Edmonton Oilers depth chart: June 2013

If we were to draw up what the Oilers look like right now, before the draft and free agency and the trades of summer, what would it look like? What would represent “mission accomplished” for the Oilers’ brain trust?

As It Stands

The following depth charts are meant only to give an idea of depth at each position, not to mimic line combinations. An asterisk indicates a defenceman who can play either side, UFA and RFA indicate that a player’s contract expires this summer, while BO has nothing to do with a lack of deodorant and everything to do with the player being a possible candidate for a compliance buyout.




This is where things get a little more interesting. I have axed what strike me as the likely names at each position, and indicated positions that need to be addressed over the summer in red.


The changes here include the following:

Unrestricted free agents Lennart Petrell, Jerred Smithson, Ryan Jones, Chris VandeVelde, Tanner House and Darcy Hordichuk are all released. Restricted free agent Antti Tyrvainen have also been let go. Eric Belanger is the subject of a compliance buyout. Ales Hemsky is assumed to have been traded elsewhere.

Retained are restricted free agents Magnus Paajarvi, Sam Gagner, Teemu Hartikainen, Philippe Cornet and Mark Arcobello. Buyout candidates Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff are both retained for the major league roster, while Ben Eager remains buried in the minor leagues.

There were a number of coin flip calls made here. Jerred Smithson is a viable candidate for the fifth centre slot on the NHL roster, though I have indicated him walking. Philippe Cornet is a player who may not be re-signed to a deal with an NHL component; I have kept him in the scenario above on the basis of age (23) and a strong second half but it’s entirely possible the Oilers send him down the line or sign him to an AHL-only deal (and if they choose to do so, that will be completely understandable).

Assuming no trades other than Hemsky, the Oilers have four slots to fill on the major league roster. The bottom three should be easy to fill via free agency; a second line winger in a power forward mould is the toughest of these to fill. Additionally, the Oklahoma City Barons employed a pair of veteran forwards (Josh Green and Jonathan Cheechoo) on AHL-only contracts; it seems sensible to assume that the Oilers will want at least one veteran forward with an NHL deal to help mentor and also to serve as a recall option should the need arise (while Anton Lander is a fine first call-up option, injury or uneven performance could rob the Oilers of recallable depth in a hurry).

Total contract count: 28.


Unrestricted free agents Ryan Whitney, Mark Fistric, Nikolai Khabibulin, Yann Danis and Garrett Stafford are all released. Restricted free agents Theo Peckham, Colten Teubert, Alex Plante and Niko Hovinen have also been let go.

The sole remaining free agent in this scenario is restricted free agent Taylor Fedun.

Again, I’ve exercised some discretion here. Mark Fistric and Corey Potter are both fine candidates for the six/seven role, but Potter is under contract at a cheap price-point while Fistric seems to be looking for significant dollars in a weak free agent market; hence I’ve opted to keep Potter. Yann Danis is a legitimate candidate for the number three role but is coming off a difficult season; presumably the Oilers would prefer a European free agent with more potential in that slot. Colten Teubert may yet be retained, but given his struggles to crack the Barons’ defence of late and the incoming class, he seems a good bet for departure. I should also note that RFA’s like Peckham and Teubert may have enough value for a trade at the draft.

The Oilers have three slots to fill on the depth chart above. They need to add a top-four defenceman, ideally a top-pairing defenceman, and that’s going to be very difficult indeed. Additionally, they need to overhaul their goaltending behind Devan Dubnyk. Finally, at the AHL level they have a good group of young defenders that are also legitimate recall candidates (I count Klefbom, Fedun and Marincin) so they may not need another defenceman on a two-way deal, but it seems likely that a veteran on an AHL contract could be brought in to stabilize a young defence corps. Both current UFA Garrett Stafford and Randy Jones (on an AHL contract) might fit the bill there.

Total contract count: 19, meaning that at all positions the Oilers would have used 47 of the 50 slots they have on their reserve list. 

