I am not sure how many will agree with me, but in this blog’s estimation signing Andrej Sekera in free agency was a quality addition. The only FA signing in recent years that was close? Benoit Pouliot. Peter Chiarelli will be active again this summer and his shopping list is once again substantial.
- Top-pairing D to partner with Klefbom (Jason Demers)
- Scoring winger from free agency (Lee Stempniak)
- Offload unwanted contracts (Lauri Korpikoski)
- Backup goalie (Jhonas Enroth, but may cost too much)
- Re-stock the system partly through college and CHL signings (Benik, but also Winquist, et al)
- Build up the system (especially forwards) via draft (Laine, Tyler Benson)
I thought it might be an idea to check what is out there on the free-agent market as we get closer to July 1. Edmonton could be active in the goalie market, on defense, and while we are at it let’s check the forwards too.
- Jhonas Enroth ($1.25 million) .943 even-strength SP
- James Reimer ($2.3 million), .935 even-strength SP
- Karri Ramo ($3.8 million), .917 even-strength SP
- Antti Raanta ($750,00), .916 even-strength SP
This is all via nhl.com and nhlnumbers. Chiarelli will no doubt kick tires on a backup—someone who could take over the starting job if necessary—and that seems like it should be Enroth or Reimer. Edmonton doesn’t need to hire a backup, but the small sample size that is Laurent Brossoit’s NHL season suggests the GM should look for some cover.
- Jason Demers ($3.4 million) 61, 7-16-23 (21 minutes a night) EVShA/60: 26.98 (No. 37)
I don’t see another great fit among the righties, perhaps there is a lesser defender with potential but honestly it is not a strong group. Depending on the ask from Demers, he might be available and I do think he is a nice fit.
- Brian Campbell ($7.1 million) 78, 6-25-31 (22 minutes a night) EVShA/60: 26.90 (No. 36)
- Keith Yandle ($5.25 million) 78, 5-40-45 (22 minutes a night) EVShA/60: 28.59 (No. 88)
- Alex Goligoski $4.6 million) 79, 5-31-36 (23:52 a night) EVShA/60: 29.68 (No. 124)
- David Schlemko ($625,000) 64, 6-13-19 (18:33 a night) EVShA/60: 26.24 (No. 23)
In looking at the options, perhaps Edmonton might be better off signing a lefty and then dealing from (further) strength—dealing a lefthander for a righty. Campbell is long in the tooth but remains effective, and he could serve as a terrific mentor. If the Oilers can acquire Travis Hamonic for a lefthander? Well, the option is there if Chiarelli signs someone on this list.
- Steven Stamkos ($7.5 million) 77, 36-28-64. 49.9FO% 51.5Corsi
- David Backes ($4.5 million) 78, 20-23-43. 51.9FO% 51.0Corsi
I include Stamkos only because he is going to be available and Peter Chiarelli should push as hard as possible to get him to Edmonton. Can you imagine winning the lottery and Stamkos? Heavens to Murgatroyd that would have heads exploding all over the league! Anyway, clearly fantasy but if there is a chance we can entertain the idea.
- Milan Lucic ($6 million) 77, 17-34-51. 58.9Corsi
- Teddy Purcell ($4.5 million) 72, 13-25-38. 51.3Corsi
- Kris Versteeg ($4.4 million) 73, 13-23-36. 57.0Corsi
- Loui Eriksson ($4.25 million) 78, 28-31-59. 51.6Corsi
- David Perron ($3.8 million) 71, 12-24-36. 52.6Corsi
- Troy Brouwer ($3.67 million) 78, 16-20-36. 48.8Corsi
- Lee Stempniak ($850,000) 79, 18-32-50. 47.2Corsi
I have mentioned this a few times, have had people push back so want to be clear again. I think the Oilers are set (and then some) with Hall, Pouliot and Maroon on the port side, and if those three men return no one should be complaining. That said, I wonder about Milan Lucic and his possibly being available. Peter Chiarelli’s stated template:
- Chiarelli: “Even when I was in Boston it wasn’t about putting fighters in the lineup, it was about your team approach, your team toughness, your collective mentality. And that can apply to us, also. Having said that, there are teams in our conference and our division that play a certain style. You don’t have to fight fire with fire, but you have to be able to push back.”
Lucic and Brent Seabrook represent (to me) players that may both be available (Seabrook has a NM but has been linked to Edmonton) and carry significant risk. When have the conversation about this summer, I think we all talk about ideal situations, but there are some heavy contracts that could be on the run this summer. I think the Oilers will be at least somewhat vulnerable to the Lucic’s and the Seabrook’s—famous names with a lot of what makes them good now having been spent. Dangerous summer.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
So far this spring, we have talked about players who might be traded by the Oilers. In reality, we may be looking at a ‘switching out’ of a current Oiler and bringing in a free agent replacement. Say the Oilers acquire Travis Hamonic for Jordan Eberle, and then replace 14 with Loui Eriksson. Or, Taylor Hall is sent away for a grand return on defense, and Lucic replaces him. Or Nuge—Backes and on it goes. For the record, I would prefer seeing Hall, Nuge and Eberle return, Pouliot too. Anyone above appeal to you as a possible future Oiler? I like Demers, would prefer to keep the current forwards.
Saturday night, Elliotte Friedman mentioned Lyon’s decision was 48 hours (or so) away, so that puts the press release inside the Dave Jamieson Show. If the young man signs with Edmonton (he has posted SP’s in the .930s last two winters) he could land damn near anywhere on the pro depth chart this fall. He appears to be a good get, although that conference Yale plays in seems to feature some electric save totals. Button down conference, for sure.
