A nice bonus for NHL general managers yesterday, lots of young wingers were set free instead of being qualified. So, a plethora of RFA are poised to become UFA. The Oilers need some help and they need it for around $1 million a pop. Let’s have a look.
The photo today is by Bruce McCurdy, who has a report on day one of the orientation camp for the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal (here). Evan Bouchard looked big and tall, and can in fact skate backwards very well. The Billy Moores Cup will take place later in the week, we should get a little more hockey chatter from that event.
Give The Athletic as a gift or get it yourself and join the fun! Offer is here, less than $5 a month and your Dad will love a unique gift. I find myself reading both the hockey (Willis, Dellow, Pronman, et cetera) and the baseball coverage a lot, it’s compelling reading and a pure pleasure to visit. We’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge.
- New Lowetide: Oilers draft odds and ends (will link)
- New Lowetide: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- New Craig Custance: Free Agency
- Lowetide: Oilers are finally over walkabout draft picks.
- Corey Pronman: NHL draft grades.
- Scott Wheeler: Ryan McLeod (excellent article) to the Oilers
- New Jonathan Willis: Oilers second-round pick (mentions McLeod)
- Lowetide: Evan Bouchard a perfect fit for need, will the Oilers fast-track him?
- Jonathan Willis: Oil will get a crack at another high-end prospect in round two
- Corey Pronman: Pick by pick breakdown of round one
- Lowetide: Low budget free agents can deliver Oilers big bang
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
- Lowetide: Oilers top 10 prospects in front of the 2018 draft.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers scouting directors: A history.
"Overwhelming" interest in #NHLBruins UFA Austin Czarnik, according to agent Brian Bartlett. "Over two-thirds of the teams in the league have called"
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) June 25, 2018
LT. Czarnik was dynamo playing RW (not C) last season in Providence. On the right team, he can provide a speed & skill upgrade at a reasonable number. After success of players with similar skill sets & development path, like Gourde & Marchessault, well worth taking a chance on
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) June 25, 2018
We’ve talked about him at length, I still think the Oilers have a chance to get him. Based purely on opportunity, he should consider Edmonton a strong option. Seriously. In 2016-17, he had good possession numbers on a depth line:
- Matt Beleskey—Riley Nash—Austin Czarnik. 106 minutes, 59.04 Corsi 5×5, 1-2GF.
His NHLE from last season (15-27-42) suggests Czarnik might be able to play a complementary role on a skill line. You know, Blair MacDonald and Brett Callighen didn’t have draft pedigree and worked out well back in the day. I think Czarnik should be a target, have said so many times over the winter and spring. I wrote about him in April at The Athletic, those things he brings (speed, dogged forecheck and some penalty killing) all have value to the Oilers.
Some of the more interesting new UFAs, relatively speaking, after not receiving qualifying offers:
Tobias Rieder, LW, LA
Anthony Duclair, RW, CHI
Nick Shore, C, CGY
Dylan DeMelo, D, SJ
Derrick Pouliot, D, VAN
Robin Lehner, G, BUF
Petr Mrazak, G, PHI
Daniel Carr, LW, MTL
— Scott Cullen (@tsnscottcullen) June 26, 2018
I’ve always liked Rieder, ranked Duclair No. 44 in his draft year and noticed him in his big season. Daniel Carr is well liked by smart Habs fans, that’s usually a good sign. Here are the most often used lines involving each man a year ago:
- Brendan Perlini—Derek Stepan—Tobias Rieder. 228 minutes, 44.09, 5-5GF
- Anthony Duclair—Jonathan Toews—Alex DeBrincat. 95 minutes, 51.15, 6-4GF
- N. Deslauriers—Daniel Carr—Byron Froese. 154 minutes, 47.72, 7-5GF
THE LIST (FORWARDS)
- R Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets. I’d absolutely pay full price.
- L Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals. He’s a brilliant young player.
- R Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins. A strong scoring option.
- R Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit Red Wings. Impressive young player.
- R Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers. One of my favorite players.
- L Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes. Speed merchant and a born scorer.
- L Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens. Talented scorer.
- L Vladislav Namestnikov, NY Rangers. Skilled winger apparently available. (RFA)
- R Tobias Rieder, Los Angeles Kings. Potentially a perfect fit depending on price point.
- R Connor Brown, Toronto Maple Leafs. Solid young winger with some NHL experience.
- RC Austin Czarnik, Boston Bruins. Among the top scorers in the AHL.
- L Anthony Duclair, Chicago Blackhawks. A bit of a reclamation project, has talent.
- R Devante Smith-Pelly, Washington Capitals. If he’s available, Oilers will pursue.
- R David Backes, Boston Bruins. If Boston takes back Lucic.
- R Josh Leivo, Toronto Maple Leafs. Talented winger never plays.
- L Warren Foegele, Carolina Hurricanes. Big forward with skill and two-way acumen.
