The Oilers Don’t Need A Stud Defenseman Now

Jonathan Willis
May 23 2012 11:09AM

It would be a great thing for the Edmonton Oilers if they could add a stud defenseman, a true number one who plays heavy minutes on the back end, contributes offensively and shuts down the opposition’s best players. But it’s not a necessity right now.

I say that for two reasons.

There’s Time

The Oilers are not going to win the Stanley Cup in 2012-13. Even if they could somehow trade two prospects and Nick Schultz to St. Louis for Chris Pronger, this coming season would in all probability not include a championship.

This is not a team that’s one player away. In all likelihood, this is not a team that’s three players away. This is a team that is a few players away, plus a few years for some of the young players they currently have away.

Therefore, if the Oilers want to address the defense through free agency, they don’t have to add the star guy right now. They can tinker, upgrade the top-four through trade or development or with lesser free agents (such as, for example, Matt Carle) and wait for that piece to become available.

As things currently stand, the Oilers should (assuming some positive strides are made) be in a better position to bargain in the summer of 2013. Free agents slated to become available that July definitely include Tobias Enstrom, Alex Edler, Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky. Assuming Shea Weber signs a one-year deal this summer, he’ll also be included on that list. The summer after – assuming no major changes in the CBA – will see Dion Phaneuf, Kris Letang, Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Girardi, Dan Boyle, Joni Pitkanen and others eligible for UFA status.

If free agency is the route the Oilers opt for, this summer’s prospects are bleak. Ryan Suter is the only top defender available this July, and the Oilers – the league’s second-worst team last year – can sell the future, but there’s no way they can sell the present. A year from now, they should be on the upswing; two years from now, they might be able to pitch that they are a star defenseman away from contending for it all.

And hey, if everything falls apart, Seth Jones is a darn good prospect.

The By-Committee Apporach

Of course, the last time the Oilers went to the Stanley Cup Finals, they had a stud defenseman. Chris Pronger was (when healthy, he still is) one of the best in the game, a true difference-maker for any NHL franchise. The best defenseman on the team they lost to was Bret Hedican. Nothing against Bret Hedican, but if a 35-year old Hedican was Edmonton’s best defenseman today, I’m highly confident we’d be hearing lots of ‘the Oilers can’t win if Bret Hedican is their best defenseman’ in the comments section here. He was an excellent player, but not the star, number one defenseman people hope for.

As the Oilers try to build themselves into a team that can approach marquee free agents seriously, they could do worse than to pursue a by-committee approach to their own blue line. In Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry and Nick Schultz, they already have three very capable defenders. If Ryan Whitney returns to form – which is a long shot and not something I’d be comfortable betting on – they would have four. Andy Sutton will be a year older, but if there’s no degeneration in his play he’s an effective bottom-pairing option. The Oilers could add another defenseman in the same range – a player like Michal Roszival, Dennis Wideman, Barret Jackman, Johnny Oduya, Matt Carle, Carlo Colaiacovo, or one of half a dozen other names – and be improved over where they were a year ago. If they were able to do that and reel in Justin Schultz (far from guaranteed, given that virtually every team is going to want him) they could be vastly improved.

Over the long haul, the ideal situation would see the Oilers add that true, number-one rearguard, either through free agency (as Boston did with Zdeno Chara), via trade (as both the Oilers and Ducks did with Chris Pronger) or by way of development (as the Blackhawks did Duncan Keith). If that’s not possible over the short term, upgrading the defense to a respectable level in the meantime is a good alternative.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Archaeologuy
May 23 2012, 11:41AM
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I dont think there's a bad time for a Stud D-Man, but I think the point of the article was "Dont blow your brains out trying to land a 1D All-Star yet, the opportunity will be better shortly."

I'm cool with that. Somebody talk management off that ledge before they blow a 1st overall pick on a Dman.

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#2 TigerUnderGlass
May 23 2012, 12:11PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Having the first overall selection doesn't guarantee you get the best player in that draft class. Only 8 times during the last 20 yrs has the first overall draft pick been the best player.

Edmonton has so many holes in the lineup they need to start getting greedy and help their own cause.