Recently around the Nation Network

There are lots of interesting names on Justin Azevedo’s Eastern Conference Compliance Buyout Candidates, including veteran Albertan Scottie Upshall:

Upshall was signed after a 34-point season, so it’s unlikely Dale Tallon had any thoughts that he’d be an "offensive" contributor. Even so, the 10 points he’s put up in Florida since signing there suggests to me that his tenure in Sunrise may be ending. Add to that his less-than-stellar underlying numbers and the Panthers’ need for a top-9 roster spot and I don’t see a way he isn’t a UFA come July 5th.

Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • stretch14

    Good article Willis, I think you’re spot on with where the holes are in the organization and who needs to be moved/let go. If I were MacT I would try and plug the holes like this:

    2nd line LW: Lucic, acquired via trade

    3rd line RW: Horton, signed as UFA

    4th line C: Maxim Lapierre, signed as UFA

    13th FWD depth C: One of Boyd Gordon, Reasoner, Steckel (signed as UFA)

    1st pairing LD: Shattenkirk, acquired via trade

    Backup G: Anton Khudobin, signed as UFA

    AHL G: Bernard Starkbaum, signed as UFA

    • 15w40

      How do you pay everybody?? You have 3 players starting next year at 6 mil and shattenkirk i can’t imagine signs for under 5. RNH will be looking for a big raise in year 2 and Yak a year after that. That’s half your payrole tied up in 6 players 3 seasons from now.

      I haven’t even included Horton in this equation and after this playoff he is in for a big raise too. Unless one of the untouchables are dealt, I can’t see this math working.

      • stretch14

        Do you even do any research before you post or do you negative nancy’s just like to shoot things down for the sake of doing it?


        How is acquiring 2 good (but not great) players in any way equivalent to acquiring the elite talent of the league? The Bruins are hard against the cap next season and Lucic’s contract jumps to $6mil. St. Louis has an internal cap and has multiple high profile RFA’s they need to sign.

        Since when is making a trade for 2 good players in one summer deemed impossible? There was once a time where the Oilers acquired Pronger and Peca via trade in the same summer.


        The Oilers have $14.125 mil coming off the books this year in Khabibulin, Whitney, Petrell, Jones, Smithson, Sutton and Souray. $15.875 mil if you include a Belanger buyout.

        Another $5mil under this proposal assuming we trade Hemsky.

        And once RNH and Yak need to be re-upped another $11.250mil is coming off the books in Smyth, Horcoff and N. Schultz.

        Not to mention the fact that the cap is going to shoot back up the second next season is over.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    34 yrs into this and our Oilers today look like they have a good start to an expansion franchise. Outside of half a dozen kids, we can’t tell the difference if the rest of the lineup is AHL, or NHL. It’s really unfortunate nothing can be done about this gong show management group that put us in this place.

  • Truth

    That is one depressing depth chart.

    Buy outs are limited – thus to maximize the benefit/opportunity you need to buy out your most expensive players that you’d consider moving in order to maxmize the return in real hockey flesh. You only get one chance to spend beyond the league norms – this is it.

    So the three buyouts are (I think you are limited to three):


    With no salary commitments attached we move them for maximum value.

    Even a queens correspondence MBA should be able to understand that. (Whether he could figure it out on his own is beyond the scope of the program)

      • DSF

        Of course, you could also trade him for Dmitry Kulikov.

        You know, the potential #1D who is signed for another year at $2.5M.

        I’ve heard the Panthers can’t find centres anywhere so I’m sure they’re eager to trade for an RFA who is likely seeking $5M a year.

        You could likely also trade Paajarvi for Duncan Keith since the Blackhawks will likely lose Bickell.

        This GM stuff is easy.

        • Actually, you’ll note I never said Gagner-for-Kulikov would get it done. What I said was that a package built around some combination of Gagner, the 7th overall, and/or Magnus Paajarvi might get it done.

          The reason I specifically have Kulikov in mind is because Florida was apparently open to moving him at the trade deadline, indicating they don’t see him as a number one long-term (otherwise, why would they send him away?).

