ALL SUMMER LONG

horak ferguson 2

Roman Horak (in photo, courtesy Rob Ferguson) is one of Edmonton’s restricted free agents this summer. Horak and his agent will no doubt be pursuing a new deal for more money, and a one-way (NHL) deal if possible. The Oilers have only so much room on their 50-man list, and are facing some tough decisions.

50-MAN LIST FOR 2014-15

  1. G Ben Scrivens
  2. G Viktor Fasth
  3. G Tyler Bunz
  4. G Laurent Brossoit
  5. G Frans Tuohimaa
  6. D Martin Marincin
  7. D Andrew Ference
  8. D Oscar Klefbom
  9. D Brandon Davidson
  10. D Martin Gernat
  11. D David Musil
  12. D Brad Hunt
  13. D Jordan Oesterle
  14. D Darnell Nurse (sliderule)
  15. C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  16. C Sam Gagner
  17. C Boyd Gordon
  18. C Mark Arcobello
  19. C Will Acton
  20. C Travis Ewanyk
  21. C Jujhar Khaira
  22. L Taylor Hall
  23. L David Perron
  24. L Matt Hendricks
  25. L Jesse Joensuu
  26. L Ryan Hamilton
  27. L Kale Kessy
  28. L Mitchell Moroz
  29. R Jordan Eberle
  30. R Nail Yakupov

RFA PLAYERS

  1. G Richard Bachman (rfa)
  2. D Jeff Petry (rfa)
  3. D Justin Schultz (rfa)
  4. D Phil Larsen (rfa)
  5. C Anton Lander (rfa)
  6. L Luke Gazdic (rfa)
  7. L Roman Horak (rfa)
  8. L Curtis Hamilton (rfa)
  9. R Tyler Pitlick (rfa)
  10. R Andrew Miller (rfa)

The Oilers often flush this group year over year, it’s a dangerous point for players. 

POSSIBLE ADDITIONS

  1. D Dillon Simpson: He’s very likely to sign. 
  2. C Marco Roy: He is eligible to sign, but may return to junior. 
  3. C Bogdan Yakimov: MacT loves the guy.
  4. D Erik Gustafsson:
    The Swede has enjoyed a good season.
  5. D Joey Laleggia: He has one more year of eligibility if it comes to that.
  6. R John McCarron: I’d bet money they sign the big forward.

Now we’re up to 46, and of course there’s every chance the first round pick will be signed. MacT may have two or three free agents he wants to sign, so we’re reaching a point where someone has to go. 

The Oilers mays also want to sign some of their own free agents. Ryan Smyth, Anton Belov and Taylor Fedun (among others) may find their way back into an Oiler/Baron uniform.

THREE FOR ONE?

I’d love to see a three for one deal, but suspect the Oilers will find a way to walk away from a few of those RFA’s. I’d say the club would consider qualifying only five or six in an effort to have some wiggle room. Teams like Phoenix clean up late in free agency because they have cap room and some walking around money in August.

It’s also
possible that MacT finds a way to flush Tyler Bunz. Bottom line: Before
trades, the Oilers are pretty close to 40 of their 50-man list for next
season.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

dog fail

The Oilers need a 2line C, two NHL defensemen and all kinds of secondary help. In the past, they would often lose their ability to capitalize on late free-agent signings for two reasons:

  • the club rarely made a decision on a player until they absolutely had to do it.
  • the club had most of their roster set when the rest of the league ran out of cash and roster avails.

Craig MacTavish has been very active compared to both Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe. I expect we’ll see more of the same this summer, and am hopeful that will include some late summer bargains. Phoenix has taken advantage of this area of free agency long enough, time for the Oilers to get in on the action.

  • 719

    I would think, Pitlick, Hamilton and Miller are on the bubble and will most likely not return. Pitlick and Hamilton cannot stay healthy, and the club has plenty of players similar to Miller.

    From the list of possible additions, Simpson and Yakimov will be signed, if they wish to be. The rest of the players on that list I just cannot see.

    UFAs: I would like to see Smyth back in a 4th line role, if he wants to come back. I would also like to see them add a first pairing defenceman (personal preference is Niskanen) and a second line C (or is Arcobello taking that spot?)

    All in all, this should be a very interesting offseason for the Oil.

    I really like the idea of using the Phoenix Coyotes model for UFAs, after we land our “whale”.

    One of the smartest things I have seen, is MacT signging guys to AHL only contracts, that is thinking outside the box and gives us flexibility in regards to contracts.

