Three Forwards

Craig MacTavish6

Craig MacTavish talked to Terry Jones over the weekend, telling the Edmonton Sun columnist that he plans to add 4-5 players, with one or two coming from trade and the remainder through free agency. After eliminating the two defensive positions he specifically mentioned, that means we’re looking at 2-3 new forwards for the 2014-15 Edmonton Oilers.

The Depth Chart Today

The future up front

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Centre Right Wing
Taylor Hall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Jordan Eberle
David Perron Sam Gagner Nail Yakupov
Matt Hendricks Boyd Gordon Jesse Joensuu
Luke Gazdic Mark Arcobello Tyler Pitlick
Anton Lander Steve Pinizzotto

The 14 names above represent what in my view is the Oilers’ most likely forward depth chart today. We can add a trio of likely minor-leaguers to the list – Will Acton, Ryan Hamilton, and newly signed Iiro Pakarinen – if we want to be thorough and be reasonably confident we have the legitimate NHL options surrounded.

To this group we can potentially add the player the Oilers will get if they keep the No. 3 overall selection in this year’s draft. If they keep the pick the player will compete for an NHL job, and with the possible exception of Sam Bennett my guess is that he’d likely end up on the roster.

MacTavish’s aim is set pretty high – three new forwards represents an entire line of NHL talent – although there are going to be subtractions along the way, too.

The Shopping List


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

My guess is that the Oilers have identified the following positions as being in need of help:

Second line centre. No newsflash here. Sam Gagner is a dead man walking if the rumour mill can be believed, and the Oilers may not want to bank on whoever they draft being ready for major-league action. If I were betting, I’d say plausible free agent targets include Mikhail Grabovski, David Legwand and maybe Brad Richards.

Third line wing. Potentially the Oilers could get this player back in a hypothetical Gagner deal, but free agency has a bunch of players who can play minutes on the wing and it isn’t so strong in centres. Plausible targets include Nikolai Kulemin, David Moss, Daniel Winnik, Brenden Morrow, Devin Setoguchi, Benoit Pouliot, and maybe Blake Comeau.

Third line centre. This is the position I imagine the Oilers would address in a potential Gagner trade, and the names being batted in the rumour mill would work – Colin Wilson out of Nashville or Josh Bailey from the Islanders. There are also some potential free agent grabs: Steve Ott, Vernon Fiddler, Marcel Goc, Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, Michal Handzus and the sure to be overpaid Dave Bolland.

When a Plan Comes Together

If all goes well, the Oilers’ NHL forward depth chart would look something like this:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Centre Right Wing
Taylor Hall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Jordan Eberle
David Perron [New Player] Nail Yakupov
[New Player] [New Player] Mark Arcobello
Matt Hendricks Boyd Gordon Jesse Joensuu
Luke Gazdic Anton Lander Tyler Pitlick

*Luke Gazdic may not be ready to start the season, which could potentially open the door for both of Lander and Pitlick to make the team out of camp.

Whether or not that’s good enough is going to depend on who MacTavish lands to fill those vacant spots, but if we’re right on the plan it’s as ambitious as Oilers fans could ask for.


  • Doctor Smashy


    If we wanted to create a sheltered, soft minute, offensive zone start line and two or three hard minute lines, could we do the following:

    Trade Arcobello to Buffalo for Grigorienko.
    Start Yakupov with Gregorienko and Lander on the soft minute line.
    Sign Winnik or Moss to join Hendricks/ Gordon
    Throw money at Kulimen and Grabovski to join Perron on the 2nd line.

    Hall RNH Eberle
    Perron GRabovski Kulimen
    Lander Grigorienko Yakupov
    Hendricks Gordon Winnik

    Or trade for Brad Richards and keep Gagner for the second line RW if we can’t get Kulimen and Grabovski.

    • Just a Fan

      I hate when people do fantasy GM stuff. First of all, if you think Arcobello is the equivalent value for Grigorienko you’ve got another thing coming. Second, the Oilers obtaining players via Free Agency isn’t going to be a cake walk, they aren’t signing 3-4 sought after players, they’ll be lucky to get one player, and probably via overpayment.

      The only plausible thing here is trading for Brad Richards if the buy-out rumours are true, then again, it starts to make the cap harder to stay underneath, especially considering his term and value (which is a $6.6 mil, running until 2020). Considering he’s 34, that contract is an absolute boat anchor, and unless management has the intention to buy him out in a year or two, I can’t see this being a good deal.

      The real hope here is that the Oilers can fill that #2C slot, although I’m doubtful that it happens. I think if Draisaitl does get drafted by the Oil and plays in the show, him on the 3rd line would be a significant improvement to our strength down the middle. That said, we aren’t winning the cup next year, so why not let him develop while MacT continues to add pieces.

      I’m excited for Free Agency to see what MacT can do, he’s made some pretty solid moves acquiring players (although he’s also traded away NHL players for late picks). Hopefully he can make something happen.

    • Lexi

      Agreed, the proof is in the pudding, not in the telling. I’d think by now fans would be fed up with the telling and wanting to see some results.