I count 11, but even if we disagree on 3 names you'd have to agree that all three could be argued to be the best player in their year.

The rest which are not the best player in their draft year are all defensemen and goalies except for Stefan and Daigle.

On other words, in 20 years no defenseman or goalie taken number one has been the best player in their draft year but only two forwards cannot be argued as the best player in their year.

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#4 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 23 2012, 11:19AM
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The problem with waiting, is that the right guy might not be available for a resonable price when you are "ready".

If you can get the #1 now without way overpaying, you do it.

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#5 TigerUnderGlass
May 23 2012, 11:51AM
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Jesse wrote:

Why on earth would Suter sign in Edmonton?

And to your other point,

If you're not drafting and developing a #1 stud D man, then I guarantee, you will always overpay.

Quick, name the last 5 #1 defensemen traded and how much teams overpaid to get them.

When #1 defensemen get traded it is almost always for a package of "meh".

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#6 Quicksilver ballet
May 23 2012, 04:21PM
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@ TUG

Everyone has the democratic right to be wrong Tiger. I put a whole 7 minutes into that reseach. Lock those babies down and throw away the key, my assessments are as solid as the scriptures.

Is this the first time you've ever been incorrect?

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#7 Old Soldier
May 23 2012, 02:02PM
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Every year I become more and more convinced to let "big budget" teams do the free agency spending. I honestly cannot say that a single marquee signing over the last 5 years has come close to value for dollar. Now that doesnt mean that some arent good or very good players, but I think teams do much better to patch holes with free agency than go for the Jackpot.

Without including the next CBA, there is a very reasonable possibility of Suter signing a $7+ deal, and he already has confirmed he wants it to be a career ender. So lets use a round number of 10 or 12 years, and then throw in the ridiculous front end bonus required....and there is no way what Suter brings to the table will provide any value for the money. The exact same thing for Weber next year.

That money will be money needed for top 4 players RNH Ebs Hall and Yak. I hope the Oilers create an organizational policy along the lines of Detroit. The Red Wings do not spend money on their blue line or in goal, with the argument that other than Lidstrom, everyone can be replaced each year, with the best of the bunch coming from the system.

I would rather the Oilers develop, develop and then keep the players they want, and use the remainder along with vets as possible trade bait.

I dont want this team to ever be in the position of Van with Luongo and that contract, and it happens every year. Gomez, Luongo, Souray, Yashin, Dipietro, Lecavelier, Richards(sorry he isnt a $7.8 mil player), Heatley and Erhoff just to name some of the most obvious. In fact you could even include Ovechkin as his value is now debatable. Those teams, every single one of them, thought they hit the jackpot, this would put them over the top, and yet every single one of them ended up handicapped by those contracts.

Suter and Weber are great defencemen, but what will they be in 7 years when you still have 5 years of a cap hit of $8 million.

As for the draft, which is harder to develop, a 1/2 defenceman, or a 1b/2 Center. If the Oilers were going to pass on Yakupov, then I would rather see them focus on a big center.

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#8 madjam
May 23 2012, 04:15PM
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Maybe time to blow up the team again and bring in new management to get us on the right track ? If we keep waiting on this managerial staff we might never be better than a cellar club .

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#9 mctada
May 23 2012, 11:13AM
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Sorry Wanye...Pronger plays for Philly..

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#10 Bucknuck
May 23 2012, 11:16AM
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"The Oilers are not going to win the Stanley Cup in 2012-13"

Oh c'mon man! Where's the faith~!? Oh wait, Tambellini is still in charge and Khabibulin isn't going anywhere. I forgot.

On another note, if we as fans do not want to watch another year of suck, I think they need at least one more GOOD defensman, if not that 1a stud everyone is frothing at the mouth about.

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#11 mctada
May 23 2012, 11:19AM
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Sorry, I meant to say Jonathan not Wanye

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#12 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 23 2012, 11:21AM
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That said, I think the defense by committee could be just as effective. Adding 3 guys that could be 2nd pairing on good teams would go a long way as well.

