The Oilers Right Wing Depth Chart

83-Hemsky-6

Last season, Edmonton started the year with right wing as its strongest position. Jordan Eberle led a group that included the NHL’s rookie scoring leader, Nail Yakupov, and the always useful Ales Hemsky. Fighting for the fourth-line job were a trio of players with some nice points – training camp standout Jesse Joensuu, enforcer Mike Brown and minor-league scorer Ryan Hamilton (who primarily plays left wing).

It was a pretty good looking group, but it took some hits over the course of the season. Now the Oilers face a summer that will see further changes to the group.

The Givens

14-Eberle-11

There has been no shortage of trade speculation involving Jordan Eberle over the years, and I’ve written some of it myself. The departure of Hemsky and the struggles of Yakupov should put an end to it; right now Eberle is indisputably the best right wing on the team and the only sure thing at the position. He isn’t a perfect player but he is a legitimate first-liner and a very nice piece of this team.

64-Yakupov-8

Nail Yakupov should probably slot in here, too. He has a long way to go as an NHL player, but he’s also capable of plays offensively that only a tiny fraction of NHL players can pull off. His development is a key story for the Edmonton Oilers; it might even be the key story of Dallas Eakins’ tenure as coach. He should slot in on a protected scoring line with some quality help.

Unresolved

57-Perron-7

The Oilers need to add a player who can take on the minutes Ales Hemsky was capable of playing. Ideally, he’s a little bigger and a little tougher and he doesn’t need to have quite as much offensive skill, but the big thing here is that he’s a guy capable of playing tough minutes while providing some scoring. It’s worth mentioning that David Perron could well slide over to fill this slot if the Oilers have more luck in finding a left wing with those qualities.

Joensuu, Jesse

That’s really the only add the Oilers need to make; they have no shortage of internal candidates for the fourth-line role, a group which by my count includes the following:

  • Jesse Joenssuu. The big Finn was brilliant in training camp last season, got hurt, and never returned to form. He has the frame the Oilers want, is willing to go to dirty areas and isn’t scared of the puck but for long portions of last season he didn’t look like an NHL player.
  • Steve Pinizzotto. The pending UFA is as mean as any of the options the Oilers have at their disposal here, he’s an accomplished penalty-killer, and he’s been quite a decent minor-league scorer over his career. At 6’1”, 200 pounds he isn’t as big as other guys and at age 30 he’s an awfully late-bloomer, but he can skate and he can hit and he can play.
  • Tyler Pitlick. A big, fast forward who finally had a breakthrough season in OKC, Pitlick looked pretty good during his NHL recalls. The problem is that he’s been perpetually injured, and this goes back at least as far as his rookie pro season. He might be a very nice player but he can’t be counted on.

51-Lander-2

The Oilers could also employ centres Anton Lander or Mark Arcobello at right wing, or move left wings like Matt Hendricks and Ryan Hamilton to right wing. Additionally, if the team (as I suspect) wants to bump Matt Hendricks down to the fourth line, it’s possible either that Hendricks slides over or that enforcer Luke Gazdic gets some shifts at right wing.

Philip Larsen probably isn’t long for the Oilers organization, and if he is it’s probably at defence, but I think it’s worth noting that he might have played his best hockey last season during a stint at right wing.

So What Happens?

26-Arcobello-1

Jordan Eberle gets the feature role, outside hire (or David Perron) takes on tough minutes behind him, and Nail Yakupov gets the spot on a sheltered scoring line that he needs to succeed.

