Six to eight new Oilers

Jonathan Willis
July 12 2013 12:45PM

At his end of season press conference, Craig MacTavish was asked if there could be six to eight new Oilers, and he said “I think that’s fair.” With the moves so far this summer, the team is now in that range.

The full quote:

I think that’s fair. There’s going to be some significant and meaningful change for sure. I think in today’s era, even when you win there’s significant change, and when you’re in the situation that we’re in at this stage of our development as a team there’s every reason to expect there’s going to be at least that many, 6-8 new members [of the Oilers].

The Changes

The depth chart above is my personal view of where things are right now, and assumes no changes. Reasonable people can disagree on the order, but that should be a serviceable list.

Assuming that Ryan Hamilton, Philip Larsen and Richard Bachman all end up missing the team, that makes six new Oilers to the starting roster; if Hamilton and Larsen make the team that takes the club to eight.

Changes Ahead?

I expect that we will yet see a trade that ships out Ales Hemsky, but maybe that doesn’t happen. Bob Stauffer hinted in his show yesterday that Ales Hemsky could be back with the team if MacTavish can’t find a return that satisfies him, and MacTavish has always left himself that out. I’ve never been a guy who believes a player has to be a prototypical third line player to play on the third line; just because EA Sports calls it a checking line doesn’t mean it must be devoid of offence. Certainly, Ales Hemsky’s ability to get the puck out of the defensive zone without losing possession is something that wouldn’t hurt a third line taking primarily defensive zone minutes, and having a little bit of counterpunch is always a good thing.

I also would not be surprised to see a player like Nick Schultz moved, since as things currently stand the Oilers will either need to push one of Nick Schultz or Anton Belov out of the top-six or slide a left-shooting defenceman over to his off-side.

But even if that doesn’t happen, MacTavish has delivered on his promise of off-season change.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Flames Nation, Kent Wilson opines on the Flames' contract talks with defenceman T.J. Brodie. Why does it matter? Because in doing so, Wilson spends a bunch of time reflecting on the general nature of so-called "bridge contracts" - like the one-year deal Sam Gagner got last season. Wilson cites another example of the bridge contract ending badly:

Namely, that the player will get drastically more expensive to retain in the near future. On the one hand, there's the concern associated with committing dollars and term to a player who turns out to be mediocre or worse. On the other hand, there's the possibility the player will be able to hold a team over the barrel a few years down the road. A recent object lesson in the pitfalls of bridge deals is PK Subban - the Canadiens played hardball with the young defender this past off-season (and lock-out), resulting in a contentious negotiation that eventually ended in a lowball two year deal worth $2.87M per year. Of course, Subban won the Norris trophy this season, so you can be certain Montreal will be paying out the nose to keep their young star once his bridge contract expires after next season.

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

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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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#51 Smokey
July 12 2013, 09:03PM
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Don't buy the Phaneuf rumours. Like he would come here with Miss Cuthbert.

I enjoy hating his guts. Don't want to have to cheer for his. He would be a whole lot better dman at 23 mins a night. Hes not a horse like Weber, to much of a liability.

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#52 Smokey
July 12 2013, 09:03PM
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Don't buy the Phaneuf rumours. Like he would come here with Miss Cuthbert.

I enjoy hating his guts. Don't want to have to cheer for his. He would be a whole lot better dman at 23 mins a night. Hes not a horse like Weber, to much of a liability.

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#53 madjam
July 12 2013, 09:30PM
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oliveoilers wrote:

Listened to Stauffer today, and some lunatic (ex-assistant GM) from T.O. was saying that we're kicking tyres on Phanuef? Thoughts?

Also, on Grabovski, while it wasn't classy how he went out, burning bridges and all, Nonis did issue him a challenge 'to be better next season'. Then promptly bought him out. So we don't know what went on behind the scenes, it sounded like he was promised to stay, but this is business and there are no certainties!

How might that change defensive pairings if that were to happen -assuming we'd like 8 NHL ready defencemen .

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#54 Citizen David
July 12 2013, 09:43PM
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Space Dad wrote:

Interesting article on Belov. Especially intriguing is his commitment to improving himself as a player, to the extent that he prefers signing short term contracts for the added incentive. I also come away thinking he'll fit in great with the mentality that Eakins and MacT are purportedly trying to encourage in the locker room. Maybe this guy ends up in our top 4?

