Preview of Coming Attractions

The World Hockey Championships end today, opening the door for free agent signings. The Edmonton Oilers are reportedly active this spring–good news for Oiler fans.

The Edmonton Oilers pro scouting group have been getting poor reviews of late, but I think it’s probably more a case of team management trying to solve problems by other means. The club used to be known for more subtle moves, like a small deal to acquire Jan Hejda (he cost a 7th rd pick) or minor signings of "unknowns" such as Toby Petersen or Patrick Thoresen. More recently, the club has spent dollars large (Nikolai Khabibulin) and small (Mike Comrie, Kurtis Foster) by casting their line in NHL free agent waters.

There’s evidence today that the Oilers have returned to their roots.

We’ve discussed Viktor Fasth previously and it looks like the club has a chance to sign him. In an article written by Dan Barnes (here) we get this quote from the author:

  •  Fasth and his wife will become parents this summer for the first time and he apparently wants some guarantees of stability in the form of a oneway contract. In the absence of such a surety, he is reportedly ready to stay with AIK Stockholm, his current Elitserien team. As per the NHL agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation, Fasth has until June 15 to sign with an NHL team.

Seems like there’s some opportunity for the Oilers here. With Mr. Khabibulin’s future somewhat in doubt (there is that Arizona parking ticket still unresolved) and Devan Dubnyk the only other signed option, surely there’s some room for a one-way contract at the position. I’m heartened that the Oilers are interested and hopeful they sign him (or someone similar).

If the Oilers had enjoyed goaltending the calibre of Devan Dubnyk in all of their games last season, the club’s record would very likely have been much better. There was a gap in performance (.916 to .890) a year ago, tightening up that trail number is vital to any improvement.



There are also reports that the Oilers are interested in signing Finnish defender Ville Lajunen from Espoo Blues of the SM-Liiga. He’s 23, 6.0, 185 and is considered a puck mover. The story is here. We don’t really know what he’ll look like as an NHL player, but let’s run him through Gabriel Desjardins’ NHLE to see what it says:

  • Age 20 NHLE 82gp, 8-11-19
  • Age 21 NHLE 82gp, 4-25-29
  • Age 22 NHLE 82gp, 5-13-18

He clearly had one spike season and then looks like there’s some offensive ability in every season. According to elite prospects, he’s "a right-handed defenseman with good hands and hockey sense. Plays an offense-first game and possesses a hard, yet not very accurate, point shot. Is an asset with the man advantage. Needs to improve his defensive-zone coverage and skating ability." Sounds like the modern Risto Siltanen!

The real story isn’t Fasth or Lajunen but that the Oilers are back to looking under every rock and trying to find gems. The last couple of seasons, filled with retreads and also-rans, contributed to the disastrous back-to-back seasons endured by the team and the fanbase. Finding the next Jan Hejda appears to be much wiser than offering dollars to another Kurtis Foster.

Fasth may be superior to Nikolai Khabibulin right now, Lajunen might be capable of stepping in and replacing someone on the current blue depth chart. As far as I know, the same pro scouts who found Jan Hejda walk the halls of the Oilers offices to this day. Let these men do their jobs, and leave the overpaying to New York’s Rangers.

This is a good sign.

  • ItsTheBGB

    Cody Franson is an offensive defenseman too.

    What’s more valuable to the team now: top pairing defenseman or number 1 center?
    Larsson or Hopkins with a slight chance of Couturier.

  • ItsTheBGB

    Both Eberle and Paajarvi faired worse this year than the year previous at Worlds . You would have thought they would have faired better ! What does that indicate as to how we are developing these kids at NHL level

    • Eberle:
      first 4 games 13:40 TOI 3Goals
      Last 3 Games 10:04 TOI 0 goals Reduced PP time.

      Eberle and Canada were victim of Dumb… Coaching.

      Pajarvi: 9 games 2G 5A in 2nd line role top 15 in scoring. I am OK with that.

