So much for the safety net

Jonathan Willis
July 15 2014 12:30PM

As Craig MacTavish and his staff attempt to fix the Edmonton Oilers woefully inadequate centre depth chart, they’ve had one luxury: a safety net. While talking trade with other managers and looking for the best possible fit, MacTavish and company could look out at free agency and see a pair of pretty good centres (whatever their warts) in Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy and know that if a deal couldn’t be made they could likely scoop one up for not much money later in the summer.

That’s no longer the case.

Nashville!

For basically the cost of Matt Hendricks, on Tuesday the Nashville Predators signed both proven NHL centres still on the market.

Sure, Ribeiro was blasted by the Arizona G.M. Don Maloney for off-ice issues. Sure, Roy is 5’9” and has gone from a 30-goal man down to just nine last season. But the Predators spent almost no money and went from a centre depth chart of Olli Jokinen and Paul Gaustad to one that stands a decent chance of a competent by-committee performance.

It was a big day for David Poile, and Nashville’s significantly better off for it.

Edmonton

Craig MacTavish9

This shouldn’t be a doom-and-gloom day for the Oilers. There are all kinds of reasons why Edmonton might prefer a trade to signing one of the bargain pivots still on the market. And if MacTavish is reasonably confident of adding a quality pivot that way he’s probably right to pass on those free agents.

But the fallback option of a Roy or Ribeiro is no longer there. The last remaining centre of any note still available in free agency (and no, Michal Handzus doesn’t count) is Andrei Loktioniov, the 24-year-old Russian who had 22 points in 68 NHL contests last season.

That’s a problem, because going into next season with the current centre depth chart simply can’t be an option; it isn’t good enough and there’s a real risk of undermining the positive steps the Oilers have made this off-season. Today’s signings leave MacTavish in the difficult position of needing to pull the trigger on a trade or failing in a significant way this offseason.

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.
Avatar
#101 Woogie63
July 15 2014, 11:59PM
Trash it!
27
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

Sean Monahan made the jump into the NHL and was effective as a 1c or 2c most of last year. I would not replace him to play Roy or Ribeiro.

Drisaitl is more NHL ready than Monahan was at this point last year.

I would start the season with Drisaitl on the wing with Hendrick and Gordon and give him some PP time. Then move him to 3c as the season moves on. If you can catch an upgrade via trade good ... But otherwise we end the season with,

1c RNH 2c Arko/Drisaitl 3c arko/Lander/Drisaitl 4c Gordon

Kihari, and others grow in the AHL

Avatar
#102 bwar
July 16 2014, 12:09AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

If our lineup is structured with more distributed goal scoring this year, aka having three lines capable of scoring, then I think Arcobello is perfectly capable of filling the 2C role. Right now its just a matter of figuring out how can center the Yak line and there should be a few decent options for this role at training camp. Lander, Draisaitl, Yakimov, Khaira, guys like this should all head into camp fighting for that last roster spot. Who knows maybe its time to unleash the Yakimov Yakupov connection on the world.

Avatar
#103 Harry
July 16 2014, 12:15AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers

I believe if Petry is traded one of either Nurse or Klefbom makes the team.

Roy or Ribiero would have been a mistake. I fully expect LD to make the team but like others have said RNH, Arco, LD, and Gordon with zero.depth behimd them is a recipe for disaster. One 15-25 game injury by any of those 4 and were screwed.

Trade Petry + for a center and bring in Nurse. So pumped to see that guy in the NHL full time

Avatar
#104 Digger
July 16 2014, 12:51AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers
Serious Gord wrote:

And Gordon is one year older. And likely slower. Currently there would be two borderline centers on the roster - borderline on a 26 place team that has centre as it's weakest position. One of any of these four getting hurt would be replaced by?

Not saying he could have been signed for a million and play here, but ribeiro as a project who could be jettisoned if he misbehaves sure seems like a reasonable idea to me. I hop MacT/Lowe didn't rule him out out of hand.