Unless the Oilers cull the herd significantly, there should be a dogfight for the fourth-line job and Dallas Eakins and his staff will have the luxury of picking the guy who best complements the players at centre and left wing. I’ve started wondering whether Anton Lander’s shifts at right wing late last season were an audition for this job; if so he didn’t show very well. As Lowetide hinted earlier today, this might be Mark Arcobello’s route to a job in the starting-12, though it’s worth remembering that the coaches didn’t have much time for him as a fourth-liner last season.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Sorensenator

    Hall-Nuge-E.Kane
    Bickell-Anisimov-Yakupov
    Perron-Couturier-Pitlick
    Gazdic/Hendricks-Boyle-Gordon(Joensuu)

    Klefbom-Myers
    Marincin-Orpik
    Nikitin-Schultz
    Ference

    Scrivens
    (Fasth, Elliot, Hiller)

  • Zarny

    Willis : You appear to be advocating filling Hemsky with a downgrade . Our offence was 28th last year and defence 30 th for goals for and against . If this club ever wants to get ahead it requires a player that can better Hemsky offensively for starters . None of your people fit/fill that bill . Do we really want another step backwards with someone like Umberger ? Maybe as a third or 4th liner , but that’s a big contract at that level .
    Arco and Landers are not the answer at either position if we hope to improve . Same can be said for all the internal ones right now . How many more unfilled positions can we keep downgrading on and become a competitive team . None , as we have far to many now occupied by those types . .

    • Edmonton’s offence was actually tied for 24th in the NHL (2.43 goals/game) with Minnesota, one spot ahead of Los Angeles. There’s lots of work to be done there, but the biggest chunk of it is spending more time in the offensive zone and less in the defensive zone.

      I didn’t actually suggest anybody to replace Hemsky – the only name I mentioned was Perron’s, if it was easier to add a LW than a RW over the summer.

      I’ve mentioned Umberger previously, but not for a top-six role.

      I feel pretty good that one of Arcobello or Lander could fill that fourth line RW role; if not than you only need one of Joensuu or Pitlick or Pinizzotto to do it. There are plenty of internal options for that low-profile job.

      • I think having a legitimate Dcore that can take care of our own zone and get the puck to the high end forwards we already have will vastly improve our offensive numbers. It’s been the same story for years ever since pronger left town

    • Oilers4ever

      Not a damn chance that is going to happen, I suspect after Eakins is canned in November we will still have Bucky and Smitty behind the bench..Why change when you have guys who are good in the dressing room, can’t coach worth S–t but apparently that doesn’t matter. What a joke this management team is.

      • Serious Gord

        Yeah, what is happening with the assistants?

        Is it really possible that after having one of the worst seasons in franchise history and probably THE most disappointing season ever, and after promises that there will be accountability that NO ONE in management will be dismissed?

        Amazing.

        • Sorensenator

          Accountability in the oilers organization is more elusive than flying rainbow colored unicorns. It’s so frustrating because I’ve been an oiler fan my entire life but how can I justify supporting such an incompetent and poorly run team anymore?

          • Serious Gord

            Sometimes I wonder if we are not unlike fans of the islanders and the hawks during Wirtz’s worst days – tolerating perennial and league leading incompetence to cheer for our team.

  • I feel like MacT made some progress with this team last year despite the poor finish, but I still see some major holes here too that is frustrating. I know MacTavish sees the same problems though. But it’s tough cause the team needs an entire 3rd line, a real 2nd line C, and a major blueline overhaul. Lots of work to do. Who is on the RW is probably the least of this team’s worries (not that it isn’t worth talking about).

    • I disagree with you on one point. I think if we had a real 2nd line C we have some pieces for a 3rd line. I’d have no problems with lander and arco battling for the 3rd line spot and we have some options for the wings. But that’s only if that 3rd line can be sheltered from having a strong 2nd line. Defense is the biggest area of concern and I believe would make the biggest impact towards no longer being the embarrassment of the league

      • One thing we definitely agree on is that defense is the main problem. I have been saying the same for quite some time. The trend has been to take long shot gambles on guys like Belov, or Barker (in Tambi’s day), etc… when really they should just bring in the tried and true guys. I’d love to see them land a real superstar blue liner like the Oil had with Pronger, but if that can’t be done, at least get some guys here we know can play the position. And for gods sakes, guys that know how to defend first and foremost.

        Also, never have been sold on Lander.. While I do like Arco, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to his lack of offense. I would like to see better options fighting for the 3rd line C.

