WWYDW: End of Roster Options


There’s a funny thing about rebuilds: Aside from the guys who are proven NHL players (stars like Taylor Hall, veterans like Andrew Ference) and the bluest of blue chip prospects (we’re talking Leon Draisaitl, not Martin Marincin) the rest of the guys on the team tend to be warm bodies who will end up spending many lovely years playing games in Germany and Switzerland.

Is that true of the current depth players in Edmonton, or are there some guys worth saving for next season?

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A Quick History Lesson

This is certainly true of the Oilers’ rebuilds. Let’s just look at 2009-10. Remember Aaron Johnson, who played 20 minutes per game after coming over in a deadline deal from Calgary? He’s played 66 NHL games in four and a half seasons since being a top-four defenceman in Edmonton. Taylor Chorney played more than 17 minutes per game for half that season, Theo Peckham and Dean Arsene each had a dozen games and Alex Plante and Johan Motin both got cameos.

The situation up front is much the same. Gilbert Brule, Patrick O’Sullivan, Ryan Potulny, Robert Nilsson, Marc Pouliot, J-F Jacques, Zack Stortini and Ryan Stone were all reasonably integral parts of that 2009-10 team. And I’m not even getting into guys like Charles Linglet and Chris Minard, who are both real hockey players despite your almost certain suspicion that I’m just making names up.

And it’s not just failed rebuilds that tend to staff their rosters with a bunch of random AHL/AHL+ filler. The year before Sidney Crosby was drafted by Pittsburgh, eight of the Penguins nine top scoring forwards were Aleksey Morozov, Milan Kraft, Rico Fata, Konstantin Koltsov, Tomas Surovy, Tom Kostopulos, Brain Holzinger and Mike Eastwood (fun side point: Kelly Buchberger played 71 games for that team). The team’s top four defencemen (and I swear I’m not making this up) were Richard Jackman, Dick Tarnstrom, Drake Berehowsky and Martin Strbak.

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Teams that draft really high tend to be terrible teams; it’s not uncommon for many of their top players to be out of the NHL in a short little while and it’s even more common for depth guys like Lasse Pirjeta, Eric Meloche and Patrick Boileau to disappear and not even be remembered. Looking at draft lottery contenders is a little like looking at expansion teams that have a half-dozen real NHL players.

Teams don’t talk about that of course; they have to keep selling tickets even once it’s clear that the most of the product on the ice will be reheated by the Hamburg Freezers in two years’ time. So they look at the young guys and say they’re prospects getting valuable development time and they play up the ‘finally getting a chance’ and ‘fighting for a job’ storylines for the minor league journeymen.

Are there exceptions on the current Oilers’ roster or are the players in those slots doomed to follow Lennart Petrell, Liam Reddox and Shawn Belle into obscurity?

The Dirty Dozen


Cropping out the really young and/or really blue-chip prospects and the established NHL veterans, we end up with a list that has played for Edmonton this year (and is still with the organization) which looks something like this:

  • Derek Roy. Acquired by the Oilers in trade for an undrafted 5’9” forward who worked his way up from the NHL, Roy had cleared waivers shortly before Edmonton acquired him. He is a pending unrestricted free agent.
  • Steven Pinizzotto. A 30-year-old with 18 games of NHL experience going into the season, Pinizzotto was acquired in a trade for failed prospect Ryan Martindale last year. The trade also included a swap of AHL contracts (Jack Combs for Derek Nesbitt). He is a pending unrestricted free agent.
  • Matt Fraser. Claimed by the Oilers off waivers from Boston. He is a pending restricted free agent.
  • Anton Lander. A textbook case in how not to develop talent, Anton Lander played 56 NHL games shortly after stepping off the plane from Sweden in 2011-12; he’s played 49 games total in the two and half seasons since. He is a pending restricted free agent.
  • Tyler Pitlick. The oft-injured winger developed slowly in the AHL, cleared waivers earlier this season and is now once again on injured reserve. He is a pending restricted free agent.
  • Iiro Pakarinen. Drafted and forgotten by Florida, Pakarinen was reclaimed from Europe by the Oilers’ scouting staff. He is on a two-way contract next season.
  • Rob Klinkhammer. He was the ‘warm body’ throw-in on the David Perron-for-draft pick trade. He is a pending unrestricted free agent.
  • Luke Gazdic. A pure enforcer who was claimed off waivers from Dallas. He is on a one-way contract next season.
  • Brad Hunt. An undrafted defender who was snapped up from Vancouver’s AHL team. He is a pending restricted free agent.
  • Martin Marincin. In 2013-14 he was an up-and-coming prospect who was one half of Edmonton’s best defence pairing. After a summer of bulking up in accordance with organizational priorities, he had a bad start to camp and is presently exiled to the minors. He is a pending restricted free agent.
  • Keith Aulie. Snatched up by Edmonton after Tampa Bay declined to qualify him. He is a pending restricted free agent.
  • Brandon Davidson. An overage late draft pick of the Oilers who is rapidly approaching the end of his waiver exemption. He is a pending restricted free agent.

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In today’s edition of ‘What Would You Do Wednesday’, we ask simply which of those 12 players should be on the Oilers’ opening night roster next season. I see two players (Klinkhammer, Marincin) who I’d be interested in were I in Craig MacTavish’s shoes, and maybe a couple more who might be worth taking a shot on under the right circumstances but who aren’t remotely priorities.

How do you see it?


  • I would like to ask you JW if you know why MM has been black-balled by the Oilers?

    This is a guy that played some impressive hockey last year; was told to bulk-up which he did over the summer…….and somewhere along the way something happened?

    Exactly why is he being singled out for bad play? It’s not like others on the team have been all stars……..this is very poor asset management on the part of the Oilers?

    • MGD

      I think they sent MM back to OKC to get some mean in his game. I have a feeling, he’ll be up to replace Petry after the trade deadline and Marincin will pick up right where Petry left off – decent skating and passing (which he already had) and the odd body check.

    • Puck_In_Throat

      He did struggle at times this season but I don’t see why everyone is saying he’s been exiled. What if the Oilers are finally getting it right by just letting him play in the AHL and take on the proper amount of responsibility and pressure, instead of the bright lights and intensity of the NHL let this young kid find his way. He also hasn’t exactly lit up the AHL so it’s not like he has to be called up immediately. I’d rather they leave him there until his play shows that he absolutely belongs in the show. Kind of what Detroit did with Jonathan Ericsson.

      • Tikkanese

        If you are correct than I’m OK with him playing on the farm………..precious little information has come out on this player, except what Eakins said.

        I for one hope you are right.

  • Are the oilers trying to outdo Led Zeppelin Zep had albums 1,2,3,4.The Oilers have rebuild 1,2,3 .I get very frightened when I hear Oilers and rebuild.I think the hole is so deep getting out of it could be next to impossible, I hope I am wrong.This very proud hockey city deserves much better.Playoffs please for next yesr.You listening Daryl?Bartender another double rum and coke please.

  • If I were MacT, I wouldn’t be able to make any decisions on that list of players until after I traded Ebs, shultz, (traded/lost) Petry.

    Pretty sure after those few guys are gone, it will still be pretty glaring how much more help is still needed, and we might need all of them. Lol

    The oilers spend a lot of money for an incomplete team, so we will probably be stuck counting on ahl level players for a while.

  • socaldave

    Roy – sign him if he’s interested, one year deal

    Lander – qualifying offer, two years, otherwise trade him for a bag of pucks

    Klinkhammer – deserves a contract, I’d give him 2 years

    Marincin – there’s a dman in there somewhere, should be offered a multi-year deal

    Aulie – the only real 50/50 “on the fence” player, AFAIC. If they keep him, okay, if they don’t… okay.

  • Dobbler

    I think if you want competition in next years training camp, you have to resign players like Aulie, Lander, Klinkhammer and Roy (or sign free agents to replace them). Best case scenario, they are beat for a roster spot by the likes of Nurse, Marincin, Draisaitl, and McDavid. We left the 2nd line center spot open for a rookie without a back-up plan, and we can see how well that worked out.