Take it for what it is, but Rishaug was saying earlier tonight that both the Oilers and Rangers had interest in Ribeiro on a short term deal, but he decided to choose Nashville. I highly doubt MacT is ignorant of the situation.

Just one of those things...personally I wouldn't have minded taking a flyer on him either, but something tells me he's got a lot of serious issues going on outside of hockey that he's trying to fix with the help of his family, and the idea of taking them to a hockey-crazed zoo like Edmonton where you can't fart without half the city debating your fart's corsi rating just didn't appeal to him.

As for Roy, I saw enough of him down here when Vancouver picked him up for their playoff run to understand why the Canucks didn't do much to keep him around afterwards. Skilled, but melted ice cream soft and nothing like the player he was when he was a Sabre. And again, there were indications that he wasn't too interested in coming to Edmonton. It's a sentiment I thought we would've been used to by now.

Avatar
#105 Walter Sobchak
July 16 2014, 02:21AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers
Woogie63 wrote:

Sean Monahan made the jump into the NHL and was effective as a 1c or 2c most of last year. I would not replace him to play Roy or Ribeiro.

Drisaitl is more NHL ready than Monahan was at this point last year.

I would start the season with Drisaitl on the wing with Hendrick and Gordon and give him some PP time. Then move him to 3c as the season moves on. If you can catch an upgrade via trade good ... But otherwise we end the season with,

1c RNH 2c Arko/Drisaitl 3c arko/Lander/Drisaitl 4c Gordon

Kihari, and others grow in the AHL

Now, how the hell do you know that Drisaitl is even NHL ready let alone better then Sean Monahan?

A couple things, these are the things that set you up for disappointment and the player up with unreal expectations.

Whereas I expect Drisaitl to be fully protected and given extremely soft minutes and OZ starts on the 3rd line or sent back to Jr.

Not only that, you realize by putting Drisaitl on a line with Gordon (that line’s center) You also put Drisaitl on the absolute toughest minutes line, a line that had a combined point total of 28.………Kind of asking a lot for a 18 year old, ya?

Also, going into a season with career AHL players who can’t make a 28th place club full time is just about as bad as it gets……. period!

Avatar
#106 DrunkGuyTy
July 16 2014, 06:18AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

JW, gotta say I'm not a fan of your last couple of articles about centres. You're really acting like the sky is falling. You seem to be taking a ho-hum approach to the guys like Sobotka, Ribero and Roy while they're available; like they may help us or they may not. In Sobotka's case, there really wasn't much talk about him at all until he signed with the K. (Berglund was the target.) ...then a full article as if he was already on his way here. With the other two, you made a few brief mentions of them but are making a much bigger deal now that they signed elsewhere.

I know I would like to see us stronger at centre too but you're being sensationalistic and driving paranoia around here. The Oilers will not live or die because of any of these guys.

IMHO

Avatar
#107 Woogie63
July 16 2014, 06:52AM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Now, how the hell do you know that Drisaitl is even NHL ready let alone better then Sean Monahan?

A couple things, these are the things that set you up for disappointment and the player up with unreal expectations.

Whereas I expect Drisaitl to be fully protected and given extremely soft minutes and OZ starts on the 3rd line or sent back to Jr.

Not only that, you realize by putting Drisaitl on a line with Gordon (that line’s center) You also put Drisaitl on the absolute toughest minutes line, a line that had a combined point total of 28.………Kind of asking a lot for a 18 year old, ya?

Also, going into a season with career AHL players who can’t make a 28th place club full time is just about as bad as it gets……. period!

NHLE on LD are better than Monahan.

In draft class LD picked in the first tier of players and Monahan picked in the second tier of player... Lots of math around NHL success of draft based upon order they were picked.

Arko and Lander have both ripened as players in the AHL if they are not ready now, they are likely never going to be ready. We have been developing them for the next job ... And now that job is open for them to fill.

We are going to play four lines this year. Starting LD on the wing with our two most responsible defensive players is easing him into the NHL.