    • Lowetide

      They like him from what we know (there’s a bit about him in the article link above) but I believe he has one more year on his KHL deal. He has a goal and an assist for Salavat in the playoffs.

  • The Soup Fascist

    As Scruffy began his hopeful leap towards the comfy couch, he had a twinkle in his eye and smile across his mouth. At some point early on, he realized things were not going to end well. Long before whacking his melon on the edge of the couch and picking him self up off the floor – dazed, confused, frustrated and a little pi$$ed.

    Fellow Oiler fans meet Scruffy. Scruffy – Oiler fans.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Scruffy the flying dog is a metaphor for Oilers Fans. As Oiler fans we took a hopeful leap at the beginning of the year. At some point early on we realized that things were not going to end well. Long before reality whacked us on the melon, we tumbled down the standings to the cellar. We got up, brushed ourselves off and here we stand, dazed, confused, frustrated and a little pi$$ed.

      We ARE scruffy Oilers fans.

  • Mason Storm

    Management has to start thinking about quality over quantity. If you’re not a solid NHL player or a prospect on a good uptrend to becoming a solid NHL player, then you’re wasting a contract spot. Sure, there’s always the need for a few mediocre minor leaguers that can clear waivers and fill in for injuries so that the prospects don’t get yo-yo’d between teams, but the Oilers have too many of those types already.

    That being said, Bachman, Horak, C.Hamilton, and Miller should not receive qualifying offers. If they want to come back to OKC, then it has to be on an AHL-only contract. Make room for some new prospects. And if the Oilers don’t need to use their compliance buyout on any overpaid veterans, they might as well burn it on Hunt to free up another spot (although not sure if you can buyout an ELC like that).

  • 719

    Bunz
    Davidson
    Hunt
    Joensuu
    R.Hamilton
    are all players that would not be missed if you could get rid of 3 of them in trades (example hunt for a conditional 7th round pick)
    your down to 27

    The RFA’s jettison Bachman, Larson, Miller and C Hamilton

    so your up to 33

    add all 6 of the possible additions and the 1st round pick were up to 40

    that gives us 10 spots to play with maybe more if theres a trade like Gagner and Gernat for #2/3 DMan

  • Lowetide

    Gustafson and Leggalia would be wastes of contract spots. If the Oilers sign Simpson they are swimming in defensive prospects.

    Better to use those two contract spots on late summer season bargains and college free agents.

  • Citizen David

    The best thing they can do is flush players under contract that are never going to help.

    Bunz, Hunt, Acton, R.Hamilton, Joensuu, Jones, and Kessy are never going to help the Oilers move up in the world. Get rid of them

    I’d then sign all of those RFA’s possibly with the exception of Hamilton.

    Add Simpson, Roy, Yakimov and McCarron. No need for Gustafsson or Laleggia.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Hunt is a quality d-man at the AHL level (all-star) & is needed to anchor all the young prospects. Kessy is another prospect who is young, big, can skate & will probably challenge Gazdic for ice time over the next two years! I wouldn’t sell this kid short, there’s a lot of fire in his game that will go along nice with other prospects like Ewanyk, Moroz & Khaira! These are actually big bodies that can play the game. Just need some more seasoning.

  • Dan 1919

    Is anyone else tired of watching Petry pretend he’s Dubnyk and single handily cause goals against? Phoenix’s second goal for example.

    Petry is a typical overrated Oiler, fans think he’s way better than he is when in reality it’s guys like him and Dubnyk that have had plenty of time to clean up their games and haven’t.

    The Oilers will have to clean up their roster this season, and trade away some guys who are better than fringe NHL players to get at least two decent D-men back. If Petry and Gagner are sent the other way to get a real D-man back I will not lose any sleep.

    (Sorry for beating the dead horse that is Dubnyk but he hurt this team bad at the start of the season)

    • Mason Storm

      That second goal is not on Petry. I thought he should have taken the puck instead of letting it slowly roll behind the net, but he had his guy tied up in front. Marincin lost the battle behind the net on the slow roller, then his guy spun free for the rebound in front. Sure, he and Petry got tied up, but it was his guy that put it in.

      However, Gagner showed yet again how he has no defensive awareness by inexplicably peeling off of OEL and covering the harmless guy along the boards at the blue line. OEL dragged the puck into the middle for a good shot – Perron charged out from the corner to try to cover him, but OEL could have walked in another 5 or 6 feet after Gagner left him. It was brutal to watch, but typical Gagner d-zone mistake. I was actually pissed that Gagner got the tying and winning goals instead of someone more deserving – he floated for most of the game until being in the right spot for the tying goal.