          I don’t know what it would take to get Dale Tallon to trade Kulikov, and I try to avoid saying specific trades would get done because as a general rule I just don’t know.

      • DSF

        Can they sign him and then buy him out?

        Just wondering. It’s not my money but doing that would basically give the oil a reasonable quality player to trade with zero baggage to another team for big 100% player value.

  • stretch14

    Throwing Ales under the bus, eh jonny boy? Why bother trading away a 3rd RW that we’d have to look to replace. If oiler fans run hemsky out of town then I give up with this fanbase.

    • I actually quite like Hemsky; it’s just a matter of addressing other areas of concern. I think the Oilers have a better shot of pulling off something like a Hemsky-for-Umberger trade and signing Dainus Zubrus than they do of signing Nathan Horton and hanging on to Hemsky. It’s also cheaper.

      • GVBlackhawk

        Any upcoming articles on possible RFA offer sheets? Would you consider doing one that focuses on Artem Anisimov and his comparables for a possible addition at 2C or 3C? I’m not sure Columbus would match a 4 year $16M offer — they might take the 1st and 3rd.

          • GVBlackhawk

            Yes that is exactly what I am suggesting.

            Shea Weber was picked 49th overall 10 years ago. Would you suggest that affects his trade value? How about Zdeno Chara?

            What does a veteran player’s draft position have to do with the price of rice in China?

            He is a very effective player regardless of when he was taken in a draft seven years ago. I think that he would put up great numbers between Yakupov and Gagner (or similar).

            And he’s 6’4″, 215 lbs….your favorite stat.

        • I honestly don’t like the Oilers pursuing RFA offer sheets. The draft picks are less of an issue than the dollar figure a team needs to go to. With the Oilers having an abundance of RFA’s coming up, I don’t know that they can afford to a) blow their salary structure and b) invite reprisal offer sheets.

          • GVBlackhawk

            I’m not sure that RFA offer sheets would necessarily blow up the Oilers’ salary structure. For example, if they have budgeted $5.5M for a 1D or 2D, it would make perfect sense to offer sheet Alex Pietrangelo for 6 years $33M. The same would apply to any position on the team. If the contract fits the budget of the specific position, then offer away.

            Regarding reprisal offer sheets, there is no established track record of general managers engaging in this type of conduct. In addition, any unsigned RFA is subject to an offer sheet from any of the other 29 teams — you cannot be worried about teams making reprisal offers. Lastly, a team like the St. Louis Blues (or a dozen other teams) would have difficulty engaging in the type of financial cat-and-mouse that reprisal offer sheets would result in.

            The RFA offer sheet should be considered another weapon in the arsenal of a team who needs to make substantial improvements to the roster.

          • vetinari

            I think there are some very poignant points in this blog, yet what GM on earth (other than the Finn in Ohio) would EVER trade Hemsky for Umberger..?

            That is not “bold”, that is just mismanagement on an EPIC level of fail.

            I really do think MacT is going to do a great job with his new gig, but if he made that trade, he’d have a can tied to his ass so fast & be shown the door before the ink dried after the trade call.

            There is a lot of guessing to be made regarding what the Oil are going to do moving forward this summer, but that swap is NOT amongst ANY of them.

            No Chance, No How, No Way…


      • RexLibris

        These roster holes look depressingly familiar.

        That being said, while the roster spots are nothing new, there are some signs that the responses to the deficiencies may be.

        Something as simple as the addition of Belov to provide more time for Klefbom to develop suggests that there may be some unusual (read: competent) signings and additions made this summer.

        The only spot that I think may not be addressed is the first-pairing d-man, mostly due to prohibitive costs. But even then, if it happened that the Oilers were able to somehow turn Hemsky and a pick/prospect into Tyutin I can’t say I would be terribly surprised. Happy, but not surprised.

    • GVBlackhawk

      Nobody is ‘running Hemsky out-of-town’. It is management’s decision to make appropriate roster changes. That might involve Hemsky or any other player; such is the way of professional sports.