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/anton-belov-khl-top-defenseman-big-future-edmonton-193311931.html

That is a very good article. I've always been unsure why people see him as someone who will have to fight for the number 7 role. We'll see but I think he'll be a real positive.

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#55 Top Cheddar
July 12 2013, 11:01PM
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OilClog wrote:

He didn't say a damn word publicly until the Maple Leafs axed him.. He's a man, he's entitled to his opinion and option of voicing it publicly to the MSM when they ask the "tough" questions.. after he's been released..He would walk in and immediately feel the need to prove himself against our cluster of talent.. Adding more talent, drive, and want to win.. is a bad thing? a cancerous thing? you believe everything you hear? come on son.

Penner said similar words about MacT's departure... but you know, another cup since. No biggie

You're right. His numbers were stellar and he very well might have something to prove. That could be positive. But I think I'll make the inference that there's more to 29 other teams not feeling his mojo at this point. Whether its price, term or attitude, something is off...

And about Penner, if the season was only during April and May, sure, he'd be a great addition. I think his second cup had a lot more to do with a ridiculously solid three lines and a tender who stood on his head. Something the Oil hasn't had in a long time. Penner did question MacT's usage of him. But guess what? Sutter did the same thing as MacT for three years! Penner learned not to go public; maturation I suppose. The guy needs a cattle prod every night. Grabo wouldn't need that prod every night but I have a hunch his game might be in a selfish place right now; IMO.

We shall see...after this dance with Gagner is done.

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#56 HerbaDerp
July 12 2013, 11:32PM
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HallFever wrote:

Hemsky for Ryan Carter and a 2014 2nd round pick. Then sign Penner on a 2 year deal.

Again Penner is brought up. I'm embarrassed that people think he's a good fit because he's big. Do you remember that he played for us before? Weren't we all relieved that he got traded? He is a non factor and would be a horrible signing. Slow, shows up when he wants too was in Sutters dog house all year.

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#57 Serious Gord
July 12 2013, 11:52PM
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If this is all that MacT gets done before next season it's going to be another long. Bottom dwelling season especially in light of the division the oil plays in next year.

No changes thusfar to the top d or the first two lines. So for at least thirty to thirty five minutes a game the oils opponents will see nothing different save Ference. Their trainers won't hand to do much after the games against the oil regarding newly acquired injuries. Is their a less hard to play against group in the entire league? Is their one that made the playoffs?

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#58 Randaman
July 12 2013, 11:59PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Some people here crack me up. Grabovski has no class? The same kind of class that Nonis had in telling him he was keeping him and then buying him out?

I think if a new coach came in and ruined my game by not using me in the right role and then demoting me to the point of a buyout, I might be pissed too.

Every Leaf fan post I have read says he was a hard worker and a good guy in the room.

Yet you say Phaneuf is a character guy/leader. Phaneuf is a coward! Cheap shots, beaks off and then when the opposition calls him out, he runs and hides behind the officials. Not what I would call character material! WE NEED a centerman that can win draws, forecheck hard, be aggressive in generating turnovers and be defensively responsible. Sounds like Grabovski to me!

Couldn't have said it better myself!!!

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#59 Throttlehead
July 13 2013, 12:09AM
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Rookie GM comment, putting a number on how many trades is foolish.

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#60 Fatbob24
July 13 2013, 12:21AM
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What happened to Brown?

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#61 K_Mart
July 13 2013, 01:26AM
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MacT appears to have done more in 60 days than Tambo did in his entire tenure here.

Not sure how ppl are complaining. It's not easy find 6-8 new players that are all better and cheaper than the previous guys in their spots.

Ference : Better and cheaper than Ryan Whitney. Belov: Better and cheaper than N.Schultz(IMO) Perron: Better and cheaper than Hemsky Gordon: Better and cheaper than Horc(IMO) Joensuu: No clue how he'll stack up vs. petrell

All in all, it's hard to complain about any of this. MacT just set his expectations a little higher than is realistic. I'm anxious to see how Klefbom and Joensuu end up fitting in the picture this year.

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#62 K_Mart
July 13 2013, 01:39AM
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At this point I don't think Grabo is a good fit. Especially since we have Perron. Grabo could have moved to the wing, but now our top six is full. I see Grabo as a last resort.