      Although I don’t disagree Oilers would benefit with upgrades of 4-5 players (at least) I believe next season isn’t going to be about them, but rather about the rest. If the team can see progression from the majority of the rest, versus the regression of last year is going to be far more important overall to the team. Let’s face it, if you’re assuming Hall-RNH-Eberlie are good enough as a #1 line based on the past season, you’re sadly mistaken. Second line Perron was OK, Yak (very poor) and beyond that little to offer hope for future success. Building a “team”, consistent effort and workable systems that ALL the players buy into is going to be far more important than a few middling additions.

      There are signs of hope in this regard, re new assistant coach but as a fan I’d be putting a lot more pressure/hope/accountability on the “core” starting to live up to the unending hype than some additions…

    • Zarny

      Meh, it’s irrelevant.

      Dale Tallon is telling anyone who will listen the #1 pick is available and that he wants to sign 4-5 UFA’s including Iginla.

      Frustration with all talk, no action is understandable but nothing a GM says actually affects negotiations. It’s just fodder for the media.

  • A-Mc

    I’m still waiting for MacT/Katz to agree to acquire a player + 2nd/3rd round picks in exchange for using our 2nd Compliance buy out in a trade.

    Trade a player to EDM, EDM buys them out and the player re-signs with original team for less money.

    Edm gets a player (Of unknown quality dependent on buy out) and 2nd/3rd round picks in this years draft.

    The trade partner gets out from under a steep contract while still retaining the player they want.

    The player gets a nice chunk of change up front which should coax them into signing for lesser appropriate money.

    These are the kind of bold moves MacT should make in order to better the Oilers!

      • Quicksilver ballet

        What happens if the team who trades for this player for the purposes of a compliance buyout, also has no further interest in the player as well?

        The Oilers could still be compensated (couple of draft picks) by the original club for providing this service, no?

        Unless there’s a clause in the CBA stipulating you can’t buy out a player you didn’t originally sign, or recently traded for. This may be a loophole/opportunity to purchase more draft selections.

          • A-Mc

            Yes this is what i thought. That is why the player needs to be traded first before being bought out.

            So my scenario for EDM should work.

            Its a unique way to turn $$ into picks/players for a team that needs a boost.

          • Craig1981

            You want to spend millions for a couple picks?!?!? Katz has money, but not that much. Plus it could be much better used elsewhere… say nothing of these “loopholes” posts try and find would most likely be considered “salary cap circumvention” by the league (see kovachuk signing)

        • Zarny

          There is no clause and the Oilers do have 1 remaining compliance buy out.

          So theoretically the Oilers could, for example, trade a 5th round pick for a bad contract + 3rd round pick with the specific intentions of buying the contract out.

          It’s possible but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of opportunities out there.

          • v4ance


            The NHL closed a loophole for compliance buyouts after some clever bargaining between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning.

            According to the New York Post, the two clubs discussed a deal that would send centre Vincent Lecavalier and an asset – possibly a draft pick – to the Leafs. Toronto would then buy out Lecavalier’s massive contract and Tampa Bay would sign him to a more modest deal.

            The collective bargaining agreement prevents teams from re-signing players they’ve bought out for one year. Upon hearing of the potential deal between the Leafs and Lightning, the NHL ruled such a scheme would circumvent the CBA.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            I’m a little tentative with those last two words “I believe” there Will.

            Might be better to wait and see what Zarny has to say on this topic.

      • A-Mc

        Are you sure?

        They cannot re-sign with the club that bought them out, but if the player is traded to a team that buys them out, they should be free to re-sign with their original team.

        LA trades Richards to EDM (plus another player + picks). EDM Buys out Richards. Richards re-signs with LA.

        This should be legal from what i’ve read on twitter and I swear i’ve seen a member of MSM suggest it should happen if a team gets desperate.

        • Zarny

          My understanding is what you proposed would be allowed.

          Here is the thing…Richards is owed $29M over the next 6 years.

          With your scenario it would be the Oilers (ie. Katz) who are on the hook for 2/3 of the contract ($19.333M) spread out over 12 years.

          I’m not sure Katz or any owner is all that keen to spend $1.611M for the next 12 years for whatever player or pick LA would give up even if the $1.611M doesn’t count against the cap.

          • A-Mc

            Part #2:

            The question now is why would LA do this compliance buyout deal sending over a 3M/yr player + 2nd/3rd.

            Richards is a pretty kick ass 3rd/4th line Centerman and LA will want to continue to win Cups but they need to bring down that 5.75M/yr cap hit.

            If the deal is such that after being bought out, richards will re-sign with the club for 2M/yr for 6 years (Fulfilling his 6yr initial commitment), LA would be reclaiming 3.75M in cap space (6.75M/yr including the player that was sent the other way).

            Richards will get his 19M as well as an additional 12M (31M total) while still being on a Stanley cup winning team. He makes 2M more money. LA Frees up some needed cap space. Edm gets a player + 2 picks. Katz gets a city that finally has something positive to say about him. Mac T has his Bold Move. And at the end of the day everyone involved feels like they have made their situation better.

