If you want me to keep my mouth shut, it’s gonna cost you some dough. I figure a thousand bucks is reasonable, so I want two.
Sam Gagner is in a very unique position. He can file for arbitration this summer, accept the one year offering and reach free agency earlier than any player in history. Those who question Gagner’s value would be in for quite a surprise next July, as Gagner the free agent–with 7 years (by that time) NHL experience and only 24 (next July)–can sign for only money. The number and term could be explosive.
Gagner and his agent clearly know this, but from what we know there’s a desire to return to this young Oiler group. Anecdotal information suggests Gagner has been helpful in the recruitment of several valuable free agents (Justin Schultz the most famous example) and at MacT’s first media conference the new GM went out of his way to arm player and representation with ammo for the arb hearing.
I don’t think there’s a bad guy in here, both sides appear to have a healthy respect for each other and acknowledge the process. Sam Gagner has leverage and has the right to use it, and the Oilers are in a tough spot (really no choice here, they don’t have the depth to hold firm) and the best window for them was one year ago. I am a flat out fan of Sam Gagner, hope he signs long term and helps win a Stanley for this group. I still expect a release on Sam’s contract soon, but the days roll by and we’re into mid-July soon. The clock ticks. We wait.
The Oilers depth chart remains out of balance, and as the free agents dwindle the trade route emerges as the best available option. Edmonton has some nice things–next year’s draft picks (most of them), enough blueline depth to trade one or two of the close-to-ready prospects, and perhaps a young roster player or two if that’s required. If we look at the team position by position, there’s still an extreme need for a top pairing blue and another strong NHL option at center. If this Craig MacTavish resembles the coach Craig MacTavish I’d bet money on another center coming in over the next couple of weeks. I think a LW with size for the 2line is also on the list.
- NHL: Devan Dubnyk, Jason LaBarbera
- AHL: Richard Bachman, Olivier Roy, Tyler Bunz
- Europe: Frans Tuohimaa
I like what MacT has done here, adding a solid (but clearly a) NHL backup and backing THAT up with Bachman who can certainly play. I’m comfortable suggesting the club is stronger at this position than one year ago (DD-Khabi-Danis) and that the problems here are longer term. Edmonton should (and I suggest will) be in on college free agency and the 2014 entry draft, and of course next summer this will be a position in extreme transition.
- NHL: Ladislav Smid (20:19 TOI); Andrew Ference (19:29TOI); Nick Schultz (18:37TOI); Anton Belov (22:11TOI KHL)
- AHL: Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Brandon Davidson, Brad Hunt, Martin Gernat, David Musil
This is probably the position of greatest depth in the organization. The Oilers have three LD who can play regular minutes (all are PK options, none are PP options) plus Belov who is an established KHL player with a lot of experience. The options here are solid, and make the AHL list even stronger. The potential Barons offer a ridiculous combination of mobility, defensive acumen and potential. The odds of Gernat or Musil getting lost in the flood are exceptional, I think we’ll see someone traded from this list before Christmas.
- NHL: Jeff Petry (21:54 TOI); Justin Schultz (21:26 TOI); Corey Potter (17:27 TOI); Philip Larsen (17:18 TOI)
- AHL: Taylor Fedun
Oilers have a nice player in Petry (although he struggled last season) and Schultz has all kinds of potential and should emerge as a more complete player this coming season (based on the scouting reports that suggested his defensive coverage was excellent). Potter and Larsen look about equal, as is reflected by the time on ice given them by their NHL coaches. The RH side in OKC is poor, with only Fedun a right side shot. Lee Moffie is a LH shot if you’re wondering and the Barons have already signed Joey Leach–also a left shot. Tom Gilbert would be a nice fit here.
- NHL: Sam Gagner (19:24 TOI); Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (18:51 TOI); Boyd Gordon (15:00 TOI); Anton Lander (11:01 TOI)
- AHL: Andrew Miller, Wil Acton, Ryan Martindale, Travis Ewanyk
I went into this summer firmly believing MacT would add two items to this group and so far we have only one. Gagner is key to this position because he’s at an age where he has to either take on tougher opposition or slay the soft parade (which he did not do this past season). Nuge continues to be a wunderkind and the only concern is injury, with Boyd Gordon a strong solution to 3line C and needing only right-thinking wingers to form a shutdown line of good quality. The AHL group is not inspiring, the Barons have signed CJ Stretch to an AHL contract and he’ll play.
- NHL: Taylor Hall (18:37 TOI); Ryan Smyth (15:22 TOI); Magnus Paajarvi (14:07 TOI); Jesse Joensu (10:08 TOI); Ben Eager (9:39 TOI)
- AHL: Toni Rajala, Ryan Hamilton, Curtis Hamilton, Kale Kessy
This should be the last season Taylor Hall lags behind someone in TOI, for crying out loud let’s get that straightened out right bloody now. Smyth’s minutes will fade, the question today is who gets those minutes? Internal options are Paajarvi and the unknowable Joensu–a pro scouts find–and external options range from Omark (I kid) to Jagr. The minor league team has two players of interest: the tse tse fly Rajala and the new hire Ryan Hamilton. Expect some movement here.
- NHL: Jordan Eberle (18:59 TOI); Ales Hemsky (15:4 TOI); Nail Yakupov (14:33 TOI); Ryan Jones (12:58 TOI); Mike Brown (8:47)
- AHL: Mark Arcobello, Tyler Pitlick, Cameron Abney
So much natural talent at this position it’s ridiculous. Eberle leads the way, Yakupov is pushing and will eventually own the 1line slot but it may not be this season. Jones is back in the fold and has an excellent chance of playing top 9 minutes and Brown is the enforcer for the 4line. Hemsky’s gone, the only question now is will the club get a useable player or draft picks. The Barons have a brilliant player in Arcobello, a struggling prospect in Pitlick and the enforcer Abney (now joined by Erick Lizon, signed recently to an AHL deal. The position lacks a Pisani, as it has for several years now.
- Sign Sam Gagner to a multi-year deal that has begins with a number in the 4′s
- Get Paajarvi signed and then find a role that suits him (suspect it’s 3line).
- Find a 2line L who can complement Gagner-Yakupov with puck retrieval, blocking out the sun, etc
- Find a 4line C
- Deal Hemsky for immediate help (even if its a checker).
Top 4 defender(signed Ference, that’s the big move this summer) Find a 3line C(Gordon an ideal fit) NHL goalie(LaBarbera was a nice option) Find a 3line RJoensu is the option I’ll puck, but it would be foolish to exclude Ryan Jones based on salary
Deal Horcoff or slot him into the 3line job for which he is actually ideal.Continued to improve D depth. Decide on Lander/Belanger or other for 13F. Lander it is! Better blue depth(MacT has done this with Belov and Larsen, plus Klefbom/Fedun/Marincin) AHL #1/NHL #3 goalieBachman is an outstanding solution Sign Paul Ranger(should have said ‘sign Marlies)
Still work to do, hard to say when the opportunity to add to this group arises. There’s often a quiet period, as teams look at their roster and evaluate needs. The Oilers remain far from finished, there are some nice bets added and three quality additions (top 2D, scoring L and two-way C) would go a long way to making this a playoff team. And you know, if they solve the C situation by signing Grabovski, Eakins can move Gagner over to the wing (left) on that line and MacT solves two problems with one signing (although he still needs to sign Samwise). Dustin Penner remains a phone call away.