The Oilers Centre Depth Chart

Jonathan Willis
May 17 2014 01:34PM

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins2

A year ago, the Edmonton Oilers entered the year with a centre depth chart featuring Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner (both injured) in the top two jobs, Mark Arcobello as a fill-in, Boyd Gordon in the third-line job and Will Acton on the fourth line.

The results weren’t pretty. Where do they go from here?

The Givens

93-RNH-11

The first-line job seems destined to remain with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I’ve heard some complaint about that from Oilers fans – the consensus seems to be that he isn’t big enough – but this is what happens when a team does the kind of scorched-earth rebuild the Oilers have engaged in. Young players get pushed into hard jobs before they’re really ready for them.

Nugent-Hopkins is a special player; I think everyone realizes that. He’s a good bet to grow into the role and it’s difficult to see the Oilers finding someone better than him over the summer (Jason Spezza, to pick the obvious choice, would be a nice fit but he’ll be costly to acquire and he’s a year away from free agency). Barring something very unexpected, the Oilers’ best play is to leave Nugent-Hopkins in the top slot.

27-Gordon-1

Boyd Gordon did a nice job in a tough role last season, but in a perfect world he slots in on the fourth line next year. The Oilers need to get some offence from their third line, and that would be helped immensely if the fourth line can take a pile of defensive zone draws and take some of the ugly defensive work away from the top-nine. With Gordon and Matt Hendricks, that’s a real possibility.

Unresolved

89-Gagner-7

Sam Gagner has been traded on the internet countless times over the last couple of years, and this summer it seems a good bet that he’ll be traded for real. He’s a better player than he sometimes gets credit for, but he has significant issues and an injury at the start of last season helped highlight those.

In the unlikely event that Gagner stays, he’ll centre a protected scoring line. If he’s dealt, it will likely be to a team with a surplus of checkers and a need of some scoring. The names generally mentioned in rumour are guys like the Islanders’ Josh Bailey (6’1”, 194 pounds, career-high 38 points) or Nashville’s Colin Wilson (6’1”, 216 pounds, career-high 35 points).

The upshot is that the Oilers could end up with a second-line centre, a third-line centre, or something else entirely there.

26-Arcobello-5

Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander were both re-signed by Edmonton. Arcobello is a gifted offensive centre who showed a capacity to do a lot of different things last season, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if there was some hesitancy by the Oilers to pencil him into their top-nine. Lander is a gifted defensive centre who has struggled to convert his game to the NHL level; if he’s in the starting-12 it will likely be on the fourth line.

The Oilers also currently hold the third overall pick in the 2014 Draft, and the most likely selection is a centre. If the Oilers come away with any of Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett or Leon Draisaitl that player would likely be bumped immediately to the NHL as the centre of a protected scoring line – perhaps with Nail Yakupov on one wing and a veteran defensive winger on the other side.

So What Happens?

Craig MacTavish9

Edmonton won’t be able to finalize their plans until after this summer’s entry draft. If they add a centre, there really isn’t much room for Gagner, and trading him for a third-line pivot (and bumping Boyd Gordon down to the fourth line) makes great sense.

If, instead, the Oilers add a defenceman via the draft, things get more complicated. My guess is that they would still attempt to move Gagner for a third-line pivot and then try to find a replacement second-line centre via free agency.

The only certainty here is uncertainty. As Kevin Lowe might put it, expect the unexpected.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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 Harry2
May 17 2014, 01:47PM
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Whoever they draft shoukd stay in the CHL for at least one more season. This trend of throwing a raw 18 year old into big time minutes has to stop.

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#2 Taylor Gang
May 17 2014, 01:45PM
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Daryl wrote:

Expect the unexpected ok fire Kevin Lowe

Beat a dead horse a little more why don't you.