IE if Gags goes all the way through with arbitration and the oilers have to walk away from him because he was awarded 5.75M. Then we'd likely be forced to sign Grabo. As it stands now, he's not a great fit.

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#63 Bonvie
July 13 2013, 04:37AM
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Gagner for Colin Wilson or Brayden Schenn makes sense to me. I like Gagner but considering the makeup of the rest of the top 6 Wilson and Schenn would compliment the remainder of the top 6 quite nicely.

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#64 tapdog
July 13 2013, 08:11AM
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K_Mart wrote:

At this point I don't think Grabo is a good fit. Especially since we have Perron. Grabo could have moved to the wing, but now our top six is full. I see Grabo as a last resort.

IE if Gags goes all the way through with arbitration and the oilers have to walk away from him because he was awarded 5.75M. Then we'd likely be forced to sign Grabo. As it stands now, he's not a great fit.

Whos there Nellie, If the Oilers let Gags go through Arbitration and then walk away due to what he is awarded, the whole freakin management group should be fired on the spot!

If a settlement cannot be made within a week or two, they need to seriously look at trading Gags! The longer they wait the less they get for him.

As for Grabo, he brings what Gagner does offensively but with a bit more defensive awareness.In my opinion I would prefer Grabovski over Gagner but that is just me.

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#65 oliveoilers
July 13 2013, 08:27AM
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Just one thing on the 'Penner Has Two Rings". First one with Anaheim, he was a playoff monster. He earned it. Second one, well, the other day Jamal Meyers and Dan Carcillo got theirs.....Following some people's logic we should sign them up 3mill a piece, right? Or you could look at it with the perspective that they were bit part players. I agree with some of you that Penner CAN be an asset. But, like the others I have seen him mail it in, and more importantly, not give a damn about team mates.

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#66 madjam
July 13 2013, 08:42AM
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Bonvie wrote:

Gagner for Colin Wilson or Brayden Schenn makes sense to me. I like Gagner but considering the makeup of the rest of the top 6 Wilson and Schenn would compliment the remainder of the top 6 quite nicely.

If Gagner gets an offer sheet what might be the figure be to match ? They could be actively shopping him now if they feel the arbitration might be higher than they are willing/wanting to go . Better option than letting him go for free .

Oilers did not seem to have a concensus on Gagner long term on his last contract . another one year or short term contract could mean a parting of ways at/near end of season. We'll see what this marriage will bring by the length of the contract I suspect . Currently feels like it might boil down to one year .

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#67 HallFever
July 13 2013, 09:53AM
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HerbaDerp wrote:

Again Penner is brought up. I'm embarrassed that people think he's a good fit because he's big. Do you remember that he played for us before? Weren't we all relieved that he got traded? He is a non factor and would be a horrible signing. Slow, shows up when he wants too was in Sutters dog house all year.

With Eakins up his ass and a dedicated role on the 3rd line should provide different results. If it was 1.5 to 2 million per year I would take the risk on a short term deal.

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#68 nunyour
July 13 2013, 10:34AM
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HerbaDerp wrote:

Again Penner is brought up. I'm embarrassed that people think he's a good fit because he's big. Do you remember that he played for us before? Weren't we all relieved that he got traded? He is a non factor and would be a horrible signing. Slow, shows up when he wants too was in Sutters dog house all year.

I don't get it either,boo him out of town and then wish for him to come back.No he hasn't changed .that's why he got benched in L.A. too!!!

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#69 EHH Team
July 13 2013, 10:52AM
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madjam wrote:

If Gagner gets an offer sheet what might be the figure be to match ? They could be actively shopping him now if they feel the arbitration might be higher than they are willing/wanting to go . Better option than letting him go for free .

Oilers did not seem to have a concensus on Gagner long term on his last contract . another one year or short term contract could mean a parting of ways at/near end of season. We'll see what this marriage will bring by the length of the contract I suspect . Currently feels like it might boil down to one year .

Now that Gagner has decided on arbitration, offer sheets are not allowed.

If Gagner ends up with a one-year deal, I think we can expect him to be traded by the deadline. In this potential situation, it might be prudent to sign Grabo or sign/trade for someone who can step into the 2nd line centre role.

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