How many transactions do you think we’ll see between the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (soon!) and opening night? My guess is several, and some of them might involve the Oilers.
THE NHL OILERS
There are basically three areas of concern: defense, where the club has some question marks in terms of health and would clearly be looking for a replacement for Andy Sutton; goal, where Nikolai Khabibulin is a question mark in terms of healthy and consistency; and center, where extreme youth and extreme age exist together and no candidate appears ideal for the heavy chores that will arrive one week from Saturday.
- D Paul Ranger, Toronto Marlies (AHL): He was away from the game for a couple of years, but from all reports Ranger has been outstanding in the minors this season. I have no idea what the price might be, but the Oilers would certainly be able to satisfy the Leafs (Ranger is signed to a minor league deal, so I’m not certain about waivers). 28, strong as an ox and with good size, Ranger is very likely to grab an NHL job this or next year. The Oilers would be wise to pursue Ranger as an NHL option (he is the player in photo above).
- G Ben Bishop, Ottawa Senators (NHL): Ottawa has an established NHL veteran (Craig Anderson) and an outstanding NHL ready option in the minors (Robin Lehner, he of the .944 SP in Bingo) and Bishop who has also been very effective in the AHL. Making a trade to get him means Khabibulin’s career is over, but we’re talking a matter of months not years in that regard.
- C Jason Arnott, UFA: He’s older than dirt (I’m older than THAT) but the big man probably has some left and might welcome a return to where it all started 20 years ago. Arnott could slide into the C position with Belanger or perhaps even Horcoff sliding over to the wing.
THE AHL BARONS
I would guess we’ll see at least one surprise addition to the IR list that will no doubt include Andy Sutton and may also include NK. We’ll know much more on Sunday, but I suspect the callup list from OKC on Saturday may include all of Teemu Hartikainen, Magnus Paajarvi, Chris VandeVelde, Anton Lander, Colten Teubert and Yann Danis. And I’m not certain the Barons will get more than just Lander back later in the week.
That means adding bodies, and the mayhem started this afternoon as OKC signed D Andrew Hotham (in photo) who had been playing with the wonderfully named Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL. Expect a forward or two sometime in the next few days depending on how many men are sent south during TC.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Excitement is building. You know, this Oiler team has a chance to make the playoffs–and two or three wise additions could put them in a very good position before puck drop, opening night. I do not recall the last time Oiler fans knew that feeling, but it was a long time ago.