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#3 Daryl
May 17 2014, 01:38PM
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Expect the unexpected ok fire Kevin Lowe

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#4 RexHolez
May 17 2014, 02:26PM
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Reid Snider wrote:

Let's get over this already. We have been told several times that Kevin not going anywhere. Do you really think Katz is going to suddenly listen to you and do something he said he wouldn't . Find something more interesting to say or please stop eating your time and ours with these kind of comments

a 7 word comment wasted your time?? how long did it take to type out that response? im guessing that was a bigger waste of time.

this fan base has every right to call for change.

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#5 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
May 17 2014, 01:57PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Beat a dead horse a little more why don't you.

That horse raised its head

looked left then right, and whinnied...

"I'm not quite dead yet*"

-------------------------------------------------

*I mean, Kevin Lowe STILL has a job,right?

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#6 Danger Pay
May 17 2014, 03:53PM
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LOL Depth Chart? Good one.

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#7 Bucknuck
May 17 2014, 05:05PM
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I sure hope that the Oil start winning this year. The cesspool of negativity is so deep that even optimistic patient fans will drown in it.

I'm still disappointed that they didn't make Gagner EARN his ice-time last season. It made a liar out of Eakins as far as I am concerned. I wonder if that came "from above" or what.

I'm not saying Arco is a #2 centre, but he played a lot better than Gagner last year and there is no reason he should have been demoted ahead of Gags. It was inexplicable... especially with Acton still playing.

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#8 RexHolez
May 17 2014, 02:11PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Beat a dead horse a little more why don't you.

the horse isn't dead, Lowe is still here

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#9 Lucian
May 17 2014, 03:25PM
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Reid Snider wrote:

Let's get over this already. We have been told several times that Kevin not going anywhere. Do you really think Katz is going to suddenly listen to you and do something he said he wouldn't . Find something more interesting to say or please stop eating your time and ours with these kind of comments

Just because the owner is fine with incompetence doesn't mean the fans have to just bend over and take it!

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#10 a lg dubl dubl
May 17 2014, 02:01PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Could C possibly be a greater need on this team than D? If so, forget drafting a center, sign/trade for one. I just don't see how Bennett/Draisatl could help the team next year.

they could if the Oilers want to go after McDavid. In which case we start hearing rumblings of Hall wanting out and everybody from Lowe down should be fired.

Playoffs or damn close next yr, that's what has to happen imo.

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#11 Sketchy
May 17 2014, 02:17PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Agreed. This team simply cannot afford to have another dismal season. If that did happen, you couldn't possibly expect Lowe and co. to keep their jobs.

if this team isn't atleast within 8-10 pts of a playoff spot next year and Lowe still stays, their's just no possible way for me to stay an oiler fan. lifes too short

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#12 Reid Snider
May 17 2014, 02:19PM
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Daryl wrote:

Expect the unexpected ok fire Kevin Lowe

Let's get over this already. We have been told several times that Kevin not going anywhere. Do you really think Katz is going to suddenly listen to you and do something he said he wouldn't . Find something more interesting to say or please stop eating your time and ours with these kind of comments

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#13 Taylor Gang
May 17 2014, 01:52PM
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Could C possibly be a greater need on this team than D? If so, forget drafting a center, sign/trade for one. I just don't see how Bennett/Draisatl could help the team next year.

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#14 Al Low
May 17 2014, 02:42PM
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I think Arcobello ends up in that 3rd line spot. Gagner should be gone but we'll find out what he gets moved for. They need some scoring touch on that 3rd line and if they can bring in a couple of wingers to play with Arcobello, it would be huge and allow Gordon, Hendricks and possibly Pitlick to play the 4th line.

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#15 nuge2nail
May 18 2014, 02:40AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Matt Hendricks is 32 years old making 1.85 million for 3 more years and had 7 points last year………..That’s not 3rd line points and certainly not worth the money he’s getting paid, That has overpay and 4th line written all over it!

Here are the Kings 4th line players during the regular season.

Lewis – 11 points – 1.5 mill - x 2 more years is 27 yrs old

Clifford - 8 points - 1.1 mill - x1 more year with RFA status is 23 yrs old

Nolan - 10 points – 700 K - RFA next season is 24 yrs old

http://www2.dailyfaceoff.com/teams/lines/26/los-angeles-kings

This is L.A’s set up during the SC playoffs.