Not sure that you mean by protected minutes, every team is going to target LD until he proves he can play in the league.

It has been my observation in life that never few things deserve a ".....period!"

Avatar
#108 Say what again
July 16 2014, 08:01AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
DrunkGuyTy wrote:

JW, gotta say I'm not a fan of your last couple of articles about centres. You're really acting like the sky is falling. You seem to be taking a ho-hum approach to the guys like Sobotka, Ribero and Roy while they're available; like they may help us or they may not. In Sobotka's case, there really wasn't much talk about him at all until he signed with the K. (Berglund was the target.) ...then a full article as if he was already on his way here. With the other two, you made a few brief mentions of them but are making a much bigger deal now that they signed elsewhere.

I know I would like to see us stronger at centre too but you're being sensationalistic and driving paranoia around here. The Oilers will not live or die because of any of these guys.

IMHO

But is Arcobello going to help us? He is our 2nd line C right now, the guy who has a combined total of 42 NHL games. At least we know that Sobotka, Ribeiro, and Roy are NHL players (though I share the skepticism of Roy's abilities at this point). The oilers will live or die (again) on not having sufficient depth at C...and they don't have it at this point.

Avatar
#109 Serious Gord
July 16 2014, 08:08AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Digger wrote:

Take it for what it is, but Rishaug was saying earlier tonight that both the Oilers and Rangers had interest in Ribeiro on a short term deal, but he decided to choose Nashville. I highly doubt MacT is ignorant of the situation.

Just one of those things...personally I wouldn't have minded taking a flyer on him either, but something tells me he's got a lot of serious issues going on outside of hockey that he's trying to fix with the help of his family, and the idea of taking them to a hockey-crazed zoo like Edmonton where you can't fart without half the city debating your fart's corsi rating just didn't appeal to him.

As for Roy, I saw enough of him down here when Vancouver picked him up for their playoff run to understand why the Canucks didn't do much to keep him around afterwards. Skilled, but melted ice cream soft and nothing like the player he was when he was a Sabre. And again, there were indications that he wasn't too interested in coming to Edmonton. It's a sentiment I thought we would've been used to by now.

Thanks. Good points. But in a city where everyone knows you might be better than one where no one does when you have addiction issues. That certainly was the case with Theoren fleury.

Avatar
#110 Serious Gord
July 16 2014, 08:10AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Woogie63 wrote:

Sean Monahan made the jump into the NHL and was effective as a 1c or 2c most of last year. I would not replace him to play Roy or Ribeiro.

Drisaitl is more NHL ready than Monahan was at this point last year.

I would start the season with Drisaitl on the wing with Hendrick and Gordon and give him some PP time. Then move him to 3c as the season moves on. If you can catch an upgrade via trade good ... But otherwise we end the season with,

1c RNH 2c Arko/Drisaitl 3c arko/Lander/Drisaitl 4c Gordon

Kihari, and others grow in the AHL

So you would start the season - for say 20 games with RNH, Acton lander Gordon.

In my best Mel Blanc bugs bunny voice when he sees something ugly "dyeeuu!"

Avatar
#111 CaptainLander
July 16 2014, 08:28AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Too much panic about the center, no the center depth we have now is not going to win us a cup. But is strongly believe that the team in front of us today is not the same team as last year. The additions are solid NHL players, if you include the goalies that is 6 new NHL players. The starting roster this year will have the Nuge. In my mind this team will not have the horrendous start the had last year and will be closer to challenging for a playoff spot then the McDavid sweepstakes. Even with a center core that could be Nuge, Arco, Gordon, Lander.

Avatar
#112 @kahmad92
July 16 2014, 09:01AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

According to the Score. Oilers had interest in signing Ribeiro to a short-term deal.

http://www.thescore.com/nhl/news/538355

Avatar
#113 Bin
July 16 2014, 09:15AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

I don't know y everyone is worried about 2 center so much I think Mr dry saddle will do just fine He's more nhl ready then half of Oil's current roster. Give the kid a chance he'll do just fine. Hall Nuge and Yakupov all played the following year of their Draft. Come on now u can't tell me Nuge and Yaku were ready for the big leauges. Drysaddle is already a beast. He'll do just fine. Come on nation sit back and enjoy the kid we got a real stud here.

