. Nilsson is the most exposed player on the roster, I think it’s less than 30% that he returns in any kind of offensive role this winter. Pisani has lost a step over the last couple of seasons and I don’t know that the organization has any kind of backup plan available in this area. Stortini has become a good player in a defined role and seems secure. MacIntyre should also have a roster spot as an enforcer.

Eberle has a chance to make this club. I think the Oilers are prepared to cut bait on Nilsson and should the kid from the Pats have a strong camp there’s a very good chance he makes the roster (if only for the maximum gp total before going back to junior). A training camp story raving about Eberle’s emergence may deflect attention away from the Heatley summer.

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