Some actually think Hendricks is an acceptable 3rd line player at 1.85 million, how do you think the Oilers get better if they are over paying talent for the 4th line when a Stanley Cup contender like LA has better players and cheaper players playing in the right positions making less?

Hendricks is NOT worth 1.85 million, not by a country mile.

Oiler Domination To Follow

Our team needs a few more Hendricks.

What he brings to the team can't be measured by points.

He's a warrior, defends his teammates and makes other teams more accountable.

Who cares about the 1.85- you really think the Oilers are going to spend to cap this year?

If so who will they spend the 28+ mil in cap space on?

Would it matter if it was 28.75 instead of 28 million- seriously man who cares?

Your wasting your energy discussing Hendricks salary.

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#16 Sorensenator
May 17 2014, 06:55PM
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Yeah we all know Kevin Lowe needs to be fired. Almost instantly, management will be able to sign a centre like Paul Statsny without even blinking an eye, solely because that player will know Kevin Lowe won't be in charge anymore.

Piece of cake.

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#17 Oilerboy1112
May 17 2014, 02:38PM
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RNH should have been one of the best centers in the league right now if he was developed properly.

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#18 Hoss83
May 17 2014, 05:50PM
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Oilerboy1112 wrote:

RNH should have been one of the best centers in the league right now if he was developed properly.

Yea because of all those "best centres in the league" that were the best when they are 19-20 and all.

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#19 nuge2nail
May 18 2014, 01:18AM
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godot10 wrote:

How many 4th liners get 4 year contracts? 4 year contracts for $1.8 million per season.

That is 3rd line money.

So if Matt Hendricks isn't 3rd line capable, then MacT is a bad GM for trading for that contract.

Money and duration tells a fan what role the GM thinks the player can play (in a hard cap world).

Oiler Domination To Follow

Did you watch Hendricks play?

He's worth every penny- and that's an understatement.

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#20 Taylor Gang
May 17 2014, 02:11PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

they could if the Oilers want to go after McDavid. In which case we start hearing rumblings of Hall wanting out and everybody from Lowe down should be fired.

Playoffs or damn close next yr, that's what has to happen imo.

Agreed. This team simply cannot afford to have another dismal season. If that did happen, you couldn't possibly expect Lowe and co. to keep their jobs.

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#21 #ThereGoesTheOilers
May 17 2014, 03:35PM
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Iginla would be a hell of a fit, but he wants a cup and lord knows Edmonton is not anywhere close to one yet.

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#22 Britts94
May 17 2014, 06:23PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Could C possibly be a greater need on this team than D? If so, forget drafting a center, sign/trade for one. I just don't see how Bennett/Draisatl could help the team next year.

Drafting doesn't have anything to do with improving the team next year.... It is for the long term.

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#23 godot10
May 17 2014, 03:05PM
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Gordon is paid like a high-end 3rd liner. And Hendricks like a 3rd liner.

They will play on the 3rd line. If you are playing 3rd liners on the 4th line, of course, it will be a good 4th line, but you aren't going to have enough money to pay for enough 3rd and 2nd liners.

A better strategy is not to think 1-2-3-4, but build two tough minutes line, one soft minutes line, and build a 4th line capable of D-zone faceoffs against everyone except the opposition's best line.

Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle (tough minute line) Perron, Gordon (Kulemin-type-signing) (tough minute line) XXX, Gagner or replacement, Yakupov (soft minutes, protected line) Hendricks, Lander, Arcobello (4th line capable of D-zone draws) pressbox (Gadzic, Joensuu)

That 4th line has 3 players capable of taking a draw. They can be aggressive in the circle, and they can chose the best matchup to take the draw.

With a 4th line that can ease the D-zone faceoff burden on Gordon, Gordon's faceoff ability can be used more in the offensive zone, to try and maintain ozone time.

