Is David Moss worth a phone call?

On Thursday, Fox Sports’ Andy Strickland reported that free agent winger David Moss had a tentative deal in place with a team in Switzerland. The caveat was that he had an out clause if he could land an NHL contract in the next week.

It’s a unique situation, and I can’t help wondering if it’s one that should interest the Oilers.

Moss

There are two big items working against a deal between Moss and the Oilers: his age (he’s 32) and Edmonton’s sudden depth on the wings. We’ll take the second in a moment, but let’s see if his positives offset the first before we get to fit.

Moss is a right-shooting winger who can play on either side of the ice. He’s been a pretty good possession player basically forever. He’s big (6’4”, 210 pounds). He had a lot of success on a defensive minutes line with Boyd Gordon in 2012-13; neither player has been as good separated from the other. He has some legitimate scoring ability, too; he’s been a 30-point guy when healthy for most of his career, though he dipped to 22 points last season. He’s also an exceptional penalty-killer.

In short, he’s been a pretty good third-line guy for a while and might be able to handle the job again; worst case scenario he might be a very nice fit (again) on the right wing of a defensive zone specialty line centered by Gordon.

Presumably, he’s not looking at a massive deal in Switzerland, so one imagines the dollars would be reasonable on a one-year deal.

The Depth Chart

Joensuu, Jesse

Most of the Oilers’ depth chart (aside from the black hole at centre) is settled, but fourth-line right wing is one of the most interesting positions on the team because the options are many and varied and it isn’t at all clear who will win the slot. Leaving aside badly out-of-position candidates (Matt Hendricks, Anton Lander, Luke Gazdic) the internal possibilities include:

  • Mark Arcobello: I suspect the Oilers add a centre and give Draisaitl a nine-game audition, which would push Arcobello into this slot or one of the spare forward spots. He’s a smart player with faceoff ability so despite a lack of size this isn’t necessarily a terrible slot for him.
  • Jesse Joensuu: 6’4”, 210 pounds and nobody’s going to care if he can’t score if he’s playing on the fourth line. He might end up in the minors but he showed well in camp a year ago and shouldn’t be written off. If Arcobello ends up at centre (or the Oilers want size here) he’s got a legitimate shot.
  • Tyler Pitlick: He was a significant draft pick (No. 31 overall in 2010), he’s no longer shielded from waivers and he looked okay in 10 games last year. He’s a contender for this spot.
  • Steve Pinizzotto: I wonder. He’s a nasty player and a two-way guy in the AHL (including on the penalty kill) with a mix of offensive and defensive ability. Age (he turned 30 in April) and career arc (18 career NHL games) say ‘no’ but this is a player-type the Oilers love and this is probably his last best chance to crack an NHL roster. If it comes down to a choice between the endlessly injured/forever frustrating duo of Joensuu/Pitlick or a driven Pinizzotto than the AHL journeyman just might win the job.

In the Oilers shoes, I wouldn’t be worried about losing any of those right wings (though I also wouldn’t be terribly worried giving one of them an NHL shot in a fourth-line role). The one concern would be if the Oilers add a centre and keep Draisaitl all year; that would likely force the team to expose either Arcobello or Lander to the waiver wire, which while not catastrophic would be suboptimal (though LTIR is always available to help resolve those problems).

By my count, the Oilers 50-man list will be at 46 names once Draisaitl is signed (assuming Nurse is returned to junior and all the RFAs other than Horak and Larsen are retained). Even assuming they add a centre without moving a name out, signing Moss would put them at a tight but not unbearable 48 names entering training camp.

As I See It

On a cheap one-year deal, Moss wouldn’t be a bad pickup. The Oilers could feel confident moving forward with a fourth line devoted to defensive zone starts. The guys they’d be risking on the waiver wire (one or both of Pitlick/Lander) aren’t players I’d lose sleep over, though in a perfect world they remain in the organization.

It’s probably worth a phone call, even at age 32. If he’s willing to take a one-way/$800,000 contract to stay in the NHL, great; it’s been a long time since the Oilers had too many NHL players. If not, there’s a fun battle for that last fourth line job in training camp.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • pkam

    @Will

    Man…. I never said nor will say that I’d give Khaira that spot… he has to earn it.

