Is David Moss worth a phone call?

On Thursday, Fox Sports’ Andy Strickland reported that free agent winger David Moss had a tentative deal in place with a team in Switzerland. The caveat was that he had an out clause if he could land an NHL contract in the next week.

It’s a unique situation, and I can’t help wondering if it’s one that should interest the Oilers.

Moss

There are two big items working against a deal between Moss and the Oilers: his age (he’s 32) and Edmonton’s sudden depth on the wings. We’ll take the second in a moment, but let’s see if his positives offset the first before we get to fit.

Moss is a right-shooting winger who can play on either side of the ice. He’s been a pretty good possession player basically forever. He’s big (6’4”, 210 pounds). He had a lot of success on a defensive minutes line with Boyd Gordon in 2012-13; neither player has been as good separated from the other. He has some legitimate scoring ability, too; he’s been a 30-point guy when healthy for most of his career, though he dipped to 22 points last season. He’s also an exceptional penalty-killer.

In short, he’s been a pretty good third-line guy for a while and might be able to handle the job again; worst case scenario he might be a very nice fit (again) on the right wing of a defensive zone specialty line centered by Gordon.

Presumably, he’s not looking at a massive deal in Switzerland, so one imagines the dollars would be reasonable on a one-year deal.

The Depth Chart

Joensuu, Jesse

Most of the Oilers’ depth chart (aside from the black hole at centre) is settled, but fourth-line right wing is one of the most interesting positions on the team because the options are many and varied and it isn’t at all clear who will win the slot. Leaving aside badly out-of-position candidates (Matt Hendricks, Anton Lander, Luke Gazdic) the internal possibilities include:

  • Mark Arcobello: I suspect the Oilers add a centre and give Draisaitl a nine-game audition, which would push Arcobello into this slot or one of the spare forward spots. He’s a smart player with faceoff ability so despite a lack of size this isn’t necessarily a terrible slot for him.
  • Jesse Joensuu: 6’4”, 210 pounds and nobody’s going to care if he can’t score if he’s playing on the fourth line. He might end up in the minors but he showed well in camp a year ago and shouldn’t be written off. If Arcobello ends up at centre (or the Oilers want size here) he’s got a legitimate shot.
  • Tyler Pitlick: He was a significant draft pick (No. 31 overall in 2010), he’s no longer shielded from waivers and he looked okay in 10 games last year. He’s a contender for this spot.
  • Steve Pinizzotto: I wonder. He’s a nasty player and a two-way guy in the AHL (including on the penalty kill) with a mix of offensive and defensive ability. Age (he turned 30 in April) and career arc (18 career NHL games) say ‘no’ but this is a player-type the Oilers love and this is probably his last best chance to crack an NHL roster. If it comes down to a choice between the endlessly injured/forever frustrating duo of Joensuu/Pitlick or a driven Pinizzotto than the AHL journeyman just might win the job.

In the Oilers shoes, I wouldn’t be worried about losing any of those right wings (though I also wouldn’t be terribly worried giving one of them an NHL shot in a fourth-line role). The one concern would be if the Oilers add a centre and keep Draisaitl all year; that would likely force the team to expose either Arcobello or Lander to the waiver wire, which while not catastrophic would be suboptimal (though LTIR is always available to help resolve those problems).

By my count, the Oilers 50-man list will be at 46 names once Draisaitl is signed (assuming Nurse is returned to junior and all the RFAs other than Horak and Larsen are retained). Even assuming they add a centre without moving a name out, signing Moss would put them at a tight but not unbearable 48 names entering training camp.

As I See It

On a cheap one-year deal, Moss wouldn’t be a bad pickup. The Oilers could feel confident moving forward with a fourth line devoted to defensive zone starts. The guys they’d be risking on the waiver wire (one or both of Pitlick/Lander) aren’t players I’d lose sleep over, though in a perfect world they remain in the organization.

It’s probably worth a phone call, even at age 32. If he’s willing to take a one-way/$800,000 contract to stay in the NHL, great; it’s been a long time since the Oilers had too many NHL players. If not, there’s a fun battle for that last fourth line job in training camp.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • pkam

    If we are truly interested in being competitive this year , Moss could be an upgrade that could help that happen at a reasonable cost . Thus an inquiry would be a good idea . However , we still need a reasonable center and a 1-2 defenseman if we are actually trying to get near a playoff birth . Even with those 3 we should at least be able to climb up to 8-9th in our conference and surpass teams like Calgary , Arizona , Vanc. , Nashville , Winnipeg . The rest we will be competitive with and perhaps latch onto a birth . Having said that , I am not sold the Oilers want to fill those holes this season . If they were I believe they would have made that a priority instead of on the backburner where it is now . I am beginning to wonder if they are planning another year of tanking by using default position filling once again. Hope I am wrong , but that’s what it is starting to feel like .