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#24 Jackson
May 17 2014, 08:02PM
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A little premature talking about the depth chart . Oilers are not even a NHL team.

Have you looked at their record for the last 8 years?

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#25 Sevenseven
May 17 2014, 01:57PM
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Oh, dont forget right wing too. There is a huge hole after eberle and yak.

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#26 Fresh Mess
May 17 2014, 03:47PM
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Sevenseven wrote:

Oh, dont forget right wing too. There is a huge hole after eberle and yak.

There is a huge hole after Eberle. Yakupov is a horrendous NHL player.

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#27 Sketchy
May 17 2014, 10:20PM
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etownman wrote:

So uninformed with a knee jerk public reaction, get a grip & add some substance to your comment! So childish a comment!

Knee jerk?? I'd say its a long time coming. And what's so childish about an observation that Kevin Lowe is not good at his job and deserves to be released?

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#28 madjam
May 18 2014, 06:19AM
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Let us get rid of Gagner just like Horc, Hemsky and Smid . Can you see the accelerated pattern here that got us into such a mess over last 8 years ? Getting rid of NHL players prematurely for basically nothing is still rampant here , and escalated under our new GM . Holes almost never filled with equals or upgrades . Basically same people only minus Tams now . It is a never ending story .

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#29 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 09:14AM
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@Serious Gord

I guess rexall security must be oilernation moderators now

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#30 michael
May 18 2014, 06:26AM
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MH and LG give us more in team toughness and truculence and grit.You really can't value that in monetary terms.

Crosby got raped by opposing teams this playoffs because of the Pens lack of a guy who was willing to stepup and crack some skulls.

How often did we complain this season about Hall,RNH and Ebs getting killed? remember the Yak Gazdic moment in the penalty box.You forget that before MH and Gazdic arrived that we were getting our clock cleaned regularly. we also added Fraser to level the field.

We need to lookat a guy like Steve Downie this off season. Pinizotto was capable and willing too.Your bottom 6 need not be goons but there has to be a level of nastiness that offsets the top 6's skill.

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#32 Oiler Al
May 18 2014, 09:32AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Matt Hendricks is 32 years old making 1.85 million for 3 more years and had 7 points last year………..That’s not 3rd line points and certainly not worth the money he’s getting paid, That has overpay and 4th line written all over it!

Here are the Kings 4th line players during the regular season.

Lewis – 11 points – 1.5 mill - x 2 more years is 27 yrs old

Clifford - 8 points - 1.1 mill - x1 more year with RFA status is 23 yrs old

Nolan - 10 points – 700 K - RFA next season is 24 yrs old

http://www2.dailyfaceoff.com/teams/lines/26/los-angeles-kings

This is L.A’s set up during the SC playoffs.

Some actually think Hendricks is an acceptable 3rd line player at 1.85 million, how do you think the Oilers get better if they are over paying talent for the 4th line when a Stanley Cup contender like LA has better players and cheaper players playing in the right positions making less?

Hendricks is NOT worth 1.85 million, not by a country mile.

The surf pounding is bit better at Venice Beach than the Ft.Saskatchewan River.

Edmonton will always pay more to attract players.

I know this was a trade, but Hendricks is what this club needs, better to over pay him by half a million $$$$, than a slug like Penner, overpaid by $3 million.

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#33 Quicksilver ballet
May 18 2014, 09:37AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

A couple of weeks ago Scotty Bowman was on a radio show - I fail to remember which - saying that the 3/4 lines should not have an average per player salary much more than 1 million. What is the oil's average?

While I do agree with what you've mentioned. Sometimes it's hard to follow any structure when 3 out of every 4 players say, "Thanks, but no thanks" to the idea of working in this market.

There's certainly some beggars can't be choosers karma going on here. Try to become competitive first, then whittle away at these monetary areas of concern.

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#34 bazmagoo
May 17 2014, 06:05PM
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bwar wrote:

I think the offseason plan really hinges on who we end up with in the draft. Ekblad really forces MacT to address the 2C issue. Rienhart or Draisaitl probably force MacT to keep Gagner around for another season or someone else as a temporary fix. Bennet might be able to make the jump into the NHL and would make Gagner even more expendable allowing MacT to focus on other holes in the line up.

