WILL IT START WITH A 5?

canadian five

The Edmonton Oilers will spend the 2014-15 season assessing their options with several soon-to-be free agents. Defensemen Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz are going to get paid next summer—possibly by the Oilers—and Nail Yakupov will reach the end of his entry-level deal. If these three players are productive this coming year, they could literally break the bank. The Oilers are going to have to make some tough decisions.

JEFF PETRY…..

When the NHL organization that drafted you signs Nikita Nikitin for $4.5M a year and Mark Fayne long term in the same summer they agree to a one-year deal for your walk year, the writing is on the wall. Plenty of chatter about re-visiting, but it doesn’t take a genius to suggest this relationship is headed to a crossroads.

oilers defense 13-14 with klefbom

Petry’s blue bubble says his Corsi (Rel) is very good, and he’s in the tough minutes portion of the Vollman Sledgehammer, while also getting zone starts in the low 40%’s. He does not fight and he is not rugged. He is an effective NHL defenseman.

My prediction:

Petry sails at or before the deadline, for a young NHL player who is under control. Edmonton should get good value for Petry, there will be a lot of teams interested.

NAIL YAKUPOV….

yakupov19

The Oilers are having a hard time finding room for Yakupov this fall. The 2line sees (so far) Leon Draisaitl lining up between Benoit Pouliot and David Perron. It looks good, very good. The Oilers lack the center depth for three scoring lines, so skill wingers Teddy Purcell and Yakupov will have to make the most of it on the third line. Yakupov’s struggled on LW further complicates the issue.

My prediction:

Dallas Eakins needs to win hockey games this fall, and Yakupov is going to be important to the team’s success. Coach Eakins will find a way to make it work—it may involve placing David Perron back on LW—and the young Russian should score 20+ goals this coming season.

I’m less convinced about Yakupov as a long-term solution in Edmonton. The Oilers may decide their top wingers will be Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, David Perron and Benoit Pouliot in the future, meaning young Yakupov is sent away for help in other areas.

Much of the decision will no doubt come down to contract. If Yakupov demands big money next year, or his agent uses the KHL as a hammer, the Yak City craze may be over in Edmonton far too soon.

JUSTIN SCHULTZ….

If Petry is gone for sure (which I believe) and Yakupov is 50/50 (which seems right) then Justin Schultz is the likely player to stay. Edmonton rewarded him with a contract far richer than the blue book value, and will probably give a long term deal for big money next summer.

If you look at the graph above, Schultz may get a break this season with better zone starts, and may face softer opposition at home because of improved defensive depth. He is a gifted offensive defender as we saw the other night in Winnipeg, and goal generators get paid in any era.

My Prediction: Schultz signs a long-term deal for great money some time during the 2014-15 season. It’ll ensure he’s with the team through the end of the decade.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

aagif

The Oilers will need to make decisions on UFA Jeff Petry and RFA’s Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov in the next 12 months. Some or all of their next contracts could start in the $5M plus range and chances are Edmonton will send at least one of these players away.

My guess? Jeff Petry is on his way out of Edmonton. It’s only a matter of time.

  • vetinari

    Schultz is ownership’s golden boy so they’ll keep him; Yak is the red-headed stepchild and either has to get his crap together or he’ll be trade bait in the offseason; and, Petry is likely gone by the trade deadline unless we are within sniffing distance of a playoff spot.

  • geeker99

    Looking at how this season’s shaping up, it seems patently obvious that Petry is going to be traded in the same fashion that the Oilers got rid of Niinimaa. MacT will give the same “Boris Mironov is the reason we could trade Janne Niinimaa” speech that he did at the 2003 trade deadline, except this time it’ll be “Oscar Klefbom is the reason we could trade Jeff Petry”.

    And he would be right in doing so.

    IMO fans look at this too much like it’s a one way street, that the Oilers have to hold onto all the things, that they can’t afford to “lose” Petry. The fact is, it doesn’t matter one iota if the Oilers want to hold onto him, if the player doesn’t want to be here long term. They can’t put a gun to his head to sign a long term deal, he’s got to want to sign it too.

    The way I see it, the fact that Petry signed the deal he did, which leads him into UFA territory after this season, speaks volumes about his intention to test the UFA market. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, he’s earned that right.

    That said, the Oilers would be stupid to not plan ahead. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I’m a big believer in Klefbom’s abilities, and other than experience I can’t see a single thing that Petry does that Klefbom can’t do as well or even better, given the opportunity…AND he will do it at around 1/3 Petry’s salary for this season and next. Those dollar savings could be the difference in keeping that forward group together just that little bit longer.

    Ference, Payne, Nikitin and Schultz are not going anywhere soon. Neither is Marincin, and he’ll be needing a bump in pay next season…and if he keeps on improving this year, then you can expect he’ll be asking for 3M+ as well. That will make 5 dmen making north of 3M/yr, which is already more than nearly every team in the NHL as most teams only have 3-4 dmen making >3M/yr. There’s no way in HELL it makes any sense for the Oilers to have 5-6 dmen making that much. Someone WILL have to go, and given the contracts and given how guys like Marincin, Klefbom and Nurse likely next year will be banging down the door for jobs, where in the world does a guy like Petry fit in?

    Truth is, he doesn’t. He likely would have, had he signed long term with the team. For whatever reason, whether it was the Oilers or Petry’s doing (or a mutual agreement), it didn’t happen.