Avatar
#114 Walter Sobchak
July 16 2014, 09:20AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers
Woogie63 wrote:

NHLE on LD are better than Monahan.

In draft class LD picked in the first tier of players and Monahan picked in the second tier of player... Lots of math around NHL success of draft based upon order they were picked.

Arko and Lander have both ripened as players in the AHL if they are not ready now, they are likely never going to be ready. We have been developing them for the next job ... And now that job is open for them to fill.

We are going to play four lines this year. Starting LD on the wing with our two most responsible defensive players is easing him into the NHL.

Not sure that you mean by protected minutes, every team is going to target LD until he proves he can play in the league.

It has been my observation in life that never few things deserve a ".....period!"

Well, first, last years draft was deeper so while Monahan was picked as you say in the "second tier" he holds up in the top 3 this year.

I would like to mention had Calgary gone walk about, the Oilers would have taken Monahan instead of Nurse.

So your going by projected NHL equivalencies....How nice.

You do know that Monahan was two points off his NHLE and a whopping 4 points behind Drisaitl NHLE.

Regardless, those are projections, you still have zero idea how Drisaitl will do, zero.

No the spots as it stands right now are gifted to those guys AHL as there is no internal competition for them.....huge difference, again can't make a 28th place team.

It's clear you don't know what protected minutes are & easy zone starts or QoC are, I can't continue this part of the conversation because it's obviously lost on you.

putting the kid on the 4th line toughest assignment line and into a checking role is just a tick of above bloody insane.

Avatar
#115 Zarny
July 16 2014, 10:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Will wrote:

Are you really "rushing" a kid who had a better PPG than Nuge in the WHL hos last year, and who has the physicality to endure NHL rigors, and will have at least one if not two strong possession veteran wings playing on either side of him, possibly on a soft minutes line?

As more and more free agent centres are taken off the shelves, it seems pretty clear the organization believes Draisaitl can take one of the spots in the top nine.

It would also appear they are pretty high on one of Yakimov or Jujhar to take over the third line centre position once Draisaitl is ready to take the second line C spot.

I mean, Mac T was even quoted as saying Draisaitl might eventually be the Oilers number one centre. What does another year in junior really offer a kid like this? If he was old enough for AHL duty, sure, but he's not, so why?

Here is the thing...the Oilers rushed Nuge to the NHL. So comparing Draisaitl to him doesn't say much. PPG also isn't a good criteria to determine if a player is "NHL ready".

The most basic test Draisaitl has to pass is his skating. If he can't keep up to the play in the NHL he can't stay...it's that simple.

What does another year in Jr offer Draisaitl?

It offers him 20+ min a night including top PP minutes for the entire season. It offers him the chance to work on his overall game while being one of if not the best player on the ice. In Jr he will be a leader; in the NHL he will not.

Draisaitl was a dominant player in the Jr for all of 1 season. It is silly to think he has nothing to gain from another tour in the W.

Avatar
#116 Ed in Edmonton
July 16 2014, 10:25AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Woogie63 wrote:

Sean Monahan made the jump into the NHL and was effective as a 1c or 2c most of last year. I would not replace him to play Roy or Ribeiro.

Drisaitl is more NHL ready than Monahan was at this point last year.

I would start the season with Drisaitl on the wing with Hendrick and Gordon and give him some PP time. Then move him to 3c as the season moves on. If you can catch an upgrade via trade good ... But otherwise we end the season with,

1c RNH 2c Arko/Drisaitl 3c arko/Lander/Drisaitl 4c Gordon

Kihari, and others grow in the AHL

Monahan played 74 games last year and ended up with 34 points and was -20. These are not 1c or 2C numbers.

If the Oil plans include having LD play in the NHL this year they ate taking a huge risk.