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#13 druds
May 23 2012, 11:29AM
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Damn it Willis,usually I am hating your words of wisdom but I must say you nailed it on this one. It seems everyone has been infected with "next year is the year" disease. Throwing away all the draft picks and half the team and all the salary cap to try and get the magic bean "Weber" or "Suter" would be insanity at this point in the rebuild.

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#14 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 23 2012, 11:32AM
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@ druds

Weber and Suter are the exact opposite of magic beans, in fact if we went the RFA route with Weber, we would be the ones GIVING the magic beans.

Suter could be aquired for nothing but cap space.

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#15 Rick
May 23 2012, 11:39AM
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So the idea is that ideally the Oilers need #1 defenceman but they can wait to get him?

I don't really get the logic.

Ignoring the UFA course of action for a minute and concentrating on aquiring one via the trade route.

Considering no one can predict who may become available, when it may happen or what team will be offering him up it seems like a naive plan to wait until your timeline says you need him (even though you know you ultimately will) before shopping hard for one.

The need is there, no reason not to start trying to address it immediately. Even then it could take a few years to get find the right fit.

These 'we can wait' posts are mystifying given we have been waiting 6 years already.

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#16 Quicksilver ballet
May 23 2012, 11:44AM
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The stars are aligning for a shot at Weber at the deadline next season, or in the summer of 2013. This meshes well with what's going on here. Perhaps this happens sooner if the Preds choose the trade route to prevent them losing the asset.

One more year of this suckage to go it looks like. Hope the kids will continue to remain patient to a fault. How could the hole have gotten this deep.

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#17 russ99
May 23 2012, 11:46AM
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I'm more of the opinion that the Oilers need to trade for a younger top-pairing potential defenseman. Someone who has some NHL experience and can improve along with the Kid line line plus Gagner and Yakupov.

Besides, with all the high picks, by the time we're shooting for a cup, we may not have the cap room to land a Chara type player.

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#18 Maverick
May 23 2012, 11:46AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I dont think there's a bad time for a Stud D-Man, but I think the point of the article was "Dont blow your brains out trying to land a 1D All-Star yet, the opportunity will be better shortly."

I'm cool with that. Somebody talk management off that ledge before they blow a 1st overall pick on a Dman.

Agreed!

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#19 nuge2nail
May 23 2012, 11:47AM
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If you look at the back-to-back president trophy winners as a model you will see a #1 stud D is not required to be the best team in the league (Bieksa, Edler, Salo, Hamhuis, Ballard, Rome, Tanev).

We should follow this model due to simple math.

#1 Stud Ds in the NHL: Weber, Chara, Doughty, Keith, Yandle, Letang, Boyle

Failed #1 Ds in the NHL: Phaneuf, Boumeester, Green, Visnovsky, Pronger(injury), etc...

The point is, there are more teams in the NHL than #1 Stud defensemen, and many who thought they had their guy and failed miserably. Simple math indicated we may have to embrace the Vancouver model as the better option.

The OILERS PROBLEM LAST YEAR WAS SECONDARY SCORING. When the kids were on the ice(Hall, Hopkins, Eberle) the team looked great, like a true contendor. When the line change occured, the team was pinned in its own zone, and looked horrendous. The solution to this is draft Yakupov, and he will fix the teams biggest problem.

I would love to see the secondary scoring numbers of this team compared to most teams in the playoffs, it has to be one of the worst in the leauge. No doubt the +- of the Vets was enough to make me puke. Draft Yakupov, bring in a #3/#4 dmen and the team will be much improved.

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#20 ralph_u
May 23 2012, 11:49AM
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Outside of signing Justin Schultz I would think trade is Oiler's best option and wouldn't mind giving up 1st overall for a team that needs scoring and has a prospect top pairing D. Free agency seems tough to attract guys to Edmonton and Development we do have some ok guys coming up. Drafting this year at least trade down and get value for that pick. I would think Burke would be best partner to trade down and then shop his offer around.

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#21 Jesse
May 23 2012, 11:49AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

@ druds

Weber and Suter are the exact opposite of magic beans, in fact if we went the RFA route with Weber, we would be the ones GIVING the magic beans.

Suter could be aquired for nothing but cap space.

