Is David Moss worth a phone call?

Jonathan Willis
July 11 2014 02:14AM

On Thursday, Fox Sports’ Andy Strickland reported that free agent winger David Moss had a tentative deal in place with a team in Switzerland. The caveat was that he had an out clause if he could land an NHL contract in the next week.

It’s a unique situation, and I can’t help wondering if it’s one that should interest the Oilers.

Moss

There are two big items working against a deal between Moss and the Oilers: his age (he’s 32) and Edmonton’s sudden depth on the wings. We’ll take the second in a moment, but let’s see if his positives offset the first before we get to fit.

Moss is a right-shooting winger who can play on either side of the ice. He’s been a pretty good possession player basically forever. He’s big (6’4”, 210 pounds). He had a lot of success on a defensive minutes line with Boyd Gordon in 2012-13; neither player has been as good separated from the other. He has some legitimate scoring ability, too; he’s been a 30-point guy when healthy for most of his career, though he dipped to 22 points last season. He’s also an exceptional penalty-killer.

In short, he’s been a pretty good third-line guy for a while and might be able to handle the job again; worst case scenario he might be a very nice fit (again) on the right wing of a defensive zone specialty line centered by Gordon.

Presumably, he’s not looking at a massive deal in Switzerland, so one imagines the dollars would be reasonable on a one-year deal.

The Depth Chart

Joensuu, Jesse

Most of the Oilers’ depth chart (aside from the black hole at centre) is settled, but fourth-line right wing is one of the most interesting positions on the team because the options are many and varied and it isn’t at all clear who will win the slot. Leaving aside badly out-of-position candidates (Matt Hendricks, Anton Lander, Luke Gazdic) the internal possibilities include:

  • Mark Arcobello: I suspect the Oilers add a centre and give Draisaitl a nine-game audition, which would push Arcobello into this slot or one of the spare forward spots. He’s a smart player with faceoff ability so despite a lack of size this isn’t necessarily a terrible slot for him.
  • Jesse Joensuu: 6’4”, 210 pounds and nobody’s going to care if he can’t score if he’s playing on the fourth line. He might end up in the minors but he showed well in camp a year ago and shouldn’t be written off. If Arcobello ends up at centre (or the Oilers want size here) he’s got a legitimate shot.
  • Tyler Pitlick: He was a significant draft pick (No. 31 overall in 2010), he’s no longer shielded from waivers and he looked okay in 10 games last year. He’s a contender for this spot.
  • Steve Pinizzotto: I wonder. He’s a nasty player and a two-way guy in the AHL (including on the penalty kill) with a mix of offensive and defensive ability. Age (he turned 30 in April) and career arc (18 career NHL games) say ‘no’ but this is a player-type the Oilers love and this is probably his last best chance to crack an NHL roster. If it comes down to a choice between the endlessly injured/forever frustrating duo of Joensuu/Pitlick or a driven Pinizzotto than the AHL journeyman just might win the job.

In the Oilers shoes, I wouldn’t be worried about losing any of those right wings (though I also wouldn’t be terribly worried giving one of them an NHL shot in a fourth-line role). The one concern would be if the Oilers add a centre and keep Draisaitl all year; that would likely force the team to expose either Arcobello or Lander to the waiver wire, which while not catastrophic would be suboptimal (though LTIR is always available to help resolve those problems).

By my count, the Oilers 50-man list will be at 46 names once Draisaitl is signed (assuming Nurse is returned to junior and all the RFAs other than Horak and Larsen are retained). Even assuming they add a centre without moving a name out, signing Moss would put them at a tight but not unbearable 48 names entering training camp.

As I See It

On a cheap one-year deal, Moss wouldn’t be a bad pickup. The Oilers could feel confident moving forward with a fourth line devoted to defensive zone starts. The guys they’d be risking on the waiver wire (one or both of Pitlick/Lander) aren’t players I’d lose sleep over, though in a perfect world they remain in the organization.

It’s probably worth a phone call, even at age 32. If he’s willing to take a one-way/$800,000 contract to stay in the NHL, great; it's been a long time since the Oilers had too many NHL players. If not, there’s a fun battle for that last fourth line job in training camp.

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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#52 pkam
July 11 2014, 12:37PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Horak and Larsen don't count against the 50-man reserve list, just as Hartikainen didn't last season.

If they don't count, then are we at 46 now?

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#53 Will
July 11 2014, 12:43PM
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@WhattaMike

That's fair. I don't think Yak needs to get signed till next year. Since Moss's Swiss contract is for no money, I doubt he would need that much term to stay in the NHL on a line with his former team mate who he had good success with.

