We’ve got all spring to look at this thing all different ways, but the bottom line is this: the Oilers have their jacks and kings, but need those 6′s and 7′s and 9′s in the right amount. How many pieces do they need? Oh, about the same number as last season!
Here’s last summer’s list taken from this August post and I have included original points (we can see how things like Ryan Whitney’s positive news turned out):
- A top pairing defenseman capable of delivering big minutes at evens and at least one of PK and PP. 20+ overall. Oilers did not address this area, although some may feel the positive news re: Ryan Whitney will suffice. A major item.
A better Renney.Tom Renney is out, Ralph Krueger is in. Based on what we know, and the verbal from all corners, this appears to be a positive move. I expect we’ll see some form of the trap, especially when this young team is in a close game. Justin Schultz or similar. Won the Schultz race, incredibly. I know that old timey guys like me ramble on about this, but winning the day on Justin Schultz is historic for the Oilers. Crazy, man, crazy.
- A reasonable goaltending option for the Khabibulin free fall. I think Yann Danis is a suitable “replacement level” solution to the problem, and would suggest that the Oilers feel comfortable moving forward with their goaltending group. I know this is an area of worry for many, and the lack of quality behind Dubnyk is extremely likely to cost points. Anyone arguing the Oilers are not serious about making the second season in year three of the Hall era need only point to the goaltending position.
- An established 2-way winger to mentor the young players who will compete for bottom 6 roles (Lander, Hartikainen, Pitlick, etc). The Oilers quickly re-signed Lennart Petrell and haven’t looked at anyone else since then. I think they are making a mistake, but as this is a very under-reported area of need pretty much worldwide, I’ll assume that others feel Edmonton has enough in this area.
Ryan Smyth or similar. Smyth did return, and possibly to the role mentioned in point #5. I don’t think he’ll be placed in the offensive situations of the past, but make no mistake: bringing back Smyth for such a young team was a key item. Get the rfa’s signed.Got ‘em all done, the major ones too. The Petry contract is extremely likely to be high value, the Gagner contract probably means he’s going to get squeezed by all of the other contracts that need to be signed in the next 12 months.
The problems we have today were the things that Steve Tambellini did not address last summer:
- A top pairing defenseman (now rumored to be Mark Streit).
- A reasonable goaltending option (now rumored to be Nikolai Khabibulin).
- An established two-way winger (no rumors, distressing).
I think we’re going to see the Oilers do three notable things this summer: shuffle the roster with a major trade for a PF, add Streit via free agency and sign at least one of their ufa’s (Khabibulin, Jones, Petrell) and make roster space for Oscar Klefbom.
Let’s say they trade Sam Gagner and Teemu Hartikainen to Columbus for Ryan Johansen and RJ Umberger. That’s an Oiler type move, right? Giving up the best player in the deal for a prospect they covet and an overpaid veteran? Seems about right.
- Goal: Dubnyk, Khabibulin
- Defense: Smid-Petry, Streit-J Schultz, N Schultz-Klefbom, Potter
- Center: Nuge, Johansen, Horcoff, Lander, Belanger
- Left Wing: Hall, Umberger, Paajarvi, Smyth, Eager
- Right Wing: Eberle, Yakupov, Hemsky, Brown
I’m using hypberole here with the re-signing of NK and the return of Eager, but the point is the Oilers (based on their own past) are unlikely to aim higher. The entire issue could be solved easily if MacT adds “should we be aiming higher?” to his “are you sure you want to do that?” but it remains to be seen if the Oilers sign from the A or B list.
The foundation is this:
- Goal: Dubnyk
- Defense: Smid-Petry, -J Schultz
- Center: Nuge, Gagner, Horcoff
- Left Wing: Hall, Paajarvi, Hartikainen
- Right Wing: Eberle, Yakupov, Hemsky
That’s a baker’s dozen, ladies and gents. The Oilers need to choose the final ten wisely. And it’s likely a good idea to start again from zero.