Tryout Season

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Training camp is nearing rapidly, which makes this an exciting time of the year for teams, signed players and fans. It’s more bittersweet for the unsigned NHL’ers out there; resolution is coming one way or the other but it very well might take the form of a tryout deal.

Are there any players out there who the Oilers should be interested in taking a look at?

Full Slate

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One of the problems is that some of the most interesting players are at positions where Edmonton is fully-stocked. A goalie like Tomas Vokoun might be better than either of the guys the Oilers have under contract, but there’s no sense looking at goaltenders when both Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth have contracts too rich to bury.

We can say the same thing about the skilled positions at wing; the Oilers have five highly-paid (and bona fide) NHL’ers and Nail Yakupov. That makes a tryout deal for a Dustin Penner or Ray Whitney (assuming either would be open to one) a pretty tough thing to offer.

There’s an argument that the same is true on defence, though that’s a little more arguable; despite the prospects coming up the team looks a little weak on the left side and Aulie’s contract can be buried if it comes to that. Plus, it’s hard to have too many defencemen around.

Candidates

  • F Ryan Carter. He’s expected at Devils camp, though he doesn’t have a contract. He’s versatile enough to play any forward position, reasonably big (6’1”, 205 lbs) and reasonably physical, plus he has experience killing penalties.
  • RW Radek Dvorak. Dvorak played on a defensive line alongside Manny Malhotra in Carolina last year, and the unit did pretty well; he’s also an experienced penalty killer. Oilers fans will remember him from the 2006 run; he’s played for six different NHL teams since then.
  • C Michal Handzus. No.
  • C Saku Koivu. He’ll turn 40 in November, and he looks a lot like a guy who has taken a serious step back. He’s still a good faceoff man, his leadership skills likely haven’t gotten any worse with age, and he can play both special teams. In his defence: he had tough zonestarts and tough quality of competition last year.
  • C Andrei Loktionov. I’ve talked about Loktionov in the past, so I won’t belabor the point; he’s an interesting guy and on a tryout deal (assuming he’s healthy enough to play in some exhibition games) there’s no reason not to take a look – as long as he’s willing.
  • D Derek Morris. Morris was the No. 4 defenceman in Phoenix last season; he’s an Edmonton native with a range of skills and would make things interesting.
  • D Sami Salo. Salo was the No. 4 defenceman for a playoff-bound Tampa Bay team last season; his minutes included both special teams and he had a pretty hefty quality of competition rating. Yes, he’s old enough to tell stories about playing against Eddie Shore.

Any Interest?

The pickings are pretty slim at centre and on defence, which is where the Oilers have needs. Koivu or Loktionov would be interesting tryout options, with either justifiable in my view. On defence, I wonder about Morris because despite the logjam Edmonton’s left side isn’t loaded with established, high-end NHL’ers; it’s kids and guys like Nikitin. The beauty of a tryout offer is that if he comes to camp and looks legitimate he can be signed, but if he’s competing with Keith Aulie and Oscar Klefbom he can be cut loose.

For the most part, though, it’s abundantly clear why these players don’t have contracts yet.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • vetinari

    The UFA market, overall, looked pretty slim this year. There didn’t seem to be a lot of depth to the available talent and there certainly wasn’t a lot of high-end guys to go after for quick fixes this year. Overall, MacT likely got the guys that he could, given the circumstances.

    As for the list, Loktionov, Morris and Dvorak are about the only guys that I think would be worth inviting on a PTO. With Dvorak, I have a soft spot for him from the cup run and in a depth role, I would prefer to see him on the third or fourth line than Joennsu.

  • This team has strong top 9 wingers but no depth beyond that. As soon as injury hits (as always) and you have guys like Hendricks, Joensuu and Gazdic playing up the lineup the losses will mount again.

    At centre I expect we’ll see Acton by November….bad news.

    Left side D is risky at best and really banks on Marincin being the goods. 44 games is not a sure bet. Ference is a 3rd pairing guy. Nikitin could bounce back but was a 3rd pairing or below guy on Columbus last season.

    Why not bring in all the insurance you can? Sign all of Koivu, Penner and Salo/Morris. Hedge the bets with the ~$6.7mm the team has in cap space the team has.

    • sportsjunkie007

      First off, the Oilers don’t have $6.7MM in cap space, they have $4,182,500. The reality is that they don’t even have that. Yakupov, Draisaitl and Marincin are all on entry level contracts. Those contracts are loaded with bonus clauses.

