I used to smile when Chris Pronger rolled onto the ice, this was 2005-06. Pronger—especially when he was out with a good center like Peca or Horcoff—was money. Honestly, I well remember the calm—perhaps as a lifeline to sanity—and the wonderful feeling it gave me. This was in the days of balance and clarity, before Oilers management wished it all into the cornfield. Those days are gone.
There is no Chris Pronger coming to Edmonton this summer, those calm winter evenings are a distant bell. The Edmonton Oilers, owners of a brilliant group of forwards who surely would have (eventually) represented championship quality, are down one King with a few Jacks sitting in limbo.
What might be coming is the beginning of something resembling a top pairing. Now, this is early days—and Oscar Klefbom has to stay healthy—but the first blush of something worthwhile is upon us—and the total cost is a little more than $8 million.
- Jason Gregor re: Klefbom (June 23): Oscar Klefbom was in Edmonton this week and he skated four days with the trainers and medical staff. The first day his foot didn’t feel great, but the next few days he felt fine and was very positive about how he felt. I asked (Peter) Chiarelli about Klefbom’s progress and he confirmed he had been skating and everything looks great. The past week was as much a mental exercise as physical. He needed to get on the ice and feel good and he did. A healthy Klefbom is a must if the Oilers hope to improve this season. Source
A healthy Klefbom is a very good thing. If the Oilers can land Tyson Barrie, and Klefbom can stay off the IR, Edmonton should have the best top 6D since 2006:
That is how I would run them, you may want to place Barrie with Sekera and that is fine by me. Is that a playoff defense? Probably depends on the health of these six, as depth is going to lack experience and in some cases have other issues. Peter Chiarelli is apparently okay with standing pat.
- Chiarelli to Bob Stauffer: “Notwithstanding the cries of protest for a power play specialist, I’d be very satisfied with where we sit today. We’re getting Oscar Klefbom back. He’s a helluva defenceman. It’s going to take him some time to get him up and running. He missed a lot of games last year. We’ve brought in Adam Larsson, a high pedigree player, although not as well known to this community as in other hockey circles. He’s a right shot, that’s important in the righty/lefty scheme of things. He can play an offensive role. No, he’s not an offensive specialist. He can play on a power play. No, he’s not a power play specialist. So all things being equal, if we were to start today with our ‘D’ I’d be quite happy. I’d be very happy. Yes, I’d like to try to get someone that can compliment a power play and push the puck up to the forwards. That’s no secret. We will continue to look at. There’s still a couple that are out there. They are hard to find.” Source
I think that means one of two things:
- The Oilers don’t want to trade the Nuge (I agree)
- Peter Chiarelli is bluffing
It probably comes down to Colorado deciding on what to do with Tyson Barrie. If the Avalanche move him, suspect PC will be in on it all the way.
50-MAN LIST (46)
Added in the last week:
- RD Adam Larsson. A big part of the future, best righty D in some time.
- L Milan Lucic. Big power winger with soft hands—and results.
- G Jonas Gustavsson. A mild competitor to Laurent Brossoit for backup role.
- LD Mark Fraser. Some toughness for Bakersfield.
- R Taylor Beck. Big winger, more in a minute.
- RD Ethan Bear. A 5th round pick signed in the summer after his draft—very good arrow.
The free-agent group after Lucic is a curious bunch, honestly would not have chosen one of them as an option. Gustavsson seems to have been a fallback (Montoya?) but Edmonton could have acquired a more substantial option if they felt it was a priority. You can’t argue, really, that Chiarelli thought Brossoit was more than a mile or two from NHL-ready based on this solution. Fraser and Beck are Bakersfield options from where I stand, would love to be proven wrong.
PROJECTED 2016-17 EDMONTON OILERS
I have projected Jesse Puljujarvi getting Patrik Laine’s contract, so it is probably a little high. I have also included all bonuses, as they must be accounted for opening night—and the NHL team has to assume all players reach all bonuses. This is my understanding of the facts, speak now if you have evidence to the contrary.
- I had a terrible time finding the second offensive RW. We know Eberle is the top player on that side, and I think he spends a lot of time on McDavid’s line. That said, there is no clear 2RW in this group, so I chose Yakupov and put him with 97 (that duo had success a year ago). I also think there is a very good chance Benoit Pouliot plays a lot with McDavid this coming season.
- Jesse Puljujarvi is clearly the future option at that spot, but for me easing him into the NHL is the best plan—and that could include AHL time. I will say the forward group makes way more sense with JP on the 2line.
- It looks like someone on RW is going to be odd man out. The obvious choice for sitting is Iiro Pakarinen, but I don’t see that happening. Zack Kassian and Nail Yakupov may see the pressbox this season—although Nail could do himself a helluva favor by ripping it up in training camp (and beyond).
- I like the top 4D as shown above, but am in the minority (and that is putting things mildly). PC has stated he would be fine entering the season with this group, meaning the PP point job may go to a forward.
- The third pairing remains up in the air, Davidson is playing the offside with Nurse. I do think that ends up being the setup, with possibly Eric Gryba added as 7D. Don’t fret about Jordan Oesterle, No. 8 D end up playing a helluva lot in the NHL most seasons.
I didn’t comment on this because the signing was a bit of a mystery to me. Looking at the signing numbers suggests (to me) that Peter Chiarelli is looking for players who could play in the NHL if needed, and he is offering some substantial sweeteners in cobbling the group together. He is a big winger, 122 shots in 50 AHL games (I am increasingly obsessed with shooters on RH side—Oilers need them for these centers and big LWs). He could play in the NHL this coming season, I do not think it likely, and would describe it as extremely unlikely he plays as many as 10 games.
New Because Oilers:
In which I find out Larsson is very, very good defensively, or is it Greene?https://t.co/IWmNPHm59G
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) July 3, 2016
With strong analysis on the decline (at least the public portion) it is heartening to see this kind of work. I think sometimes we (I) take Darcy for granted—we know him, we joke with him—but this is outstanding work. All evidence is presented, the limitations acknowledged and (increasingly) the math is aided by real writing ability. I imagine he is a helluva wood salesman, but this might be his calling and we benefit from his excellent work. Thanks, Woodguy!
Can really tell #Oilers Lander was/is frustrated, but now doing his everything to earn back his spot. Wish him all the best. Great character
— TSM dohfOs (Martin Lundén) (@dohfOs) July 4, 2016
Martin Lunden has appeared on these pages many times, and today he appears again via a powerful mini-article he tweeted out on Anton Lander. If you think you suffered through his season, stand back because it was murder for the Swede. Highly recommend you drop by Martin’s twitter (it is too long to quote here) and read it. Lander is an easy guy to cheer for, hope he has a major rebound season.
— Jason Brough (@JasonBroughTSN) June 29, 2016
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
We are back, for the whole week! TSN1260, 10 this morning. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. What a week! Hall trade! Lucic signing! PK to Nashville! Lots to talk about this morning.
- Antony Bent. Our soccer expert will guide us through the Euro action this past week, and look ahead to the semi’s. We will also discuss transfer window and Eddies fall schedule.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Canada’s NHL teams cashed at the draft and then some stepped onto the sidelines while other teams blasted through rock in search of change. We will do a tour and see if things are better.
- Sunil Agnihotri, Copper & Blue and The SuperFan. Sunil will be the first of the Lowdown’s Oilogosphere experts to discuss the Hall trade, the Larsson acquisition and the Lucic signing. What does he think? Are the Oilers better?
I can be reached at 10-1260 via text and @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!