100% correct. Looking at it objectively, I don't really see any way we can go wrong with any of Ekblad, Bennett or Reinhart. All 3 look like studs and all 3 could go #1 overall. I think the only mistake we could possibly make is drafting Draisaitl in the #3 spot, but that's just my opinion. If we end up drafting Draisaitl, I'm praying it's because we swap picks with the Islanders and not because we draft him 3rd overall.

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#35 Walter Sobchak
May 18 2014, 02:25AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

Did you watch Hendricks play?

He's worth every penny- and that's an understatement.

Matt Hendricks is 32 years old making 1.85 million for 3 more years and had 7 points last year………..That’s not 3rd line points and certainly not worth the money he’s getting paid, That has overpay and 4th line written all over it!

Here are the Kings 4th line players during the regular season.

Lewis – 11 points – 1.5 mill - x 2 more years is 27 yrs old

Clifford - 8 points - 1.1 mill - x1 more year with RFA status is 23 yrs old

Nolan - 10 points – 700 K - RFA next season is 24 yrs old

http://www2.dailyfaceoff.com/teams/lines/26/los-angeles-kings

This is L.A’s set up during the SC playoffs.

Some actually think Hendricks is an acceptable 3rd line player at 1.85 million, how do you think the Oilers get better if they are over paying talent for the 4th line when a Stanley Cup contender like LA has better players and cheaper players playing in the right positions making less?

Hendricks is NOT worth 1.85 million, not by a country mile.

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#36 Sevenseven
May 17 2014, 02:01PM
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http://lowetide.ca/blog/2014/05/barons-snapshot.html

0 right wingers on the farm team.

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#37 etownman
May 17 2014, 10:03PM
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Daryl wrote:

Expect the unexpected ok fire Kevin Lowe

So uninformed with a knee jerk public reaction, get a grip & add some substance to your comment! So childish a comment!

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#38 nuge2nail
May 18 2014, 01:16AM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

I like Gordan Hendricks on the 4th line.

We could roll 4 lines like the teams that make the playoffs.

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#39 Serious Gord
May 18 2014, 09:12AM
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@Serious Gord

Look at that!!

My post went through.

I have been barred from posting since the end of the season for no reason.

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#40 Walter Sobchak
May 18 2014, 09:24AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

Our team needs a few more Hendricks.

What he brings to the team can't be measured by points.

He's a warrior, defends his teammates and makes other teams more accountable.

Who cares about the 1.85- you really think the Oilers are going to spend to cap this year?

If so who will they spend the 28+ mil in cap space on?

Would it matter if it was 28.75 instead of 28 million- seriously man who cares?

Your wasting your energy discussing Hendricks salary.

No they don't.

A warrior? Good grief.

The Oilers need a number 1 defensemen.

The Oilers COULD use a number 2 defensemen

The Oilers need a whole 3rd line.

The Oilers need a 2nd line center.

Your talking perpetual rebuild with adding overaged over priced talent.

28 million takes no time to get to.

The Oilers have massive holes filling them with middling over priced players is a disaster waiting.

Not to mention you have two big RFA's coming up.

When exactly do you want the Oilers to stop sucking?

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#41 Serious Gord
May 18 2014, 09:28AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

No they don't.

A warrior? Good grief.

The Oilers need a number 1 defensemen.

The Oilers COULD use a number 2 defensemen

The Oilers need a whole 3rd line.

The Oilers need a 2nd line center.

Your talking perpetual rebuild with adding overaged over priced talent.

28 million takes no time to get to.

The Oilers have massive holes filling them with middling over priced players is a disaster waiting.

Not to mention you have two big RFA's coming up.

When exactly do you want the Oilers to stop sucking?

A couple of weeks ago Scotty Bowman was on a radio show - I fail to remember which - saying that the 3/4 lines should not have an average per player salary much more than 1 million. What is the oil's average?