            I sure hope SOMEONE is trying to pull off something like this.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            What if the deal was for Richards and a Krieder/a player the Rangers are willing to sacrifice type as additional incentive? Even send a Joensuu back the other way.

            Certainly silly type money up for discussion here, but there has to be one opportunity the Oilers could use to sell/take full advantage of that comp buyout. Was hoping the was a better opportunity than the 5th for a 3rd. If that’s the incentive, then it’s hardly worth the investment.

          • A-Mc

            I tend to agree with you; its a steep price to pay. That said, players are paid a zillion dollars to not play for their clubs anymore. That equates to a significant $ value paid out for 0 return other than cap space. Players are signed with insane signing bonuses for no other reason than to acquire them. UFA’s often make 1+ more than they are worth on the market because GM’s/owners are willing to pay.

            The point is, is that there are any number of scenarios where a team with money will throw money at players in order to make the team better; Whoring out your compliance buy out is 1 way to turn $$ into something, where that Something couldn’t otherwise be obtained.

            In my LA scenario, what if LA sent over a 3M/yr player, a 2nd and 3rd round pick in 2014 draft, so that the Oilers could buy out M.Richards.

            1.6M/yr + 3M/yr = 4.6M/yr payment on a player worth 3M. Add in a 2nd and 3rd rnd pick that the Oilers are lacking. Is it an overpayment for that 1 player? Yes. Could the oilers have acquired this player/picks with $$ alone in any other way? no. You’d only get those things by sending a Gagner the other way.

            It’s pricy but if the owner is in a cash positive situation and they want to reclaim some cache around town: something like this could go a long way to proving you mean business. Fans would appreciate it.

  • A-Mc

    Could Sam Gagner get you a 1st (20-30) and a 2nd in a trade? He’s very young still and Despite what we say about him here, his ability to put up 40-50 pts (Maybe more on a good team) is undeniable. If you’re taking a couple low % picks in #25-30 and 55-60 and turning it into an actual NHL player with 10+ years left in him, It might be something to look at.

    Plan of attack:
    Offer sheet RO’R, signing him long term @6m/yr.

    Trade Gagner for a 1st and 2nd (Late round picks) to a contending team.

    Ultimate trade looks like this: O Reilly for Gagner + 3rd

    Doesn’t look half bad to me!

  • Lets see . Vanc. offers up Burrows or Edler for swap of picks in first round . Oilers add Vrbada and J. Jokinen . Oilers trade for B.Marchand and C.Stewart . Oilers draft J. Virtanen at number 6 . What does it spell – playoffs for next year.

  • Craig1981

    If we could sign a 2nd line center and bump Gagner down to 3rd (Why is even Willis insisting he gets traded???) and then trading/signing for a 3rd line winger (I will get trashed for this comment, but I could see Penner fitting nice) then thats not a bad forward group…..I would place Pitlick as a better 4th line winger than Joensuu

    • "Frank the dog"

      Were you watching the Oilers when Penner played here? Do you not remember what a frustrating disappointment he was to MacT?
      Penner may have 2 Cup rings but his lack of commitment most of the time drive coaches crazy. He behaves as if he just doesn’t care most of the time and I’m sure this doesn’t do the locker room much good most of the time.

      • Craig1981

        No doubt he frustrated MacT. Penner was a first line player who some felt never pushed himself as hard as he could…..very frustrating for a coach to have his best left winger not reaching what he felt was his full potential.

        That said at 6’4″, averaging just shy of 100 hits a season he wouldn’t be a bad option for a 3rd line. Like you said he has proved TWICE he has a role on a Stanley cup winning team.

        • A-Mc

          I Agree. I would certainly give Dusty P another look if the price is right. The guy liked playing here and was visibly shaken when he was traded.

          While being called lazy, disengaged and somewhat indifferent to what is going on around him, he still managed to put up points; and That’s all that matters.

          As far as i’m concerned, as long as a guy isnt a cancer in the room, and he can contribute to the team in a positive way, he should be an option for employment.

          He had a few low seasons in LA, but bounced right back to 32pts in ANA, so he’s still got it.

          He’s big. He can score some. He has good history with the young guys. He actually hits.

          If the price isnt retarded i certainly look at Penner again.

          • Craig1981

            100 hits is not bad actually. Chara had 163 this year with far more ice time. 100 hits would put you right around 200th in the NHL which is about 7th on an average NHL team. Not great, but not terrible either for a 3rd line player.

      • He was also the top scorer on the team that year. Moreover, he was frustrating as hell, but as a third line winger instead of the guy we offer sheeted who was supposed to come in a shoulder the load, well that’s a lot different. Penner does have his problems but puck possession was never one of them.

        • "Frank the dog"

          I’m saying that MacT’s deep hatred of Penner would preclude him from bringing him here, even if that was in a different role where he would probably do well.

          Penner also got as rough ride from the fans here, which would probably make him less likely to come here as well unless he was both desperate and overpaid, which isn’t going to happen.