Why on earth would Suter sign in Edmonton?

And to your other point,

If you're not drafting and developing a #1 stud D man, then I guarantee, you will always overpay.

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#22 TigerUnderGlass
May 23 2012, 11:50AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I dont think there's a bad time for a Stud D-Man, but I think the point of the article was "Dont blow your brains out trying to land a 1D All-Star yet, the opportunity will be better shortly."

I'm cool with that. Somebody talk management off that ledge before they blow a 1st overall pick on a Dman.

If they pick a defenseman #1 overall I will protest by not attending any games next year. They may not care but I will feel better about myself.

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#23 Quicksilver ballet
May 23 2012, 11:58AM
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Having the first overall selection doesn't guarantee you get the best player in that draft class. Only 8 times during the last 20 yrs has the first overall draft pick been the best player.

Edmonton has so many holes in the lineup they need to start getting greedy and help their own cause.

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#24 TwoSkidoos
May 23 2012, 12:00PM
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Agreed Willis.

No need to try and win the cup next year, we have time, we have kids, we have prospects.

Wait in the weeds, players may even approach the Oil in the next few years.

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#25 madjam
May 23 2012, 12:00PM
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Your painting a bleak picture for next season. It might even be worse than that if we continue with current personnel despite this years draft . Who can we beat in West to begin with, with current soft personnel in major positions ? We might not even beat Colombus . It is to bad Tams gutted team so severly with only soft core players left on board . Now it looks even more needed to gut this team properly this time around ? Tams has been great at producing major holes , but has been a bloody disaster trying to fill them .

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#26 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 23 2012, 12:02PM
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@ Jesse

I can think of 10 milion reasons whey Suter would come here.

And as a premptive strke to your next reply. Take Keiths contract and add 1.25 million per year and your objection is solved.

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#27 Alan Hull
May 23 2012, 12:07PM
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Good article Jon, as always.

I know you focused on free agency here, but I wrote a similar piece about second-tier defence targets that could be acquired through trade for C&B last month.

It can be seen here:

http://www.coppernblue.com/2012/4/13/2942467/oilers-defensemen-trade-targets

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#28 Pizzy
May 23 2012, 12:07PM
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Im just curious, do you know what the Oilers gave up to get Pronger? Everyone keeps talking about trading Gagner or Hemskey etc. to get a legitimate top pairing defenseman. I wonder if that would be enough? Or if you know of any other recent trades that involved teams where a top end established defenseman went the other way. Just wondering what the Oil would have to give up to get that type of player.

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#29 misfit
May 23 2012, 12:08PM
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I'm a far bigger fan of taking the opportunities when they present themselves than waiting to see what happens down the road.

Keeping a stud defenseman that you have is a far easier task than going out and finding one after you have everything else in place. If we go full out on a Ryan Suter this offseason, would he not still be here 2-3 years from now? Would we not still be getting what we need when we need it?

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#30 Jackson
May 23 2012, 12:09PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I agree with you, however if you see a young D-man you want on another team the window will probably shut sooner than later. ie. OEL

This maybe the best chance to get him with the right offer. Or as they say the ship has already sailed.

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#31 fuzzy muppet
May 23 2012, 12:10PM
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@Jonathan

I completely agree. It's not completely necessary to have a #1 defenseman in order to win.

What you MUST have is depth. 7 or more capable, quality defenders that can actually play and be somewhat dependable, because injuries are inevitable.

A team will not win if any of Barker, Chorney, Peckham, and Teubert all have to play on a regular basis. They are not NHL quality defensemen.

Depth is key.

This team needs a puck mover(or two) and a minute eating "shutdown" guy( a "shutdown guy" is NOT the same as a #1 defenseman, a #1 defenseman also brings OFFENSE). That doesn't have to come in the form of ONE player.

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#32 Tony Montana
May 23 2012, 12:14PM
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I agree with Willis. This offseason the way to build for the future is we start weeding out the guys who are not really NHL defenders, Barker, Potter, Peckham, and replace them with guys who are legitimate #2, #3 or #4 (admittedly we are likely to get mostly the 3/4 guys.

