Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish was on Oilers Now last week and he told host Bob Stauffer that there was going to be a limited amount of change in Edmonton this summer.
“There’s not going to be 10 new bodies coming in that dressing room,” he said. “There may be one or two or three new bodies.”
Our question for this week: Who should these new players be?
The Depth Chart
The depth chart above is a starting point for next season; it assumes that all of the Oilers’ free agents (with the exception of Jeff Petry, who seems certain to be deal in the next few weeks) are resigned. I haven’t included the Oilers’ 2015 pick, as it’s entirely plausible that the team falls to third in the draft order and therefore it makes little sense to bank on one of Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel at this point in time.
If we add three new bodies to that mix, subtracting players as necessary, what does next year’s roster look like?
Within the limits if MacTavish’s statement, I’d add a new centre, defenceman and goaltender that the team can count on. Looking at NHL Numbers’ free agent list, we can see what the options look like.
- Goal: Antti Niemi. The goalie options stink; Niemi’s the only really established starter on the market and if this hole gets filled via free agency he’s the clear choice.
- Defence: Paul Martin. I like Martin because he has a range of skills, can play left or right side and has a proven track record of performing with monster minutes. He’s not the only good defenceman on the market this summer, but most of the left-side options (Francois Beauchemin, Christian Ehrhoff, Marc Methot, Zbynek Michalek, Jan Hejda) either seem unlikely to sign in Edmonton or like uncertain bets to fill the role. There’s a long list of right-shooting defencemen who might be of interest, but the left side of the depth chart seems like the priority to fix.
- Centre: Antoine Vermette. There are a few options out there but on the whole the centre position isn’t really a great place to find free agents. I really like the idea of a guy like Shawn Matthias in place of Derek Roy, but he’s not a guy who should be counted on for top-six work.
If we’re limited to three moves, those are three I see as being at least semi-plausible and which I think will go a long way toward addressing need. But who else out there is worth looking at?