A Predatory Edmonton Oilers Team?

Craig MacTavish15

Thanks in large part to the dramatic fall of the Canadian dollar, next year’s NHL salary cap is not expected to leave high-payroll teams with a lot of breathing room. The expectation is that this summer will see numerous teams – most notably the Chicago Blackhawks – unload salary to allow compliance with a restrictive cap.

Which means that for teams with cap space and assets, this summer and fall is likely to afford an opportunity to do the kind of thing the New York Islanders did so effectively last fall: Extract good NHL players for futures plus the cost of their contracts.

Cap space and futures

85-Marincin-3

At the Journal last month I suggested the Oilers could have roughly $17 million in cap space for next season. It has since been strongly indicated that Nikita Nikitin will not be bought out in the summer, which knocks that number down by $3.0 million (I’d budgeted for a buyout) but still leaves the Oilers with some significant breathing room to bring in some players. Assuming the possibility of some salary going back the other way, Edmonton could plausibly bring aboard two-to-three significant contracts.

The Oilers also have some significant futures to contribute. They have the Penguins’ 2015 first round pick, whatever return they get in what seems like an inevitable Petry deal (likely a 2015 second round selection) and of the prospects we should probably highlight Martin Marincin – cheap, reasonably effective and NHL-ready, as well as seemingly on the outs with the people doing assessment for Edmonton.

Wants and needs

Left Wing Centre Right Wing Left Defence Right Defence
Taylor Hall R. Nugent-Hopkins Jordan Eberle Oscar Klefbom Justin Schultz
Benoit Pouliot Derek Roy Nail Yakupov Nikita Nikitin Mark Fayne
Leon Draisaitl Anton Lander Teddy Purcell Martin Marincin Andrew Ference
Matt Hendricks Boyd Gordon Rob Klinkhammer

The roster above is obviously a projection based on no new additions and is intended as a starting point so that we can see where it needs to be upgraded. Goaltending isn’t included but just as obviously the Oilers will need to add a new netminder, probably in the No. 1 role.

I see three absolutely critical needs:

  • A new goaltender
  • A second-line centre
  • A top-pairing defenceman

There are two critical notes worth making here. First, goalies don’t generally come available via salary dump; teams with solid starters tend to keep them. My guess would be that the Oilers turn to free agency to address that problem, or if they do go through with a trade add someone without a massive salary. Additionally, the second item on that list may come through the draft lottery; if the Oilers end up in the first or second spot they’ll have a chance at a high-end talent virtually guaranteed to be on the roster next season (though I’d be sorely tempted to add a top-six forward anyway).

What would a trade look like? Let’s go back to what the Islanders did in the fall:

  • NYI acquires Johnny Boychuk from BOS in exchange for a 2015 second round pick, a 2016 second round pick and a conditional 2015 third round pick (if the Islanders package Boychuk to another Eastern Conference team).
  • NYI acquires Nick Leddy and prospect Kent Simpson from CHI in exchange for prospects Ville Pokka and Anders Nilsson as well as minor-league defenceman T.J. Brennan.

In all, the Islanders moved a top prospect, a fringe prospect and two second round picks in exchange for two top-four defencemen, players who have emerged as the team’s No. 1 and No. 3 options on a rebuilt blue line. New York was fortunate in that Boychuk and Leddy took advantage of the opportunity and evolved to fill roles they had never played in the past, but even if they had not the team stabilized its blue line at a pretty reasonable cost.

Craig MacTavish has (rightly) taken some flak for suggesting in recent weeks that the Oilers’ foundation for next season is complete. It’s impossible for an outsider to know exactly what he means by that, but if his plan is to bolster the current roster at key positions with impact additions, it’s really not such a bad idea.

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  • A-Mc

    You are correct on what the Oilers need, thinking that Mac T can fix the problems this team has is a mistake. Look at what some of the young up and coming star goalies have been traded for. The Oilers could have easily done any of those deals but Mac T chose not to. Secondly this teams best 4 players are forwards with 3 of those positions being on the wing. These players are small and struggle against the big boys or they are hurt. Solution seems simple to me, trade at least one of the small wingers for a bigger first line player or a solid #1 or #2 d man. If they stay the corse next season and Mac T makes the same kind of signings this team will be talking about the next draft in 2016 by December again. Somewhere along the line I’m waiting for someone in management to stand up and say , we were wrong and what we have has failed, here is how we plan on fixing it. Mac T seems to be as far away from this as you could be with out being committed to a mental hospital. No leadership , no direction , no plan = failure.
    Stop selling hope , that ship has sailed.

  • A-Mc

    Every time the need for a “top pairing defenceman” comes up, I get worried that the Oilers will find a way to trade for Phaneuf and that ugly contract.

    Adding Phaneuf for dollars? Sure. Adding Phaneuf by losing 1st round pick, maybe a 2nd/3rd and a decent prospect? NO THX.

    Plz steer clear Oilers.. Steeeeeeer Cleeaarrrrrr

  • ubermiguel

    MacT was talking about Leon starting in the AHL.

    That would mean they would need a third line winger as well, which looks to me like.