    It might not be perfect asset management, but I’ll trade that for a deeper/better team on any day that ends with a “Y”.

  • Dobbler

    I agree about Marincin and Kinghammer, and a few of the others are possibles. Unless they are able to draft MacEichel the team will need a second line center as LD makes more sense on the third line next year. Roy could be a cheap, if far from ideal, fix in that slot. Pakorinen will likely be called up after the trade deadline ship out (as will Marincin I presume) so we should get an extended look at him and see if he is a possible. I haven’t given up on Lander yet, but I can’t really see where he’s going to fit in the bottom six.

    • Harry2

      Going with an 18 year old at 2C and a 19 year old at 3C is a recipe for DISASTER.

      However if McDavid/Eichel is drafted they need to move LD to the wing. My best guess would be to retain Roy or sign a vet 3C to team up with LD.

      If EDM isn’t picking CM or JE they should do everything they can to trade the pick for a top Dman or a #1 goalie.

      I don’t see a top goalie being pried away ala Luongo to VAN from FLA. Although Tampa might part with Bishop/Vasilevsky (spelling). Niemi is the answer on a 2/3 year deal. But if they do trade the pick/Eberle for a goalie they need to get a blue chip prospect back (Fucale, Vasilevsky)

      As far as a top dman goes. EDM needs to develop their own Doughty/Keith/Hedman. Id be hesitant to trade the pick unless something huge came along (Seabrook, Josi). If a trade is the answer a hockey deal is the best route (Eberle trade).

      I think EDM needs to go the NYI route and go for defence by committee. Boychuk needs to be made an offer. Nurse and Klefbom are both great prospects and going to be great NHLers.

      My head now hurts.

    • A-Mc

      Oh the Gregor show this week a person covering OKC was saying that Marincin just hasn’t been playing very well. Klefbom quickly jumped him and now the next 2 names for possible call up are likely Osterle and Davidson.

        • Harry2

          Defence defence defence. Call me crazy but I think their defensive game is a heck of a lot better then their offensive game. These guy can’t score! Lots of 1 goal games lost recently. I think the defence is actually playing alright lately. It’s the offense that concerns me. This team just had no finish.

    • camdog

      He isn’t ready to play every night in the NHL, so he is developing his game with our development team.

      It is shocking around here, but this is how most teams build a 22 year old into a NHL dman.

      Just keep your nut….

  • wiseguy

    I understand Marincin is playing the RD in the minors. I think he is being trained to play the right as we have a few bodies on the LD already. His best chance to crack the roster next season is as a RD.

    • camdog

      If that’s true that there explains everything. Too bad for him I guess, that he gets to be the experiment. Guess if it works he will become that much better of a player.

  • Puck_In_Throat

    Qualify Marincin. Qualify Lander.

    Everyone else – hit the road.

    I like Roy, but give him 1 year at $1m or show him the door.

    NO MULTI YEAR DEALS for any of these guys.

    Each year Florida assembles a better team than we do with the following mantra:

    1. play your first round picks for the last 4 years.

    2. pick up one or two “bad contracts” where real NHL players (i.e. Brian Campbell) are being grossly overpaid. (Note – Mike Richards)

    3. scrap the rest of your roster.

    4. sign real NHL players on September 1st who are the “leftovers” of the league for bargain basement, 1 year contracts.

    5. wait for first round picks to ask for trade.

    6. trade former 1st round picks for 1st round picks next year/magic beans

    7. repeat.

    At least Florida is consistent.

  • oilerjed

    Derek Roy. As proven again and again actual NHL centers don’t just appear out of nowhere. He has been effective in his short stint with the Oilers, this guy needs to be resigned on the cheap if possible(2yrs\2mil). If Drai or McEichel push him out of the line-up then so be it. The money they are saving having a rookie in the line-up would make up for his contract

    Steven Pinizzotto. Flush

    Matt Fraser. Flush

    Anton Lander. This guy has real value even though he can’t score and I cant find a spot for him on the team unless Drai is sent to the Minors and McEichel isn’t gifted a spot.. Sign to a two year\two way($750K) deal and hope like hell he can make the team on merit out of training camp forcing any of the new guys to make the jump from the AHL.