          • I could imagine Mac T as a coach and Mac T as General Manager have differing opinions on players. If you’re Mac T and you’re charged with making the club better but you’re having a tough time landing guys, then you’re gonna have to think outside the box a little bit and take some chances. If he was willing to pay Clarkson, I think he could stomach a small overpayment for Penner to shore up the third line.

            I really like the idea of a soft minutes Penner Draisaitl Yak third line. All over 200 lb. Would cost about 4 – 5 mill total for the whole line. And I think Penner and Draisaitl’s puck possession game would really complement each other. Watching those two hold onto the puck against other teams’ third lines would be such a nice change. Then as they were desperately trying to take the puck away form them, well that opens up a lot of room for Yak and his insane shot. Add to that even one guy from the point who can unleash a big shot and that would be a tough line for other teams lower lines to play against.

            This, of course is all on paper speculation, but really, as a contemporary Oiler fan, isn’t that the most fun part?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Lets not all set ourselves up for disappointment.

    We all know the changes coming this summer will only rival the Barker, Eager, Belanger, Hordichuk signings of just a couple of summers ago.

    The troops will not come in and save the day. Stay the rebuild from within course.

    • Zarny

      You mean opposed to the $5.25M the Flames are paying Dennis Wideman lol?

      Or the $4M the Flames are paying David Jones or the $3.125M they have to shell out for Matt Stajan?

      As an Oiler fan…giddy indeed!

      • The Last Big Bear

        There’s nothing wrong with Matt Stajan’s contract. He’s a hard-minutes defensive centre, who’s basically the same as Boyd Gordon in terms of minutes, age, salary, and defensive ability, except that Matt Stajan’s career-worst production is better than Gordon’s career-best.

        Dennis Wideman is a 35-40 point defender, 2 years removed from being an All-Star, and is overpaid by about 25%. On a team that is currently below the cap FLOOR.

        The Oilers on the other hand have about as much money already committed to their forwards next year as the Flames have committed for their entire team.

        Edmonton’s forward payroll is higher than Chicago, higher than LA, higher than Pittsburgh, etc.

        Even if Gagner is on his way out, adding an overpaid UFA forward with term has very significant implications for the Oilers, who are already in the running for having the most expensive forward group in the entire NHL.

      • Zarny

        Easy to get giddy about other teams’ issues. Harder for Oilers though, as Wideman would probably be Oilers best defenseman, David Jones a huge presence and upgrade to the 2nd line, and Stajan easily fitting as 2C, if not pushing RNH down the depth chart. Well…. at least if better overall play and consistent effort meant something to Oilers rather than individual points and lackadaisical DGAS attitudes.

        • Zarny

          Wideman wouldn’t be Edmonton best D but he’s certainly better than Belov, Grebeshkov etc.

          @ $5.25M per year though? No thanks lol.

          There is no reality where Jones and Stajan are anything better than 3rd line players. Stajan’s pro-rated production over 82 games the last 4 years is 33, 24, 43 and 42 pts. At best, he’s a poor man’s Sam Gagner.

          Jones’ isn’t even worth listing.

          • pfff, anybody with half a brain would take Stajan in a heartbeat over gagner. Besides the first two years you list are when Sutter had him trapped on the 4th line for no reason. Stajan is a solid player, the kind that would make Gagner look terrible if he was on the same team. Also a 40pt player on the flames is a little different than most teams. Pretty darn good actually.

          • As I stated earlier, since you primarily focus on points Stajan doesn’t cut it in your view. There are other things than pts, like shut-down defense, consistent play, and leadership! He’d be a BIG upgrade on Gagner overall. Its no wonder the Oilers are where they are, seems management has a similar mentality.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If there’s a cure for everything that ails Nail Yakupov. It may well come in that package called Joe Thornton. Jumbo has helped turn many a player into 40-50 goal scorers over the last decade. Many with fewer weapons than what Nail has in his favor.

    Wait for it, wait for it…..

    Hall/ Thornton/ Yakupov

    Perron/ Hopkins/ Eberle

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Sorry, thought he’d maybe be a surprise addition to the buyout list. Lecavilier could take his place on the left coast. Wilson was pondering the idea of a rather significant change only weeks ago. Figure Joe may have been the sorta change he had in mind.

        • Zarny

          No, Thornton starts a 3 yr @ $6.75M extension next year so he isn’t eligible for a compliance buyout.

          SJ is rumored to be taking offers for Thornton and Marleau but they won’t go for a bargain.

          Brad and Mike Richards are potential buy outs although LA says Mike is staying in LA.

          I think NYR have to buy out B. Richards due to the cap recapture penalties alone which is why you shouldn’t trade for him. If he becomes a UFA though there will be competition and I doubt he picks Edmonton.

          Despite what LA says there may be a trade opportunity for M. Richards. My concern is he is in decline and signed for another 6 yrs @ $5.75M cap hit. That could be a really ugly contract for the last 3 years.

          • Sorensenator

            It’s too bad, Mike Richards is only 29. It could be a case of being overshadowed in L.A. by guys like Kopitar and Carter; he is still a useful player.