- L Nic Petan, Winnipeg Jets. Undersized and very creative.
- LC Daniel Carr, Montreal Canadiens. He’s an under the radar option but can play 4C.
- W Peter Cehlarik, Boston Bruins. Big forward with skill.
- LC Matthew Peca, Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s a solid No. 4 C option.
- LC Lucas Wallmark, Carolina Hurricanes. Nice range of skills.
- LC Zack Smith, Ottawa Senators. One of a few No. 4C options.
THE LIST (DEFENCE)
- RD Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild. A strong option at a major price.
- RD Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche. Might be the best option.
- RD Chris Tanev, Vancouver Canucks. Seldom mentioned, he can help the Oilers.
- RD Dylan Demolo, San Jose Sharks. A nice fit, surprised he’s available.
- LD Torey Krug, Boston Bruins. He posts terrific boxcars.
- RD Alex Petrovic, Florida Panthers. Big, strong shutdown blue.
- RD Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes. He is available, seems a default option.
- LD Brandon Davidson, Edmonton Oilers. I still like him despite the wobble.
FREE AGENT CLARITY
- G Nick Ellis RFA. Retired.
- G Laurent Brossoit UFA. Unlikely to return.
- LD Darnell Nurse RFA. Qualified.
- RD Matt Benning RFA. Signed.
- LD Yohann Auvitu UFA. Reportedly heading back to Europe, there’s an NHL player here.
- RD Mark Fayne UFA. He’s done with the Oilers.
- LD Keegan Lowe UFA. Signed.
- LD Dillon Simpson UFA. Same spot as Lowe, likely room for only one.
- LD Joey Laleggia UFA. He’ll sign with an NHL team that sees him as a defenseman. Maybe Vancouver.
- LD Ben Betker RFA. Not qualified.
- RC Ryan Strome RFA. Qualified.
- RC Kyle Platzer RFA. Not qualified.
- LC Grayson Downing UFA. Unlikely to return.
- L Mike Cammalleri UFA. I liked his contribution but the Oilers need more speed.
- L Drake Caggiula RFA. Signed.
- L Braden Christoffer RFA. Signed an AHL deal with Bakersfield.
- R Anton Slepyshev RFA. Heading to Russia, qualified.
- R Iiro Pakarinen RFA. Also heading to Russia.
- R Patrick Russell. Signed.
- R Brian Ferlin UFA. Barely got on the ice.
215 GOALS, NEED MORE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins —Connor McDavid —Ty Rattie 
- Milan Lucic —Leon Draisaitl —Drake Caggiula 
- Jujhar Khaira —Ryan Strome —Jesse Puljujarvi 
- Pontus Aberg —Brad Malone —Zack Kassian 
- Oscar Klefbom —Adam Larsson 
- Andrej Sekera —Kris Russell 
- Darnell Nurse —Matt Benning 
- Cam Talbot3—Mikko Koskinen
These are my projections from late last week, they were met with universal applause and agreement. Everyone agreed. Oilers need wingers, ladies and men.
CHIARELLI’S NEEDS LIST
- A scoring winger capable of sliding up and down the depth chart as required (Rattie insurance and a finisher for Leon’s line).
- A two-way winger who can provide veteran presence on the third line.
- A second-pairing defender (patience may require this solution arrives later, and it might be Matt Benning until Evan Bouchard is ready).
- A backup goalie (Mikko Koskinen).
CHIARELLI’S ASSETS LIST
- Milan Lucic. No idea what the market might be, suspect he goes after July 1.
- Zack Kassian. He’s likely in a few conversations.
- 2019 first-round pick. It would have lots of value.
- Oscar Klefbom. The OEL signing has him moving down my list (from No. 1).
- Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s vulnerable, suspect they’ll regret dealing the big man.
- Ryan Strome. Oilers may want to reset that third line.
- Andrej Sekera. Injury unknown likely keeps him here.
- Kris Russell. NMC probably keeps him here.
- Cam Talbot. I don’t believe it but his name is out there.
The Oilers are going to have to get innovative, and a buyout (Sekera?) is possible. There are some nice options available in free agency, the players not qualified give the Oilers a chance to shoot the gap and come out dry on the other side. Now, some of those names not qualified are entirely likely to be signed by their teams before July 1.
If you’re asking me, I think the Oilers may have a July 2-5 deal for Milan Lucic lined up, and are going to be shopping in the bargain section. Austin Czarnik, Matthew Peca, Brandon Davidson. You should not expect more from free agency, the big move (if it comes) will arrive via trade.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
The usual suspects for Tuesday, they happen to be interesting, begins at 10 this morning on TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Fixing the holes where the rain comes in, draft, free agency and finding cap room.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Dallas was hot, Oilers got their man, Eskimos uneven, Ricky Ray.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Tavares watch, teams still have much to do and free agency can’t answer all of the questions.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!