    Tyler Pitlick. Sign to a two year deal($650K) and send to the AHL and hope he can improve enough to be a call up option.

    Iiro Pakarinen. Hope like hell that he forces his way on the roster and sends Purcell to the pressbox.

    Rob Klinkhammer. He is good for fourth line fodder. Sign him cheap\ 2years($750K)
    Luke Gazdic. Give him a shot in training camp then send to AHL after he shows that he just can’t keep up.

    Brad Hunt. Flush

    Martin Marincin. Is in the lineup on Opening night unless a really bad training camp then spends another year in the AHL. Sign to a two year\two way deal($750K)

    Keith Aulie. If he is really all we can dress as our 7th defensemen then I am really sad.

    Brandon Davidson. Qualify with reup at same price ([email protected]$640K)

    I would qualify Aulie and Davidson but I would like to see them as filler in any press release that says we traded player X for a
    1\2C or 1/2 pairing D. Add Pitlick to this list as well.

    Edit:Finally got the formatting right!

  • ubermiguel

    Agree with Klinkhammer and Marincin.
    Would consider Parkinen [ needs to come up for a look see @NHL level.

    Nikitin stays as 7 Defence [ not one will pick up that contract.]

    The concern is players dont want to come to this organization, so where are you going to get NHL players to fill the holes. As for forwards, there is ZERO players in the AHL at this time.

  • Prongers Promises

    No one else for Roy? You want to find yourself in the same predicament as this year again next year?



    Drai will not be ready next year I dont care what he does. He does not get a job on this team. If we get ConJack then so be it there is competition amongst players for a SPOT!

    Roy @ 1M


  • A-Mc

    Hall is not a star (on this team that is). I watch every game even though I live in NYC and honestly he is not a difference maker. He has the skill to be a star no doubt but has not reached that distinction; he is nowhere close unless I am missing something, have we lowered the “star” bar.

    Also, the rebuild “narrative” has become tiresome for everyone IMO I don’t think anything will change unless ownership changes- which ain’t gonna happen.

    I feel like this team morphed into some irrelevant 2nd tier English soccer team which is sad.

    Lastly, check out Perron he looks amazing funny what going to a proper hockey club will do to one’s game/confidence. Lol imagine Hall with a proper team.

    • bradleypi

      How can you say in one breath, Taylor is not a star, then in the same breath say he is a star, just not in Edmonton? How’s sitting on both sides of the fence going for ya? Top 10 in league scoring last year says he has star written all over him. Nobody on this Oilers team looks like a star this year because the defense is so inept, it trickles up to the forwards. And a piss poor power play strategy from Eakins in the first half hasn’t helped anybodies stats either.

      • camdog

        He has star talent no doubt but has no exhibited that distinction night in and night out do you disagree. I don’t give a Rats what he did last year or the year before for that matter this year is what matters.

        So Eakins is to blame for his poor performance this year as opposed to his 27 goal campaign (top 10 points- 7th overall) last year. He has scored 3 goals since the regime change…

        The overall defense is part of the problem but to blame that for Hall’s or the other forward’s lack of offensive numbers is a bit of a stretch. I see major defensive lapses in our forward corps game in and game out- remember defense involves everyone…

        11 goals is 11 goals no more no less- they are not star numbers no matter how you want to spin it.

  • ubermiguel

    Derek Roy – 1 year deal for a couple of million. Or 2 years if he’s looking for security. We need NHL centres.

    Anton Lander – The rest of the season is his try-out. He’s putting up more points than I expected, but he’s still probably going to top out as a 4th liner.

    Tyler Pitlick – “oft-injured” is putting it mildly. There’s a player there when he’s healthy. 1 year two way deal plus a lot of prayer.

