As the thunder rolls across our summer, this Oilers roster looks decidedly unfinished. Now, I say that every year, but this year is different—the team traded Hall in search of balance—and I do think changes are coming. Why? If Peter Chiarelli can pull this team up and into a playoff race—and there are reasons to believe the Oilers would have improved without the deal—the anger will subside among a portion of the fanbase.
THE SURE THINGS
- Most of the roster is set, as shown here. However, there are some major items that can be improved—and for not much money. The team’s inability to sign Kris Versteeg can be seen as an endorsement of Nail Yakupov, but I will believe it when I see it. I suspect it is more likely an endorsement of Jesse Puljujarvi.
- The defense remains unbalanced, but the Adam Larsson addition really makes the room look better. Price aside, I have to say things look better here—I actually think the goaltending might be a bigger issue.
- I see a need for another goalie, a RH defender who can play top 4D and hammer the point on the power play, plus a Pisani. Work to do.
- Matt Hendricks makes the team, but I have to say there is a speed issue on the wings if Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian and Hendricks represent 38 percent of the roster wingers every night. That is not a fast train and I believe the Oilers are going to be exposed on the bottom two lines.
- Jesse Puljujarvi and Drake Caggiula are going to get the fan base rocking at the rookie camp. How long can one or both sustain the momentum? Both of them boast speed as a big part of their respective games.
- Jordan Oesterle’s wheels may get him hired.
- I don’t know about this goaltending. I think we will see an addition by Christmas.
THE DISTANT BELLS
- If I had to pick one player on this list who could make the Oilers opening night roster? Patrick Russell. Why? Edmonton has some uncertainty at that position, and Russell is an older prospect. Long, long shot, but everyone on this list shares that reality.
- Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche. Unlikely now, but there is still a chance.
- Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets. If he is in play, Oilers should be in there.
- Ryan Murphy, Carolina Hurricanes. Some chaos, but good speed and puck-moving ability.
- Brandon Montour, Anaheim Ducks. This could be a special player.
- Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders. Big shot from the point has high value. Very young.
- Jakub Nakladal, Calgary Flames. Intriguing player.
- Ryan Sproul, Detroit Red Wings. Puck-moving defender in the AHL.
- Jordan Schmaultz, St. Louis Blues. Puck-moving prospect.
- Ville Pokka, Chicago Blackhawks. Young defender in the Chicago system.
- James Wisniewski, Carolina Hurricanes. If healthy, depending on price, interesting name.
- Dan Boyle, New York Rangers. Retiring, but he is the player they are looking for—early, not late in his career.
- Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames. A year removed from a fantastic offensive season.
- 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 mostly agree, and the team could employ a forward as the hammer from the point, perhaps with Sekera or Klefbom (or Larsson) as the one defender on the 1PP. There are ways around this, and if Barrie and the Avalanche settle on a two-year deal, the possibility of this happening increases.
THE CHIARELLI LIST
Top-pairing RHD(Two-way skills—Adam Larsson) Find a replacement for Taylor Hall(Milan Lucic)
- Second-pairing RHD (Offensive defenseman)
- Acquire RHC with some skill
Backup goalie(Jonas Gustavsson)
This is not the list of solutions any of us believed we would see by August 1, and it is absolutely a job unfinished. The biggest surprise for me? Two things: The astronomical cost of Larsson (PC is throwing around hard earned assets like a high roller in Vegas) and the lack of completeness to this list. Can you reasonably suggest Peter Chiarelli has done more to help this team than the Flames have done? If this roster doesn’t receive more help, it is very difficult to see a path past many Pacific teams, including Calgary.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Cult of Hockey. Is Peter Chiarelli planning for another year of failure?
- Andrew Stoeten, Jays Nation. Toronto makes a curious trade.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. CFL Week 6 on the way (and power rankings), Jays and the number of NHL free agents still out there.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!