We are here. Milan Lucic would be the biggest free-agent addition of the cap era for the Oilers and that could happen in mere hours. Despite what has been claimed by some, this blog is absolutely unsure about the final destination of Milan Lucic on Day 1 of free agency. Let’s start the day by looking at the shopping list:
THE CHIARELLI LIST
Top-pairing RHD(Two-way skills—Adam Larsson)
- Find a replacement for Taylor Hall
- Second-pairing RHD (Offensive defenseman)
- Acquire RHC with some skill
- Backup goalie
Larsson is an Oiler, and Lucic replacing Hall seems inevitable—but if that does not happen Peter Chiarelli is in a spot of bother. After that, I am uncertain about the second RHD the team may add—they could use a hammer but maybe a one-year free agent rental is the way to go. RHC comes into play if the team trades Nuge, and I think they will add a goalie but that may not be today. Bruce Garrioch mentioned Kyle Okposo as an Oilers target in his free-agent article, that surprised me.
THE CHIARELLI EXTENDED PLAY LIST
- Add a “Pisani” who can mentor, score 15, and play a two-way role up and down the lineup.
Re-stock the shelves via the draft(Puljujarvi and the entire draft) Improve overall team speed(Puljujarvi) Offload Lauri Korpikoski(Bought out)
- Improve goaltending depth (added Nick Ellis, but not much in draft).
- Improve AHL quality (Caggiula, Russell, Ellis, but more is needed).
- Cull the LHD herd (have, in fact, added to the LHD group).
The Oilers are making progress in most areas here—even things like goaltending depth and AHL quality have been upgraded. All of this seems minute because of the Hall trade—nothing here comes close to Hall’s exit—but there is good work here (Puljujarvi, Caggiula, buying out LK).
THE ASSETS LIST
- Cap space*
- Nail Yakupov
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- Jordan Eberle
- Benoit Pouliot
- Mark Fayne
- Griffin Reinhart
- 2017 1st round selection
How many of the remaining items are heading out of town? Anyone’s guess. I remember wondering where to put Hall and Nuge on this list all spring—turns out No. 1 was a pretty good spot for Hall. Never thought Yakupov would outlast him—if only for a few hours.
If the Oilers land Lucic today I'd expect it to be a 6 or 7 year deal at around 6m per year.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) July 1, 2016
The math is $42 million if we max the years described by Mr. Rishaug—and based on some rumors that may not cut it. I thought six years at $6 million would be the outer marker, but the extra year may have been key. I also expect this move—should it happen—to be the only major free-agent signing by Edmonton today. They have cap room, but not enough for two massive contracts on Day 1.
OILERS ORIENTATION CAMP ROSTER
Edmonton Oilers invite AJHL standout Brandon Biro and Kelowna Rocket Tomas Soustal to there development camp… Congratz to both #Oilers
— Brayden Sullivan (@SullyDraftGeek) July 1, 2016
- Goal: Zach Nagelvoort, Nick Ellis, Miroslav Svoboda, Dylan Wells, Tomas Kral. This is an area where the Oilers badly need someone to step up. I think Nick Ellis might be the best bet, with Wells being the wild card. Gap between performance and verbal is massive. What happened last year?
- Left Defense: William Lagesson, Caleb Jones, Markus Niemelainen, Matthew Cairns, Shane Hanna, Mark Auk. The player of most interest here is probably Niemelainen, the new hire is big and mobile. Caleb Jones had an exceptional year, did the scouting reports misrepresent his offense? It seems likely after Draft+1.
- Right Defense: Ethan Bear, John Marino, Filip Berglund, Vincent Desharnais, Jason Fram, Nick DeSimone. Bear is the feature player, and Marino should draw some interest too. Berglund is a big righty with skill, he should stand out in the crowd.
- Center: Tyler Vesel, Aapeli Rasanen, Zach Aston-Reese, John Stevens, Tomas Soustal. The Rasanen pick was inspired, everything I read about him is positive. As you can see, this is not a strong area, but the team has three substantial centers already at the NHL level. If they trade one of them, very little bubbling under—pro or amateur.
- Left Wing: Drake Caggiula, Joey Benik, Scott Allen, Tyler Benson, Jake Lucchini, Brandon Biro, Peter Zhong. Perhaps the most interesting group at the camp, Caggiula should be a star in this group. Benson will be worth watching to see where he is physically.
- Right Wing: Jesse Puljujarvi, Aidan Muir, Patrick Russell, Jaedon Descheneau, Josh Melnick, Dominik Shine, Luke Esposito. Puljujarvi will be the talk of the town in Jasper—he may not say 10 words, but people seem drawn to him. Muir should push his way around in this arrangement, and Jaedon Descheneau is easily the most interesting invite.
