The Draft Should Have Nothing To Do With It

During yesterday’s broadcast, and very much everywhere else,
something came up when the issue of re-signing Derek Roy was discussed that
just doesn’t make a lot of sense. There is the perception out there that the
Oilers should wait until at least the draft lottery before they ink their 2C to
an extension. This is nonsense.

The thinking goes like this (I think): The Oilers are in a
great position to draft first or second overall and if
they do they should be getting one of two draft eligible centers who most believe
can jump into NHL action next season. Signing Derek Roy would not only complicate
where this 18 year old kid would play in the lineup but it would be entirely unnecessary
because these guys are already NHL ready and would be the Oilers’ 2C come
October.

Yes. The fear from some is that Edmonton might just have TOO
MANY centers next fall if they extend Derek Roy.

Well, I’m just here to remind you of two things.

1) The Oilers haven’t had this problem since Gagner was a
rookie

2) That would be a wonderful problem to have

The Oilers’ relative draft position should play absolutely
no part in the signing of Derek Roy. And, if it does, then the club has learned nothing from the debacle that they created for themselves because
they went into this season with no experience down the middle of the ice.

How quickly some people manage to forget the Oilers were (in
large part) undone because too much was expected of Leon Draisaitl as a raw NHL
rookie. Why would anybody want to go through that again?

“But McDavid and Eichel are special!”

Yes, they are. They have proven themselves to be a cut above
the rest and McDavid is on a level above Eichel even. Sidney Crosby said that
McDavid is better than he was at that same age. It’s incredible praise and the
numbers support the claim: Crosby scored
102 points as a rookie.

But let’s not forget also that the Penguins were terrible
that year. That was 102 points by Crosby that were essentially wasted on a team
that wasn’t able to compete. Their depth was brutal and they took a couple
years to build it around him AFTER he was there. The Oilers could have that
kind of depth BEFORE their most talented player arrives.

The object is to win games and you start getting there when
you add good players to your team, not when you switch them out constantly.

“But where would (our new shiny toy) play?”

Great question, I’m glad you asked. It may come as a shock
but even with Derek Roy the Oilers aren’t a great team. It turns out
that this version of the team is FILLED with AHL and superfluous talent. There
is plenty of room for talented players on the wings if necessary. My mock
lineup in the event that the Oilers draft first or second in June looks like this.

Hall RNH Eberle

Pouliot Roy Yakupov

Hendricks Gordon Klinkhammer

Lander McEichel Purcell

It’s really not a terrible lineup at all. It gives the
Oilers the opportunity to bring Leon Draisaitl (who is now killing it in
Kelowna and leading the WHL in Estimated Points per 60) slowly if necessary.
Most importantly, it doesn’t rob the Oilers of the experience it needs.

“But Lander isn’t a winger, you jerk!”

Somebody has to play the wing and the NHL is littered with
former centers playing the wing. Perhaps one day soon the Oilers wont have Boyd
Gordon or Derek Roy will walk away and then your beloved Lander will get to
play his natural position again and Leon Draisaitl can also take a spot on the
big club. Stamkos started on the wing. MacKinnon played on the wing. Heck,
Messier started on the wing. Lots of good players begin their NHL careers away
from their natural positions. It wouldn’t kill Lander and it sure as heck wouldn’t
kill McEichel if the Oilers were so lucky to draft him.

THEY OUTWEIGH THE CONS

pros-and-cons-

The list of benefits for signing Derek Roy to an inexpensive
and short term extension outweigh the cons by far. In fact, from my perspective
it seems so obvious that even I’m wondering how the rug will be pulled out from
under it (because this is the Oilers and it’s always a trap).

1) It keeps more than 700 games of NHL experience in the top
six. We can’t possibly overstate how important that is on such a young team. The
top six drives your NHL club. They are the offensive engine of the team and the
last time I looked you still need to score goals to win games. The Oilers do
not have another offensively minded center with any other experience than the
misery of losing in an Oiler uniform.

2) It gives the coach lots of options. We touched on this
already. With Derek Roy in the 2C spot the Oilers can shelter their shiny new
draft toy to any degree they choose. They will not be exposing this kid the way
they exposed Leon Draisaitl. If players get hurt there will be options already
on the team that can take over duties at center as well. Above all else, there
would be NHL talent all the way through the lineup.

3) It gives the manager lots of options. A “surplus” of
centers means some of those regular wingers could become expendable. I don’t just
mean that the team can let players go for nothing, but more so that they could
move them for pieces they desperately need. MacTavish can go big game hunting
on the blueline dangling Jordan Eberle or he can get creative and retain salary
for Purcell and pick up depth or maybe a goaltender.