    1) Starting goalie
    2) Second line centre
    3) Third line winger
    4) Top pairing defender

    A cap between $70M and $72m would leave them with $13.9 to $15.9M to fill four spots. Or, $3.5M to $4M per spot on average. So, there is some room to work, but a lot of the guys I am hearing likely to get pushed out (Seabrook, Sharp for example) have higher cap hits that that.

    If Ference and Nikitin are both playing next season, one good defender won’t be able to bring up the overall talent level enough.

    Forwards:
    1. Hall, Taylor
    2. Eberle, Jordan
    3. Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan
    4.
    5. Pouliot, Benoit
    6. Yakupov, Nail
    7.
    8. Roy, Derek
    9. Purcell, Teddy
    10. Gordon, Boyd
    11. Hendricks, Matt
    12. Klinkhammer, Rob
    13. Lander, Anton

    Defence:
    1.
    2. Nikitin, Nikita
    3. Klefbom, Oscar
    4. Schultz, Justin
    5. Fayne, Mark
    6. Marincin, Martin
    7. Ference, Andrew

    Goal:
    1.
    2. Scriven, Ben

  • Randaman

    We are going to be stuck with Petry, Pussell,
    and everybody else because MacT will not like the return. His stubbornness will take over and we will be screwed.

    Petry walks for nothing and Pussell continues to avoid contact like the plague.

  • Randaman

    Personally, this team is dead meat if we dont address the defense first. We hang our goalies out to dry (and have done so the last three years) and cant defend a beach ball. Until thats addressed, a meaningful second line centre wont make a difference.

    • Randaman

      Yes! Any goalie coming into this situation is going to see their stats drop dramatically and their re-sign value sink along with them.

      We’re not going to get a good goalie that has other options till the defense is cleaned up. Maybe by then we’ll find that Scrivens, Fasth or Doobie are not too bad at goaltending.

  • T.J.F.M.

    Schultz, Yak, Lander = RFA and require new contracts. Yak and Lander likely similar priced deals. Schultz will require a large raise due to the fact that he was chosen publically over Petry and we have no other choice. That will eat up some cap room. Likely signs for $5-$5.5 Long Term (Lord knows with MacT at the helm, he could get the same “untouchable contact” of $6M over 6yrs).

    Roy is penciled in there but he would also require a contract (and actually choose to play for the Oilers). Oilers would also have to be smart enough to make him a reasonable offer, something they likely wont do until the 11th hour and it will be a large overpay. Pencil him in for $2.5m over 2yrs.

    We need 2 top pairing d’men but MacT made it clear that Schultz and Klefbom are the top pair that we have been looking for all along. Therefore, we will likely sign YET ANOTHER 6/7 dman for a massive overpay. Pencil in another $4m over 2+ years.

    What do we have left? We still need 2 wingers (if we can please get rid of Purcell already), an elite goaltender (which we will look at the table scraps late in the year), and 2 top 2 dmen (of which, we apparently already have).

    God help this team, cause nobody else can.

    Next year could actually be worse than this year, as i believe losing Petry will be far worse to this team than having Draisatl here, Nurse thrown to the wolves, and our prized newly drafted top 3 pick asked to be our new saviour.

    I cant watch this team anymore.

  • Jaxon

    Players that probably won’t be re-signed and might be decent free agent targets: Johnny Boychuk RD, NYI. Christian Ehrhoff LD, PIT. Thomas Greiss G, PIT. Blake Comeau, LW, PIT. Scottie Upshall, RW, FLA. Marcel Goc, C, STL.

    College: Kenny Morrison, RD. Matt O’Connor, G.

    Could trade for a couple players without giving up much to stock the goaltending cupboard: Dustin Tokarski, G, MTL. Tristan Jarry, G, PIT

    If you bring in the Germans (Ehrhoff, Goc, Greiss) together they may be willing sign a bit cheaper and they may provide some great mentorship for Draisaitl.

    You may also have a chance at getting the Northern Alberta free agents (Boychuk, Comeau, Upshall) at a more affordable long term price to come back home.

    I’ve heard the Oilers have interest in O’Connor just as they have shown in Morrison in the past. Morrison was at their prospects camp a couple years ago and is from Lloyd, so they may have an inside track on one of the most coveted college Ds out there.

    I would be looking at moving Hendricks & Fasth for sure. I lke Hendricks but not at 1.85M. Purcell may be able to fetch something decent and I haven’t been overly impressed with him this year. Move Petry if you can’t sign him. I love Gordon, but Goc is comparable and cheaper. If D Roy will re-sign at a reasonable rate (2M?), then great. If not, then get something for him. Dump Nikitin any way you can.

    I think Boychuk would be the only one that will demand a big salary, but remember, he does own a big house in Edmonton that, I seem to recall, he rents to an Oiler. That screams someone that would love to play in Edmonton.

    Ehrhoff is decent but hasn’t had a great year and hashad some injury issues so maybe he can be signed a bit cheaper.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Nothin right now lol. I have seen worse trade ideas posted on here.

    Chicago needs the cap room, Marincin imo is the type of young dman they’d want.

    Boychuck and Petry idea was just spitballing because I think Petry will cost less for the islanders and they seem pretty close in comparison. Yes Petry has a really bad +\- but that’s expected considering the state of the Oilers. I also hear lots of rumors about boychuck coming here in the summer anyway so why not trade for him now and see if in fact he would sign here.