Last summer, after winning Stanley, the Washington Capitals were faced with some tough decisions. Badly in need of cap room, and with substantial free agents to sign, the potential for madness existed.
Washington solved the cap issue by trading Brooks Orpik and his $5.5-million cap to Colorado, with goalie Philipp Grubauer as the sweetener. It allowed the team to sign John Carlson (the big piece) long term, and make smaller (but important) moves like adding Nic Dowd to replace Jay Beagle. Caps even got Orpik back at a lower price in free agency.
Turnover is necessary in the NHL. Massive turnover is madness. How much have the Oilers done in recent summers? Too much by plenty.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group.INSANE NEW OFFER IS HERE!
- New Lowetide: Tyler Benson’s comparables offer Oilers fans plenty of hope for the future.
- New Lowetide: Making the call on the Oilers’ RFAs with a new general manager on the way.
- Lowetide: Red Wings front office shuffle could impact Oilers’ future.
- Jonathan Willis: Potential coaching candidates and why the Oilers don’t need to rush the GM search to get one
- Lowetide: What would Glen Sather do with these Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Some creative solutions to address the Oilers’ goalie problem
- Lowetide: The Milan Lucic saga rolls into Year 4 for Oilers with no easy answers
- Jonathan Willis: Who stays and who goes? An early projection of which players will remain on the Oilers’ roster in 2019-20
- Lowetide: How high can these Condors fly?
- Lowetide: Ron Hextall’s patient approach as GM would be shock to Oilers’ system
- Jonathan Willis: Michael Futa’s success at the NHL Draft makes him a credible GM candidate for the Oilers
- Lowetide: The Oilers possible summer trade pieces, and which longtime players might be saying goodbye.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ten prospects likely to be available when the Oilers make their first-round pick.
- Jonathan Willis: Bob Nicholson mostly says the right things, but stalls on making changes to the Oilers.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The pressure’s squarely on Bob Nicholson to make right GM hire for Oilers.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers Report Cards: Few passing grades remain in season full of failure.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers, the republic of Finland and the 2019 draft.
- Lowetide: The Oilers made a rare move and shopped the QMJHL at the 2018 draft. It could happen again.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers draft early, the WHL is loaded and there’s a lot of history.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers and the OHL.
CHIARELLI TO DO, 2015
- Draft McDavid (check)
- Find a quality goalie option (his answer was Cam Talbot)
- Acquire a legit top pairing blue (Andrej Sekera)
- Acquire a more offensive two-way F (Lauri Korpikoski)
- Ignore MacT re: Marincin (dealt for No. 107 overall)
I keep track of the ‘needs list’ each summer, Chiarelli had five things he needed to accomplish in his first summer. He checked off three of the five, made a poor decision on Korpikoski and dealt Marincin.
That’s not all he did. He made seven trades over the summer, acquiring Griffin Reinhart, Cam Talbot, Eric Gryba, Lauri Korpikoski and Anders Nilsson. Added to the free agents (Sekera, Mark Letesu), it made eight additions, including McDavid. Basically half the roster. Roster change by sledgehammer.
CHIARELLI TO DO, 2016
- Top-pairing D to partner with Klefbom (his answer was Larsson)
- Second-pairing RHD to partner with Sekera (Kris Russell)
- Acquire RHC with some skill (Jesse Puljujarvi)
- Backup goalie (Jonas Gustavsson)
- Rob the Bruins of something (Matt Benning)
If you bring in nine players in one summer, one assumes it’s a quiet time the next year. There was a lot of change, including Taylor Hall being dealt to New Jersey. Chiarelli traded for Adam Larsson (the only major deal summer 2016) and signed Milan Lucic, Jonas Gustavsson, Mark Fraser, Kris Russell, Drake Caggiula and Matt Benning. Draft pick Jesse Puljujarvi brought the new hires summer 2016 to eight. That mean 16 (70 percent) turnover.
CHIARELLI TO DO, 2017
- Sign McDavid and Draisaitl. (Done)
- Survive the expansion draft. (Reinhart was lost)
- Make sure there’s enough cap room. (Eberle out, Strome in)
- Find a second pairing D with two-way acumen (Kris Russell)
- Find a forward who can help the offense. (No answer)
- Offload Benoit Pouliot. (they bought him out)
As was the case in 2016, just one trade but it had an enormous impact. I didn’t think it was fatal, more of a ‘Bill Guerin for Anson Carter’ deal. Eberle had two years left on his deal and Ryan Strome is a RHC. You can see the thought process. Not so on the next Strome deal.
Aside from acquiring Strome, PC added Ty Rattie, Jussi Jokinen and Yohann Auvitu. Do you remember the free agents he allowed to walk? Tyler Pitlick, Jordan Oesterle. Both are productive NHL players with many years ahead of them. Oilers talent evaluation remained poor.
CHIARELLI TO DO, 2018
- Veteran scoring right winger. Alex Chiasson was the answer, with Zack Kassian also having an impact.
- Two-way left winger. Tobias Rieder was an astute addition, in my opinion. It didn’t work out, but it was a good bet.
- Puck mover. PC looked, settled on Evan Bouchard.
- No. 7 defender. Kevin Gravel was excellent until they stopped playing him.
- Backup goalie. Mikko Koskinen was a solid move.
No major deals, but some free agent signings. Rieder, Koskinen, Gravel, Kyle Brodziak, Jakub Jerabek and then (late) Alex Chiasson and Jason Garrison. I think this would have been a wise path in 2015, keeping all of the picks and spending McDavid’s rookie season auditioning July 15 free agents in prominent roles (Chiasson, Gravel, Rieder types).
Another free agent out: Laurent Brossoit. He’d be a useful piece about now.