      Also, I have noticed that Scrivens has been giving up more bad rebounds the past few games. Maybe he is getting tired?

  • Spydyr

    I sure hope they decide to actually fill some of the glaring holes most of us see.This summer HAS to be the time to put a playoff challenging team together instead of a lottery challenging team.

    If “The braintrust” actually thought this years defence wound challenge for a playoff spot.Things are worse than I thought.

    Same goes for next years defence if it has 3-4 rookies next years team will again be outside the big spring dance.

    • Dan 1919

      Completely agree, 4 rookies will not do it next year. Shutlz, Klefbom, Nurse, Marincin are all too close together to try and develop at the same time.

      I’d love to see them all stay and win Stanley Cups year after year with Hall leading the way and Hopkins being compared to Sakic… REALITY, we’re a basement team year after year. It’s time to bring in some NHL D-men.

      I would really hate to see Nurse or Klefbom go but it’s hard to value any of them at this point because none of them including J.Shultz have come into their own and shown what they will ACTUALLY be like as night after night NHL players.

  • A lot can be let go from that list. Gagner, a high d prospect(klefbom or marincin) and a winger(yak or Eberle) should be moved to fill needs.

    If we dont get Ekblad and draft Reinhart id be completely ok with trading RNH if we get a decent 2c to actually help him develop properly. Reinhart will be better and is a little bigger already.

    Dman: McDonagh, Staal, Ekman-Larson, Myers, Edler, Niskanen etc obviously some have ntc’s and might not agree

    2C: Dubinsky, Jenner, Schenn, Couturier, Eller, J.Staal etc

    Rw: Stewart, Stafford, Byfuglien, Callahan

    Depth in FA: Derek Morris, Benoit Pouliot

    Its not impossible to get 2 dmen a 2c and a physical/capable RW from the list I just gave, especially if we draft Reinhart but I cant see Edmonton moving RNH.

    Most important thing is to replace the assistant coachs imo

    • bwar

      You really think replacing the assistant coaches is the most important thing this off season? I would say adding size to top 6, adding a 2nd line C, adding a 1-2 dman, and adding some actual NHL players to the bottom 6 would make more difference than replacing the assistant coaches.

      • "Frank the dog"

        I don’t think its an either continue building the roster or replace the assistants it’s both.

        MacT is doing pretty well rebuilding the roster in his first year as GM, and I’d suggest all he needs do is continue on his present path.

        An assistant coach is the person who works with the offensive or defensive players on a day to day basis, obviously under the guidance of the HC, which is why most HC’s prefer their own assistants. A good assistant will bring out the best in every player, a bad assistant will crush all the enthusiasm and initiative out of the same player.

        I’d suggest that very few of our offensive players have flourished under Bucky, and the ones that have done well, have done so in spite of him not because of him.

        The simple fact is, that Bucky has been forced on every coach since MacT, and has been the only constant (except for Gags) in the Oilers suckage from MacT’s last year onwards.

        Now, Gags did arrive before Bucky, and he is the only player that did. How did Gags play in his first year, before Bucky, and how has he played since?

        My point therefore is that the right assistants will get full value out of every player they coach, and if we got full value out of every player on our team, we’d be yelling and screeching a lot less these days.

        We would also have had a terrible season this year, even if we had the best coach and assistants in the world, which we clearly do not, because of our goalie collapse and our horrible run of injuries to our top players.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    To heck with a 3 for 1, lets see what a 4 or 5 for 1 gets us. Plenty of opportunity to thin the herd here somewhat.

    That dog gif is awesome LT. Kinda sums up each of the last 8 Oiler seasons.

    Tip of the hat to ORG, his post was darn funny as well.

  • "Frank the dog"

    Question for LT

    In an environment like the Oilers, it’s all too easy to get into narratives that we stick to regardless of facts put before us.

    In my case, I have a narrative going regarding Bucky, that he is the only constant left in every year of suck for this team, from the last year of MacT’s coaching to the present season. As such I am saying that Bucky has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he had not done a good job in this role, and needs to be replaced. A slightly lesser argument goes for Smith.

    Then there is the fandom’s narrative for Gagner. Gags has shown us good in the past. This year he has not played as well, and its as if his busted jaw is no excuse for his performance.