The rebuild needs to be accelerated in the next 2 years, this is a certainty, but the top end veteren pieces (ie stud d-man) are not this offseason's priority.

There is no one right way to complete this rebuild, but there are many wrong ways, and blowing our wad on a free agent stud d-man before we have the team to ice around him is the wrong way to go.

6 legtitmate NHL D-men will improve the Oilers dramatically, and it is going to be easier to find a couple or 3 quality mid level NHL d-men this offseason than it will be to win the Suter lottery, and that is not even a lottery we should want to win.

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If you can get that #1 now you try acquire otherwise you have no choice but to go by a defense by committee type. The alternative which we've been playing under the past few years just doesn't work. You can't have a 1-6 defense without a 1.

There are a lot of options out there this year so I hope to see not excuses this year on the back end, unless those excuses are injuries to our best 4 d-men.

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#34 D-Man
May 23 2012, 12:27PM
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Pizzy wrote:

Im just curious, do you know what the Oilers gave up to get Pronger? Everyone keeps talking about trading Gagner or Hemskey etc. to get a legitimate top pairing defenseman. I wonder if that would be enough? Or if you know of any other recent trades that involved teams where a top end established defenseman went the other way. Just wondering what the Oil would have to give up to get that type of player.

As I recall, we got Lupul, Smid, two more first rounders and I think a conditional third pick.. If you're talking about getting a legitimate top 2 defender, the team you're dealing with isn't looking at Hemsky (who is injury prone) or Gagner (who has proven to be nothing better than a 40 to 45 point guy)... They are looking at Hall, Ebs or RNH with some additional prospects and/or draft picks...

I'd love to see a stud d-man like a Ryan Suter in an Oiler uniform, but realistically that won't happen... Our best bet is to try to get some more #3-4 d-man via FA to shore up our depth... I like the thought of pursuing Barrett Jackman and/or Carlo Colaiacovo and cut ties with Theo Peckham... Simple move - but should add a bit more depth and credibility to our back-end...

We also have Klefbom in the pipeline - all arrows indicate that he'll be close to challenging for a spot in the 2013-14 season... Tambo will need to find another couple of short term bandaids until then... I know I'm changing my tune (in the past with defending him), but considering how he handled Tom Renney, I doubt he has the ability to make that happen.

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#35 Quicksilver ballet
May 23 2012, 12:48PM
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@TUG

Had Forsberg over Lindros, Eric Staal over MA Fleury and Richards/Datsyuk over Lecavilier. I'm sure that this is where the differing opinion rests.

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#36 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 23 2012, 12:50PM
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@ Tony Montana

"blowing our wad on a free agent stud d-man before we have the team to ice around him is the wrong way to go."

I'd love to hear how we would be WORSE OFF pursuing a stud defensemen now rather then in 2 years.

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#37 jonny94
May 23 2012, 12:54PM
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So when we draft Yakupov is Horcoff going to "coff" up his number and give it to Nail? I think he should... while he's at it give the C to Hall haha

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#38 RexLibris
May 23 2012, 12:54PM
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Thank you Jonathan, for writing this.

I have been trying to defend my position that the Oilers should absolutely not be trying to trade their 1st overall pick for a quality defenseman who can help them right now.

Many fans of other teams seem to look at the Oilers and feel like we are missing our window of opportunity here.

There is no window of opportunity right now. This team is terrible right now. The potential is all locked up in developing assets, either in the NHL or development leagues.

What good would a top-end defender do for us right now? Make Edmonton a 27th ranked NHL team?

I also would prefer to see the Oilers go to a defence-by-committee approach, where they don't have a single stud defenseman, but rather a rotation of solid first and second pairing d-men that can replace others due to injury and where they is less of a drop-off after the first pairing.

Depth is key. Depth in scoring and depth in a defensive corps. The closest comparisons I can think of at this point would be the overall structure of the Oil Kings and their ability to play all their dressed skaters in any situation and against nearly any style of hockey.

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#39 Oilcan
May 23 2012, 01:00PM
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I never do trade scenarios but would Gagner and next years first get Yandle and Hanzal?