PROJECTED 50-MAN LIST (37)
- G Cam Talbot. No. 1 next season.
- G Laurent Brossoit. Projects as NHL backup/AHL starter, signed a two-year deal.
- G Eetu Laurikainen, AHL backup, he is signed for next year.
- D Oscar Klefbom, likely top pairing, needs to stay healthy.
- D Andrej Sekera, top 4D, important part of the team.
- D Brandon Davidson, top 6D, maybe even top 4D if he continues on current track.
- D Mark Fayne, I question Oilers ability to find three better RH this summer.
- D Darnell Nurse, probably top 6D next season, ideally in Bakersfield.
- D Eric Gryba, UFA. I believe he will sign with the Oilers.
- D Griffin Reinhart, may spend another year in the minors. Could be dealt.
- D Andrew Ference, they will buy him out (if able). LTIR is my guess.
- D Jordan Oesterle, AHL D, NHL time. RFA. Suspect he signs.
- D Joey Laleggia, AHL D matriculating.
- D Dillon Simpson, AHL D, matriculating.
- D Ben Betker, AHL D, matriculating.
- C Connor McDavid, Giant.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, quality NHL center.
- C Leon Draisaitl, emerging NHL talent.
- C Mark Letestu, checking NHL C.
- C Anton Lander, they may find a buyer.
- C Jujhar Khaira, he is a good bet to make the roster in the fall.
- C Bogdan Yakimov, a chance he comes back. Has NHL tools, speed concern.
- C Kyle Platzer, AHL C matriculating.
- L Taylor Hall, impact NHL player. Many fans want him gone.
- L Benoit Pouliot, underrated by many. Trade rumors.
- L Patrick Maroon, big winger has been exceptional since arrival.
- L Lauri Korpikoski, Oilers should try to offload him this summer.
- L Matt Hendricks, checking NHL W.
- L Jere Sallinen, you can never have too many Finns.
- L Mitch Moroz, AHL winger/enforcer, matriculating.
- L Braden Christoffer, rugged winger, matriculating.
- R Jordan Eberle, scoring winger could be in play.
- R Nail Yakupov, gone baby, gone.
- R Zack Kassian, probably part of the future in a top 9F role. RFA.
- R Iiro Pakarinen, suspect he will push for a spot next fall. RFA
- R Anton Slepyshev, talented winger should push for NHL time.
- R Greg Chase, minor league winger, matriculating.
I think the Oilers list of no-trades is fairly short at this point (I will guess McDavid, Hall, Draisaitl, Klefbom, Nurse) but as I have mentioned a few times it will depend on the ask from the team trading their quality defender. Let’s imagine the Peter Chiarelli white board and what the ask might be:
- Erik Karlsson (Ottawa isn’t trading him)
- P.K. Subban (Montreal isn’t trading him)
- Alex Pietrangelo (Taylor Hall)
- Travis Hamonic (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins)
- David Savard (Jordan Eberle)
Now don’t go crazy, I am just using this as an example. All of the veteran forwards are in play, and so would be outside the no-trade list Chiarelli would have established internally. So when we talk about the players who are not going anywhere, they are basically the McDavid cluster—97, Leon, Nurse. Makes sense to me.
AND THE LORD RAINED DOWN BURNING SULFUR
The MSM took Todd McLellan’s Saturday postgame and ran with it, openly pushing for ‘Christmas in July’ headlines involving the breakup of Edmonton’s most famous boy band.
- Robert Tychkowski: If Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were trying to make a case that they should stay together here, they lost it. This team just played itself into another major overhaul. Source
I understand the idea of torching the team again, but am hopeful Peter Chiarelli takes a more measured approach to the summer. All these losses give him another fabulous draft pick, and he could trade down—or out—for his badly needed defensive help. He could also trade one of the $6 million dollar men and sign Demers, effectively doing a tweak as opposed to blowing it up.
- Bob McKenzie: “What it suggests to me is that there’s a price to be paid for all the losing in Edmonton, and that the core group of players on this team may well be what I would say – use the word – damaged. By damaged I guess I mean having the wrong mindset, psyche, psychologically. Just the constant losing, revolving door of coaches and management regimes, and just seemingly a bunch of players individually and then almost collectively losing their way.” Source
It is a bad time to be heading to market, with your prime bullets being devalued by another losing season. The standings suggest there has been no improvement this season, but the goal differential and the 5×5 scoring suggest real progress. I would argue that the Oilers could have been better even with all of the injuries—but playing Lauri Korpikoski and Darnell Nurse so much impacted the season in a negative fashion.
This point in time reminds me of the summer Edmonton fired Tom Renney. He was making progress, and it has taken many years (four!) to get back to what Renney had idling in the driveway. Keep your powder dry, Peter Chiarelli, these are good hockey players and you do not want to be the man who trades Taylor Hall for 60 cents on the dollar. This town will never forgive, no matter what the scribes are writing today. And that’s for sure.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy show this morning, starts at 10 on TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. Are my Bruins going to miss the playoffs? Stamkos injury.
- Andrew Stoeten, JaysNation. A nice start from Stroman but what about his hair?
- Sunil Agnihotri, Copper & Blue and The SuperFan. Peter Chiarelli’s summer.
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show. Oil Kings lose three at home, plus Alex Lyon.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!