      Robert Nilsson: 1G 6A Top 15 guy plays with Gagner And Cogs and has the 4th best assist rate in the league that year. Just behind Thorton Crosby and datsyuk. Hemsky ranked 23rd.

      08-09 he plays with Osullivan, Moreau, Potulny, Stortini, Pouliot half the time and he still a plus player but 180th ranked assist rate.

      09-10 Plays with Osullivan, Potulny, Moreau, Pisani, Jacques, Strudwick and is Minus Player. Ranks 167th in Assists rate.

      Gets bought out and away from Pisani, Moreau, osullivan, Potulny, Jacques and Strudwick

      Goes to KHL and has 20th best Assist rate.
      And plus player again.

      top 3 for assists at the worlds and top 15 in plus minus.

      Why did we buy him out.

          • Haha fair enough I was just giving you a hard time, and I do disagree with you on the RNH thing, I get your thinking behind that but I believe their are quite a few exceptions to the rule, and I think with his skill set he would be.

            If you have this of the top of your head, from the last five art ross winners what was their goal to assists ratio before entering into their rookie year?

            If Nugent-Hopkins played junior next year and put 50 goals up with 80 assists would your view on him change?

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Oilers now becoming a magnet for going after KHL player rejects from other NHL teams , etc. to fill their voids and make us more competitive ? Yeah , like thats gonna work ? We get rid of our only power forward(Penner) and hold onto Gags , Cogs , Brule and all the others of diminutive size and somehow thats gonna work ? We’ll probably draft Hopkins for his physical size and turn him into a power forward (tongue in cheek ) ? Why are they wasting their time going after even more and worse fillins ? How can they possibly hope to develop our good youth and draft choices this way ? How many points are we already from 29th spot for next season ?

    Are we setting up to join the KHL or the NHL ?

    • D-Man

      You really can’t count Penner as a “power forward”; and don’t you recall how ineffective he was for LA after the trade?? Two first rounders and a third for Penner was a steal…

      You also forget that COGS is an RFA this year; we haven’t qualified him yet. Brule is here for another year and Gagner was on pace for a career year until his unfortunate injury. I agree – we probably buy out Brule for some roster space; but I have no clue what else you could possibly expect in a rebuild…

      We aren’t going to get any better “fill-ins” right now – without overpaying… The quality FA’s will come when we start winning… We’ll start winning as Hall/Eberle/MPS progress and the Hemsky’s/Whitney’s stay healthy… The fill-in’s we’re looking for now are simply warm bodies to let our talent play 18 to 25 minutes per game, rather than the 25 – 30 minutes some play now…

      Patience is a virtue… Then again, I’m sure your satellite dish could get some pretty sweet KHL games though..

  • D-Man

    one thing for sure, we are too young to be anywhere near the play offs.

    Watching the first games of the east/west finals kind of depressed me. We are not even close to that calibre of hockey.

    • This comment will seem ridiculous but I think oiler fan might under-appreciate Hall and Ebs. You have 2 CLUTCH supremely young players. Toews had 54 pts in his 1st season, not exactly lighting it up but has now become one if the greatest leaders in the NHL. Hall has that potential to be able to step up when it really matters. See…BxB mem cup MVPs. Mr.Eberle, well we know his desire for roof daddy backhands in the dying seconds.

      Although i agree that the oilers arent quite there yet, I dont think the core is too far off. How many games did Hall and Ebs play together this year?? 40? Ebs was out for 10-12 then Hallsy, we havent even seen our team together for a long stretch. Im pumped to see everyone together again….granted depth needs to be expanded and yes they need some quality vets to teach the boys

  • D-Man

    Of course it’s great to see the Oilers back to overturning rocks but the sad part is the guy who didn’t realize how good Hejda was also still roams the halls and is prone to emasculating the puppet GM in mini-vans.

  • Clyde Frog

    K Madjam, out of the top 10 teams in the league how many have built their defensive core through the draft? Via trades?

    Now out of the top 10 teams rerun the poll for top 6 forwards… Notice a trend?