Another option the Oilers could do is trying to take on that big contract for one season (I.E Cambell in Florida) they could get a pretty solid Dman without giving up much. Maybe San Jose is looking to dump Boyle and his high cap hit. I think the Oilers can have a competent 6 next year without selling the farm, and lets face it competent probably gets them 5 more wins then their AHL d they had this year.

I am assuming they can sign Schultz:

Smid-Petry High Contract Trade-Nick Schultz Whitney-Justin Schultz Sutton

I think Sutton can still play and if he is a bottom pairing guy and we have 4 guys who can log big minutes while Schultz gets his feet wet and Sutton plays limited 5v5 but plays a lot of PK I think they look OK. This is assuming Whitney is hurt, if he comes back strong then this is a much improved Defense.

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#40 Dman09
May 23 2012, 01:00PM
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I'll hit on a few things here. First I think one of the first things this team could do to improve is to get rid of some guys. Peckham, Barker, Plante, Chorney, Belanger or Horcoff and don't sign Smyth. I think Gagner and Harti should be on the third line together and a more suitable option be found for the 2nd line center position. From everything I've read it sounds like Yakupov plays a physical style of game which would be more than welcome in the top 6 even if he isn't a giant.

Now as for acquiring Dmen, well if this year isn't likely to be a playoff year then it would really make more sense to get a good feel for the Dmen you have coming into the pro ranks to see if there is a possible top defenseman in there. One of Marincin, Gernat, or Kelfbom may end up being better than previously thought. Doughty is only 22 and is a top defensman it is possible one of these guys could be there at 22 as well. Therefore there is no need to start pushing hardcore for a top defenseman as a UFA or a trade until your ready to contend and have a better feel for your prospects.

I also think Bulin needs to go. I can see Dubnyk doing a good job next season but what if he gets injured or takes a step back??? LAST PLACE FINISH AGAIN.

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#41 michael
May 23 2012, 01:03PM
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I am in agreement with your opinion. Draft Yakupov. Upgrade your Dmen in the next couple of years via trade,FA or the Draft. The Oilers need that 2cd line scoring that will put the fear of God into other teams. Most,like 29 other teams will not be able to defend if the Oilers are throwing out Hall,Ebs and Rnh and then Yakupov ,Gagne and Hemsky. Throw out Horcoff,Smyth and MP,and Lander Hartsy and Jones. It will be a much more balance offensive attack.

Having a year where Whitney is healthy,hemsky is Healthy,Hall is Healthy and RNH is not falling into the boards and 10 pounds heavier should go along way to ensureing that the defence goes unnoticed.

My biggest thing is that the Oilers won't be running out NK out every game until he's expended. Renny put to much love into NK early in the season. I will curious to see how the new coach handles the goaltending. If its Sutter does NK even start in Edmonton. I really think that if Sutter is coach guys like Belanger and Eager are going to find it hard to stay in the lineup. They may find themselves elsewhere in September. Like OKC. After what he said when he left Calgary I get the feeling that Sutter is not going to go down in Flames again with a bunch of underperforming vterans. I think he will make it his mandate to go younger and faster.

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#42 Oilcan
May 23 2012, 01:05PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

@TUG

Had Forsberg over Lindros, Eric Staal over MA Fleury and Richards/Datsyuk over Lecavilier. I'm sure that this is where the differing opinion rests.

If Lindros didn't have the injuries then probably not but agreed. Staal over Fleury for sure. Fleury has had an ok career but its always risky taking a goalie that high and especially first overall. And Richards and Datsyuk over Vinny no question but where I would argue with this is that when making these type of comparisons it should be comparing first round picks as the best player in the draft. Because there is no way Datsyuk was ever even considered in the first few rounds and Richards was a second rounder I believe (Could be wrong). These type of late round home runs can't be used as compatibles in my opinion because they are extremely rare.

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#43 D-Man
May 23 2012, 01:13PM
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Oilcan wrote:

I never do trade scenarios but would Gagner and next years first get Yandle and Hanzal?