Avatar
#117 Will
July 16 2014, 10:26AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Zarny wrote:

Here is the thing...the Oilers rushed Nuge to the NHL. So comparing Draisaitl to him doesn't say much. PPG also isn't a good criteria to determine if a player is "NHL ready".

The most basic test Draisaitl has to pass is his skating. If he can't keep up to the play in the NHL he can't stay...it's that simple.

What does another year in Jr offer Draisaitl?

It offers him 20+ min a night including top PP minutes for the entire season. It offers him the chance to work on his overall game while being one of if not the best player on the ice. In Jr he will be a leader; in the NHL he will not.

Draisaitl was a dominant player in the Jr for all of 1 season. It is silly to think he has nothing to gain from another tour in the W.

How has Nuge's development been at all hampered by coming into the NHL in his first year. His rookie year was his best year points wise. So I think it's a fine comparison. Yes his shoulder got hurt as he wasn't physically ready, but even that didn't exactly set him back. It's not like one more year in the DUB and Nuge would have magically been bigger and heavier.

As for PPG, how is that not a good statistic to judge NHL readiness when compared to other NHL players who made the jump and succeeded? What other metric do you compare guys with. If you look at his NHLE, or every other metric, Draisaitl is on par or better than Nuge, who again, did not suffer developmentally by making the jump at 18.

It's not silly to think he has more to gain by developing alongside NHL players than he has developing on a crap WHL team.

Avatar
#118 Zarny
July 16 2014, 10:28AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Woogie63 wrote:

NHLE on LD are better than Monahan.

In draft class LD picked in the first tier of players and Monahan picked in the second tier of player... Lots of math around NHL success of draft based upon order they were picked.

Arko and Lander have both ripened as players in the AHL if they are not ready now, they are likely never going to be ready. We have been developing them for the next job ... And now that job is open for them to fill.

We are going to play four lines this year. Starting LD on the wing with our two most responsible defensive players is easing him into the NHL.

Not sure that you mean by protected minutes, every team is going to target LD until he proves he can play in the league.

It has been my observation in life that never few things deserve a ".....period!"

Here is the thing...Monahan's draft was considerably better than Draisaitl's. According to scouts, no one this year may have gone top 5-6 last year including Ekblad. So comparing draft positions between different years is a shell game.

It's also debatable whether the Flames made the right choice with Monahan. He had a nice rookie campaign with 22 G but only 34 pts. He also only played 15 min a game.

In the end, the Flames were able to shelter him less than Yakupov and he was 4th or 5th on the team for PP time but it's a matter of opinion whether that was more beneficial long term compared to being a dominant player in all situations in Jr.

IMO, if Draisaitl can be a basic version of what the Oilers want him to be (2C) then he benefits from staying.

If you have to shelter him on the 3rd line and play "soft minutes" he's better off in Jr.

Avatar
#119 Pucker
July 16 2014, 11:29AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Will wrote:

I actually think Arco might be better than Ribeiro. Think about it this way. The kid, against all odds, has a legitimate shot at the second line C job in the NHL, on a one year prove yourself contract. Behind him, are essentially 3 other players the organization likely values higher than him. So Arco is going to have 1 year to prove to the rest of the NHL, he's worthy of a contract and a spot on a team somewhere who will value his services.

How much harder do you think he will play knowing this is likely going to be his one and only shot? The more I think about it and the more I read about him, unless the Oilers get a player like Burglund who will also bring some size to the position, I really am getting excited to see what Arco might do with a full year shot at the second line C spot. And even if he gets put on a lower line like last year, it will be with actual NHL wingers, and not a bunch of plugs.

#giveArcoAshot

Yes. I don't think Arcobello is necessarily the answer but he did show well playing 2C last season. Maybe he will surprise me. I do expect he will be an upgrade over what we had last year. (I also expect Gagner this season will be an upgrade over Gagner last season).

I'd like to see the Oilers pick up another centre and/or defenseman without giving up assets. They're likely not going to make the playoffs - so I like that idea mentioned previously about the waiver wire.

