THE LEFTOVERS

Robin Brownlee
July 16 2014 12:31PM

Leftovers

There's been much written and discussed in recent weeks about GM Craig MacTavish's failure to address his lack of depth at centre with the Edmonton Oilers. That's unlikely to change until he adds a proven pivot because it's an obvious deficiency.

As I've written recently, while a news release declaring the Oilers have signed so-and-so to a bargain contract would do much to ease the angst of the fan base, my sense is it's unlikely – and unnecessary – MacTavish get something done this minute, if not sooner.

Like you, I don't think it's a good idea the Oilers go into the season force-feeding Leon Draisaitl into the second-line centre spot behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and leaving the rest to Boyd Gordon, Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander. Puts too much pressure on RNH and the kid. This, we know.

Despite consternation among the faithful with the UFA market almost picked clean after Nashville's cheap-o signings of Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy – I'm reminded of the old poster featuring the vultures, "Patience my ass, I'm going to kill something" -- MacTavish has options. There's the UFA bargain bin, the possibility of making a trade and the waiver wire.

UFA BARGAIN BIN 

BargainBin

There's not much left in the UFA bargain bin, but there are names out there – none of which haven't been mentioned before. I mentioned Daniel Winnik weeks ago as a low-buck possibility. Bruce McCurdy brought him up today in a bargain bin piece over at The Cult of Hockey. 

Winnik, 29, is more a winger than a centre, but he takes face-offs (his career percentage is a decidedly mediocre 41 percent). He's got good size. He provides very little offence. He can play some tough minutes. He can PK.

If you're looking for a true second or third-line centre, Winnik isn't your guy. Obviously, he's well down everybody's wish-list because he's still sitting there. If you're looking for insurance, as in a veteran who can move around and spell off Draisaitl and Arcobello when need be, he remains a cheap option worth a look, at least in my books.

DANCE PARTNERS

DancePartner

If I'm MacTavish, it only makes sense to seek out trade partners between now and the start of training camp who either have a glut of centres or who are up against the $69 million salary cap.

Teams over, at or near the cap as of now include Philadelphia, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Boston. The Flyers are over $72 M in terms of cap payroll and have used both their compliance buy-outs. While some fixate on Sean Couturier, it won't happen. He's a bargain at $1.175 million for the next two years. Brayden Schenn as a 2-3 guy, anybody?

In terms of teams with pivots to spare, Nashville comes to mind after their signings of Ribeiro and Roy. Jason Gregor brought this up again yesterday and specifically mentioned Colin Wilson as a possible target.

Wilson is no home run, to be sure, but has some nice attributes – he's only 24, has good size and is a 30-35-point guy -- and might be pried away from a Music City group that includes Ribeiro, Roy, Paul Gaustad, Matt Cullen and Mike Fisher, who is coming off knee surgery, to take a utility role.

THE WAIVER WIRE

Castaway

Waiting for castaways via the waiver wire isn't the preferred way to fill the hole the Oilers have in the middle, but there's the occasional find to be had once teams, especially those at the cap, start trying to thin their payrolls.

If the Oilers, who'd have third pick on the waiver wire, can find a useful player, like they did when they plucked Ryan Jones from Nashville, to fill the void, that might work. Again, that's not a big-bang answer or a sexy acquisition, but it's an option MacTavish can and will consider.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 TigerUnderGlass
July 16 2014, 07:38PM
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K_Mart wrote:

Just read Staples' article on Jultz and Corsi.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Cult+Hockey+Corsi+stat+fair+evaluation/10029959/story.html

Funny how our D man with the worst Corsi, also had the best Scoring Chance plus/minus of all other Oilers D. My guess is that most years those two stats would line up rather nicely(especially over a large enough sample of games), but in this case I hope it's the Corsi that is the outlier and not the scoring chances.

The Staples "scoring chance plus/minus is something that only he recognizes as useful, because he is the one who gets to assign the pluses and minuses.

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#53 Rem Murray for president
July 16 2014, 08:58PM
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@Robin Brownlee

You are probably right but we will ride the wave and hope for a strong push. Last year was a 'no hope' year. Wouldn't even wish that on the flames. Or...just wait a minute...

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#55 clyde
July 16 2014, 09:51PM
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DrunkGuyTy wrote:

I like the Schenn suggestion. Someone said Yak for Schenn. Maybe Yak for Schenns. ...maybe.

Did you say Yak for both Schenns? At this time you wouldn't get one for him. He may mature and turn into something but at this point that is a big if and Philly tries to win every year.

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#56 clyde
July 16 2014, 09:53PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I honestly don't think the Oilers will compete for a playoff spot next season. Too many teams between them and eighth.

The team can improve a lot and still not get in.

They need to show marked improvement or some guys are going to get quite disgruntled while others may just accept it.

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#57 Rem Murray for president
July 16 2014, 10:27PM
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@Robin Brownlee

In an unspectacular era he was an admirable admiral :-)

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#58 Casey
July 17 2014, 02:13AM
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Keep Draisatl up here ON the 3rd line ONLY. Leave Arco and Lander to battle out the 2nd line job. Invite Mueller to the camp to increase competition. Just please don't even think of playing Drats with Hall or Ebs on the 1st line. Lokitionov would be great with Yak

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#59 BillHK
July 17 2014, 04:43AM
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41% on the dot? I didn't realize that teams other than the Oilers would have centers take face offs with such a low percentage. Lower than cogs and samwise!