Gazic is going to dress when the match up calls for it, but I doubt he plays on that shut down line. I would not be opposed to see if Pitlick or Pinnizzoto proves they can be on that line.

But with the lack of depth at centre, why not have two actual NHL lines that can compete. Would Gordon be better off playing with a guy he knows he's had success with, or trying to cover for the mistakes of a kid who doesn't have an NHL game to his name? 32 is not over the hill. And if he comes cheap enough, it's almost a question of what do you have to lose?

I think the best way to handle Khaira is to have him down for a full season in OKC and make him and Yakimov essentially battle it out for the top line, and try and make those guys compete for who might be promoted on both a first call up basis during injuries, and maybe who could be our 3rd line centre come next year.

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#54 RexHolez
July 11 2014, 01:07PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Horak and Larsen don't count against the 50-man reserve list, just as Hartikainen didn't last season.

Any way we can get Jultzy not to count against the 50 man reserve?

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#55 #ThereGoesTheOilers
July 11 2014, 01:13PM
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Hendricks - Gordon - Moss

looks a lot better than...

Gazdic - Acton - Eager

and LOADS better than...

Brown - Smithson - Petrell

Do it.

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#56 Smokey
July 11 2014, 01:20PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

I like David Moss. I'd certainly put him in the lineup every night ahead of Gazdic or Joenssu. They should just buy Jesse out. At 26 he'd be a cheap buyout.

So, here we are, heading into next season without a top pairing blueliner or a second line center. Should we expect to be a much improved team come October? Almost time for the offseason report card. Looks like a C+ so far.

If he does not make the team, he goes on waivers and to OKC. No point in a buyout.

Also aren't compliance buyouts are long past.

I hope we see a healthy Joensuu. If he can actually bring it on the fourth line, size is invaluable.

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#57 Zarny
July 11 2014, 02:19PM
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WhattaMike wrote:

@ Pkam and @Zarny

In my postabout Pitlick and Khaira... I did state "if they earn it".

What i was trying to state about was that kids making the NHL for 3rd or 4th line status should be moved up instead of always the Oilers having to seek older past their stage type vets.

Whats wrong with Khaira on the fourth line... for example... if the kid can dominate in a ten minute per game type scenario, does skate very well on the fourth line with TWO VETS (Gordon/Hendricks), and he surpasses those others listed like of Lander, Pinizzotto, Gazdic....

Having Gordon and Hendricks on your line for ten to twleve minutes a game does not only shelter the kid but those two vets can defin itely show him how to play wing/centre even better.

If Khaira "earns" his spot as well, he can spell of an extra faceoff or two for those above him once in awhile. If he does earn his spot then this is a huge win win scenario for Edmonton versus against the big sized bullies of LA, Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix, Vancouver, etc.

This kid is excellent heavy shoulder size, has a very good heavy shot and passing skills, he loves to hit, can skate faster than those originally thought...and also, he plays both centre and wing to boot.

He has to make the team in TC and the 9 game trial so whats there to lose off the start...

The best part of this on top of the rest I just mentioned... is that he is on ELC contract status and therefore.... the extra cap-space STILL available now... can let the Oilers get that better higher paid 2nd line centre or #2 type defenceman the Oilers really need eithe rtradew-wise or UFA (whats left anayways)

Yes you did state "if they earn it" and there is nothing wrong with kids making the NHL for 3rd or 4th line status if they do earn it.

The reality is no kid has done so in recent memory and the more common scenario in Edm is gifting a spot to a young player because there are no capable vets they have to beat out. That has to stop.

Khaira is not going to make the NHL this year. He wasn't even a pt/gm player in the WHL 2 years after being drafted. Yes he has size, strength, a good shot etc but he's simply not good enough to play in the NHL. When he's 23-25 hopefully he will be but he's simply not the type of prospect who is going to play in the NHL at 19-20 y/o.

Oiler fans were spoiled with HoF players like Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Kurri etc who were all-stars at 21. That isn't the norm, even today.

It's absolutely comical to read comments that suggest players like Gagner, Eberle, Schultz etc have topped out and won't improve. Not a single one of them has played a game in their prime. 22 isn't when an NHL player peaks; 25-30 is.

IF Khaira makes it you can expect his trajectory to be more like Bryan Bickell who was drafted 41st overall in 2004. Bickell spent an additional 2 years in Jr and was a minor leaguer for another 4-5 years. He's been a good player from 25-28 and probably has another few years before he drops off again to being a fringe player.

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#58 WhattaMike
July 11 2014, 02:21PM
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@pkam and @Will

Totally agree with ya two on that a full season for Khaira on the OKC is best and if the kid(s) are not ready then do not give them a job they are not entitled to or that will hurt the team altogether.

