And we’re back, with another edition of “OILERS WHEEL OF MEAT!” the most damnable game show on earth or hell. It goes like this: we hope for the best, and it turns out as usual. Well, not quite. Edmonton did acquire a solid solution at center (Boyd Gordon) and their Captain (Andrew Ference), along with a goalie who should have been better (Jason LaBarbera) last summer on Day 1 of free agency. They acquired Jesse Joensuu and Will Acton and Richard Bachman and Anton Belov and Denis Grebeshkov and Ryan Hamilton and Ryan Jones.
It was a lot. And it wasn’t close to enough. This season, Edmonton’s list is shorter, but the precision has to be much better. This is damn important.
SUMMER 2014 LIST
A veteran top pairing defenseman. A real man, big time EV minutes and a history of successful sorties. Update: Nikita Nikitin has been added to the defense, but doesn’t fit the top pairing role. It’s possible EDM adds that top-pairing option in the next week. Nikitin is an actual NHL player.
- A 2line C with experience and the ability to play a two-way game. This is the other vital piece.
A legit two-way winger who can score 12-15 goals. The Pisani role. Mentor, calms the waters. Update: Teddy Purcel has some of the elements we’re talking about here, although he’s not a terrific two-way type. He does give the team offense on the wing, and he has experience. Find a way to get value, or make use of, Sam Gagner. This does not include time at center. Update: I like MacT’s aggressiveness in problem solving. He dealt 89 after the draft, and acquired an actual NHL player in Purcell. I’ve got miles of room to criticize the organization about handling Gagner, but the trade is fine from here.
- Improve the bottom 6F’s.
- Retain as much of the young cluster as possible, understanding that the player who represents #1 on this list might cost a young D who will one day fill that role.
- Get Petry signed long term.
- Sign Schultz but DO NOT break the bank.
OILERS PROJECTED FORWARD DEPTH CHART 2013-14 (WITH ?)
|LEFT WING||CENTER||RIGHT WING|
|TAYLOR HALL||RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS||JORDAN EBERLE|
|DAVID PERRON||????||TEDDY PURCELL|
|????||LEON DRAISAITL||NAIL YAKUPOV|
|MATT HENDRICKS||BOYD GORDON||????|
|LUKE GAZDIC||MARK ARCOBELLO||JESSE JOENSUU|
|ANTON LANDER||TYLER PITLICK|
The internal solutions (Mark Arcobello at 2line C, Jesse Joensuu at 3line LW and Anton Lander/Tyler Pitlick at 4line RW) are listed, but the Oilers need to upgrade across the question marks. Those players will get their chances via injury, there’s no need to force them up the depth chart.
A quick note as well on Leon Draisaitl. I don’t believe the Oilers should keep him, but his NHLE implies he’s about as good offensively as Nail Yakupov at the same age (82gp, 15-25-40 for LD) and greater than the Nuge:
DESJARDINS’ NHLE FOR MAJOR PICKS
- Taylor Hall 17-29-46
- Nail Yakupov 18-22-40
- Leon Draisaitl 15-25-40
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-27-38
For our purposes this summer, we’re going to assume LD stays with the club and forms the nucleus of a soft minutes line with Nail Yakupov and (I’m hoping) Nikolai Kulemin.
OILERS PROJECTED FORWARD DEPTH CHART 2013-14 (WITH ?)
|LEFT DEFENSE||RIGHT DEFENSE|
|MARTIN MARINCIN||JEFF PETRY (RFA)|
|?????||JUSTIN SCHULTZ (RFA)
|ANDREW FERENCE||NIKITA NIKITIN|
This is my interpretation, your mileage may vary. I like the top pairing better than the rest, and the Oilers need to fix that but I’m not sure it’s out there in free agency today. I think it’s very reasonable to suggest that the Oilers will either sign a strong option for 2nd pairing today, or we’ll see Oscar Klefbom in the top 4D by Christmas. Nikita Nikitin is the next batter up in the Justin Schultz pairing search, with Nick Schultz and Andrew Ference unable to manage the chaos.
Craig MacTavish has some negotiating to do here, as Petry has the hammer (one year from free agency) and may want a long term deal in the 5’s. I don’t know that they have a choice here, but if the club does trade him, my guess is New Jersey or Detroit as the destination. The Oilers would be in a world of hurt sending him away.
FREE AGENT LIST (OILERS EDITION)
D Christian Ehrhoff—It’s a rare thing, receiving a gift from above. Oilers need to overpay here and sign Ehrhoff. I love the short term idea, but if this player wants five years the Oilers need to step up on him. WINNER: PITTSBURGH
- D Anton Stralman—Second verse, same as the first. Anton Stralman is probably a better fit, he could back up the RH side of the defense and fit with any of the current LH blue.
- L Nikolai Kulemin—A very nice fit for that mentor role on the Kings of Leon trio. Kulemin may like that role, I read he wanted to be placed in a more offensive situation. That’s a pretty cool fit.
- C Mikhail Grabovski—We’ve talked about him forever, I think he would fit on the 2 or 3 line very well, and push Nuge for playing time (good thing) on special teams.
- R Daniel Winnik—I see him as being a nice fit on that tough minutes 4line, and he could help on the penalty kill, too.
- D Mark Fayne—A solid, if unspectacular, option.
- C David Legwand—A fine solution for the Oilers, I don’t think they get him but he would certainly be a loud noise.
- R David Moss—I like him for the Oilers, but we haven’t heard his name much leading up to free agency.
- D Kyle Quincey—Gets mentioned enough as an option I think he may be an Oiler by noon.
- C Marcel Goc—Always liked him, and he could float around in several roles. Useful player, a good add if they get him.
- L Benoit Pouliot—Inconsistent as all get out, but he’s got some nice things and had a good year.
- C Paul Stastny—Oilers have been mentioned a few times, great add but I don’t think it will happen. If it does, bold isn’t a big enough word.
- L Dustin Penner—This is a big man who could play that soft minutes role and thrive. I don’t think he’ll come back, but I’d love to see it.
- D Derek Engelland—On the list because there’s clearly interest, signing Engelland and working on being a possession team are not the same thing. If this is the first signing we hear about, the only person in the organization who should be smiling is Todd Nelson.
- C Olli Jokinen—Like Engelland, his name is out there. I’d rather have his brother, but MacT is determined to add actual NHL players and would sign him short term. I think this would be good news for Arcobello, who could probably take him.
Happy Canada Day! I’ll be barbequing with beer later, will it be with joy in my heart? History suggests the answer is no, but we hope for the best.