THE LEFTOVERS

Leftovers

There’s been much written and discussed in recent weeks about GM Craig MacTavish’s failure to address his lack of depth at centre with the Edmonton Oilers. That’s unlikely to change until he adds a proven pivot because it’s an obvious deficiency.

As I’ve written recently, while a news release declaring the Oilers have signed so-and-so to a bargain contract would do much to ease the angst of the fan base, my sense is it’s unlikely – and unnecessary – MacTavish get something done this minute, if not sooner.

Like you, I don’t think it’s a good idea the Oilers go into the season force-feeding Leon Draisaitl into the second-line centre spot behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and leaving the rest to Boyd Gordon, Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander. Puts too much pressure on RNH and the kid. This, we know.

Despite consternation among the faithful with the UFA market almost picked clean after Nashville’s cheap-o signings of Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy – I’m reminded of the old poster featuring the vultures, “Patience my ass, I’m going to kill something” — MacTavish has options. There’s the UFA bargain bin, the possibility of making a trade and the waiver wire.

UFA BARGAIN BIN 

BargainBin

There’s not much left in the UFA bargain bin, but there are names out there – none of which haven’t been mentioned before. I mentioned Daniel Winnik weeks ago as a low-buck possibility. Bruce McCurdy brought him up today in a bargain bin piece over at The Cult of Hockey. 

Winnik, 29, is more a winger than a centre, but he takes face-offs (his career percentage is a decidedly mediocre 41 percent). He’s got good size. He provides very little offence. He can play some tough minutes. He can PK.

If you’re looking for a true second or third-line centre, Winnik isn’t your guy. Obviously, he’s well down everybody’s wish-list because he’s still sitting there. If you’re looking for insurance, as in a veteran who can move around and spell off Draisaitl and Arcobello when need be, he remains a cheap option worth a look, at least in my books.

DANCE PARTNERS

DancePartner

If I’m MacTavish, it only makes sense to seek out trade partners between now and the start of training camp who either have a glut of centres or who are up against the $69 million salary cap.

Teams over, at or near the cap as of now include Philadelphia, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Boston. The Flyers are over $72 M in terms of cap payroll and have used both their compliance buy-outs. While some fixate on Sean Couturier, it won’t happen. He’s a bargain at $1.175 million for the next two years. Brayden Schenn as a 2-3 guy, anybody?

In terms of teams with pivots to spare, Nashville comes to mind after their signings of Ribeiro and Roy. Jason Gregor brought this up again yesterday and specifically mentioned Colin Wilson as a possible target.

Wilson is no home run, to be sure, but has some nice attributes – he’s only 24, has good size and is a 30-35-point guy — and might be pried away from a Music City group that includes Ribeiro, Roy, Paul Gaustad, Matt Cullen and Mike Fisher, who is coming off knee surgery, to take a utility role.

THE WAIVER WIRE

Castaway

Waiting for castaways via the waiver wire isn’t the preferred way to fill the hole the Oilers have in the middle, but there’s the occasional find to be had once teams, especially those at the cap, start trying to thin their payrolls.

If the Oilers, who’d have third pick on the waiver wire, can find a useful player, like they did when they plucked Ryan Jones from Nashville, to fill the void, that might work. Again, that’s not a big-bang answer or a sexy acquisition, but it’s an option MacTavish can and will consider.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • Serious Gord

    Hey Robin,

    Good blog.

    I keep reading articles on a bunch of utility centers to fill the gap until Dr.Drai is ready to take it on and I’m struggling to see how any of them even come close to solving one of the most integral parts on any team. A top 6 center! That along with an actual top pairing Dman but I won’t even go there.

    The way I see it:

    The organization stands pat and continues to force players into roles they aren’t ready for and it either stunts their development or kills their confidence. (Ie: gagner, Petry, cogliano, Schultz, etc etc). Arcobello isn’t a 2 line center in the NHL and either is Lander or Gordon!
    If the organization wants another top 5 draft pick and will be patient with prospects then play Arco or a mediocre option but it better not be at the expense of putting Draisital in the number 2 slot if he isn’t ready.

    This is a huge point for the Oilers organization to either turn a corner on the 80 year rebuild and compete or make the same mistakes they have been making prior to MacT coming on board.

    IMO the only way to resolve this IF you don’t want to stand pat is make a “bold” move and make a multiplayer deal. A deal that can address a top pairing Dman and a #2 center. Philly would be my ideal partner as well.
    Where is our strength? In the wings and Dman prospects!!
    We are going to have to take a deep breath and lose a big piece on the wings and prospects to make a deal.
    If I’m spit balling ideas the players I want on that team : Coburn, B Schenn(or Sean C) and Simmonds.
    My idea of an initial offer would be Yakupov, Petry, Pitlick and our first rounder in 2015.
    Now I’m not in a position to value players and maybe it’s Eberle instead of yak and the first rounder comes off but if I can those three it won’t matter.
    I’m not going to make the deal but if the Oilers can strengthen those two positions and lose some depth in the wing and young cheap D Philly might bite.

    I just can’t see how this team competes without “rearranging” the organizational depth. I don’t remember hearing the team build from the wings out!

    Anyways my rant is over but to me this is the ONLY way the team gets what they need to become threat in the West!

  • bdaZZler

    Hey Robin,

    Good blog.

    I keep reading articles on a bunch of utility centers to fill the gap until Dr.Drai is ready to take it on and I’m struggling to see how any of them even come close to solving one of the most integral parts on any team. A top 6 center! That along with an actual top pairing Dman but I won’t even go there.