OILERS OPTIONS BY POSITION
Goal—Oilers need a backup who can play, while also giving Laurent Brossoit every chance to grab the job.
- G James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs. He will probably end up in Brooklyn.
- G Jhonas Enroth, Los Angeles Kings. Suspect he will be paid well.
- G Chad Johnson, Buffalo Sabres. A very good fit as backup.
- G Al Montoya, Florida Panthers. This is probably the sweet spot for Edmonton
- G Anton Khudobin, Anaheim Ducks. Goalie option.
- G Joni Ortio, Calgary Flames. If only to piss off Flames fans.
Defense—The need remains but has shifted to a puck mover—meaning the Oilers may not grab anyone. My hunch is the club is likely out on Demers and could add an inexpensive option in day three or four.
- RD Jason Demers, Dallas Stars. I remain convinced he was an excellent option.
- LD Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers. Looks like Chicago.
- RD James Wisniewski, Carolina Hurricanes. If healthy, depending on price, interesting name.
- RD Jakub Nakladal, Calgary Flames. Intriguing player.
- LD Patrick Wiecioch, Ottawa Senators. Worth a shot, talented player.
- RD Zach Redmond, Colorado Avalanche. Might be a PP option.
- LD Zach Trotman, Boston Bruins. Big defender, can pass the puck.
- LD Dennis Seidenberg, Boston Bruins. Eroding, knees are giving him trouble.
- RD Michael Paliotta, Columbus Blue Jackets. Interesting depth option.
- LD David Schlemko, New Jersey Devils. I always thought he could play.
- RD Eric Gryba, Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton needs right D.
- LD Adam Pardy, Edmonton Oilers. He has talent.
Center—A lot of what happens here depends on trade plans. I have no issue with the current center depth chart, since it contains two former No. 1 overall picks and a No. 4 overall. That said, trading Nuge opens up another giant hole—and there are precious few reasonable fixes available.
- C Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders. Fantastic player.
- C David Backes, St. Louis Blues. He is past 30, but close to a perfect fit.
- RC Riley Nash, Carolina Hurricanes. Underrated option in my opinion.
- RC Cody Hodgson, Nashville Predators. Under the radar option.
Left Wing—A brilliant position until the trade this week, Edmonton now has a clear need at the position. Replacing Hall with Lucic misses the point of Hall, but this is what we talked about a lot over the last 12 month. The Bruinization of the Edmonton Oilers nears completion today—if Lucic signs.
- L Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins. It seems inevitable.
- L David Perron, Anaheim Ducks. I think he is a helluva player.
- L Mikkel Boedker, Colorado Avalanche. Fast skill winger with two-way ability, 26.
- L Thomas Vanek, Minnesota Wild. A short, value deal might be a wise idea.
- L Joe Colborne, Calgary Flames. If other options unavailable, worth looking at.
- L Jason Chimera, Washington Capitals. Remains a fast train, has two-way acumen.
- L Quinton Howden, Florida Panthers. He has a nice resume.
- L Matt Martin, NY Islanders. Flames will outbid Oilers.
Right Wing—I was surprised to read Kyle Okposo’s name linked to the Oilers in the Garrioch piece (linked above). For me, the play here is trading Nail Yakupov at some point and grabbing Brett Connolly—not my play, but rather Chiarelli’s logical move.
- R Kyle Okposo, NY Islanders. Surprised to see him listed, he is talented but one-dimensional—similar to Jordan Eberle.
- R Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins. Effective scorer, two-way winger.
- R Brett Connolly, Boston Bruins. Skill winger, I think the Oilers get him.
- R Troy Brouwer, St. Louis Blues. Not on my original list, Okposo inclusion has me wondering.
- R P.A. Parenteau, Toronto Maple Leafs. Scoring W, plug-and-play.
- R Lee Stempniak, Boston Bruins. Scoring winger. Somewhat legendary.
- R Teddy Purcell, Florida Panthers. He does a lot of good things effectively.
- R Kris Versteeg, Los Angeles Kings. Small, skilled and gritty.
- R Justin Fontaine, Minnesota Wild. Under the radar option.
- R Adam Cracknell, Edmonton Oilers. Big, named Adam.
THE LAST SPIKE
I think this could be the final day for Nail—of course I have been saying that for some time. The Hall deal tells me that the watershed can begin any time and there is no use keeping players around for appearances. That said, even at this late date and secure in the knowledge he is a flawed player, I would not trade him. His value is low, the play here is to keep him for another day. We know he can play with Pouliot and McDavid, so let’s start there.