Looking at schenn and couturier's boxcars makes me wonder what might have been if the Oilers' coaches actually developed all the high picks over this rebuild. High draft picks that actually don't peak in their rookie seasons, how refreshing! Gagner, Cogs, Paajarvi, Let's hope that there's still time for Yak, RNH, Lander, Pitlick, and DaBomb

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#60 Chongler
July 17 2014, 08:29AM
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I PERSONALLY think that it's time that MacT move the #1 pick next year in a package to fill the #2C spot. He has filled various gaps and overall has improved the roster from top to bottom except that #2C position). He has kept the core intact, beefed up the supporting cast and greatly improved the Goaltending. I personally think that it's time he back all of these moves by trading that #1 pick for a #2C. (Berglund perhaps). That move would lock up a good summer of upgrades and push this team into a battle for a playoff spot, (thus devaluing the #1 pick)...

IF a trade scenario exists where the money fits and a legit #2C is available, I think he should pull that trigger. THAT would be bold.

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#61 revingev
July 17 2014, 08:35AM
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Sorry Chongler, but your suggestion that a #1 pick next year for Berglund as our 2C? That lost me right away. Imagine trading a top 10 pick for Berglund? He is a good 3C and only a fill occasionally for a 2C.

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#62 Chongler
July 17 2014, 08:51AM
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@revingev

Yea, I dropped the name as an example, but you are right, a #1 pick should expect a better return. In my mind I was thinking Berglund + a pick coming back (I had initially mentioned trading the #1 pick in a package for a #2c). I guess it only works if I include that detail in the rest of my post. My Apologies!

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#63 Lochenzo
July 17 2014, 09:26AM
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Chongler wrote:

I PERSONALLY think that it's time that MacT move the #1 pick next year in a package to fill the #2C spot. He has filled various gaps and overall has improved the roster from top to bottom except that #2C position). He has kept the core intact, beefed up the supporting cast and greatly improved the Goaltending. I personally think that it's time he back all of these moves by trading that #1 pick for a #2C. (Berglund perhaps). That move would lock up a good summer of upgrades and push this team into a battle for a playoff spot, (thus devaluing the #1 pick)...

IF a trade scenario exists where the money fits and a legit #2C is available, I think he should pull that trigger. THAT would be bold.

This is a really deep draft coming up, considered the deepest in a decade...like since 2003. And many of us believe the Oilers will miss the playoffs, which means a shot at Connor McDavid, a generation-level talent. Eichel is right up there too. You need to be 100% sure about what you're doing before giving up that pick.

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#64 clrsnldvc81
July 17 2014, 09:26AM
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ubermiguel wrote:

You do realize that Oilers Nation and Oilers fans in general are collections of different people, and that no-one who thought Roy was a bad signing on the 3rd actually changed their mind on the 15th? Those are different people expressing different opinions.

I understand that there are plenty of different types of fans with different types of opinions, BUT what I was trying to display, is a possible breakdown of free agency and the reaction of many oiler fans off and on this board... We get desperate... it's like the 2am scramble

Here in Oil Country you are damned if you do and damned if you don't... We CLEARLY won the Perron trade but yet there are many who think we overspent in that trade... Why didn't we get Roy? or Ribeiro? or Ott?

We filled up the roster with some really nice pieces, and yet the focus is on what MACT didn't do... It's like dealing with a bunch of unhappy wives... You can take the trash out, mop the floors, cook dinner, but if you forgot to grab milk, you FAIL as a husband.

Edmonton is not an ideal place to go to UNTIL we start winning... Armchair GMing is fun and all but we aren't exactly playing in Hawaii and or we didn't just win the cup...

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#65 Jeff
July 17 2014, 10:05AM
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"Like you, I don't think it's a good idea the Oilers go into the season force-feeding Leon Draisaitl into the second-line centre spot behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and leaving the rest to Boyd Gordon, Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander. Puts too much pressure on RNH and the kid. This, we know"

This is who we are.... I fundamentally agree that in a Utopian world having RNH and Leon as 1 adn 2 centre would be a bad idea.... However this is our team and we need to ask ourselves why are we still stating this when there is no other solution now or in the future.

Free agency, and the reality of the Oilers position, that top talent want to go to a winner. We are not going to get a solution elsewhere.

We need to encourage RNH and Leon to become our 1 and 2 and give them the confidence and safety net to allow them to make mistakes. I rather have two number one picks making a ton of mistakes and encouraging them to have fun and go play hockey than protect them and use Acton....

LET THEM PLAY

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#66 bdaZZler
July 17 2014, 10:21AM
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What are the thoughts of the oilers maybe pursuing Weiss out of detroit...Could this be a player the oilers could target to fill the void? Detroit may be content on unleashing his 4.95/year contract and he would slide in here for his remaining 4 yrs, a perfect stop gap..Although he has a limited NMC and is a little small,he does win face-offs and is a decent two-way player. Coming off two injury riddled seasons he may be worth inquiring about....

Thoughts?

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