Back in the olden days, Edmonton was a different place. Sure, the streets still had potholes and the summers were hot/winters cold, but when it came to the hockey club good players came from everywhere and in endless ways.
The Edmonton Oilers borrowed from their own past this weekend, adding a very useful piece to the puzzle without using a draft pick or a trade package. The club signed a prized entry level free agent in Justin Schultz by showing him the opportunity available to him. In this way, the signing is somewhat similar to the Charlie Huddy and Randy Gregg signings of ancient history: acquiring important parts without subtracting from the collective talent on the roster.
That only gets you so far, and there are more teams now with monster dollars being thrown around for these young talents. For the Edmonton Oilers, the current blueline is a combination of draft picks, trade acquisitions and free agent signings.
- DRAFT: (3). Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham, Alex Plante.
- TRADE: (5). Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid, Andy Sutton, Nick Schultz, Colten Teubert
- SIGNED AS A TWO WAY FREE AGENT: (1). Corey Potter
- ENTRY LEVEL FREE AGENT: (2). Justin Schultz, Taylor Fedun
If we made a depth chart of the current defense, it might look like this. Your list might be different, but we can discuss that in the comments section:
- Ladislav Smid
- Jeff Petry
- Ryan Whitney
- Nick Schultz
- Justin Schultz
- Andy Sutton
- Corey Potter
- Theo Peckham
- Colten Teubert
- Alex Plante
- Taylor Fedun
Now, I’m not so concerned about the actual ranking (because your list and mine don’t have to match exactly, that’s part of the fun) but about adding to the group in bold. In my opinion, most Oiler fans could agree that the 5 bolded players are–when healthy–either capable NHL defenders, trending that way, or highly thought of free agents.The key for Edmonton is adding a player without taking away anyone in bold. Nick Schultz was a great pickup, but he came at the cost of Tom Gilbert so it was robbing Peter to pay Paul.
I think the Oilers have a real chance to add a quality NHL top 4 defenseman this summer by using their depth in several areas.
BAG OF TRICKS
Jonathan Willis showed today that the Oilers have an excess of players under contract and rightly concluded that any addition is probably going to arrive at about the same time as subtraction. What will this deal look like?
This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Edmonton is set up nicely for a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 deal. They have quality in four different areas to my eye and should be able to satisfy another team in any number of ways without impacting the heart of their hockey club.
- Draft Picks: The 1st rder next season isn’t in play, but the team does have Anaheim’s 2nd round selection in the 2013 entry draft. That has value, and based on early reports the 2013 draft will be strong. A pick that could be anywhere from #31 to #45 (let’s say) should be worth something.
- Young pro’s who are close: We all know the list, but I’m talking about the young men who have played in the AHL, and maybe a little in the NHL too, but haven’t broken through. We’d count Magnus Paajarvi, Teemu Hartikainen, Linus Omark, Alex Plante, Anton Lander. There’s a wide variety of value in those names and of course the name going the other way would depend heavily on the return.
- NHL players older than 23: This team’s heart begins at Nail and ends about Gagner in terms of age, and outside the group are a large number of quality players. Ales Hemsky got a lot of play today, but we could include Ryan Jones, Corey Potter and Ben Eager in this group.
- Prospects not yet at the pro level: This is the least likely area for trade, but Edmonton does have a lot of blueline depth bubbling under–we saw that during the draft when Edmonton chose forwards early and often.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers have a lot of options and assets to satisfy specific teams. As an example, we know Chicago may be looking to unload an NHL calibre defenseman in the next few days. If they required draft picks and a lesser player at the same position, Edmonton could fill those needs.
Edmonton has also been linked in the media recently to Mark Streit (although the weekend’s events may have changed it). The Islanders have to make the cap floor, so Edmonton might be able to offload an expensive item and add a prospect/pick as a sweetener and still walk away with their player. It’s about options, and Steve Tambellini has them in almost every category. When he says a trade is the most likely scenario to address need, I believe him. The numbers support the premise.