Based on the conversations I’m having with Oiler fans this week, Craig MacTavish has the fanbase engaged and ready for a big summer. I would suggest that we take a watchful approach and realize the enormous task at hand, and accept that casting about for solutions will no doubt bring success and failure. It has always been so; it’s also hard to keep hopes down when the General Manager keeps making so much sense.
- Who will they take at the entry draft? MacT has made it clear they’re after a center, and I think they will end up selecting Monahan at #7 overall. I do think they’ll try to move up in an effort to get Barkov, but that the price will be too dear. I also think they’ll draft Erik Comrie and Kerby Rychel in the second round.
- Who will coach? Ralph Krueger. This is less a mystery now, after the MacT season ticketholder conference.
- How will they improve the defense? By trade, free agency and elevating prospects. I think Smid, Petry and Justin Schultz are part of the group for next year (barring trade), and would put Mark Fistric and Oscar Klefbom in ‘likely’ roles for 13-14. That leaves two spots open, and I’ll guess the Oilers sign Mark Streit and trade for another veteran like Fedor Tyutin. This would mean Nick Schultz heads out of town, and the pairings (Tyutin-J Schultz, Smid-Petry, Streit-Klefbom) would be a major upgrade. I do think MacT will be very aggressive on the blue.
- Will Hall move to center? No. He might end up taking faceoffs from time to time (MacT likes wide range of skill players) but C will get an overhaul over the summer, similar to the blue.
- Who’s leaving at C? I think we can be certain that Eric Belanger is gone, and I’m also thinking Shawn Horcoff may be offloaded.
- Who’s coming in? That would leave Nuge (recovering from injury,mind) and Gagner as the NHL options with Anton Lander and Mark Arcobello knocking at the door. I think we’re going to see two center’s (at least) acquired, one a 2-way type with experience and size and the other a quality defensive player. I’ll say their names are Marcel Goc and Boyd Gordon.
- Who’s coming in at LW? Viktor Stalberg is such an obvious choice, all he would cost is money. There are lots of others too, and we should remember that teams will be trying to offload salary and there may be some bargains (value wise) available at LW.
- What about backup goalie? Anton Khudobin is the most reasonable option but who knows.
- What will be the big splash? I think the draft will see MacT add help on the blueline and that will be the big item. I’ve chosen Tyutin but it could be Kulikov, Del Zotto or any number of players. I do think it’ll be above the Hjalmarsson level we were discussing a year ago.
- How many Oilers UFA’s return? I think they sign Mark Fistric. Ryan Jones, Lennart Petrell, Jarred Smithson, Ryan Whitney and Nikolai Khabibulin are all gone this summer.
This morning at 10 on the Team 1260, Lowdown with Lowetide will hit the airwaves. Scheduled to appear:
- David Staples from the Cult of Hockey. David has been looking at the OKC Barons this winter and spring, and recently wrote about some strong seasons on the Oklahoma City Blue. I’ll also ask him about the MacT dangling conversation.
- Guy Flaming from the Pipeiline Show. Guy was at the Memorial Cup, we’ll get a feel for the event and ask Guy if Nathan MacKinnon did enough to become #1 for 2013.
- Lisa McRitchie from Kukla’s Korner. Lisa and I will talk about the 2013 draft, the Memorial Cup, the Barons and Oilers.
- Corey Graham from Team 1260′s pbp team. Corey and I will discuss the draft, the 2013-14 Oil Kings and riding buses.