    We have some bad players that need to be flushed for sure – eg Fraser – but I’d suggest that what Gags is lacking, is not skill, but better coaching in the form of a capable assistant coach on offense.

    For that reason LT, Id appreciate your view, based on Gag’s prior seasons, on whether he might be recovered by a capable assistant, or whether we need to replace him with a better fit for the role.

    Thanks!

  • Spydyr

    Heres my ” Thanks for the Memories” list:
    Bunz Tuohimaa Joenus R.Hamilton Kessy

    C.Hamilton, and A.Miller Acton

    PS.Would love to see Oilers adopt “organe” third jersey, would brighten up the ice.

  • "Frank the dog"

    Plenty of expendables on that RFA list to me. Curtis Hamilton and Andrew Miller likely have not done enough to make the cut.

    I would like to see us sign Yakimov. It takes these players from the KHL a little while to adjust to North American hockey it seems and he would probably get more ice time in OKC than in Russia.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    I was playing around with the arm chair GM on cap geek the other day and came up with this roster

    1. Hall RNH Eberle
    2. Penner(UFA) Couturier(trd) Simmonds(trd)
    3. Winnink(UFA)Gordon Horak
    4. PItlik Smyth Gazdic

    D1 Nikitin(ufa) Cobburn (trd)
    D2 Ferance Marincin
    D3 Kelfbom Schultz

    Out via trade Yak Gagner Perron(you have to give up somthing good)

    I also think they should trade the 2015 1st rounder. It would be like Cortez burning his ships when he reached the new world theres no going back

  • Lofty

    Anybody else think MacT is having a look at Pinizzotto as a fourth line RW or 13th/14th forward for next year until some of the young guys mature a bit? How about Larsen playing some pretty good RW & then helping out on the PP? He’s a good skater & an aggressive little bugger. Just saying they haven’t looked out of place against some pretty solid clubs.

    Think they will try trade Gags for some defensive help? Could then see the Oil sign a UFA to battle Lander & Arcobello for 2C position?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    One term we never hear from the team anymore is the previously often used term “Oiler hockey”.

    This term seems to have died with Eakins turning everyone into mindless system robots under his tutelage.

    7-8 out of 10 games played now are boring as heck. The game has taken a step backwards with coaches focusing on teaching AHL’ers how to play defensively in the NHL. Now even the Oilers appear to be waving this surrender to defense flag under Eakins. Exhitbit A, Nail Yakupov.

    • How is it boring? what about all those exciting giveaways that oilers have been making! nothing’s more exciting than breakaways and shorthanded 2 on 1’s. 🙂

      *Basically, everyone is flat choked how this season turned out, but did you really not see this coming? I think this is one of those “o’doyle rules!” times: loser denial.

      I’ve gone through all the stages of grief. I’m firmly planted in acceptance. It’s sweet to see them win, but when they lose, they lose. Maybe someday they’ll be a winning team.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Life just has a way of evening things out as time goes by.

        I never really went through the various stages of acceptance like yourself. I had the Oilers pegged at 25th place back in October. Man, was I soundly beaten down for that prediction. This current management group surpassed even my wildest dreams.

        Aaron Ekblad……wooooooooooooo!

    • ubermiguel

      “The MacT Trap” got us pretty far in ’06, that was pretty far from Oilers hockey but no one seemed to care. Well, the trap..plus some great goaltending and one of the best defencemen of the modern era.

  • Lofty

    first time poster long time reader.all I have to say is I haven’t heard so much bitching since I got home late from the bar and had to face the wife.anyone need a tit to suck on or are you all going to keep crying.boohoo my team sucks .boohoo we should trad every one for mystical players.thank god none of you are incharge of this team

  • Quicksilver ballet

    For What Its Worth Dept:.. Colorado just beat the Blues 4-0. Blue dont like loosing, man can they get nasty, was tough hockey game.

    My point cant see the Oilers in this kind of battle with the guys they have on the ice.

  • Mason Storm

    Fact: Trade Gagner for ___________ help…..

    Should never, ever be uttered.

    We’ll be lucky to dump Gagner and not eat half his salary for a real cheer squad for Rexall.

  • Sevenseven

    I’ll never understand people’s excitement over Ekblad! Defenceman take longer to develop and most of the high drafted dman usually don’t ever meet expectation. The love affair people have over Ekblad would make you think he’s already Lidstrom.

    I want this team to get better next year, not 4-6 years