        • Would you target phaneuf? Might be the best Dman actually available

          I’d like to see better option battling for the 3rd line too, but I think the focus should be on the higher impact positions first. We can worry about the 3rd line after we get a 2nd line first

          • In all honesty, while he has his issues, I think he’d be the first real NHL defenseman on this team. I wouldn’t go trading the #3 OV for him, as has been suggested, but I’d definitely consider him.

            I kind of see it as a Perron like acquisition where you go “oh wow, this is what it’s like having a real NHLer on the team”. Pardon my doom and gloom over what we have here.

            Anyways, I think there are some good pieces in the system at D, but this team is going to need a real vet that can bear the burden while they develop. I’d trade for Phaneuf, yes, and I’d still sign another D-man… a safe guy like Willie Mitchell, but a younger version (I am saying a safe guy like him, but not him as he’s probably a bit too long in the tooth).

          • Agreed. I’d like phaneuf over a guy like say letang. So the question becomes what do you give up for him? I wouldn’t give the 3ov either but you’d need to give something the leafs need. Does Gagner and Marincin do it?

          • I think Marincin and Gagner for Phaneuf would do it, but much of the Oil fanbase would be pissed at moving Marincin. Many consider him to be the best D prospect on the team, even including Nurse. You are right though, you have to give to get.

            I think it was David Staples who had this good point.. the Leafs got a much more “prime” version of Phaneuf for next to nothing, so the price should technically be lower here. That said, I think Jay Feaster was just a terrible GM.

            I think the Oilers have to do what they can to hang on to Nurse, Klefbom and Marincin though as any one of those 3 could break out and be dominant players.

            Unfortunately I’m not sure what the Leafs would want for Phaneuf. If they’re wanting to dump him for the sake of dumping him, then I’d be offering something like Gagner, Fedun and a 2nd, perhaps. I’m not very good at the trade suggestions though, just know what I wouldn’t give up 😉 Not very helpful here 😛

          • I will admit, for the first time in decades, I avoided most of the games last year, so I didn’t get to see much of Marincin.. just going by what the more active posters had been saying about him.

            If he filled out his frame, he might be more apt to be physical. Hard to say. But I do agree if Gilbert / Petry is the sky here, I would have no problems moving him. It just hasn’t been sounding like that is the case. Seems like people are pretty keen on him here, but then again, give him a year or two and people will turn on him too 😉 .

          • This is true. I prefer this more than the other side of Oil fans, which is turning on a player when they don’t reach that potential we thought they had 😉

            “Oh you aren’t the second coming of Ray Bourque?? You suck!”

          • The way I see it, I think we could get a lot more out of the Petrys, Marincins, Kelfboms, … even Gilberts… if there were proper players for them to play with.

            To me, we had a guy like Visnovsky who was a great defensman for Grebs or Gilbert to play with, so we go and trade him for Ryan Whitney. OOOooook. I think MacTavish is smarter than that though. I think if you land a guy like Phaneuf, you will finally see what Justin Schultz, or even Jeff Petry can be. For too long, these young guys have been expected to carry the defensive load when really they should be more sheltered. Most other young, big name D-men have had the benefit of playing with safe d-men to help them transition to the NHL game. The trend during the Tambellini era was to sink-or-swim most of our prospects. That to me is the same strategy the CBJ had years ago. It doesn’t work, and worse yet, to me it destroys these players.

            If we have to sacrifice a guy like Marincin to bring in a long term blue line presence though, so be it.

          • Absolutely, throwing nurse or an ekblad into the fire now without support would be a good way to break their confidence. But you don’t only need experience you also need diversity. Having 4 petry’s and 1 or 2 ferences doesn’t make a good Dcore. You need your puck movers and PP specialist’s just as much as you need you’re high end defensive defenseman..

          • You’re preaching to the choir 😉

            My motto has always been that I don’t care how good a d-man is offensively if he doesn’t know how to defend. But that said, it’s a lot easier to find a guy who can be good at offense, and pair him with a more stable defensive defenseman than it is to find someone who does it all. Right now, this team definitely has a bias towards offensive-minded guys though and could use some more defensive minded guys.