Avatar
#120 DrunkGuyTy
July 16 2014, 12:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

@Say what again

I don't disagree with anything you've said. Arco likely won't be our saviour, but that wasn't the point of my comment.

Avatar
#121 albertabeef
July 16 2014, 12:30PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Woogie63 wrote:

NHLE on LD are better than Monahan.

In draft class LD picked in the first tier of players and Monahan picked in the second tier of player... Lots of math around NHL success of draft based upon order they were picked.

Arko and Lander have both ripened as players in the AHL if they are not ready now, they are likely never going to be ready. We have been developing them for the next job ... And now that job is open for them to fill.

We are going to play four lines this year. Starting LD on the wing with our two most responsible defensive players is easing him into the NHL.

Not sure that you mean by protected minutes, every team is going to target LD until he proves he can play in the league.

It has been my observation in life that never few things deserve a ".....period!"

Great - lets set up another teenager to fail!

Avatar
#122 woogie63
July 16 2014, 01:02PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

@Walter Sobchak

You are clearly a bright hockey mind.

However NHL coaches are not going to give Drisaitl, Bennett, Ekblad or Rienhart any easy minutes no matter where the puck is dropped or the score in the game.

All those teenager rookies are going to be looking across at a player that is tougher, stronger and at this point a better hockey player.

I know you know, but the " young stars" are the weakness point of most lines and that weakness will be videoed and game planned against by opposition.

So playing on first, second, third or fourth lines (if those even exist on a modern hockey)mean very little IMO for a player like Drisaitl. He will have a forward and defensive pairing on the ice who plan to exploit his current weaknesses.

Avatar
#123 Zarny
July 16 2014, 01:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Will wrote:

How has Nuge's development been at all hampered by coming into the NHL in his first year. His rookie year was his best year points wise. So I think it's a fine comparison. Yes his shoulder got hurt as he wasn't physically ready, but even that didn't exactly set him back. It's not like one more year in the DUB and Nuge would have magically been bigger and heavier.

As for PPG, how is that not a good statistic to judge NHL readiness when compared to other NHL players who made the jump and succeeded? What other metric do you compare guys with. If you look at his NHLE, or every other metric, Draisaitl is on par or better than Nuge, who again, did not suffer developmentally by making the jump at 18.

It's not silly to think he has more to gain by developing alongside NHL players than he has developing on a crap WHL team.

How has Nuge's developed been hampered?

Well, you said it yourself. His shoulder got hurt because he wasn't physically ready to play against men. He's missed 15% of games since joining the Oilers and that number jumps north of 20% when you consider how many games he has played injured.

You don't think missing or playing injured in close to 1/4 of his games has hampered his development? As you stated, his best production was his rookie year. Player development isn't linear but when his 3rd season is considerably less productive than his rookie season because he had to spend all summer rehabbing an injury because he played in the league before he was physically ready then yes, I think it's a pretty solid argument his development has been hampered. Otherwise you would expect his production to increase not decrease.

PPG is not a good statistic to judge NHL readiness. No statistic is a good judge of being NHL ready. Jonathan Drouin had a better PPG than both Nuge and Draisaitl but wasn't NHL ready. Skating ability and being physically mature enough are probably the two most important criteria. Nuge had one but not the other. I suspect Draisaitl is in the same the boat except reversed.

I also didn't say it was silly to suggest Draisaitl had more to gain by playing alongside NHL players than he has on a crap WHL team. What I said is it's silly to suggest he has nothing to gain by playing another year of Jr.

He absolutely has things to gain by playing another year of Jr just like there would be things to gain by making the jump to the NHL. There are pros and cons for both options. How good of a team PA is largely indifferent. The Oilers are a crappy team too.

If you have to shelter Draisaitl on the 3rd line playing soft minutes I think the cons outweigh the pros in keeping him; but it's certainly a matter of opinion. You will find very respected hockey minds that disagree about it.

Comments are closed for this article.