    Martin Marincin – Absolutely sign him, for a few years if it’s cheap enough. Like many young defensemen his development is not in a straight line, and that’s ok. When he’s on his game he’s very good.

    The rest I can take or leave depending on who’s out there to replace them and who will sign here. Those guys are as good (or as bad) as any other borderline NHL players, but if we have their rights as RFAs we’ll have more leverage than with UFAs.

  • bradleypi

    Keep Roy barring a trade for a Centre. I would love a 4th line of gazdic lander pinnozoto. Just cause this team desperately needs an energy line. Swap Fraser in when gazdic isn’t needed. Keep klinkhammer as he Gordon and Hendricks have real nice chemistry.
    LD will be tough to crack for MM considering the salaries of a couple of oilersnation most hated, but he deserves a long look in training camp. Aulie is a nice 7 dman. Brings it physically. Oilers need more of that.
    That leaves Purcell as my odd man out. Trade him or bury him in the minors. Not a huge loss.

  • Tikkanese

    • Derek Roy. Sure. Him or another similar veteran 2C/3C is needed to sign a cheap 1-2 year stop-gap deal

    • Steven Pinizzotto. Basically the Matt Hendricks of OKC. He’s depth 4th line insurance that would create competition in camp. Again 1-2 year deal on a two-way for league minimum. Doubt he’s on the opening night roster. Nothing wrong with that

    • Matt Fraser. Is he even playing? I never notice him. Wish I did as he’d be a good story. From what I’ve seen, pass.

    • Anton Lander. Why not resign him? He looks to be at least a 4C. Is still young enough with enough pedigree to improve still

    • Tyler Pitlick. I think he’s too injury prone to bother resigning

    • Iiro Pakarinen. He’s already signed and showing hot streaks of great play. Needs more consistency. He might need more seasoning in AHL again next year. Hard to say

    • Rob Klinkhammer. He’s a dime a dozen type player. If they can sign him to basically league minimum, I see no reason not to.

    • Luke Gazdic. He’ll make the team but whether he’s on the opening night roster probably depends on the other team’s lineup. Like Gregor’s article awhile ago proved, Gazdic unlike most enforcers rarely takes bad penalties. He also skates quite well and brings good energy. I don’t mind him.

    • Brad Hunt. Opening night roster? No. Resign? Sure, he’s a good AHL D.

    • Martin Marincin. Opening night roster? I hope so. Sign to as long a deal as possible as it could be a steal at the price he’s going to get right now

    • Keith Aulie. Opening night roster? I hope not. Resign? He’s been ok but I think they could find better at same price.

    • Brandon Davidson. Opening night roster? Doubt it. Resign? Sure. Really doubt he’d be claimed on waivers.

  • WTF2

    This scouting record speaks for itself. In one word, pathetic! Player development is another failure. Where on earth other than a NHL team would paid help be retained after years of mis-management?

  • Harry2

    Marincin like Dubnyk refused to do what was asked of them. Imagine that in the NFL or Premiere soccer.

    I am not saying I think the Oilers are good with young talent, in fact I think they have always been awful. And that’s a compliment.

    Still, when you’re 6’5″ or whatever great height he is, and you can’t break 200 lbs, that’s not going to work. He has a lower pound per inch ratio than the gold standard of too skinny defensemen Lidstrom.

    He’s not a teenager anymore, time to grow up and realize all those behemoths in the league including Chara worked hard to be what they are.

  • Puck_In_Throat

    Its pretty incredible how Marancin went from a bright spot to a crap stain in under a year. His instincts on the ice were a breath of fresh air as he made some good rushes here and there. He didnt make too many glaring mistakes that I can recall last year. This team always goes wrong with prospects. Were shovelling out guys like Schultz and Nikitin who are giveaway machines and Marancin gets thrown on the RD side and is now struggling in the AHL? I would not give up on the kid, one bad campaign on your weak side shouldnt define your career. The Oilers are doing it with him and they are almost completing the axe job on Yaks career as well.