I just like this kid already and have seen some/heard some of how much hard work he has done so far to get from the BC league to pushing for an NHL spot and thats very impressive.

Its maybe that I am one who does not want to see another Belanger or Ben Eager type thing where we are stuck with a guy, for 3 yrs at $1 mil plus per year, who is not where he should be as a player any longer. Eager could not get traded by the Oilers and he was a wasted $3 mil altogether. Also, save a type buyout for a big type wasted contract is what I believe.

Moss was a good soldier but it may be wrong to go get him at this stage in his career.

If this was about putting one of the kids (Pitlick or Khaira) on the 1st or 2nd lines type thing this would be not a sane argument for anyone...but...these kids are sieze wise and skate wise ... skilled enough to try it out and push up higher. Lander, IMO, is not gonna be better than these two kids in the end.

BTW, I love Arco but he is not the best size for a 4th line. He is not long term enough capable of 2nd line centre either. Its tough but once Ewanyk improves, as do Khaira, Yakimov, and Draisaitl gets ready,...to go with RNH, this Oilers team will be very good centre-wise and winger size-wise.

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#59 WhattaMike
July 11 2014, 02:31PM
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@Zarny

I agree with ya on the things ya stated when it comes to let the kids learn and develop, but I am one who sees the Oilers needing to trade for a good strong 2nd linWhattaMikee centre right now and the cap-space is the issue when Schultz hasnt yet signed and Yakupov is ready after this coming season for a new contract... (if there are no players trade off the Oilers).

Of one such example, I remember a kid named Tikhanen coming from Finland into the Oilers during the playoffs with no such farm team time at all and he became an awesome player for the ages with the Oilers. Helped them win the cup that first ever playoff year too I believe...lol.

Pitlick should be ahead of Khaira in my opinion but his injuries bug me for a young big strong enough kid. I just do not want to see a too much aged or expensive type wasting contract anymore with the Oilers.

Yep Zarny... I gotta shake my head too when there are those who state that Ebs, Schultz, Yak, petry or other young Oilers cant get better or stronger... Yep those guys are reall smart eh...LMAO

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#60 Zarny
July 11 2014, 02:43PM
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@WhattaMike

I agree with trading for a 2C. Schultz' signing won't impact this and neither will Yakupov since he's going to end up on a bridge deal barring a breakout for the ages this year with 65+ pts.

I also remember a kid named Tikkanen. The Oilers drafted him in 1983 and he wasn't a full-time NHLer until 4 years later in '86-'87. I think that trajectory would be best case scenario for Khaira.

Tambo's reign of error was marked by signing vets who weren't NHLers anymore. If the Oilers think David Moss has reached that level then take a pass. IMO he still looks like a capable NHL vet and those are very useful players to have.

It's an exciting time of the year with some shiny new bobbles on the team but ask yourself what this roster looks like if Hall and Nuge get hurt for half the season.

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#61 WhattaMike
July 11 2014, 03:03PM
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@Zarny

Good question...If either Hall or RNH get hurt bad this year...(Hopefully NOT).

I think Pouliot and Purcell, with Perron are the best winger additions for the Oilers and any of those guys can slot up higher at anytime.

No matter what, the big time weak spot is the open 2nd line centre spot right now even if that RNH is healthy. This is why MacT has to find a two year type guy right away.

Problem is that while I can accept a kid like Pitlick or Khaira joining the 4th line wing spot this year without too much farm time, I cannot see Arco doing it all year and staying healthy. He will get pounded by the big bully teams all season no matter how hard a worker and good skill guy he is. I wish I can be wrong but I see arco not lasting all year if he does play. Lander to me is not impressive enough at the NHL stage no matter how good he does at the AHL stage. Wish I could be wrong of him as well but I see better skating and bigger centres now going to start playing in OKC this year with Khaira (likely), and Yakimov, Ewanyk... etc.

Draisaitl will have to show up and be like a Monahan or MacKinnon type kid this training camp/9 game trial before I could have a sigh of relief to play him in the NHl this year in the #2 spot. I am in his corner though.

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#62 Kevin
July 11 2014, 03:23PM
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Ambassador humantorch wrote:

Can he play center?

That's the problem isn't it. I like Purcell and Pouliot but serviceable guys are still available at a lot less salary. It's great to have a third scoring line but you better build a second line in the process. If MacT doesn't make a deal for a quality C then this could be another tough year.

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#63 Will
July 11 2014, 03:27PM
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WhattaMike wrote:

@Zarny

Good question...If either Hall or RNH get hurt bad this year...(Hopefully NOT).

I think Pouliot and Purcell, with Perron are the best winger additions for the Oilers and any of those guys can slot up higher at anytime.