  • vetinari

    I hope your wrong on Shultz. Take away the 1 goal in the Winnipeg game and he looked exactly how he looked last year. Coughing up the puck at the blueline, running around in the D zone. He looks like he doesnt have a care in the world when he loses the puck to the opposing team. This guy is absolutely no way ever going to be a 1st pair lets just put that ridiculous idea to rest. As a 2nd pair he has miles and miles to go. Count this person as a non believer. His 1 dazzling goal every once in awhile doesnt come close to making up for his consistent gaffes he makes all over the ice.

    • vetinari

      Count me in as a Schultz skeptic as well! I see him as a high risk/medium reward guy who gets lost in his own zone. Why he’s been the annointed one is beyond me. Probably has somthing to do with their desperate need for a dman.’

      I just hope this team starts winning games. I’m tired of being a depressed cynical oiler fan.

  • Chainsawz

    Did I miss something? Has Pouliot been anointed a top 6 role already?

    Him plus the hole at 2C is automatically the worst second line in the NHL no matter who plays the other wing. Okay, second worst – SUCK IT, FLAMES!!!!

  • Anton CP

    Let’s just be happy we are a team that will spend to the cap when required. There will be ways to reach the cap, worry not.

    My opening night line up:
    Hall, Nuge, Eberle//
    Perron, Arco, Purcell//
    Lander, Gordon, Hendriks//
    Purcell, Draisaitl, Yakupov//
    Pitlick// Westgard

    Don’t freak out, all four lines get rolled nearly equally. PP time for Yak.

    PP
    Hall Nuge Ebs, Shultz Nikinin//
    Yakupov, Perron, Arco, Purcell, Petry.

  • geeker99

    You can’t turn a race horse into a plow horse..
    Let Yak play how it got him to the NHL. On top of
    That let J Schultz run the way he wants. People liked to watch
    Paul Coffey, no one was paying to see Rod Langway

  • Quicksilver ballet

    There’s a distinct possibility all 3 may be gone by this time next year. That is the reality for this B market. Players are influenced by the location, management and coaching. This team sucks in all 3 categories.

    Edmonton has suffered much worse than if these guys choose to leave. It’s just the norm here since Gretz was sold.

  • beloch

    Petry’s relative corsi is good, not great, but his absolute corsi is pretty darned awful. It’s only how bad the other blueliners around him are that make his possesion look good (if you’re looking at relative corsi). On a team that doesn’t suck he could be a second pairing defender.

    Second pairing defenders are worth a few megabucks. Petry could probably make the case for similar pay with another team, but not a significant raise. While we can hope other defenders will take big steps forward this season and make Petry expendable, the Oilers could easily find themselves in a position where they really need to keep him next summer.

    Put simply, Petry isn’t a legitimate first pairing defender, but he’s one of the better defenders the oilers have and losing him might be a very bad thing.

  • Bucknuck

    Guys are really ragging on Schultz and his contract.

    I agree that he has too much chaos in his game, but his 33 pts last year ranks him 38th in scoring for defensemen in the entire league. His points per game is up there with guys like Doughty, Phaneuf, Boumeester, and Mike Green.

    He brings lots of offence to the lineup from the back end, and that is something the Oil haven’t seen a lot of since Whitney got hurt. That has value.

    Now if they can settle him down in his own end there might really be the player MacTavish is talking about in there.

  • Crackenbury

    Anyone who has spent any time watching the offseason workouts and preseason games can see clearly that Yakupov doesn’t have a “great attitude”. If anything, he comes across as a loner that doesn’t have any kind of connection with any other teammate. Why is that? Please don’t trot out the “he’s treated different because he’s Russian excuse”. Yakimov’s been here for a cup of coffee and he already fits in better.

    Yakupov has shown nothing other than a stubborn streak to play the game only his way. That last game where he’s signalling Eberle to switch sides with him while play is going on is pathetic and shows he can’t even be bothered to make an effort to change his game for one shift.

    He seems like a nice guy in his interviews and seems to say all the right things, but can’t seem to translate it to the ice. Instead of what his agent did last year I think he would benefit from a trusted friend or mentor telling him if wants an NHL career he needs to adapt his game, otherwise I foresee a very successful career in the KHL. That league is meant for his game.

  • 24% body fat

    They’ll have plenty of money after buying out Pouliot.
    Won’t be much past October when everyone realizes he might be good at Corgis (depending on which CKUA staffer is tabulating the hanging chads at The Drug Store this year) but useless at things that count: like scoring goals and preventing goals.

  • camdog

    Haven’t been here much, but gotta say this has gotta be one of the most depressing articles I have ever read on this site.

    1) No room for Yakopov on the roster to succeed, because Mact loaded up on wingers that are better than Yakopov this season, but on a career downward projection. Yakopov struggled on the LW last season, just like Hall struggled at Center last season, this was already a known fact. If Yakopov doesn’t produce that means a lost season in the “rebuild”

    2) The Nitkin signing equals not extending Petry. Petry isn’t the greatest, but he’s better than Nitkin.

    3) Third line has no NHL center – taking from the article as it stated that Yakopov and Purcel well have to make the best of it with ______________ as their center.

    4)Coach Eakins needs to win at all costs to keep his job

    1+2+3+4 = 10 years of no playoff hockey! Jest of the article is the Oilers continue to be terrible at asset management and things haven’t changed.