Frankly, I have no idea of what we can expect today. Simply put, the events of yesterday suggest that Craig MacTavish is going to upgrade goaltending first, and then look to defense and center. This goaltending position was mentioned in ‘the list’ but most Oiler fans felt it was a secondary task for this summer.
THE LIST (in apparent order)
- Starting goalie (Cory Schneider)
- Top 4 defender (Braydon Coburn)
- Sign Sam Gagner to a multi-year deal that has begins with a number in the 4′s.
- Find a 2line R to play with Paajarvi (Clutterbuck)
- Find a 2line L who can complement Gagner-Yakupov with puck retrieval, blocking out the sun, etc
- Find a 3line C to play with Paajarvi
- Find a 4line C to play with Smyth/Brown
- Get Paajarvi signed and then find a role that suits him (suspect it’s 3line).
- Deal Hemsky for immediate help (even if its a checker).
- Deal Horcoff or slot him into the 3line job for which he is actually ideal.
- Decide on Lander/Belanger or other for 13F (and 14F if they go with 7D).
- Better blue depth (MacT has done this with Belov, plus Klefbom/Fedun/Marincin)
- AHL #1/NHL #3 goalie
- Sign Paul Ranger
Cory Schneider will come at a dear price today, and he’s two years from unrestricted free agency. That means Craig MacTavish must be putting exceptional value on these next two years, and that of course means Coburn and Clutterbuck (should they become Oilers) will no doubt be joined by centermen and wingmen and possibly defensemen. I think we can assume Devan Dubnyk will be in the out basket in due course and maybe that happens today. Other names who could be with other teams today are Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky, Nick Schultz and Magnus Paajarvi. I don’t believe Sam Gagner is going to be dealt based on all we’ve heard, but I’ll include him here just in case.
Craig MacTavish said 8 or 9 roster spots could change. He was clear on Dubnyk, he was clear on Hemsky and Horcoff and Khabibulin and Peckham and Belanger and and and. Why then is it such a surprise to see Corey Schneider as the key piece to the puzzle?
- Willis: “Over the last three seasons, Dubnyk has been a 0.917 save percentage goalie to Schneider’s 0.931. Even assuming Schneider is really a 0.925 true-talent goalie (a cautious approach), for a goalie playing 60 games (roughly 1,600 shots), that’s a difference of 13 goals per year – one every five games. It’s a big difference.”
I don’t like the deal. I think it lacks clarity based on the holes in the roster and it improves a position that is league average to maybe a little better, while the defense remains a mess and the center position terribly weak with Horcoff and Belanger about to make it weaker. I vow to wait until we see the full picture, but as it stands this trade (depending on assets sent) looks like a considerable overpay. Two seasons of a very good NHL goalie who lacks a long resume? The window is suddenly and unnecessarily shortened to two seasons.
Ladies and gents, nothing rhymes.
Based on the rumors, picks #7, #37 and #56 may be off the board. If that happens, the Oilers would pick #128, #158 and #188. I’ll cover the draft stories all day today, but the afternoon session may be more about trades than picks. Edmonton’s lowest number of draft picks in one year is five (2006) when they drafted #45, #75, #133, #140 and #170. It’s kind of incredible that they found Jeff Petry and Theo Peckham that year.
THE OILERS SELECT….
There’s a chance the Edmonton Oilers first selection today is #128 (based on reports), but here’s how I see them picking should they end up using the 6 available slots on the board.
- #7 overall: L Valeri Nichushkin. If Monahan is unavailable, I think the Oilers go with the big powerforward. He’ll be the most NHL ready and Edmonton has a spot available for him on the left side. If he doesn’t make the big club (at 2 or 4L) then they can send him to OKC or back to the KHL.
- #37 overall: D Dillon Heatherington. Big, mobile defenseman who can make plays with the puck and close a gap in a heartbeat. This is exactly the player type on defense MacT has talked about, and he could be a future shutdown defender/pk stalwart.
- #56 overall: C Greg Chase. Gritty player with skill, he’s been moving up draft boards and is the last C in the top 60 who combines rugged play with any kind of skill.
- #128 overall: L Myles Bell. Moved from D to L and had tremendous success. May go much higher, but if available could be a wise choice. Bell turns 20 in August.
- #158 overall: C Taylor Cammarata. Small and extremely skilled centerman from the USHL.
- #188 overall: D Mattias Norstebo. Interesting puck moving defenseman from Norway who plays in Sweden for Brynas (Jr).
The Oilers prospect depth chart would look pretty damn impressive with this group added to the current top 30 but we should be prepared for a day that begins in round 5.
UP NEXT: I’ll cover the entire draft today, but if there are boring parts may begin a series on available free agents. I’ll begin with Vincent L or the man Stalberg, haven’t quite decided. Also, the sheer number of ‘sail on’ posts that the day could inspire is incredible: Gagner, Horcoff, Hemsky, Paajarvi–MacT is the Godfather and last year’s roster is Moe Green.