      Please stop blaming the Oilers fans.

  • DSF

    Seems like Hemsky for a defenseman makes sense. But who? Maybe Streit? I know he is pending UFA, but maybe 5th pick to talk to Streit and if the Oilers sign him it turns into Hemsky and Oil gets 3 rd pick from NYI.

  • Word to the Bird

    I think our view of tradable players will be drastically altered for the better once the cap officially gets brought down. Lecavalier, Edler, Lucic, and a couple others maybe might become available. I’m actually excited for the offseason for once!

  • Newj

    Within the next 6 weeks management must make a decision on Gagner & Paajarvi. If an offer sheet is made and not matched compensation for Gagner – 2nd round pick, Paajarvi – 3rd round pick.

    According to some that may be fair, to others that is larceny.

    New CBA RFA compensation ranges:

    $1,110,249 or below – No Compensation
    Over $1,110,249 to $1,682,194 – 3rd round pick
    Over $1,682,194 to $3,364,391 – 2nd round pick
    Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 – 1st round pick, 3rd
    Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 – 1st round pick, 2nd, 3rd
    Over $6,728,781 To $8,410,976 – Two 1st Round Picks, 2nd, 3rd
    Over $8,410,976 – Four 1st Round Picks

    • Word to the Bird

      Compensation for Gags will be at least a 1st and a 3rd. Nobody will offer sheet his qualifying offer considering his asking price will be anywhere from 4-5 million.. As for Paajarvi, it’s unlikely that anybody will offer sheet him; only the very best get offer sheeted.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hemsky alone won’t get you a roster player, or anything that resembles a difference maker. He may fetch another Ryan Jones/Petrell type, if we need even more support players. Every attempt should be made to use him as a throw in and maybe help Edmonton improve on that 37th, or perhaps even that 56th selection.

    Ales has gone from the best player here 5 yrs ago, to just another soft euro, often injured/uninspired use to be. His best days are behind him. Get rid of him now before he turns into another Omark type asset. Hemsky and the 56th, for a late first/early second rounder. After all, HGH is still a banned substance (Hemsky,Gagner,Horcoff). Oilers could sure use 3 of the first 37 selections. Might even net the Oilers Lazar with that late first rounder.

  • magisterrex

    Gagner is a 6th overall pick, is YOUNG, scores goals, and is only getting better. He is not going to be traded for a bag of pucks and some other team’s castoffs. He has actual value. IF he is traded, that is.

    I know it’s tough to see value when your team has been on the bottom of the ladder for years, but some players actually are worth something on the market. Sam Gagner is one of those players.

  • DieHard

    For the record,I wouldnt trade hemsky,he cannot be replaced,his consistant zone entry capability is critical to any team,we just need to put him in a position to be optimised for what he is ,not try to teach him to be what we ant optimally.

    Very few men are worth that trouble,and some coaches would get rid of a man like that on principal alone,not me,I want to win and Hemsky can take me there if he does what i ask him.Ask him if he is comfortable in a 3rd line role,if he isnt promote him away.we need honesty and a 100% buyin.

    Knowing how Hemsky plays he will likely still get his goal numbers from that line which is what we need from him and the line position most,he will be the centerpiece and the focus,playing against lesser opponents he should actually feast over 82 games,possibly being a season difference maker.

    We cant trade him,as it is we need a zone entry specialist for the 4th line,we cant afford to lose our most lethal one.He IS our most lethal one,he just doesnt fit dynamiclly on the first two lines,this is how deep our talent base is now.This is the evidence we are going in the right direction,if hemmer can see this he will put put for us,he needs to see he will have more IMPACT on winning games from the 3rd line ,he wont need as many touches to score from there.

    We have MPS,Hall,Hemsky as entry threats.We can mix and match them on lines as long as we MAINTAIN their positions in the line dynamic,if we move Hemmer to the 1st line against a specific team we need to manage the line around him or we lose value.Hemsky is pure speed and has an NHL reputation that is feared,elite NHL speed,Hall is top end speed and a middle threat that can spread the offensive pressure entering the o-zone who is gaining respect,MPS is top end speed with a big body who can force the defense to adjust to him he can target d-men and break them down and is defensive minded,these are our options and what they can do best for us.