          • Zarny

            Mike Richards is certainly still a useful player and exemplifies intangibles like leadership. If he was ever bought out every team other than LA would be calling.

            I’m sure LA’s defensive style and playing behind Kopitar & Carter are factors but his offense really dropped off the last 3 years (44, 54 (pro-rated) and 41 pts) while he was only 27-29 y/o. At times he was playing 4th line minutes.

            He’s young enough to possibly bounce back in a different situation and it’s a no-brainer to go after him as a UFA following a buy-out; but trading for that contract has risk if he doesn’t bounce back, starts to break down physically and continues to decline.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Are you out of your freaking mind!! In what universe is Lecavalier an upgrade over thornton? And a thornton buyout? Jesus man put down the bottle. Why would SJ buyout thornton when they could very easily trade him for something instead of giving him millions to just walk away. And Lecavalier is under contract for 3 more years. Get a grip Gold Gloves

          • Sorensenator

            Joe is not done, he had 76 points last year man. Top 10 among centres.

            San Jose wants to retool their team a bit and they know they can get lots for Thornton.

          • Zarny

            No, SJ isn’t hitting the reset button.

            After another playoff flop they are entertaining offers for Thornton and Marleau but you aren’t getting a bargain.

            Other than the lockout seasons, the last time Thornton put up less than 70 pts was 2001-02 when he had 68 pts in 66 games. He was the 7th leading C this year with 76 pts which was 6 pts more than Anze Kopitar.

            He is 35 but he is far from done. There would be ways to mitigate the cost of a trade and perhaps avoid giving up Eberle or Yakupov (3rd overall this year, 2015 1st round pick, Marincin and Klefbom etc) except for one thing…

            There is no reality where Joe Thornton accepts a trade to Edmonton, AB, Canada.

          • paul wodehouse

            …see that’s my point… IF MacT wants Joe Thornton he’s only willing to give UP “Gagner Gordon and a package of maybes”…it’s all Joe’s worth now…don’t get me wrong I loved Joe Thornton…a dozen years ago…watch he goes to another cup contender for a second or third and a 30 year old centre…

          • Craig1981

            SJ is still a cup contender. If the offer isnt great, and improves SJ, they simply wont move him. They surely arent desperate and they dont have to trade him for peanuts. He doesnt want out, he is signed for 3 more years, and he is still very productive.

            So why would they trade him for a crap package that makes SJ worse: now and in the long term?

            Id bet he stays put.

          • ubermiguel

            I wonder how many years of crushing disappointment in the playoffs it will take before SJ realizes Thornton is part of the problem. Is this the year? He reminds me of Nash, great player, but he doesn’t have that next gear that the playoffs require. Right now he’s a veteran centre that will instantly improve the Oilers and will help shelter our young small centres so I’d invite him with open arms, but he’ll never be a guy to carry you to a Cup.

          • paul wodehouse

            …y’know I thought THIS was going to be San Jose’s year…with Niemi being a former Cup winner knowing what it took to win it all and Joe being at the end-ish of his career really wanting / needing a Cup for his legacy, Marleau looking great at the Olympics …thought they would NOT flop AGAIN…still a contender? ok but IMO not with this present cast of almosters…

          • Craig1981

            Exactly. Glad you are here Zarny….someone that understands how hard it is to get an elite player.

            Thornton makes ZERO sense for the Oilers since as a 35 year old, his time as an elite player is in its twilight (never seen the movie, btw) but he still puts up almost a point a game which means he would be in high demand for the contending teams. High cost for only a few years is not what the Oilers need right now.

            Add Thornton with Webber as players the Oiler fans would love, but will never get.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        There’s now way I’d give up players to bring Joe in Paul. Was hoping he’d find his way somehow onto the buyout list, guess that’s not going to happen by the sounds of the mob here. Nobody appreciates sarcasm anymore Paul 😉

  • 15w40

    Does the Penguins entertain a Gagner for Sutter trade. Gagner could offer some offence on the wing with Malkin & Sutter could slot in at #3 centre for the oilers. Sutter is an RFA & there may be more pieces involved but it may make sense.

    Gagner has more offensive upside & Sutter has more of a defensive concience.

      • Seems to be massively on the decline anyways. He does bring the intangibles though.. Leadership, toughness, et al
        … But you would like them to be able to score some. Pouliot will get paid too, but I think he’d be better money spent. Wouldn’t be upset if Ott landed here though in spite of his offensive drought.

        If Umberger gets bought out that might be another worthy name, even though he’s seen better days too. I realize this is a sin to suggest, but if he came cheap, he could be a big leader here.

  • Craig1981

    First, I wish to say that, although I am liking very much for the Oil to draft Draisaitl at #3 if Ekblad is gone, there is that one slight chance that he and Ekblad could both be drafted to Florida and Buffalo just prior. Then it becomes of Bennett versus Reinhart if the Oilers still want a centre by then…. and I would have to go with Reinhart over Bennett (Pedigree/WHL star player).

    Now if I was then armchairing the GM position of the Oilers,…. (even with getting Draisaitl at #3), I would look at getting Grabovski as a UFA for 2nd line centre duty or make a deal/trade for say a young guy like Couturier.