            Ideally, you want someone who is solid enough at both ends though, of course. I think that Phaneuf or Letang would work well in that regard. In order to get the most out of a guy like “Jultz”, the Oilers will need a stable defensive guy to pair him with (or in the case of Letang, an actual NHL defenseman).

          • Serious Gord

            Apparently phaneuf shooting left and playing right is a very big issue according to john Shannon et al. He likes playing on the right side but he is less strong defensively there and apparently has been exposed on numerous occasions.

            Priority one is to get him to move to the left side.

  • I would like perron and Yak to stay on the wing they are comfortable with. Put Yak on the right side and keep him there .. Eakins is just making it harder for him to adjust to the pro game when switching him on the wings. I like Perron in the 2nd left wing spot. I do like the idea of a sheltered scoring line with Yak.. that means Gordon and Hendricks and Arco move to the fourth line which to me is more of a 3B line. There are that many holes to fill its scary. Do NOT dress Gazdic much.. please..we need offence.

    • nuge2drai

      Now why would the Oilers do this…. play them where they best play… Don’t you know they are smarter than your average management group… They are always reinventing the wheel here…. and we wonder why the suckage continues..

  • If you’re looking at trading for an expensive d-man signed that long, maybe Letang would be the better option, since people seem to figure he’s available. New management there too, so who knows. But I could definitely get behind acquiring Letang (however, not sure he would get behind that, since he has a modified NTC).

    • Letang is a smaller offensive Dman. I think a more physical guy like phaneuf is more of what we need. Letang is a wonderful Dman but I think he’s what the oilers are hoping JSchultz can become

      • He was defensive defenseman of the year back in the Q. He’s also a fairly good hitter. I think it’s easy to paint him with the “offensive d-man” brush, but I think he’s one of those guys that has the puck on his stick a lot and is a big offensive guy for Pittsburgh that you often forget that he can play D if that’s what you wanted him to do.

        I can’t say for sure, but I often wondered if Bylsma just gives him free reign offensively.. but if you wanted, could have him play a safe game too.

        I’d take either, really, though.

  • Serious Gord

    The last few threads have really put the mess that the oil is Into perspective for me.

    The team is so unbalanced – lots of offensive potential, very little physicality and very very weak at centre and D. Looking at what the oil needs – almost all of those things are the most difficult to aquire via trades or FA. Successful teams draft and develop those players from within.

    And that exposes the real core of this teams disastrous past and likely it’s future: terrible drafting and arguably worse development.

    And it really makes me wonder whether instead of drafting the best player available with the three number ones, the oil should have traded down to get a spot where the BPA also matched one of the two core needs of any team: Centre and Defense. Yes, I know that RNH is a centre, and a very good one – but is he a franchise level of centre that a team can build around? I doubt it.

    My para above is not intended to make the argument that the oil made mistakes with the number one picks, rather it is to make the point that those picks and their similarities really have warped the team into a very unbalanced – and thus losing – design. And the fixes that that design requires requires the oil to take a very difficult perhaps impossible path to getting those players. And what makes it so difficult is the lack of time the core of this team has before it starts to disintegrate.

    Depressing stuff…

    • Sevenseven

      I agree with you. But I do see some hope in our development. Okc has shown improvement. The oilers buying an echl team is another positive development. Unfortunately the holes in this team are huge. At EVERY position. Everyone can blame eakins and mact. But even the best coaches and gms in the nhl would have a tough time fixing the lineup. Its not looking like a quick fix.

  • Mason Storm

    On a happy note Oil Kings beat London 5-2 . Go Oil Kings .

    No matter whom you might disagree with our first round picks over last several years , the problem is not whom they drafted . They are all good picks even if it was Katz or his sons that picked them . The problem is whom they have surrounded those high draft choices with .

    Katz pays management and coaching exhorbitant wages/salary to do just that . They have unfortuneately not done a credible job in developing that talent with the surrounding team about them .I think Katz has not had a good return from those whom he has entrusted to make that talent move forward .

