The Oilers rarely have pto’s who have had significant NHL experience. A year ago, invites included players like Braden Christoffer—who won a contract—but no one we would associate with the classic NHL PTO. This year, because of the World Cup of Hockey, Edmonton is going to be down three C’s (McDavid, Nuge, Leon) and that is going to create some issues for the first two legs of training camp. Let’s have a look at some possible invites to help out Mark Letestu, Anton Lander, Jujhar Khaira and others.
POTENTIAL PTO CENTERS
- C Paul Gaustad, 34. Giant center with no offense left but he can PK and win faceoffs.
- C Jarrett Stoll, 34. RHC and he can do PK and win FOs, and has more offense left than Gaustad.
- C Dominic Moore, 36. Still a good skater, brings some offense.
- C Mike Richards, 31. Still can’t believe he faded so quickly. Reasonable in the dot, some offense.
- C Cody Hodgson, 26. Not really a center last year, he has had two tough years in a row.
- C Corban Knight, 25. Good size, some skill and young enough to be interesting.
- C James Wright, 26. A big center with good speed, but very little offense.
- C Bill Arnold, 24. Two-way center, intriguing resume.
- C Travis Ewanyk, 23. He is known to the organization.
Shawn Horcoff is on record as not being interested in a PTO at this stage of his career, so this is the PTO list (unless someone retires). If I had to choose a No. 1 option? Probably Cody Hodgson, who has actual talent but is badly inconsistent. He didn’t play center a year ago, but I like him as a short-term fix and then possibly (if he performs well) as an option on RW if Jesse Puljujarvi needs some AHL time.
DEFENSE OPTIONS (that remain)
- Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets. Expensive and compelling option.
- Cody Franson, Buffalo Sabres. He is an excellent fit for Oilers needs.
- Eric Gryba, Edmonton Oilers. I think management likes him.
- Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames. A year removed from a fantastic offensive season.
- Dan Boyle, New York Rangers. Retiring, but if he has anything left I think he could help based on last year’s numbers. Wrote about him here.
- David Rundblad, free agent. His offensive ability is clear but the young man has had a difficult time keeping NHL employment. Wrote about him here.
- Jakub Nakladal, free agent. Unusual set of skills (defensive player, big shot, not much of a puck mover) but has size and the booming point shot.
There are a few players of interest on this list, Trouba is a distant bell because the Jets will figure out a way to get him signed. Cody Franson is an overlooked option, I view Wideman as the last chance Texaco trade option and remain convinced that one of Boyle or Rundblad is a no-brainer for invite. I suspect we will in fact see an addition on defense before training camp is done.
Yesterday on the Round Table with Dusty and Wil (and Marc Majeau) I was asked to give a grade on PC’s summer. My answer: Incomplete. That answer received a lot of play on the Dave Jamieson show (I also stated if I had to give a grade today it would be an F), so wanted to revisit it this morning and state my opinion here. I view things as incomplete based on the list we agreed upon at the beginning of summer:
CHIARELLI’S MAIN LIST
Top-pairing RHD(Two-way skills—Adam Larsson) Find a replacement for Taylor Hall once they traded him(Milan Lucic) Backup goalie(Jonas Gustavsson)
- Second-pairing RHD (Offensive defenseman)
- Acquire RHC with some skill
- Peter Chiarelli: “We have to improve our defence, which we did. And we have to get bigger and heavier, with skill, which we did. I felt we’ve improved the team significantly. The proof will be in the pudding.” Source
I agree the team is improved (the RE suggests Edmonton could close the goal differential gap completely this season) and better scheduling and injury luck should be a part of that surge. Adam Larsson improved the defense and adds to better balance overall. Milan Lucic is a substantial addition and I believe many Oilers fans will be surprised at how well he performs as a player—outside of the rugged physical style.
The job is incomplete. I don’t think Peter Chiarelli would disagree, and the list above (same one I posted 100 times through spring and summer, it is above) tells us there are still two areas unaddressed—and I would dispute Jonas Gustavsson as being a clearly better bet than Laurent Brossoit.
For me, it comes down to this: I applaud Peter Chiarelli for having the gumption to change the roster in an attempt to achieve balance. I applaud him for increasing depth on defense and at forward, and for the four substantial college signings. I would argue however that the summer you trade Taylor Hall is the same summer you must achieve something resembling a full and complete roster, with a man at every position and a solution for every problem.
Edmonton still needs a righthanded defender who can help on the power play and survive in the top 6D. Cody Franson covers that issue. They may also need a better backup than Jonas Gustavsson or Laurent Brossoit, but in truth that is a scratch that can be itched in-season (you can always trade for a goalie or sign one).
I am pleased about the news on a center possibly coming in, that tells me that Chiarelli knows he isn’t finished and there is work to be done on this roster. Hopefully he adds a center too. I remain convinced the grade for his summer—despite adding a terrific winger in Lucic and a strong defender in Larsson—is incomplete.
I think we can all agree that the trading of Taylor Hall represents a change in course. It is vital that course correction involves more wins and a jump up the standings. Peter Chiarelli knows that better than you and I do—his Bruins team spiked in year two. For me, the lack of a RHD addition and some uneasiness up front tell me he isn’t finished. The PTO rumors and what I believe will be a significant defensive addition before opening night tell me that the Oilers agree with my assessment: Incomplete.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Cult of Hockey. In pursuit of true balance: How far away is Edmonton?
- Rob Soria, The Hockey Writers. Rob will discuss the US Open, MLB and Oil.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. CFL, NFL, World Cup of Hockey, more.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.