    The way I see it:

    The organization stands pat and continues to force players into roles they aren’t ready for and it either stunts their development or kills their confidence. (Ie: gagner, Petry, cogliano, Schultz, etc etc). Arcobello isn’t a 2 line center in the NHL and either is Lander or Gordon!
    If the organization wants another top 5 draft pick and will be patient with prospects then play Arco or a mediocre option but it better not be at the expense of putting Draisital in the number 2 slot if he isn’t ready.

    This is a huge point for the Oilers organization to either turn a corner on the 80 year rebuild and compete or make the same mistakes they have been making prior to MacT coming on board.

    IMO the only way to resolve this IF you don’t want to stand pat is make a “bold” move and make a multiplayer deal. A deal that can address a top pairing Dman and a #2 center. Philly would be my ideal partner as well.
    Where is our strength? In the wings and Dman prospects!!
    We are going to have to take a deep breath and lose a big piece on the wings and prospects to make a deal.
    If I’m spit balling ideas the players I want on that team : Coburn, B Schenn(or Sean C) and Simmonds.
    My idea of an initial offer would be Yakupov, Petry, Pitlick and our first rounder in 2015.
    Now I’m not in a position to value players and maybe it’s Eberle instead of yak and the first rounder comes off but if I can those three it won’t matter.
    I’m not going to make the deal but if the Oilers can strengthen those two positions and lose some depth in the wing and young cheap D Philly might bite.

    I just can’t see how this team competes without “rearranging” the organizational depth. I don’t remember hearing the team build from the wings out!

    Anyways my rant is over but to me this is the ONLY way the team gets what they need to become threat in the West!

  • Good piece, Robin. That Colin Wilson scenario sounds pretty good right about now. He’s made some savvy additions, but if MacT wants any realistic chance to compete for a playoff spot this year, they need to address the 2C position before training camp.

  • Chongler

    Keep Draisatl up here ON the 3rd line ONLY. Leave Arco and Lander to battle out the 2nd line job. Invite Mueller to the camp to increase competition. Just please don’t even think of playing Drats with Hall or Ebs on the 1st line. Lokitionov would be great with Yak

  • BillHK

    41% on the dot? I didn’t realize that teams other than the Oilers would have centers take face offs with such a low percentage. Lower than cogs and samwise!

    Looking at schenn and couturier’s boxcars makes me wonder what might have been if the Oilers’ coaches actually developed all the high picks over this rebuild. High draft picks that actually don’t peak in their rookie seasons, how refreshing! Gagner, Cogs, Paajarvi, Let’s hope that there’s still time for Yak, RNH, Lander, Pitlick, and DaBomb

  • Chongler

    I PERSONALLY think that it’s time that MacT move the #1 pick next year in a package to fill the #2C spot. He has filled various gaps and overall has improved the roster from top to bottom except that #2C position). He has kept the core intact, beefed up the supporting cast and greatly improved the Goaltending. I personally think that it’s time he back all of these moves by trading that #1 pick for a #2C. (Berglund perhaps). That move would lock up a good summer of upgrades and push this team into a battle for a playoff spot, (thus devaluing the #1 pick)…

    IF a trade scenario exists where the money fits and a legit #2C is available, I think he should pull that trigger. THAT would be bold.

    • Chongler

      This is a really deep draft coming up, considered the deepest in a decade…like since 2003. And many of us believe the Oilers will miss the playoffs, which means a shot at Connor McDavid, a generation-level talent. Eichel is right up there too. You need to be 100% sure about what you’re doing before giving up that pick.

  • Chongler

    Sorry Chongler, but your suggestion that a #1 pick next year for Berglund as our 2C? That lost me right away. Imagine trading a top 10 pick for Berglund? He is a good 3C and only a fill occasionally for a 2C.

    • Chongler

      Yea, I dropped the name as an example, but you are right, a #1 pick should expect a better return. In my mind I was thinking Berglund + a pick coming back (I had initially mentioned trading the #1 pick in a package for a #2c). I guess it only works if I include that detail in the rest of my post. My Apologies!

  • clrsnldvc81

    “Like you, I don’t think it’s a good idea the Oilers go into the season force-feeding Leon Draisaitl into the second-line centre spot behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and leaving the rest to Boyd Gordon, Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander. Puts too much pressure on RNH and the kid. This, we know”

    This is who we are…. I fundamentally agree that in a Utopian world having RNH and Leon as 1 adn 2 centre would be a bad idea…. However this is our team and we need to ask ourselves why are we still stating this when there is no other solution now or in the future.

    Free agency, and the reality of the Oilers position, that top talent want to go to a winner. We are not going to get a solution elsewhere.

    We need to encourage RNH and Leon to become our 1 and 2 and give them the confidence and safety net to allow them to make mistakes. I rather have two number one picks making a ton of mistakes and encouraging them to have fun and go play hockey than protect them and use Acton….

    LET THEM PLAY

  • bdaZZler

    What are the thoughts of the oilers maybe pursuing Weiss out of detroit…Could this be a player the oilers could target to fill the void? Detroit may be content on unleashing his 4.95/year contract and he would slide in here for his remaining 4 yrs, a perfect stop gap..Although he has a limited NMC and is a little small,he does win face-offs and is a decent two-way player. Coming off two injury riddled seasons he may be worth inquiring about….

    Thoughts?