    How we manage them in the pecking order 1-2-3rd linewise doesnt matter as long as it is done in a manner that optimises their skillset at all times recognising that they all have a priority job as a zone entry specialist and this means we can work around other aspects of their games and accept specific tactical imbalances.

    In a nutshell we need to be prepared to move entire lines with their dynamic integrity and managment tactics intact to prepare for specific teams,not just mix up our lines overall.This means building them around specific entry threats if we can.With Hemmer we can do that.I dont think I see another zone entry threat in the rest of the organisation that matches the three we have now,and we NEED one more.we cant afford to move Hemsky,not if we want to win games.it can take years to find a legitimate zone entry threat,we paid dearly for Hemmer and worked around him for years then we got lucky to get hall and EXTREMELY lucky MPS is a naturally gifted skater as a bigger man.But after that the well has run dry,keep Hemmer.

  • vetinari

    Somewhat off topic but still of interest– will NewAgeSystem eventually transition into MiddleAgeSystem and then finally into OldAgeSystem?

    As for using offer sheets, when you’ve been out of the playoffs for 7 years, I think you definitely should not give up the high picks unless it is for a “missing piece” type of player that will propel you over the hump and into the playoffs for the next few years– and we’re suffering on multiple fronts, so now should not be the time to use it.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    I live in Calgary and I Love The Oilers. I don’t post as much because I was tired of hearing the same intelligent fans talk about the fact we need two big mobile puck moving dman and better goaltending.

    I hope this is obvious to everyone. We need to turn a goaltending weakness into a strength.

    For years I watched a mediocre below average flames Team compete for a playoff spot, why… Because Kipper provided exceptional goaltending – he kept them in almost every game. This is the type of goaltending we need.

    Buy out Horcoff, and spend some of the money on Halak. Go after Hiller, hell trade for Luongo and make Gillis eat some of the salary and Send Horcoff the other way? You address leadership an create a worst case scenario by bringing in a proven number one and create an asset in Dubnyk to shore Up the Defense.

    I am posting because I now have hope in management, I believe macT is a smart man, and he will bring in a top guy to create a top tandem in the NHL.

    No longer will I have to hear from flames Fans- “you guys need a goalie” – thanks tips.

    Question: Do the oilers have an additional 8 mil in cap space because of the way the new cba is written and how elc bonuses no longer count against cap?

    I’ve read this a few different places, would love to get my head around the cap situation and what we can expect… We could get Vanek for our #7, but that’s a comment for another blog

    I hope we keep the #7 pick and somehow get Monahan. Hence initializing the ripple Effect- YR1: Horcoff is bought out, money is spent on a quality goalie. YR2: Monahan develops into a top two guy, Gagner is traded for a young top 4 defenseman.

    If the draft goes McKinnon, Jones, Drouin, Barkov, Nichuskin, Monahan – I seriously consider trading the pick for a Vanek type player(huge lw, 35 goal guy) or a Edler type Defenseman(young top 3). If one of those players slide- we hit the jackpot.

    • GVBlackhawk

      Halak is not an upgrade on Dubnyk. Did you check out his numbers from last season? They are awful.

      Re: ELC’s, only 50% of bonus money counts toward the cap. The base salary for ELC’s was maxed at $900K. For next season, the max base salary for ELC’s is $925K.

    • I agree,he can score from all 4 lines as he has shown in the past.The eye injury slowed down his grit but he wasnt a middleweight fighter anyways,just a pressure guy with good speed and hands.If he can return to that and the coaches see him as part of the offense they want to see on the 4th line with move up potential,then he is the man.

      Jones can also pressure the 3rd line a bit with his scoring ability if the line slows down.

      He has decent size and speed and can play a high pressure style with offense,whats not to like?