  • Zarny

    IMO, I believe it may be better to see what Pitlick and Khaira could do this year. I know that both are very young still, and Pitlick has had injury issues but its now the time to do two things here….

    1) let Pitlick, Khaira, Pinizzotto and even Lander… fight it out for a 4th line wing spot. I’ve seen Pitlick, Pinizzotto and Lander play ebough in the NHL to know they could be 4th liners, and… but… when I saw excerpts of Khaira this year at prospects orientation camp… I saw that this kid can play both centre/wing easily and he could learn a lot from Gordon for future centre duty as well.

    IMO, either of Pitlick and Khaira (if they earn it mind you) should slot in that 4th line wing position now. Both can really skate very well, can shoot, have very good size. lander to me is too passive in that he does not hit much and his skating is average , although he can play centre a bit/play PK.

    With Hendricks and Gordon on the line, these kids would do well.

    Gotta show the system that the Oilers do play the kids they draft.

    2) Sign a legit enough two yr bridge playing vet centreman and allow Draisaitl one more year to grow. hey, if the kid can do extremely well in TC and during his 9 game intro, like Hall, RNH, and even Yak…before him…then let him stay. But it may be time to do exactly what the team did with Eberle before he came to the Oil for good.

    • pkam

      What is wrong with signing a veteran 3/4 NHL winger who is off his prime to send a message to the young players that you have to at least beat this player in order to play in NHL?

  • For some reason it seems pointless to be focussing on the make up of the fourth line when the team was the 28th ranked team in the NHL last year. While they may have some impact on results, agonizing over who plays what spot is comical. The Oilers have much greater issues to deal with, starting with their #2C and the make up of the blue line contingent.

    • pkam

      What are your thoughts on our current Defense squad?

      I think it got better. Get Petry signed and we have our best defense group since 2008, or even 2006 with Pronger *spitz*

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Petry was signed the other day. As for the remainder of the blue line contingent it has improved. My concern is that we still do not appear to have a legitimate first pairing D man.

        Last year we had a group of 5-6 D men being forced to play well above their comfort level. This year we have a group of 3-4 level D men being forced to play to high on the roster.

        Until we have a true first pairing tandem (Nurse Klefbom at some future date?)we are going to struggle to be a playoff team much less a contender.

    • This may come as a shock, but t’s actually possible for a team to work on more than one thing at a time.

      Imagine, being able to have a conversation about a possible 4th line player while still being aware that you have bigger holes to fill!

  • Zarny

    Moss would make a lot of sense if you were in the 1 million range. He could easily pair with Hendricks to play a tough zone line. He doesn’t play center BUT he has taken his fair share of draws. He runs about 43%, not great but a good secondary option.

    I think the fan base is worried about the center position more than the management team. I think with a guy like Moss & Hendricks on the 4th line they can help anchor the line with a younger center.

    The Oilers would have the option of playing the hot hand with Purcell & Perron. I’d be tempted to pair Gordon with Yakupov (to give him the Horcoff treatment) and then you could have Lander or Arcobello to play with Moss & Hendricks.

    Your bottom nine could look like this.

    Perron-Arcobello/Draistail-Purcell
    Pouliot-Arcobello/Lander/Gordon-Yakupov
    Hendricks-Arcobello/Gordon/Draistail/Lander-Moss

    Spares; Draistail/Arcobello/Lander (whichever draws out) Pitlick (waiver eligible) and Gazdic when he gets back. Someone would have to be sent out when Gazdic gets back.

  • I think it is getting silly hearing this talk about getting another centre, I do believe most people were pissed they arcobello didn’t get a full year and really if he did he would of been rookie of year or at least in the final of that. I don’t think MacT is going to do anything, Arcobello is going to surprise most of us and if we need a big huge centre it will happen in the spring at the trade deadline.

    • pkam

      I was upset Arcobello wasn’t playing regular is because he was better than the alternative.

      He may be an excellent utility player but he’s not going to be a second line center on a good team.
      Though he may start the season as second line center with Edmonton.

    • Zarny

      Oh really?

      I like Mark Arcobello. You have to admire a guy who grinds it out and gets to the NHL the hard way.

      But the reality is he’ll turn 26 in August and has all of 42 of NHL experience. He’s small enough to play a hobbit with no CGI, and while he was playing as one of the Oilers top 2 C last year they were 4-15-2.