    • I totally agree with this, but I actually think MacTavish made some ground last year with the goaltending pickups, Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks, and even Andrew Ference (if they have him as a bottom pairing).

      I felt that Tambellini was very much of the mindset that you speak of, however. I think MacTavish gives me the impression though that he believes (as I do) that you can’t keep putting these young guys in key roles and hope someone emerges. The better way is to surround them with good players and let them learn from them, be protected from them, and hopefully be better players than them one day. The latter is the Detroit way of doing things.. the former is the Oilers/Bluejackets way of destroying your young guys’ confidence before shipping them off for spare parts.

    • nuge2drai

      Keep away, this guy is a real headcase and team killer. Calgary could not get him out of town fast enough and now the Leafs have seen the same issues , we shouldn’t even consider him for free let alone trade for him

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I’m of the mind set that MacT should give up on the draft for a yr or 2, use draft picks as part of trades to obtain players that can help now, not 3-5 yrs from now.

    The Oilers have enough depth in the system to sign college kids and younger UFAs imo, hence using picks this yr and next to get guys like Phaneuf or Umberger (if they want to come here).

    Spitballing here:

    Phanuef and Kadri for 2015 1st and Petry

    Umberger and CBJ 1st for the 3rd pick this yr

    Kadri can be the the 2c, Umberger and Gagner can switch when needed on the 3c spot.

    Trash away if you want lol, my point still stands enough hoping the draft turns the team into contenders get vets that will. MacT can restock the cupboards with picks in a few yrs from now.

    • Serious Gord

      Kadri is another small centre with nil physical presence – the last thing the oil need.

      Phaneuf needs to go to a non-hockey market were he can be an effective # 2 with Toronto paying a big chunk of his salary.

      And little chance Toronto would make that trade – who the hell wants Petry?

      • a lg dubl dubl

        Kadri, I agree isn’t the ideal 2c I’d like for the Oilers, I’d prefer Stastny but I suspect he’d want 7.5 per at least to sign here if he doesn’t resign with the Avs. Kadri is a bit better points wise than Gagner, and in the same ball park as Gags $$ wise.

        Phaneuf, no matter what the market is, under the right coach could do better than he did under Carlyle. Is Eakins that coach, maybe maybe not but imo he’s more apt to learning different styles than Carlyle.

        Like I said I was just spitballing in my last post….boy did I get trashed lol! :/ :)-

        • nuge2drai

          Oiler Domination To Follow

          I think your comment got trashed because Umberger sucks and your trading our 3rd overall away for him.

          Ekblad for Umberger….

          Yeah I don’t think so.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            Yea that’s what I thought to but it was also for their pick in the draft, 16th according to TSN.

            Umberger and Haydn Fluery or who ever for Ekblad.

            Or another route the Oil could take if they did my trade for Umberger is see if the Pens want the 16th for Despres or Harrington.

            This armchair GMing is fun! HA

    • Serious Gord

      Too many high draft picks can also have it’s dilemmas . Florida and Oilers have the most depth developing already , and I believe Buffalo is close at third . Guess who the bottom 3 in the league are ? This year might be a good year for your proposal , but we’ll see where we finish for next season before dealing that one away just yet . Right now we look destined for the bottom again at least in conference . I would not be in a rush to rid our team of good veterans , as there are very few of them now .

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    This is going to be our bottom 6 this year imo.

    Downie Umberger Moss

    Hendricks Gordan Pitlick

    I don’t think MacT will be able to pick up a top 2C or a top 2D this off season.

    He will spend our 28+ Mil in cap space on 3rd and 4th liners, overpaying each signing to make it happen.

    Our bottom 6 will no longer be the issue but the team will still suck.

    Oiler fans will come to a realization that the real issue the past 7 years has not been the bottom six but the top 6 and defense.

    We will draft McDavid or Eichal and finally end the longest rebuild in history when the new stadium is opening.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      “Oiler fans will come to a realization that the real issue the past 7 years has not been the bottom six but the top 6 and defense.”

      I think oil fans came to that realization years ago.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        At the end of the lockout season the bottom six were blamed for the poor finish. By management, fans and media.