MARK HUNTER TO DO, 2019
- Two scoring wingers (Brett Connolly, Tyler Johnson)
- Cap room (buyout or offload with retain)
- No. 3 RH center (Riley Nash or internal solution Marody)
- Top 4 RHD who can move the puck (Colin Miller)
- Backup goalie (Thomas Greiss)
Peter Chiarelli didn’t get the job done but there are some things coming from the farm and that will help. Mark Hunter will arrive with very little knowledge of the difference between Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and William Lagesson. I know many are angry at Craig MacTavish, Scott Howson and others, but these men could be key in how Hunter proceeds in the trade market.
I think Hunter will try to trade Puljujarvi, Benning, Khaira and buyout a contract in an effort to address needs and free up money for Connolly, et cetera.
I think he may decide to trade Larsson, the No. 8 overall pick and various picks ala Chiarelli in 2015 to get it done. No. 8 and No. 38 for Olli Juolevi? I kid.
If I’m Hunter, I’m calling in Keith Gretzky, Craig MacTavish, Scott Howson and whomever else is left, and asking the following:
- If I have to trade Adam Larsson for a scoring winger, what is my best option for No. 1 RHD and don’t say ‘there isn’t one’.
- If I trade Dmitri Samorukov are people going to hate me in 2022?
- What is a Lagesson?
- If you believe Evan Bouchard is going to be a productive player, and that Joel Persson is ready, then trading Ethan Bear is a reasonable option, right?
- Who signed Mikko Koskinen for three years?
- How do you evaluate goalies?
- Name three left wingers on the 50-man roster who are capable of scoring 15+ goals next season, and you can’t count 97, 29 and 93.
- Name three left wingers on the roster better than Tyler Benson.
- Jesse Puljujarvi doesn’t have a lot of trade value. Is there a role the new coach can use him in that will benefit player and team? Is a season in Finland a preferable option to trading him now or losing him on waivers?
- Why did a building team trade so many picks in 2014 and 2015? Craig?
- How did the Oilers give up 62 goals while shorthanded?
- If Leon Draisaitl is the only main center over 50 percent (50.5), and Connor McDavid (46.6) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (45.1), maybe we’re looking for centers instead of wingers? Righty centers who can play both?
I’ll tell you this Russian winger Podkolzin has me concerned. Most of the attention is on the Americans at the U18’s (Cole Caufield, Matt Boldy) but Podkolzin might be the biggest mover (down) after the U18’s.
I’m content with the NA rankings on the list, but Euros always have late fluctuation partly because it’s a scouting year with major tournaments as the guide. Here is my current top 12 and what I’m thinking about for my final list:
1 C Jack Hughes, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). I have him at the top and that won’t change on my final list. He’s the real thing.
2 R Kaapo Kakko, Turkku (Sm-Liiga). More than just a consolation prize, he’s a quality prospect who might be a plug and play for the right team. Flourished in the Sm-Liiga.
3 L Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton (OHL). I’m comfortable with him here, but don’t want to be stubborn on it. His NHLE (40) includes 20 goals and that’s an exceptional number for a prospect his age in such a great league.
4 LD Bowen Byram, Vancouver (WHL). He’s easily the best defenseman in the draft, the question for me surrounds his impact. He isn’t Denis Potvin and he isn’t Scott Niedermeyer, but he has the entire package. I suspect I’ll rank him No. 3 on my final list.
5 RC Kirby Dach, Saskatoon (WHL). The rest of my top 10 is like spending a day shopping for stereo speakers (one day I’ll tell you about the Saturday I spent trying to decide between Bose and Altec Lansing): It’s shades of grey. I like Dach for his size, speed, skill and handedness. He’s a dynamic player.
6 LC Alex Turcotte, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). The worry for him was injury but he’s closed well and is clearly quality. If you read his scouting report, it’ll remind you of the Nuge. I might put him at No. 5 on the final list.
7 R Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge (WHL). I have him below Dach because he’s not quite a finished product. That can go either way, as there might be another gear, but Dach with the puck on his stick has more ways to hurt you in my opinion.
8 LC Peyton Krebs, Kootenay (WHL). I’ve moved him up recently, mostly because others have fallen. This is a quality talent, who could emerge as an outstanding complementary player on a line with 97 or 29. A little like Kaliyev in that his work seems to be discounted by some.
9 R Vasili Podkolzin, St. Petersburg (MHL). He’s the guy I worry about the most, there’s a disconnect between verbal and production. I think he must be very impressive on tape because the numbers aren’t there. If numbers is the third base coach, math isn’t waving him home inside my top 10.
10 LC Trevor Zegras, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). I have moved him down recently, mostly for fear about who is zooming who on that incredible US National Team. Absolutely worth a top-10 pick, not sure he should be the second USHL player on my list.
11 R Cole Caufield, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). He is scoring at will at the U18’s, and I expect he’ll land much higher than I have him. Small but with speed and smarts, his shot is money. He could land around No. 8 on my final list but NA’s rarely move up or down that much for me so we’ll see.
12 L Matthew Boldy, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). I actually have him at No. 13 but Mitch Brown has me re-thinking Phillip Broberg. Along with Hughes, Caufield and Turcotte, Boldy is rocking the U18’s with nine points in three games. Likely getting zoomed a little but very talented. Power forward skills, very good passer.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. We have a mountain of things to cover, beginning with Murat Ates of The Athletic Winnipeg. Jets fell to the Blues, not sure there was a damned thing they could do about the result.
I’ll have J.D. Burke from TSN1040 Vancouver and The Athletic Vancouver on to talk about an exciting new project with Elite Prospects. His Top 93 for 2019 is original, brilliant and a must read.
Jason Gregor will join me at 11:05 to talk Mark Hunter and other possible GM candidates, plus Oil Kings. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!