    Next I would like Fiddler or Ott for 3rd line centre duty with Moss or Moulson, or even Kulemin for winger on the third line with upping to 2nd line at times.

  • Craig1981

    I really believe that the biggest improvement to this team has been made with the addition of Ramsey and the removal of Bucky and potentially Smith
    The coaching changes along with the bodies we already have is going to make a huge difference.

  • paul wodehouse

    If we draft Drasaitl, I would love to see him compete for the third line position and bring in someone else for the #2 spot. Overall everything you mentioned seems plausible. Should be an interesting first day of free agency.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Perhaps Florida and Buffalo take notice how hockey fans up here have bought into this whole hope based angle the Oilers are milking. Maybe, after witnessing what Edmonton hockey fans have seen, they choose to go for the potential elite offensive forwards available in those attention getting 1st and 2nd spots. Offense, or in the Oilers case, perceived offense does tend to sell tickets, or has sure done so here.

    60/40 chance the Oilers still get Ekblad.

    • Sorensenator

      The amount you have to give up to acquire current elite level players isn’t worth it. One of the last teams to do it was Montreal bringing in Gomez, Gionta, and Cammalleri and they only have one player left. Even if it doesn’t cost you any prospects and draft picks, you are still eating up a tonne of cap space for players who won’t be with your organization for very long. Not the way to go.

      All the good teams today have built from within and developed their own players. I dare not need to make a list, you know who they are.

    • Zarny

      I think that’s wishful thinking.

      Florida wants to win now so their first choice is to trade the pick. Anyone trading up to 1st overall is taking Ekblad.

      Ekblad may not be the consensus BPA but he’s the consensus most NHL ready prospect. So given that Florida wants to win now, if they can’t trade the pick it’s highly likely they take Ekblad.

      It’s not impossible Ekblad falls to 3 but it’s highly unlikely this year.

      Which is fine. Even money Ekblad becomes Zack Bogosian opposed to Alex Pietrangelo.

  • Zarny


    I live in Calgary and have watched Stajan play quite a few times.

    He’s brutal. His skating is worse than Gagner’s as is his offensive upside. Stajan’s 200 ft game is marginally better than Gagner’s but both are terrible at FO. Stajan is also 30 so enjoy the decline in his offense now that he’s past his prime. A decline from 40 pts. Gagner on the other hand is 24 and has played 1 yr in his prime.

    • Craig1981

      Stajan may be older, but he’s much more defensively responsible and is a guy that works his butt off. Gagner on the other hand is more suited to 3rd line duty than what he has been getting his entire career to this point and will likely suffer numbers wise when someone smart puts him in that position. Like back in the day when Val Bure was the flames top scorer, you could have said he was a 70pt player back then but on other teams….not so much.

  • Doctor Smashy

    I’m a little concerned that you still have Joensuu on the fourth line. He is not terrible good at hockey which I think is a problem…since that is supposed to be what the Oilers play. I would rather have Pitlick in that spot, glass skeleton and poorly developed connective tissue and all. An even better idea might be almost any other NHL player…

    • Czar

      Is there enough bubble wrap to keep either player on the ice for a full year?

      I really hope Pitlick can stay healthy, there is a player there but man he’s had $hit luck.

  • Lexi

    As bad as Richards looked in the playoffs, he still had an pretty good season and I think he might be a good fit for Yak. I am pretty sure two years of him would be better than two years of Gagner.

    He has played for Ramsay in the past. I don’t think he is a second line C for any true contender, but wouldn’t he be good enough to get the Oilers to around 21st and going in the right direction? What other teams would he be a fit for as a number 2 C? Nashville, Dallas maybe New Jersey. I think the same teams that will be bidding on Legwand and Grabowski.

    I think Richards/Bailey/Winnik would at least be an adequate and doable offseason.

  • oilerbuff

    I really like Brian Boyle to slot in as 3rd line centre. we could also do worse than.Steve Ott, but I like Boyle better and he just came off a Stanley Cup final team

  • Spoils

    I wonder if Hall Nuge and Ebs will take a step forward.

    Comparing the use of Nash with the use of Carter in the finals this year, showed off the value of understanding how a player creates points.

    Nash and Carter create points on their own no matter who they are paired with. By moving Carter to the 70s line, Sutter was able to get him time away from the top D pairing.

    I think this is how Hall should be used, but that means we are looking for some different players.

  • Huh, lots of buyouts going on. It’s really starting to saturate the UFA market. I know Mac T said the market this year was full of second tier guys who will end up making first tier money cause there’s no one else, but with the buy outs happening it looks like some bigger names are landing on the open market. Not to mention guys like Thorton, Kessler, and Spezza all on the trade block. This is nothing but good for a team like Edmonton searching for help up the middle.

    Also, anyone be keen to go the offer sheet route? I know it’s like an unspoken rule but for a team like Edmonton no longer needing high end draft picks, but real NHL talent and no easy answers, it might be the way to go. Perhaps an offer sheet to O’Reily?

