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:
- 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.
- 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.
- The Oilers make a trade in training camp.
- The Oilers pluck someone from waivers.
- 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?
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.