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#42 HardBoiledOil
May 18 2014, 09:41AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

There should be a chant from oil fans at the draft when it comes to the oils turn at the podium:

"TRADE THE PICK!!"

i hate to mention this but maybe this is the year the Oilers SHOULDN'T trade their pick, with a right handed d-man and 3 centers available to fill major holes on this team. yes they are young, but all have been mentioned at various times this season as being NHL ready.

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#43 madjam
May 17 2014, 09:19PM
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Lets see who plays . Who get rid of Horcoff , Hemsky , Smid ,etc. for basically nothing as someone determines we do not need them and can be replaced with current roster or AHL member ? Yet those 3 can play good roles on better clubs than we can produce .I wonder why a new coach was bought in in thr first place ? To make matters worse ? It would appear so in hindsight . Now is Gagner going to be dealt for basically nothing as they were , and the next one inserted be worse than him ? Probably . People wonder why this club is getting worse instead of better ?

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#44 Quicksilver ballet
May 18 2014, 08:51AM
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What's the deal with Woodpeckers...

Haven't they ever heard of post concussion syndrome.

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#45 They're $hittie
May 18 2014, 10:31AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

What about next year when the cap goes up ? You think we will be spending to cap?

Unless we sign Statsny, Niskanen, Downie and Ott this offseason we will be no where near the cap ceiling.

This year or next. Again talking about Hendricks cap hit, is absolutely pointless.

We cleared Hemsky, Horcoff, Dubnyk, Smid, N Shultz, Belovs cap space and we have no one to replace those players with.

Hence, Hendricks cap hit is the least of our concerns- now or in the future.

Now if Hendricks played like a soft European we would have something to discuss or if his cap hit of 1.85 prevented us from landing Statsny- which will not be the case.

It is never a bad thing to discuss good contract management in a capped league.

If all the oilers were paid on what they should than we could afford to overpay a little when we are a competitive team. When that finally happens we will not have cap space.

Eberle should be 5.4 not 6

Gagner should have been signed the year before for four years at 3.9 or 4.1

fair value for Gordon is about 2.4

ference should be around 2.5

look at how much we would save and think of the trade value these players would have if we didnt overpay them

it is never bad to talk about properly managing your assets.

p.s. get rid of that stupid oilers domination to follow crap. no one takes you serious because of it.

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#46 Sketchy
May 18 2014, 12:07PM
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@Tom MacFarlane

Welcome to the Internet. First day here?? You're a little sensitive arnt ya

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#47 Harry2
May 17 2014, 01:58PM
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Brian Boyle would be a perfect fit between yak and perron. If Mac can land a him and draft one of the centers I see no need to rush a Gagner trade which will will allow the pick some valuable seasoning time in the CHL.

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#48 pelhem grenville
May 17 2014, 04:43PM
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...is Draisaitl too young to play in OKC for a season?

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#49 bwar
May 17 2014, 06:33PM
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@bazmagoo

If it came down to choosing between Reinhart and Draisaitl, I could see the Oilers going with Draisaitl just because the Oilers feel he adds something to the team that we currently lack where Reinhart largely looks to be similar to the Nuge.

I'm not saying this is the right decision but I'm just posing a scenario where the Oilers might end up choosing Draisaitl.

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#50 Sorensenator
May 17 2014, 08:25PM
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DonDon wrote:

"A year ago, the Edmonton Oilers entered the year with a centre depth chart featuring Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner (both injured) in the top two jobs, Mark Arcobello as a fill-in, Boyd Gordon in the third-line job and Will Acton on the fourth line.

The results weren’t pretty. Where do they go from here?"

You neglected to mention the failed experiment to convert Hall to centre to replace RNH due to injury. It was a major distraction to say the least that led to the impossibility of making the playoffs.

As noted in the discussions, there is a likelihood of picking up a centre from UFA; not so much with a 1/2 D.

Yes it wasn't pretty, also we had the worst goaltending in the NHL, tough to start a season with what they had

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