    • pkam

      The 4 western Canadian teams top Spezza NT list so forget about him.

      Kesler and Thorton will cost us a fortune to acquire and I don’t think any of them will consider Edmonton.

      Avs has already filed arbitration for O’Reily which means teams cannot sign him to an offer sheet anymore.

      What else?

      • I didn’t think Spezza, Thorton, or Kessler would come here. But that would take other teams who go after those guys out of the running on other guys like Brad Richards, David Legwand, Paul Stasny.

        As for O’reily, from TSN:

        “O’Reilly is slated to become a restricted free agent on July 1. The other 29 NHL clubs are still eligible to sign O’Reilly to an offer-sheet between July 1 and July 5 despite the filing, a change that was made in the collective bargaining agreement signed in January, 2013.”

        So there ya go.

        • pkam

          Sorry I didn’t know the rule changed in the new CBA.

          O’Reilly is making 6.5M now thanks to the stupid offer sheet by Calgary? He is still a RFA and if I remember correctly, Avs have to add at least 5% to re-sign him. So how much are we going to offer sheet him? 7M (can we offer sheet for less)? And give up 2 1st rounders + a 2nd and a 3rd? For O’Reilly?

          • I’m pretty sure you can offer sheet him to whatever you want. I don’t think previous years salaries affect new offer sheets. I could be wrong about that but that makes sense. The offer sheet is always higher than the players last year salary because that’s what ti takes to force the club to let the player go. If the avs currently want to pay him 5, why not offer sheet him to six and see if he’d like to come play on a team where he won’t be buried behind Duchene, Mckinnon, and likely Stasny if he goes back.

            The only real issue is that Colorado has the cap room to match the offer, so in that case give the offer some serious term since I doubt Colorado can keep O’Reily, Stasny, Duchene, and Mckinnon on long term. That would wreck their club. Sure he’s pricey but Edmonton finally gets that second line centre they’ve been pinning for. He’s in the 200 lb range, can win face-offs, had good numbers last year, and is known for two way play.

            Paying your top two centres 6 mill and 6.5 mill even in the current NHL is a discount.

          • pkam

            I think under the CBA, a team cannot pay a RFA less than the existing salary which means he will get at least 6.5M if Avs want to re-sign him. So why would he want to sign an offer sheet which pays him less? Will you?

            That is probably why the Avs bring him to arbitration hoping to pay him less.

  • paul wodehouse

    “…After another playoff flop…” where in your world does Joe Thornton end up if he can’t bring SanJose to the promise land…take all his regular season points and put them up in lights (u already did) but who wants a guy who’s 35 in 2weeks making that much money and not delivering (3pts in 7 games this year)…and remember…I never wanted him to accept a trade to Edmonton AB Canada

    • Zarny

      It’s a short list indeed and very similar to the teams Spezza and Kesler might end up on.

      Ana, Chi, StL are probably the top 3 options. Essentially any team that could win now. Lots of teams would be interested but Thornton likes the Cali lifestyle and unless there is a fan revolt I don’t see him getting traded.

      • paul wodehouse

        …mentioning the other two is interesting but I agree that jumbo doesn’t go anywhere…age and ask too high…Spezza I say gets buried in a Pheonix and Kesler finds his talents in sunny Miami far far away from the wet coast…all three have no “here’s the guy who takes us to the next level pedigree” mostly because none of them have been to that next level…last one I remember or care about was Ray Bourque…truly a guy who needed to win a Cup.

    • Craig1981

      San Jose went to SEVEN games against the team that won the cup. Not a flop and nothing to be ashamed about. If you get that close you don’t need to tear down your team. Iginla, Roenick, Lindros, Kariya, Bure, Alfredson, Neely, never won a cup and if I was a GM is would take them all

      …..Funny thing off the top of my head 4 of the 6 went to game 7 of a stanley cup, do you believe if they would of won that single game they would of been worth way more to other teams? That they would of gone from someone that “can’t bring ‘their team’ to the promise land ” to a leader?

        • paul wodehouse

          …ask any ONE of the list (6 of 7 Iggy’s still in it) you mention what their biggest regret was/is in their respective careers…to a man they would ALL say NOT winning a Cup…

          …it’s ALL that matters !!!

          p.s. some of the regret Neely might have wore off a bit three years ago the day before yesterday when his Bruins won the Cup while he was the Prez…

          • Craig1981

            That isn’t “ALL” that matters. Would you take Craig Municaeer career over Pavel Bure’s because he won 2 cups to Bure’s zero?

            I never said players don’t want to win a cup, I said a player doesn’t drastically loose value if he hasn’t won one by 35.