No matter what, the big time weak spot is the open 2nd line centre spot right now even if that RNH is healthy. This is why MacT has to find a two year type guy right away.

Problem is that while I can accept a kid like Pitlick or Khaira joining the 4th line wing spot this year without too much farm time, I cannot see Arco doing it all year and staying healthy. He will get pounded by the big bully teams all season no matter how hard a worker and good skill guy he is. I wish I can be wrong but I see arco not lasting all year if he does play. Lander to me is not impressive enough at the NHL stage no matter how good he does at the AHL stage. Wish I could be wrong of him as well but I see better skating and bigger centres now going to start playing in OKC this year with Khaira (likely), and Yakimov, Ewanyk... etc.

Draisaitl will have to show up and be like a Monahan or MacKinnon type kid this training camp/9 game trial before I could have a sigh of relief to play him in the NHl this year in the #2 spot. I am in his corner though.

So he needs to either show up and post crooked numbers that end with a lack lustre point total, or he needs to be the clear Calder winner before you can have a sigh of relief? Well with a range like that I think you can breath easy.

Arco has played against larger competition his entire life. He'll be fine. Please mention where you are going to find this mythical 2 year second line centre now that pretty much everyone but Riberio is gone from free agency?

Mac T is in a tough spot. Say all break right and he lands a big name guy like O'Reily. Now he's paying his second line C more money on more term than his 1st line. At what point in that contract would Draisaitl ever have a chance to take over. People complained about Horcoff making 5.5 on the 3rd line, imagine O'reily making 6.5 to 7 mill playing behind Nuge and Draisaitl on the third line?

On top of that Mac T has two big skilled guys developing on the farm. It could happen that either Yakimov or Jujhar have a great AHL season, maybe earn a call up, and just like Marincin, demonstrate they can excel in a third line centre role. So if you're Mac T looking at the roster, seeing that guys like Nurse, Klefbom, Draisaitl, and one of Yakimov or Jujhar are still one year away from making a big impact on the club, but probably not too far away, do you commit to a big pricey second line C now, or do you develop internal talent and promote the last 3 pieces of the team puzzle for cheap, but not until next year?

Point being, I don't think the solution is as easy as go offer sheet O'Reily.

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#64 KSC10032
July 11 2014, 03:41PM
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If I read it properly, the TSN crawl at @1535h said Moss re-upped at PHO.

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#65 KSC1032
July 11 2014, 03:46PM
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Also Mentioned on SBNation's "Five for Howling" blog -- one year deal.

Many pardons -- PHO is now ARIZONA. I sob.

I'd imagine that it would have taken more $$$ @ any one year deal for Moss to go elsewhere than ARI.

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#66 Will
July 11 2014, 03:52PM
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KSC10032 wrote:

If I read it properly, the TSN crawl at @1535h said Moss re-upped at PHO.

Boom debate over! This has been happening a lot this week, ON posts a "should we get him?" piece, only to have that player sign somewhere else that day.

Someone, somewhere said it best, if Mac T makes a move, it'll be the move no one was talking about. Perron, Purcell, Pouliot. Wait a second... Oh my God. Mac T is targeting forwards with last names that start with P. Joe Pavelski, welcome to the team.

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#67 GCW
July 11 2014, 06:07PM
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#ThereGoesTheOilers wrote:

Hendricks - Gordon - Moss

looks a lot better than...

Gazdic - Acton - Eager

and LOADS better than...

Brown - Smithson - Petrell

Do it.

And they would actually have one player on the fourth line paid like a fourth liner.

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#68 Don W
July 11 2014, 09:35PM
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GCW wrote:

And they would actually have one player on the fourth line paid like a fourth liner.

Until there are cap troubles it doesn't matter how much the 4th line is paid. Better to overpay some NHL players so they will play here and hopefully have the Oilers win some games. Maybe then players will want to come here not just for the money.

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#69 Tikkanese
July 12 2014, 11:45AM
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Zarny wrote:

@WhattaMike

I agree with trading for a 2C. Schultz' signing won't impact this and neither will Yakupov since he's going to end up on a bridge deal barring a breakout for the ages this year with 65+ pts.

I also remember a kid named Tikkanen. The Oilers drafted him in 1983 and he wasn't a full-time NHLer until 4 years later in '86-'87. I think that trajectory would be best case scenario for Khaira.

Tambo's reign of error was marked by signing vets who weren't NHLers anymore. If the Oilers think David Moss has reached that level then take a pass. IMO he still looks like a capable NHL vet and those are very useful players to have.

It's an exciting time of the year with some shiny new bobbles on the team but ask yourself what this roster looks like if Hall and Nuge get hurt for half the season.

Who is this Tikkanen you speak of?

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