      Arcobello is not going to be a #2C in the NHL. He hit his prime last year at 25 and has another 4 years or so and he’ll likely be out of the league again if he can even stick around that long.

      That’s how it goes for players who take 7 years to get to the NHL.

    • northof51

      I think most people were pissed that, given our black hole of suck at centre, Arco wasn’t given more opportunity. Remember that fun time when Will Acton was dressing on the 4th line while Arco sat in the press box? And then with a “healthy” Gagner spiraling into unparalleled lows, Arco still sat and then got demoted to the Barons.

      Also, what about acquiring a huge centre at the deadline? Waiting for the deadline to make a deal is a high risk, low reward play as buyers seldom win those deals.

    • IM80

      I wasn’t pissed about Arco not getting a full year.

      Calder trophy discussion for Arcobello? …wow…ummm….on what merit? yes, he had nice advanced stats but let’s not go too far here. 10pts in first 10gms, then 8pts over next 31 games. 82 equiv of 36pts and -14…..

      Arco is what he is…..small centre, decent skills, very smart and understands defensive responsibility.

      trash the post away…but IMO, he will not be on the roster this full season and whether anyone wants to hear this or not…i don’t think he will ever be on the Oilers NHL roster for a full season…..(which is too bad because i do like him, but he doesn’t fit with the roster they are trying to build, and he doesn’t appear to be in MacT’s long term plans)

      • to be fair to Arco, early in the season he was played at his natural position with good players. He was later moved to the wing and and sometimes with Gazdic on his line. At Center, He is a great option to win the battle against soft competition and his game is sound enough to support a less defensively competent player on his wing.

      • The 36 pts you prorated doesn’t account for the fact that in his last 20 games he wasn’t getting the offensive push he got in his first 20. Offensize Zstarts went down, and qualteam plummeted.

        He’s still a total “?” IMO. Could be a superior 2C to Gagner, and when Draisaitl is ready, ARCO could be a great fit as 3C… Not sure yet, but it’s possible.

  • Spoils

    New comment for this – I want to see some blog chatter about the #2C…

    For example let’s talk about Carolina –

    Eric Staal – 61pt;
    Jordan Staal – 40pt;
    Riley Nash – 24 pt (25 – 6’1, 200lbs);
    Elias Lindholm – 21pt;
    Manny Malhotra – 13pt;
    Andrei Loktionov – 10pt;
    Brett Sutter – 2pt

    Riley Nash maybe? – 575k and an RFA next year and Carolina has 63M against their cap now…

    not quite a #2C, former Oiler pick, good two way possession player… too small?

    or could we go after a Jordan Staal?

  • Spoils

    This sounds kind of perfect given the chemistry/history etc. for the fourth line:

    Hendricks Gordon Moss

    I like the idea of the team getting harder and harder to crack. Would Lander skate onto the team in LA or Chicago? If someone can bump Moss out, it’s worth taking the flyer.

  • bazmagoo

    I’d sign Moss. Great depth/role player. Leave Lander in OKC

    3 scoring lines and a 4th consisting of Hendrix$, Gordon and Moss would be a great shut down line and a bona-fide start to a NHL penalty kill unit.

    It would lighten the load, for Dr Dri.

    A 3rd of Purcell, Acro , Poulet
    2nd Perron, Dry$addle, Yak. Sheltered “Corn boil butter soft line”
    1ST Hall RNH Eberle.

  • bazmagoo

    His history with Gordon is interesting. But I think the Oilers are content to have Lander and Arcobello battle for starting minutes (or both winning starting minutes at training camp if Draisaitl falters), as well as Joensuu and Gazdic alternating for 4th line minutes depending on the game (need for a goon). Wouldn’t be horrible to have Moss at league minimum or just above for a year though, would certainly add to the battle at training camp. The majority of players don’t return when they go to Europe, I’m sure Moss is well aware of this.

    • Zarny

      That’s the problem isn’t it. I like Purcell and Pouliot but serviceable guys are still available at a lot less salary. It’s great to have a third scoring line but you better build a second line in the process. If MacT doesn’t make a deal for a quality C then this could be another tough year.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Actually, yes.

      He played about half a season at centre for the Flames. He’s better as a winger, but he wasn’t half bad at centre.

      He’s a quality player, excellent advanced stats and passes the eyeball test.

      The only question with Moss is his health. The fact that he’s 32 now, and has got a handshake deal in Switzerland suggests there aren’t many NHL teams that can answer that question to their satisfaction.

      I would suggest that the Oilers pass on this guy. Quality player, but the Oilers need to put their cap space towards the gaps on the roster rather than further reinforcing the wings.