    If Gm, myy priority right now is a 2nd line centre foir 2 yrs and a top defneceman while…while, not going over the cap.

    Khaira has a lot of potential and in a perfect world I would start him in OKC bigtime. But getting asnother 32 to 37 yr old type vet is not good either.

    Is Joensuu good enough without always getti ng injured? Is Lander doing enough yet and will he? Is Gazdic going to play more than 2/3 games this yr? What about how Acton and Ryan Hamilton played or can.

    Heck Pitlick is the guy I would want now ahead of Khaira but he gets injured too much this early in his career too.

    My concern with Moss for example, is that he would want a 3 yr deal at more than $1.5 to $2 mil per yr which hits the cap against getting a better 2nd line centre or top defeceman.

    We need two more guys but higher up than Moss IMO. Plus, Schultz and Yak both need to get signed and unless theyre being traded those two wiull cost together up to $6 to 8 mil per yr next yr.

    • pkam

      That’s fair. I don’t think Yak needs to get signed till next year. Since Moss’s Swiss contract is for no money, I doubt he would need that much term to stay in the NHL on a line with his former team mate who he had good success with.

      Gazic is going to dress when the match up calls for it, but I doubt he plays on that shut down line. I would not be opposed to see if Pitlick or Pinnizzoto proves they can be on that line.

      But with the lack of depth at centre, why not have two actual NHL lines that can compete. Would Gordon be better off playing with a guy he knows he’s had success with, or trying to cover for the mistakes of a kid who doesn’t have an NHL game to his name? 32 is not over the hill. And if he comes cheap enough, it’s almost a question of what do you have to lose?

      I think the best way to handle Khaira is to have him down for a full season in OKC and make him and Yakimov essentially battle it out for the top line, and try and make those guys compete for who might be promoted on both a first call up basis during injuries, and maybe who could be our 3rd line centre come next year.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    Hendricks – Gordon – Moss

    looks a lot better than…

    Gazdic – Acton – Eager

    and LOADS better than…

    Brown – Smithson – Petrell

    Do it.

      • Zarny

        Until there are cap troubles it doesn’t matter how much the 4th line is paid. Better to overpay some NHL players so they will play here and hopefully have the Oilers win some games. Maybe then players will want to come here not just for the money.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    @pkam and @Will

    Totally agree with ya two on that a full season for Khaira on the OKC is best and if the kid(s) are not ready then do not give them a job they are not entitled to or that will hurt the team altogether.

    I just like this kid already and have seen some/heard some of how much hard work he has done so far to get from the BC league to pushing for an NHL spot and thats very impressive.

    Its maybe that I am one who does not want to see another Belanger or Ben Eager type thing where we are stuck with a guy, for 3 yrs at $1 mil plus per year, who is not where he should be as a player any longer. Eager could not get traded by the Oilers and he was a wasted $3 mil altogether. Also, save a type buyout for a big type wasted contract is what I believe.

    Moss was a good soldier but it may be wrong to go get him at this stage in his career.

    If this was about putting one of the kids (Pitlick or Khaira) on the 1st or 2nd lines type thing this would be not a sane argument for anyone…but…these kids are sieze wise and skate wise … skilled enough to try it out and push up higher. Lander, IMO, is not gonna be better than these two kids in the end.

    BTW, I love Arco but he is not the best size for a 4th line. He is not long term enough capable of 2nd line centre either. Its tough but once Ewanyk improves, as do Khaira, Yakimov, and Draisaitl gets ready,…to go with RNH, this Oilers team will be very good centre-wise and winger size-wise.

  • Zarny

    @Zarny

    I agree with ya on the things ya stated when it comes to let the kids learn and develop, but I am one who sees the Oilers needing to trade for a good strong 2nd linWhattaMikee centre right now and the cap-space is the issue when Schultz hasnt yet signed and Yakupov is ready after this coming season for a new contract… (if there are no players trade off the Oilers).

    Of one such example, I remember a kid named Tikhanen coming from Finland into the Oilers during the playoffs with no such farm team time at all and he became an awesome player for the ages with the Oilers. Helped them win the cup that first ever playoff year too I believe…lol.

