The Oilers claimed Taylor Chorney from St. Louis yesterday, making a crowded situation in OKC almost impossible. When everyone is healthy in Edmonton, the NHL-AHL depth chart is going to be as deep as it’s been in years. And hold on! There are more kids coming. Someone is going to get lost in the flood.
At the top end of the Oilers roster, the blue looks more settled than it has in some time. Despite Ryan Whitney’s injuries, the club has had a solid beginning to the year owing to maturation, impressive additions and systems. If everyone is healthy the Oilers depth chart will probably look like this:
- Ryan Whitney
- Tom Gilbert
- Ladislav Smid
- Corey Potter
- Cameron Barker
- Andy Sutton
- Theo Peckham
- Jeff Petry (added for injury)
The top 7 healthy and effective means–all things being equal and everyone healthy–that Jeff Petry would be an OKC Baron again. Let’s assume that injuries (Barker’s hurt now, along with Whitney) continue to keep one of the 7 names above out of the mix and that Petry remains on the roster. That means the OKC Baron depth chart, with Chorney back from the waiver wire and Teubert back from his callup, looks like this:
- Colten Teubert
- Taylor Chorney
- Alex Plante
- Johan Motin
- Kevin Montgomery (AHL vet, OKC signing)
- Bryan Helmer (AHL vet, OKC signing)
- Ryan Lowery (OKC signing)
- Kirill Tulupov (OKC signing)
WHOSE ARROWS ARE HEADING IN A GOOD DIRECTION?
Above, I’ve listed the Oiler roster players before the OKC boys, although this is not the depth chart. In fact, there’s quite a bit of evidence to suggest that Plante and Motin have been used in a third pairing rotation with Kirill Tulupov. From what I’ve been reading, the top 4 has been consistently Teubert, Montomgery, Helmer and Lowery. And the kid Russian, an OKC signng, is a player of interest for the organization.
I would suggest that based on how the coaching staff is using this group of defenders, Tulupov and Lowery are trending upward and Plante plus Motin may be in some trouble as it stands now. There’s a long way to go before the organization needs to decide, and Plante as a former first round pick is going to get more chances, but it is not reasonable to suggest that the club will fret over waivers in regard to Plante next fall.
In other words, the waiver rule that kept Theo Peckham in Edmonton fall 2010 over Sean Belle and the one that caused the Oilers to send away Jeff Petry this fall when he was a clear top 6 defender will not serve Plante in the same manner. He is not being used in a way that suggests the Oilers see him as a legit NHL option.
WHO’S AN RFA?
The next item on the agenda when slotting these blueliners is to look at the players who can be dropped simply by not offering them a contract. RFA’s at the end of their entry level deal–Taylor Chorney, Alex Plante and Johan Motin among them–need to be pushing up the depth chart in order to be "on the list" of possible contract signings next summer.
WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?
Based on their contract status and how they are being used, my guess is that Alex Plante and Johan Motin are in their final seasons in the organization. I think it’s quite possible that Taylor Chorney, Kirill Tulupov and Ryan Lowery are offered contracts by the Edmonton Oilers and are added to next year’s 50 Man List.
It’s early, but the trends suggest that these three–along with Taylor Fedun, Colten Teubert and graduating blue Martin Marincin, Brandon Davidson, Jeremie Blain and Kyle Bigos will be pushing up the depth chart.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
NHL teams don’t make transactions for the hell of it. Taylor Chorney was a player of interest and the Oilers plucked him from waivers. He’s part of the future, as is Colten Teubert among the minor league group. Next fall Taylor Fedun is likely to be in the minors getting back into playing shape and the team will also likely add an "AHL veteran" to help the kids with heavy lifting.
That’s four, and the club will probably employ four more. Let’s say they end up keeping Marincin and Bigos and sign both Tulupov and Lowery. That means Davidson and Blain start in Stockton. It means there may not be room for Plante or Motin and if the Oilers add a free agent or a blueliner via trade the depth chart might look even more dire for them. The entire depth chart may get some relief should the Oilers choose not to resign Cam Barker.
Asking waivers on Taylor Chorney and the performances of Lowery and Tulupov–if this holds–probably spells the end of the line for Plante or Motin. Or both.