CAREER OPPORTUNITES AT PIVOT

We’re off and running with Oilers news out of training camp, and coach Dallas Eakins had some home truths for the microphones today. Issue one: “We have two NHL centermen!” Ahem. What does that mean? Opportunity!

THE OLE 1-2

Any fool knows Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Boyd Gordon are the two legit NHL centers, but if the job opportunities are wide open (and they are, to some extent) how will this thing break down? There are FIVE reasonable options:

  1. Leon Draisaitl wins the 2C job outright, allowing Eakins to run Gordon as the 3C and then Arco/Lander become the 4C and extra forward options.
  2. Mark Arcobello wins the 2C job outright, the Oilers use Draisaitl as a ‘soft minutes center’ and Boyd Gordon’s line does all of the dirty work.
  3. The Oilers make a trade in training camp.
  4. The Oilers pluck someone from waivers.
  5. The Oilers sign Andrei Loktionov as a final free-agent option.

THERE’S ONE MORE OPTION

Yes. Sadly, there is. From Ryan Smyth to Fernando Pisani to (last year) Taylor Hall, the Edmonton Oilers often use wingers as options in the ‘desperate times require desperate measures’ portion of the playbook (that portion has about 5,000 pages, all added since 1992).

WHAT COULD THEY DO?

The Oilers have an opportunity here, as several teams are going to have cap and waiver issues this fall. The Boston Bruins are in cap hell, but will probably deal a defender (they have 8) in order to get under the cap. Toronto has too many forwards to keep everyone, and some pretty good centers may be available. Ducey over at my blog mentioned two Leafs prospects (Carter Ashton and Peter Holland) and Joakim Andersson of the Detroit Red Wings may have a hard time making their team this fall.

WHAT ELSE COULD THEY DO?

I think that’s it. Leon Draisaitl and Mark Arcobello get the first shot, and then we might see the team make a minor move like Loktionov during pre-season. Last year, the Oilers pulled the trigger on waiver claim for Luke Gazdic and that’s an option, too.

After that? A real NHL trade, possibly involving Jeff Petry. If Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse emerge during pre-season, that may be the move for Edmonton.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

scarjogif

A long spring and summer of arguing and discussing are almost over. Choose your poison, men. Based on the lines listed by the Oilers today, Leon Draisaitl is getting a push and everyone up to and including Jason Williams is going to get a look.

And if you’re Bogdan Yakimov, keep doing what you’re doing. There’s no way he’s going to make the big club, but he can do himself an enormous solid by staying on the roster deep into the pre-season. Making it hard on management to send him down is a good way to leave an impression.

We’ve only just begun.

  • northof51

    Nurse or Klefbom should be displacing Ference, not Petry. Petry has trade value, I get that. But it will be 2 steps back if we get rid of him, unless another #2 or #3 dman comes back in the return.

    As weak as we are at centre, we are razor thin on the back end, stocked with Mark Fayne, Jeff Petry, and a bunch of guys left to prove that they can actually play NHL hockey.

  • DoubleDIon

    @Oiler AI

    And right in with your comment, Arcobello should be added right to it. A borderline player that isn’t even considered an NHL center by the head coach from his own mouth. If Yakimov can even equal Arcobello’s performance he should stay by virtue of his size and the fact that he’s young enough to still be a part of this team going forward.

    The question I have for all you Arcobello fanboys – when this team starts to win and get good, is Arcobello really on this team? Is he really such a fantastic player that he sticks for the next few to several years? My answer is no. No, he does not. He’s borderline depth and nothing more. If he was really so good last year they would not have sent him down no matter what – they would have made another move and kept him up here. The real truth that nobody wants to hear is that he played his way off the team. Once his hot streak ended, he couldn’t produce consistently any more and all he had going for him then was the fact that he was at least trying to finish his checks, to whatever questionable results you wish to believe, and be as responsible as any player his size really needs to be to even get called to the league. That he even re-signed here so quickly only goes to show that there was no interest in him – none! – around the league at that point in time and so he went for at least some guaranteed money rather than play the waiting game and risk getting replaced. I doubt he would have even gotten that kind of money from offers in Europe.

    Mark my words, if there’s any center in our system that can be his equal in preseason but is larger than he is that this team is irresponsible not to take that option. Our division is just too full of big players to not do it.

    Unless, of course, your ploy is to be in the McDavid sweepstakes. I guess that’s at least one mediocre reason to keep the smurf on this year.