    Pitlick should be ahead of Khaira in my opinion but his injuries bug me for a young big strong enough kid. I just do not want to see a too much aged or expensive type wasting contract anymore with the Oilers.

    Yep Zarny… I gotta shake my head too when there are those who state that Ebs, Schultz, Yak, petry or other young Oilers cant get better or stronger… Yep those guys are reall smart eh…LMAO

  • Zarny

    @WhattaMike

    I agree with trading for a 2C. Schultz’ signing won’t impact this and neither will Yakupov since he’s going to end up on a bridge deal barring a breakout for the ages this year with 65+ pts.

    I also remember a kid named Tikkanen. The Oilers drafted him in 1983 and he wasn’t a full-time NHLer until 4 years later in ’86-’87. I think that trajectory would be best case scenario for Khaira.

    Tambo’s reign of error was marked by signing vets who weren’t NHLers anymore. If the Oilers think David Moss has reached that level then take a pass. IMO he still looks like a capable NHL vet and those are very useful players to have.

    It’s an exciting time of the year with some shiny new bobbles on the team but ask yourself what this roster looks like if Hall and Nuge get hurt for half the season.

  • WhattaMike

    @Zarny

    Good question…If either Hall or RNH get hurt bad this year…(Hopefully NOT).

    I think Pouliot and Purcell, with Perron are the best winger additions for the Oilers and any of those guys can slot up higher at anytime.

    No matter what, the big time weak spot is the open 2nd line centre spot right now even if that RNH is healthy. This is why MacT has to find a two year type guy right away.

    Problem is that while I can accept a kid like Pitlick or Khaira joining the 4th line wing spot this year without too much farm time, I cannot see Arco doing it all year and staying healthy. He will get pounded by the big bully teams all season no matter how hard a worker and good skill guy he is. I wish I can be wrong but I see arco not lasting all year if he does play. Lander to me is not impressive enough at the NHL stage no matter how good he does at the AHL stage. Wish I could be wrong of him as well but I see better skating and bigger centres now going to start playing in OKC this year with Khaira (likely), and Yakimov, Ewanyk… etc.

    Draisaitl will have to show up and be like a Monahan or MacKinnon type kid this training camp/9 game trial before I could have a sigh of relief to play him in the NHl this year in the #2 spot. I am in his corner though.

    • Zarny

      So he needs to either show up and post crooked numbers that end with a lack lustre point total, or he needs to be the clear Calder winner before you can have a sigh of relief? Well with a range like that I think you can breath easy.

      Arco has played against larger competition his entire life. He’ll be fine. Please mention where you are going to find this mythical 2 year second line centre now that pretty much everyone but Riberio is gone from free agency?

      Mac T is in a tough spot. Say all break right and he lands a big name guy like O’Reily. Now he’s paying his second line C more money on more term than his 1st line. At what point in that contract would Draisaitl ever have a chance to take over. People complained about Horcoff making 5.5 on the 3rd line, imagine O’reily making 6.5 to 7 mill playing behind Nuge and Draisaitl on the third line?

      On top of that Mac T has two big skilled guys developing on the farm. It could happen that either Yakimov or Jujhar have a great AHL season, maybe earn a call up, and just like Marincin, demonstrate they can excel in a third line centre role. So if you’re Mac T looking at the roster, seeing that guys like Nurse, Klefbom, Draisaitl, and one of Yakimov or Jujhar are still one year away from making a big impact on the club, but probably not too far away, do you commit to a big pricey second line C now, or do you develop internal talent and promote the last 3 pieces of the team puzzle for cheap, but not until next year?

      Point being, I don’t think the solution is as easy as go offer sheet O’Reily.

    • Zarny

      Boom debate over! This has been happening a lot this week, ON posts a “should we get him?” piece, only to have that player sign somewhere else that day.

      Someone, somewhere said it best, if Mac T makes a move, it’ll be the move no one was talking about. Perron, Purcell, Pouliot. Wait a second… Oh my God. Mac T is targeting forwards with last names that start with P. Joe Pavelski, welcome to the team.

  • Zarny

    Also Mentioned on SBNation’s “Five for Howling” blog — one year deal.

    Many pardons — PHO is now ARIZONA. I sob.

    I’d imagine that it would have taken more $$$ @ any one year deal for Moss to go elsewhere than ARI.