4) He is making Yak a player. Not to take all the agency
away from Yakupov, but Derek Roy looks like the best thing that ever happened
to former first overall pick. Roy is there to support Yakupov in a way
that nobody has ever done before at this level and the results are speaking for
themselves. Even though I am one of Yakupov’s biggest supporters, there’s no
question that it looked like he was heading down a path of mediocrity. A lot of
that might have just been bad luck (terrible PDO fuelled by a horrific on-ice
shooting percentage) but I don’t think anyone can deny that with Roy he is now
playing the best hockey of his life. Resigning Roy now doesn’t guarantee that
the good times will continue, but it sends the message that they still care
about his development. Yak turned down a chance to play on the top line because
he wanted to stick with Roy. He made a commitment to Roy and the Oilers could
do the same.

5) He’s already here. Yesterday a report came out saying that the most undesired place to play is Edmonton. The team is terrible, the weather is atrocious,
the media scrutiny is high, the fans are rabid, and there has been a coaching
carousel since MacTavish left. The best way to convince a player that this
could be a great place to play and live is to get them here first and let them
experience it first-hand. Well: mission accomplished. Roy is here, has found a
playing partner, has experienced more success per game than the rest of the
available players will see looking at the season as a whole, and he needs a new
contract. Passing on Roy means overcoming all the obstacles of attracting
players without the chance to let them experience it first. Good luck with
that.

6) He has incredible hair. Edmonton’s style goes up significantly
with Derek Roy in the city limits.

The notion that there’s a scenario at the draft lottery
where it stops making sense to re-sign Roy doesn’t hold any water. Maybe
ESPECIALLY if the Oilers win the lottery or stick with the second pick
they should re-sign Derek Roy. So if the Oilers don’t want to ink him to a new
contract then let it be for some other reason than that they might want to make
room for another 18 year old. Let it be because his possession numbers are low
or because the team covets a more complete player. Let it be because his hair
is just too damn good looking. Literally any other reason to delay signing him
would make more sense than because of what might happen at the draft.

  • CaptainLander

    And we all know absolutely that Roy wants to re-sign right?

    I get that he was waived and no one picked him up mid season but last year when a team was looking to add experience depth before the season started they added Roy. Nashville added a few players like that. Maybe Phoenix decides it would like to add a couple centers with experience and can later choose to waive a cheap contract. If I am Roy I keep my options open.

    History tells me that until a player says he would like to sign here I will hold the speculation of whether we should sign him. Mact has to overpay a UFA to get him and I do not think Roy would be an exception. Would you sign Roy to a 3 year 2.2 per? See, I can speculate too, and I speculate that this is what he would want to play in Edmonton, Or he will take the 1 year 900k in Pheonix.

    I like what Roy has done but I still would like to see the Oil go after bigger fish to fill that 2c role. Maybe a bigger better version of Roy. It will cost more but you gamble on a higher reward. But that is MacTs job to figure out.

    And I have Heard he is on it.

  • Zarny

    I agree with Matt.

    I remember some suggested 5 months ago the Oilers didn’t need to sign another C. Their “reasoning” was similar to what is outlined in this article – “we already have Draisaitl so what’s the point?”.

    The point is depth. The point is you don’t know if/when players like Draisaitl or even McDavid will be ready. The point is creating competition not gifting top 6 spots to kids who haven’t earned it.

    Too many C would certainly be a wonderful problem to have.

  • bazmagoo

    let roy and yak succeed to the point that we dont need the first overall selection get hanifin or strome and let them develop and not rush anything. if we can get traction moving forward we could for once have something to build on. let nelson and these boys on the ice decide the fate of the team.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    I think Roy would be smart to re-sign here. He’s got a #1 overall pick, who projects as a pure sniper, asking for him by name to ride shotgun. If things continue to go well, that puts Roy easily in the 50 point range in a full season.

    Sign a 2 year deal at $2M per. That puts him at 33 years old at the end of the contract, and ideally with ~100 points over the last two seasons. Those are the kind of UFAs who get ridiculous overpayments.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Even though I don’t always agree with you Matt I lbelieve the article represents what most Oiler fans would like to see. My take is nobody wanted him when the Preds put him on waivers so a one year one million contract should be all that is offered. Roy should be happy the Oilers gave him a chance to stay in the bigs and maybe there is a future for him after he is done playing. If he had Getzlaf hair he would not be as effective good grooming is everything.

  • Any suggestion that a team should make space for a top draft choice before that player has actually come to an NHL training camp, let alone before he’s EVEN BEEN DRAFTED is totally asinine. I’ve made this comment before but one of the big problems the oilers have had for years is a lack of internal competition because of so few actual NHL players on the roster. If McEichel wants to play second line centre minutes he absolutely should have to compete against someone exactly like Derek Roy to do it.

    Its all contingent on Roy’s contract demands of course; if his agent somehow decides he should get 4 years x $4 million, we’ll, see you. But assuming he’s in a more reasonable range like 2 years x $2 million it’s not a hard decision. I think it’s hard to go wrong signing NHL talent to reasonable dollars at any position, but especially at centre or defense, particularly if he has good hair. Not every top 6 forward position has to be filled by a teenager who you’re hoping to keep there for 8-10 years. It’s really ok to plug in a guy who’s older and not perfect who can play to a decent level for a couple years.