        Seems like the blame was warranted at the time.

        Since than Petry regressed, Shultz regressed, N Shultz regressed and Smid sucked.

        Dubnyk ended his career , and Gagner sucked as well.

        Come to think of it everyone regressed under Eakins.

        Now its pretty clear the defense is to blame, but I’m not sold on the coaching either.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        I think I get majority of my trashes for the above line.

        When I suggest spending the cap on 2C or 2D(Statsny, Markhov, Legwand, Niskanen) I get trashed.

        When I suggest spending the cap on 3rd Liners(Downie, Moss, Stempniak) I get trashed.

        When I suggest spending the cap on players available via trade(Phaneuf, Umberger) I get trashed.

        It seems any suggestion to make a move or trade gets trashed by Oilersnation- bunch of fans on here that prefer Tambellinis style of management I guess.

        Oh and when I suggested we use the picks we get for Hemsky to acquire Viktor Fasth days before it happened, I got trashed.

  • nuge2drai

    I’m watching with glee all the writers & posters getting all lathered up predicting who plays where.

    We all know that every player except Hall and Eberle have regressed under Eakins. He as continuously played players out of their roles and position, juggling incessantly trying to find some chemistry for the failing of his “systems”, or lack of systems!

    We have some talent but until it is deployed by a sensible coach putting players in positions to succeed, I’m not writing anyone off. There have been too many players sent to other team that have been very successful……….and now we want them back.

    It’s time to admit that coaching is still our number one problem.

  • Zarny

    No position epitomizes the Oilers’ poor decision making during the rebuild like RW.

    Hemsky was injury prone and never had the work ethic or drive to be a real leader but he’s a legit top 6 F and was in his prime when Hall was selected. As a 21 y/o, Eberle put up 76 pt in 78 games.

    And yet instead of trading the 2012 1st overall pick or addressing one of the massive holes at C or D the Oilers chose to add another RW with Yakupov.

    When you only ice 6 players at a time no position is irrelevant; but W is lowest on the totem pole. Nobody builds up the side. Nobody successful at least.

    Which is why the Oilers should look at moving Yakupov and/or Eberle. Both are beauts but both are also replaceable.

    • Harry2

      I agree. Im not trying to dump on Yakupov but that pick was single handedly the worst choice of the last 4 years.

      Just imagine at the time what that pick would have returned in a trade. Yak was the undisputed #1 at the time. Edm could have traded down, still got a top 15 pick and some much needed usefull depth players.

      I cant help but think that the same might hold true for the 3rd overall at this years draft.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        I do wonder what kind of defenceman we could have got with that #1 yak pick? Kept hemsky and had a true stud on the back end?? That’s probably what a successful team would have done

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Price is out, Habs are screwed. Hehe.

    I think whoever wins the western conference final wins the cup. Can’t see NYR beating the Hawks or Kings.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    JW,

    I really like Yakupov, but would he and our #1 pick get us Letang?

    If we could grab him and another Phaneuf/ Coburn type from a trade, we would have a much deeper and more realistic defensive corps.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Oiler fans remain hopeful, but it’s really starting to look like they’ll still be a non playoff team when they open the new building for the 2016/2017 season. Over 10 yrs on the outside looking in. It’s becoming clear playoffs within the next 2 seasons is highly unlikely with this many holes in the lineup. Have to believe Taylor Hall will be long gone by then.

    We’re screwed hockey fans.

  • Zarny

    People, people,……….I feel compelled to state only a fool would trade away all your picks for immediate help!

    Not even Tamby is that stupid………….sorry that was over the top. Tamby might do this except he never could identify talent properly.

  • nuge2drai

    Are you guys joking? Oilers need depth at every position!! Defensive depth this year, Grebeshkov,Larsen,Fraser Forward depth this year,Acton,Hamilton,Lander,Pitlick. Our depth is consisted of AHL players or Prospects with a good potential that we are rushing into the league. Good team’s depth are made up of AHL players that deserve to play in the NHL or players who have destroyed junior and are progressing well in the AHL