Two days ago, we were talking Brett Connolly, Petr Mrazek and Brian Boyle. Yesterday it was Mike Smith, Gustav Nyqvist and Valtteri Filppula. Today? Mike Smith, Alex Chiasson and Markus Granlund. This is where the host says something like ‘short term contracts are your friend’ and the comments section responds “where in h-e-double-hockey-sticks is the scoring winger?” and that my friends will be discussed for many weeks.
Ken Holland made some bets and some will work. If Mike Smith posts a .915 save percentage, Alex Chiasson scores a dozen, Markus Granlund pops 10 and Tomas Jurco scores seven after Valentine’s Day, we’ll still argue over yesterday.
I’m not in love with any of yesterday’s moves (Granlund and Khaira are two players I like), but the only major issue from this weekend came through raised expectations from the Andrej Sekera buyout. Making more money available and then hiring role players is a strange brew.
The Oilers didn’t use the Rej cash to get the scoring winger, but the need remains. The scoring winger needs to be in Edmonton by training camp if the team has any hope of making the playoffs. Who should fans look for as a solution? Who could be dangled? Let’s have a look.
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, here’s an incredible Offer!
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Trade market now most likely place for Oilers to find scoring winger
- New Lowetide: Oilers add free agent Markus Granlund, creating a crowded depth chart at left wing
- New Jonathan Willis: Tomas Jurco is a nice little reclamation bet by the Oilers.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How re-signing winger Alex Chiasson impacts the Oilers
- New Lowetide: Oilers add Mike Smith to an uneasy goalie depth chart for 2019-20
- Lowetide: Oilers buy out Andrej Sekera, look to a more dynamic free-agent frenzy.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘He comes as advertised’: Philip Broberg’s skating makes him development camp standout for Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers plan to skew younger on defence could open the door for Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov
- Lowetide: Taking stock of Oilers prospects ready to graduate with a clear shot at an NHL job in 2019-20
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
- Lowetide: Are these Jesse Puljujarvi’s final days with the Edmonton Oilers?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ranking the Oilers’ trade assets from the high-priced diamonds to those needing fresh starts
- Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland is shopping for 20-goal scorers on a budget. What will he find?
CURRENT 50-MAN (48)
There’s one slide (goalie Rodrigue) and that means the team has room for maybe one or two more names. More likely we see a trade; it’s also possible we see a Ken Holland special, defined as a draft pick for a player, or a player for a draft pick. Jesse Puljujarvi is listed here, that may change.
PROJECTED ROSTER AND CAP
Holland will need to add a No. 3 center and a scoring winger. Three of the four RW spots are occupied by veterans (Kassian, Chiasson, Gagner) and now three veterans own the top spots on the left side (Draisaitl, Lucic, Granlund). It doesn’t matter, but I’d like to see a righty shooter added on the wing. Holland will get someone before October, that’s the job.
Ken Holland: “What I was hoping to accomplish over the summer time—and there’s still two months to go—was to get another goaltender. We need more players who can get double-digit goals. Markus Granlund’s resume says he should be able to score double digit goals. We signed Nygard. We signed Jurco. We signed Haas. We signed Jujhar Khaira. We’ve started that. I don’t think we’re done.”
OILERS PRICES AND MATT CANE
I have a theory that goes like this: Oilers have to overpay in term or AAV to get free agents to sign in Edmonton. Is that what happened this year? Here’s the signing numbers compared to the Matt Cane predictions.
Alex Chiasson $2.15M times two (Matt Cane $3.125M times three)
Mike Smith signed $2M plus bonus (Matt Cane doesn’t estimate goalies)
Markus Granlund $1.3M times one (Matt Cane $2.190M times two)
Jujhar Khaira $1.2M times two (Matt Cane $1.138M times two)
Well, sometimes my theories are wrong, and I’m man enough to admit it. In fact, I estimated Chiasson at $3.2M in mid-season and it came in far lower. Of course, when I made my estimate Chiasson had just romped through the first part of the season (33, 16-4-20) and the second half (40, 6-12-18) tempered salary expectations. Either way, it was a fun exercise.
Now that we have something resembling the roster, let’s do a quick review on what worked last season. It’s difficult to construct entire lines, so let’s look for pairs. Here are the 5-on-5 60 scoring totals by individuals as part of tandems.
McDavid (18-29-47 3.50) and Draisaitl (21-24-45 3.35) together
McDavid (9-12-21 2.94) and Kassian (6-8-14 1.96) together
RNH (3-7-10 2.83) and Lucic (4-2-6 1.70) together
RNH (3-2-5 1.04) and Chiasson (3-3-6 1.24) together
RNH(4-1-5 1.69) and Khaira (1-4-5 1.69) together
Colby Cave 1-0-1 0.67) and Gagner (2-1-3 2.00) together
The names discussed before free agency (Jesse Puljujarvi, Matt Benning, Khaira) may now give way to prospect assets and future draft picks. The 2020 draft is apparently a monster, so that’s something to keep in mind. Also keep in mind prospects acquired by the previous general manager are orphans, even the good ones.
I don’t think Brown warrants a second-round pick in a normal draft year, so passing on this deal is a good decision. Connor McDavid is the world’s best hockey player, but he isn’t a general manager and he is under contract to play for the Edmonton Oilers through 2026 summer. I’d rather see the team build it right and that includes offloading cap problems and building up the system. I have no quarrel with this route, beyond the previously stated raised expectations on the Sekera buyout. Also have to find a scoring winger.
The Maroon rumors have me wondering if there is a Lucic trade on the way. That’s the only way it makes sense.
POSSIBLE SCORING WINGERS
The names are running low now and Edmonton needs a fix (unless Jurco is the surprise solution). Ken Holland didn’t want to spend big on Connolly, et cetera, so the alternative is trade. Make no mistake, he has to go get scoring on one of the wings, otherwise this is the Chiarelli plan (with Sekera’s buyout the twist).
1 LW Jason Zucker, Minnesota. Rumored to be gone at least twice to specific teams, he’s a consistent 20-goal man and a first-shot scorer. $5.5 million for four more years.
2 LW Chris Kreider, NY Rangers. Big, strong, fast and 28 goals. He’s $4.63 million with just one year left.
3 LW Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg. Now is the time to strike, send a blue for the shooting Hemsky.
4 F Nikita Gusev, Vegas Golden Knights. They are apparently shopping him and even though he’s more playmaker than shooter, he could no doubt help.
5 RW James Neal, Calgary. If there’s interest in Lucic, then Neal would be a solid return. Risk for sure, but he’s not far removed from a productive season.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning with miles to discuss, beginning at 10 on TSN1260. Jonathan Willis from The Athletic gets us started, and John Matisz from The Score will talk about that big Maple Leafs-Avalanche trade yesterday. We’re reaching out for an NBA guest to talk Kawhi and might have another trick or two up our sleeves as well. 10-1260 text @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!