One of the key (and undervalued, of course) elements of the 05-06 team were the large number of value contracts. It’s a huge item in a cap world and the Oilers haven’t had a bunch in recent years.
The 05-06 season featured a lot of these young men, 6 by my count which made up over 30% of the every night lineup for the Oilers. Beyond Eberle and the first overalls, the candidates for 12-13 are as follows:
- D Jeff Petry: $1.75M for a guy who is going to clear 22 minutes a night based on what the depth chart looks like currently. Smart, capable player with the puck and improving defensively. Lanky kid, he can recover nicely from being out of position in a hurry. Can he hit 30 points? I think so, 25 points last season in 73 games without a major PP push.
- L Teemu Hartikainen: $875,000 and he might get a push all the way up the depth chart. A lot of this is luck and timing–Oilers brass were staring at those tall drinks in LA all spring and Harski fits the height requirement and brings some other things too. Can he score 15-2o goals? I think he can if the young Finn gets to play extended periods with the skilled kids at forward this season.
- L Ryan Smyth: $2,250,000 is a very good contract for this veteran. Coach Krueger is unlikely to wear him out in the first months of this season and Smyth can help in all three disciplines.
- R Magnus Paajarvi: $1,525,000 and somewhat forgotten because of the struggles in 11-12, Paajarvi has a nice range of skills and there will be an opportunity this season. We know he can score 15 goals in an NHL season, but if he can develop as a 2-way player (and the underlying numbers are a pleasant surprise) then this player will be a big boost to the Oilers.
- D Taylor Fedun: $900,000 and all but forgotten, but if he can play at the same level as one year ago the Oilers might have a very interesting decision to make in the 5-7 rotation. Based on his progress I wouldn’t bet against him.
The Oilers have some other “bubbling under” talents like Chris VandeVelde, Tyler Pitlick, Phil Cornet, Martin Marincin, Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz, but that group of five listed above have a really nice chance to deliver well past their paycheques.