          • paul wodehouse

            Craig1981…k so add players to your list in that Muni got his name on the Cup the same way Kyle Clifford got his name on the Cup this year…Bure still has zero Cups…actually you did ASK if their worth would go way up if they had won “that single game” and I said yes…(((“…do you believe if they would of won that single game they would of been worth way more to other teams?…”)))
            …ultimate success in NHL is at times based on whether you/your team won a Stanley Cup and even sometimes players who are deserving of induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame don’t make it because they never won a Stanley Cup…

            …I stand by what I said
            …winning a Cup? it’s ALL that matters

      • I’d say blowing a 3 game series lead for only the fourth time in NHL playoff history is a huge flop. Especially since the sharks have a reputation of choking. That is the biggest choke since the Leafs gave up a 3 goal lead against Boston.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      There’s not enough cap space left to deal with this issue sufficiently.

      Edmonton may be far better off rolling just 3 lines and 3 sets of D as units. Eliminate the 4th line. Their 5-8 minutes a night could easily be absorbed by other lines. Puck tradition. There’s nothing traditional about the issues involved in this market.

      • Well that’s not true. If they draft Draisaitl and start him on the third line with Yak, then all they need to do is get a 3rd line LW and a second line RW (depending on where Perron actually plays). I would say there is plenty of cap room for that.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      though he failed with Joensuu, Gazdick, Larsen, Fraser, Belov, Horak, Grebeshkov, Omark, Brown, and LaBarbera as bottom end players, to his credit he succeeded with Hendricks, Gordon and to a certain extent, Ference, as well as apparently solving the goaltending problem. i hope he doesn’t spend too much time this year on the bottom end players and concentrates a bit more on trying to get a top end d-man and an upgrade on Gagner at center.

  • oilbaron

    Im all for Overpaying for a 2nd line center. If this is what we need to do to start winning some games im all for it. Overpay to get Paul Stastny here to play on the 2nd line between Yakupov and perron.—- If we draft The german, SEND HIM BACK TO JUNIOR! whoever we draft should GO BACK TO JUNIOR. there has never been a time where sending a player back caused the player any harm. Itll help with his confidence with regards to his skills and ability after the 2014-15 season.—- Oh, and make a trade for MIKE GREEN for crying out loud! he would play in our top 2 on the right side, hes better then what we have now, is mobile and can advance the puck.Hes got one more year until UFA status and his numbers have been declining on a declining capitals team. He could use a change of scenery and would be a good leader on our team. The cost would surely be high maybe Gagner + a high end Defensive prsopect like Marincin or Gernat or Simpson(we wont have room for all these players to play anyhow) and a pick (maybe next years 2nd rounder) 🙂

    • "Frank the dog"

      Draft the German, keep the Russian, bring the other Russian across, see how Gagner does with a coach that shows him how to play both ways and how to win face-offs, give the young ones a year to fix themselves, and next year let them compete for the 2C job in Training Camp.

      If Gags isn’t the best 2C of the bunch, he’ll still be better than he is now, and worth a lot more on the trade block with no NMC to worry about.

  • Willis, or anyone else for that matter, I know you don’t like to deal in what if’s, but all sign are pointing to Draisaitl. Though I am not a fan of rushing these kids to the NHL, if he were to play pivot on a newly formed soft competition 3rd line, then couldn’t you effectively change the make up of our entire forward core by signing one second line R or L wing (depending on where you put Perron, I always thought he’s a natural left but I might be wrong). And also signing one veteran 3rd line L wing with size?

    Hall Nuge Ebs

    Perron Gagner ?

    ? Draisaitl Yak

    Hendricks Gordon (Lander/Pitlick/Pinnizotto/Gazdic/Arco)

    If the problems of the Oilers are too small, to little value for tradable assets, too few veterans, Yak is too soft defensively, and so is Gagner who had a tough year due to injury, then this might just be the quickest easiest solution. I think for the third line you could get a guy like Heatly or Penner to steady that duo, which would also be a pretty big third line with some decent skill, though not too mean. And depending on who you put for RW on the second line, there’s a lot of options to add two way guys with jam, or some skill guys, or really whoever to make sure our two worst defensive players (Gagner and Yak) don’t play on a line together. Heck you could even go get a big fourth line defensive specialist and just run out the Gordon line in the tough minutes shut down role.

    With all of the team’s problems, I think this is the most realistic scenario to up the value of Yak and Gagner, and make the team better without losing any of our core players. The only issue this doesn’t solve is our defence. Maybe a pick and a prospect could get a top two guy. I hear Markov wants 6 mill a year for 3 years. If he just wants the money, that might be the exact guy we need to mentor our young D talent till they can take over.

  • paul wodehouse

    Make Markov,and Stastny offers they can’t turn down,spend Katz’s money like a drunken sailor,it’s the least he could do for the loyal fans that still fill his building.

    • Zarny

      In a cap world you can’t do that.

      Look at the problems Pit has with Crosby and Malkin on the books for $8.7M and $9.5M respectively.

      Stastny is talking about 6 yr @ $6.6M from Colorado. How close to Sidney Crosby’s salary do you want to get for the services of Paul Stastny?

    • pkam

      I don’t think Katz ever tried to save money, but you can’t spend over the salary cap. I think the team spent up to within 2M from the cap limit at season start this year.

      And sometime money can’t get you everything. We all know David Clarkson signed with the Leafs for less. I also heard that Matt Hendricks turn down more money from Oilers to sign with Predators.