  • camdog

    Good NHL teams have extra centres on the roster and have them playing on the wing. The Oilers might be the only NHL team that goes into the season, thinking that the entire roster will stay healthy for an 82 game season.

    All this talk about Eichel being NHL ready, is very premature. During the juniors he scored 1 goal in 5 games, unless he was injured, I can’t see why everybody keeps hyping this kid up? I am sure he will have a great NHL career, but I don’t see anything in his game to say that he is ready to start the NHL at centre next season.

  • CaptainLander

    conspiracy theory 1

    Leafs win lottery draft mcdavid
    buffalo drafts eichel

    bettman announces expansion team in southern Ontario………..Quebec city,las vegas, seattle

    2015

    AZ wins lottery….drafts the Scottsdale kid

    Auston Matthews

    it really is the best for the nhl

  • Kevwan

    The draft might have something to do with it.

    The way Roy’s been playing you might get a late 2nd rounder or a decent prospect at the deadline. And that doesn’t prevent you from offering him a contract in July. Maybe the Oilers can have their cake and eat it to.

  • Kevwan

    I don’t get letting go of Roy. Rather have too much centre depth than too little. Also why not have McEichel stay with their junior team? One more year of OHL or NCAA hockey wouldn’t hurt at all. Same goes for Dr. Drai in the AHL, why not have him in the AHL for a year? You know MacT failed big time when Yakupov was the “veteran” that was suppose to show Draisatl the ropes, how did that workout?

  • vetinari

    Sign the man. He’s the Yakwhisperer and they need time to cement their partnership before we kick off next year’s campaign so that we can hit the ground running.

    Another mid round draft pick isn’t going to pull us out of this tailspin but signing quality veterans can.

    So what if we get one of the centres in June– could we try sending a top 3 pick back to junior to get experience and maturity rather than rushing them into the NHL for once?

  • vetinari

    I just wish i could read one post where the writer isn’t trading Eberle .The guy is just coming into his prime and you all want to trade him . He is not going any where so get more creative with your trade ideas .How about our second number one draft choice for ……

    • MattyFranchise

      Good hockey management 101…sell high! If indeed Eberle is rounding into prime form, then all the more reason to trade and get quality in weak areas of your lineup. You need quality to get quality. I would trade Eberle simply for 2 reasons:
      1) He is NOT a 2 way player and has deficiencies in his defensive game even though he has been in the league for 4-5 years.
      2) He is a small, non-physical winger and we desperately need upgrades at centre, goal, and defence. I would rather have a bigger winger to win more of the battles off the face-off or along the wall and keep possession in the o-zone. Ederle does have sick hands but sometimes I question his passion or effort.
      Feel free to disagree.

  • Borbs

    What’s the issue here? I don’t care about draft position and who the Oilers can get, you resign Roy anyways! I am of the mind the Roy trade was a two-in-one, you got a new player in Roy and a rejuvenated Yakupov! If the Oilers are keeping Yak, they have to keep Roy. And now that they have a center that can help Yak along, why trade Yak? Let’s see how they play for a full year together? Whomever says having too many centers is a problem should be kicked in the junk. Trade Roy, or let him walk in the summer, then bring in McEichel and Leon, and guess what? The Oilers are right back where they were at the start of this year!! No experience at center!!

  • toprightcorner

    The Oilers are invested in Yakapov and really need him to succeed, not resigning the player that helped him escape that is turning him from a zero to an actual top 6 forward would be the stupidest thing to date, and we all have seen this team do a lot of stupid things.

  • Craig1981

    The team is nicely starting to recover from the last coach fiasco. The next six months will see whether MacT is also a fiasco. There isn’t one person on the team with more to prove than the GM. I don’t get how he can go so over board on one coach then downplay the results of another coach who has started the turn around. Never mind his comments after signing Shultz, maybe a IQ test should be a pre requisite for NHL GMs?

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Reasons to sign Derek Roy:

    1. Derek Roy is good at hockey. Unlike most of the team.

    2. Derek Roy has a hockey IQ that has him succeed over his rather average skillset. Something the team desperately needs, a journeyman that works every shift.

    3. Yak finally has a real NHL center and is beginning to show strange signs of development, in an Oiler uniform. Crazy.

    4. He was snatched off of waivers and deserves the good faith in return for quality play, a contract offering. Good faith is the only thing this organization has left to offer to free agents. They need to show the NHL that they aren’t what everyone thinks they are. Perception is important.

    • MattyFranchise

      Great points and just a fantastic article. Excellent really… Slow hand claps to you Mr. Archeology.
      I’d also like to add how much Pouliot helps out that top 6. Watching him against the Bruins last night I felt he was quite impressive.

    • MattyFranchise

      The majority of the Flames’ forwards are listed as natural centers:

      Monahan
      Bennett
      Backlund
      Hudler
      Bouma
      Stajan
      Byron
      Jooris
      Colborne
      Granlund
      Shore
      Jankowski
      Arnold