Last spring we had a lot of questions and the summer, fall and winter delivered answers. The Nuge WAS golden, Smyth’s return was wonderful and the team improved but ended up in the same old neighbourhood. What are the questions this summer? More importantly, what are the answers?
- Who will they take #1 overall? Nail Yakupov. It is very interesting to see that Ryan Murray has been invited to join Team Canada’s WHC entry and even if it only means some exhibition time there’s still a nice chance for the Oilers’ brass to observe the prospect. Still, passing on exceptional offensive talent–the best available in this draft season–would take big brass. Oilers make the safe and offensively charged pick and go with the Russian.
- Who will coach? Tom Renney. Lots of chatter about Brent Sutter today but I don’t see him as a clearly better option and Renney has been onboard with the development process. It would be wise to put together a stronger team with a better defense and then see how far up the standings they can fly. Sutter as a co-coach ala Quinn/Renney might be viable, as the Oilers seemed to like the duo coach approach (Sather-Muckler) a few years ago.
- How will they improve the defense? I do believe Steve Tambellini and crew will be very aggressive. Since Bob McKenzie mentioned Edmonton as a possible landing spot for soon to be UFA Justin Schultz Oiler fans have been talking about him. That kind of strategy is brilliant because the club can add to the cluster without using assets. I also think the club will be very aggressive in pursuit of Jason Garrison and adding both to a top 4 of Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry, Nick Schultz and Ryan Whitney would go a long way to shoring up a position of weakness.
- If they trade to upgrade D, who will they trade? Sam Gagner is the obvious choice to my way of thinking. Solid 2line C who scores 40-49 points every year, he’s young enough to improve and is a consistent player. Edmonton should be able to cobble together a deal for a quality NHL defenseman to fit the cluster if they are shopping Gagner.
- Will they move Hall to center? Jason Gregor and Dennis King both mentioned this awhile back and with the lottery win I thnk it might happen. Oilers up the middle would be much stronger and it allows them to deal Gagner for that defenseman so badly needed.
- Do the Oilers continue the DD-NK tandem or look to improve it? This is an area of need but the Oilers appear content to stay the course. Underneath the NHL depth chart, Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz are showing very well but their ETA is down the road. Edmonton should look at buying out the Russian’s final season but it doesn’t sound like that is being considered at this time.
- Will they make a big splash this summer? An offer sheet to Vancouver’s backup goalie would be a plan but one doubts Edmonton makes the call. If they do anything earth shattering it’ll be via trade.
- What will the top 2 lines look like in the fall? My guess is that RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, Hemsky and Ryan Smyth line up together. Gagner too if he’s still here and of course Smyth isn’t signed yet.
- How many of their own unrestricted free agents do the Oilers sign this summer? Two. Smyth, Petrell.
- Which current NHL player on another roster has the best chance of being an Oiler in the fall? Jason Garrison. I think they send a lot of money and term his way.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The last few years, summer has been the most exciting time to be an Oiler fan. It looks like another fun summer is on the way. Stay close to the news.