Another option the Oilers could do is trying to take on that big contract for one season (I.E Cambell in Florida) they could get a pretty solid Dman without giving up much. Maybe San Jose is looking to dump Boyle and his high cap hit. I think the Oilers can have a competent 6 next year without selling the farm, and lets face it competent probably gets them 5 more wins then their AHL d they had this year.

I am assuming they can sign Schultz:

Smid-Petry High Contract Trade-Nick Schultz Whitney-Justin Schultz Sutton

I think Sutton can still play and if he is a bottom pairing guy and we have 4 guys who can log big minutes while Schultz gets his feet wet and Sutton plays limited 5v5 but plays a lot of PK I think they look OK. This is assuming Whitney is hurt, if he comes back strong then this is a much improved Defense.

Why would the Coyotes want to deal Yandle?? That trade doesn't make any sense from the Coyotes point of view...

Your point about finding a solid D-man via FA has merit, but (in theory) we should be able to get a solid d-man without breaking the bank... I'm not sure you want to trade Nick Schultz either - he wasn't flashy, but he was solid on the back end... He moves the puck well and knows how to take care of his back end.. You also forget that we have Corey Potter for another couple of years..

I think you're top six this year (IMO) should look like this... Smid, Petry, Whitney, Schultz... You'll note we have two spots open... I'd like to see Sutton as our #7, have Plante/Teubert fight for one spot and the Oilers to sign one solid FA (waiving Potter)...

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#44 Tim in Kelowna
May 23 2012, 01:14PM
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The '06 Hurricanes were the rare exception to the rule. We won't be winning the cup next year but if we do manage to significantly upgrade our d there is no reason we couldn't be fighting for the 7/8 spot in the west.

Last summer we tried bolstering our d-corps with 3 pairing pluggers and it failed miserably. Tambellini needs to trade for a bigtime dman so Hall, Eberle and RNH can actually get the puck at full speed in the neutral zone.

The fact is we have handful of incredible young forwards and zero incredible young dmen. That gap in talent needs to be addressed, and the sooner the better. If we wait around for our defensive prospects to develop, Hall and Eberle could be in year 3 or 4 of their second contract.

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#46 gongshow
May 23 2012, 01:16PM
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JW -

What makes you think that Whitney returning to form is a longshot?

Didn't he look all-world on a team full of minor leaguers before his last ankle surgery? (which was after his other ankle surgery) If he was able to return to form after the first, why do you think it a longshot after the other ankle? (My understanding is that both were similar injuries/surgeries)

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#47 Tim in Kelowna
May 23 2012, 01:20PM
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Also, I think it's pretty safe to assume that most of those potential free agents you mentioned for next summer and the summer after will resign with their respective teams before free agency.

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#48 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 23 2012, 01:21PM
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@ JW

We will always have to "overpay" if we go the FA route (almost all free agents are overpaid)

If we go the trade route we would have to give up quality assets now, just the same as in 2 years.

We will have to rob Peter to pay Paul no matter when we do it.

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#49 oldhippy
May 23 2012, 01:23PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Having the first overall selection doesn't guarantee you get the best player in that draft class. Only 8 times during the last 20 yrs has the first overall draft pick been the best player.

Edmonton has so many holes in the lineup they need to start getting greedy and help their own cause.

You have said this over and over and over, on half a dozen threads. I still don't get your point. What are you suggesting we do? Trade prospects we have drafted and developed, who are 60/40 panning out to acquire draft picks and draft prospects who are 60/40 to pan out? Also, of the 12 times that the first pick wasn't the best in his draft class, how many were picks that were not rated first overall? I can think of three. Daigle, was drafted as a marquee player but he was not the consensus first pick. DiPietro and Fleury were "organizational need" players. I think these three can be discounted in your ratings. I would have to research pretty deep to see if any others fit the same bill, but I'm not going to. We may, already have that stud defenceman in our prospect pool, and adding more prospects just encroaches on our 50 pro contract limit. As an example, we have developed Smid, over six seasons, to the point where, at 26, he would be a top four on any team. In two or three years, might one or two of Marincin, Klefbom, Gernat, or Musil, do the same? I think that is a reasonable expectation. (I know, don't expect reason to enter the conversation)

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