      Capgeek.com lists Yakupov at $925k each, but that’s just their base pay. With bonuses Yakupov could earn $3,775,000 and Draisaitl could earn $3,400,000. Marincin has a cap hit of $730k, but that could move up to $870k if he performs well. Three contracts that total $2,580,000 to start could add up to $8,045,000 at the end of the year.

      That means that we are potentially going to finish the season $3,862,500 OVER the cap. That would result in a hit against our cap next year.

      The only way to justify any more contracts is if players would sign at low enough value that we could bury them in the AHL without a penalty against our cap. Even then, teams are only allowed to carry 50 pro contracts at a time. That means less room to sign developing players from within our system. No move comes without an associated cost.

      • justDOit

        All of the Roger$ tv money will be factored in next year’s cap, as well as the regular ridiculous percentage increase from increased revenues. And if they approve a new team or a relocate for the 15/16 season, more $$$$$$$.

        I’m sure that a large percentage of GMs are ‘banking’ on having their cap penalties absorbed by a large cap increase to follow. I’m not saying they’re right in their assumptions, but it could happen.

        • sportsjunkie007

          There are currently four teams over the cap. Philly, Chicago, Tampa & Boston. Philly will be under the cap as soon as they LTIR Pronger when the season begins, the other three will have to find their own way to get under the cap. Currently two teams in the NHL are considered to be at risk of bonus cushions taking them over the cap: Edmonton and Florida. Nobody else is at risk because they are doing a better job of managing their cap space.

          Spending next year’s cap space this year would only make sense if we were making a run at the cup. We aren’t.

          Next year the cap IS expected to rise, but we’re going to need that space to re-sign Yakupov, Schultz, Petry, Marincin, Fasth, Arcobello, Lander and Aulie or to sign their replacements. New contracts are generally more expensive than existing ones, at least with young players like we have.

          BTW expansion fees would go to team owners, not towards the cap. If a team moved, it would eventually earn more money, but that wouldn’t go towards increased cap space until the new revenue has already been earned.

  • Morris was good with Yandle, but faced some injuries and inconsistencies. I think the Oilers already have better options in Petry, Schulz, and Nikitin.

    Lokitinov might be fine on a one year stop gap, But it just really seems like the organization is giving Arco his shot, and keeping LD at the NHL to develop alongside his future team mates, so next year he will be more prepared to handle the second line C job, and guys like Yakimov can fight it out for the third line C.

    I know the team looks thin at that spot this year, but they look pretty deep in terms of prospects assuming proper development.

  • Craig1981

    I have often wondered why no one has brought up Saku Koivu. He isn’t great anymore, but would be a sharp contrast to the other 2 options at center…..might even be worth switching out with the other 2, depending who is rested and who they play

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Dustin Penner and grab a couple centers off the waiver wire.

    Penner would certainly push the guys ahead of him on the depth chart no doubt. Can easily see him contributing as much as Pouliot. Only for less than half the price.

    • TS

      You can easily see him contributing as much as Pouliot because you’re blind. Pouliot may have bounced around, but Penner’s bounced downward consistently. Pouliot’s wound up being generally regarded as a good signing, even at his present contract. Penner isn’t even getting tryout offers. Then again, maybe you’re just trolling, such a ridiculous post.

  • And/or, can Perron + Petry + prospect + pick get a centre in a deal (three for one, four for two, etc), and would Penner sign here on a one year deal?

    I would feel so much better about having Pouliot-Koivu-Purcell as a worst case scenario for the third line.

  • OilCanFan1

    I seem to recall Penner being tough to get off the puck, consistently get it out of his own end and generally having the puck going the right direction which a lot of the current players do not. I never understood all the vitriol against him and wouldn’t mind him back, at least he is entertaining off the ice too.

  • Serious Gord

    Koivu on a tryout would be intriguing.

    Oates came in years ago and wasn’t very effective as a player but that’s where he started his career as a coach ( he wasn’t hired as a coach but acted as one).

    The oilers young players kept talking about how much having Oates teach them the little things about things like FO or Zone reads helped.

    Stoll and Horcoff developed into good to very good FO players and gave credit early on to Oates.

    Could Koivu do the Same ?

  • cmandev77

    Next year there is a very small center named Justin Azevedo that will be available. He has led the CHL in scoring, showed well in the AHL, led SM-Liiga in scoring the first year he was there and then went on to become a first team all-star in the KHL. He is only 26 and deserves a shot in the NHL. He has amazing vision on the ice, can score and plays extremely feisty. I would love the Oilers, or another team in need of center depth to give this guy a chance.