WWYDW: The 50-Man List and 2015-16

Craig MacTavish7

With the end of the season nigh, we’re approaching the time when the Edmonton Oilers will need to make decisions on the players they want as part of their organization. Trade and unrestricted free agency get considered a lot, but before the team embarks on that approach it has to decide what to do with its own pending free agents and unsigned draft picks and how much space on the 50-man list it needs.

50-Man List, 2015-16


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By my count, the Oilers have 33 players under contract already for next season; I believe the following is a complete depth chart of players with deals (but if anyone sees an omission, just let me know in the comments below):

Left Wing Centre Right Wing Left Defence Right Defence Goalie
Taylor Hall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Jordan Eberle Oscar Klefbom Mark Fayne Ben Scrivens
Benoit Pouliot Anton Lander Teddy Purcell Andrew Ference Nikita Nikitin Laurent Brossoit
Matt Hendricks Boyd Gordon Rob Klinkhammer Darnell Nurse David Musil  
Luke Gazdic Leon Draisaitl Iiro Pakarinen Jordan Oesterle Dillon Simpson  
Ryan Hamilton Bogdan Yakimov Greg Chase Joey LaLeggia Ben Betker  
Kale Kessy Jujhar Khaira Kyle Platzer Martin Gernat    
Mitch Moroz Travis Ewanyk        

Additionally, the club has 20 skaters who are either pending free agents or draft picks the Oilers must sign in order to retain their rights. The team has only has a maximum of 17 spots for those 20 players, plus any free agents the club wants to bring in. Additionally, it’s always wise to have some breathing room for flexibility in case of injury or opportunity during the year.

The players the team must make decisions on are as follow:

  • Pending UFAs: C Derek Roy, RW Steve Pinizzotto, G Viktor Fasth, G Richard Bachman
  • Pending RFAs: RW Nail Yakupov, RW Tyler Pitlick, LW Matt Fraser, RW Andrew Miller, LW Curtis Hamilton, C Kellan Lain, RD Justin Schultz, LD Martin Marincin, LD Keith Aulie, LD Brandon Davidson, RD Brad Hunt, G Tyler Bunz, G Frans Tuohimaa
  • Unsigned picks: RW Marco Roy, C Jackson Houck, LW John McCarron

We can also add any players currently in the system on minor-league deals who might plausibly be of interest; the most notable one probably being Josh Winquist (40 games, 18 points in the AHL).

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For this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday: Who do you keep, who do you send on down the line?

My Solution


Left Wing Centre Right Wing Left Defence Right Defence Goalie
Taylor Hall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Jordan Eberle  — Mark Fayne  —
Benoit Pouliot  — Teddy Purcell Oscar Klefbom Justin Schultz Ben Scrivens
Derek Roy Anton Lander Nail Yakupov Andrew Ference Nikita Nikitin  
Matt Hendricks Boyd Gordon Rob Klinkhammer Martin Marincin    
Luke Gazdic   Tyler Pitlick      
Matt Fraser Leon Draisaitl Andrew Miller Darnell Nurse Brad Hunt Laurent Brossoit
Ryan Hamilton Bogdan Yakimov Iiro Pakarinen Brandon Davidson David Musil  —
Kale Kessy Jujhar Khaira Greg Chase Jordan Oesterle Dillon Simpson  
Curtis Hamilton Kyle Platzer Marco Roy Joey LaLeggia Ben Betker  
Mitch Moroz Kellan Lain Travis Ewanyk Martin Gernat    

My version of the depth chart has 44 signed players, along with four slots (NHL No. 2 centre, No. left defence, No. 1 goalie; AHL No. 2 goalie) that will need to be filled by players on major-league contracts. I’d also buyout Nikita Nikitin and add another NHL defenceman, but that’s a digression from the basic point of this piece, which is to figure out the 50-man list. The solution above has 49 players signed, leaving room for one addition in-season.


I’m cutting a bunch of players in this solution, and for the most part I have no great qualms about sending them out. In the Oilers’ shoes, I’d potentially be interested in retaining Bachman to split time in net with Brossoit at the AHL level, but ideally that slot is filled by a free agent goalie prospect, either from college or overseas (besides which, Bachman himself may be interested in greener pastures). I’d also be interested in signing 2013 pick Jackson Houck to an AHL deal.

Hypothetically, if there are some interesting European or college prospects that the amateur procurement department felt Edmonton had a good shot at acquiring, further sacrifices might be made. Lain and (Curtis) Hamilton are not critical signings for the AHL team if there are better external options. Additionally Hunt could be sacrificed on defence, although he’s a handy player to have kicking around the system.

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The initial version of this piece omitted defenceman Joey LaLeggia, who recently agreed to an entry-level deal. Thanks to Steve in the comments section for catching that. 


  • dougtheslug

    Not really relevant, but watching Leafs-Jackets game reminded me of how hard MacT went after David Clarkson. And how disappointed he was at the time when he didn’t sign him.

    My God, signing Clarkson would have made Nikitin look like the Bargain of the Year.

    Anyone out there still happy that Craig’s on it?

  • dougtheslug

    Crazy that a team in the west could miss the playoffs with 97 points. 97!!

    Hard to get excited about this Oilers roster when you know they could play until next January and not accumulate 97 points.

    • otter2233

      It’s even more depressing to look at Colorado in 12th and realize the Oil are a 25 point improvement away from even moving up 1 spot… Just plain ugly…

    • wiseguy

      It’s not as bad when you think that if the oilers were a competitive team, every other western team would have 6-8 less “free bingo space” points for beating us, bringing that 97 points down to a more manageable 91 points.

  • Petrolero

    The Oilers don’t have to make a decision on him this year, but there is a good chance they will sign Anton Slepyshev. Plus they will most likely sign their first round pick (assuming they trade the other one). That’s two more spots and two more incumbents to say good bye to.

  • otter2233

    Bet on Oilers to draft D.Strome , seeing as Katz owns the Erie Otters . That should shore up what MacT. wants for another sized centerman with a physical side . Unless we win lottery and get his teammate C. McDavid .

    • camdog

      Katz is not the owner of the Erie Otters.The owner is Bassin, who just took the team into Chapter 11 yesterday.’

      Katz made a personal loan to Bassin to the tune of $4.5 million and is likely listed as a creditor.

    • camdog

      Katz doesn’t own the Otters. Sportsnet has a story today of the Otters owner declaring bankruptcy recently in order to prevent Katz one of the main creditors, from being able to gain power over the team.

      • wiseguy

        I wonder with all the bad blood between our arrogant owner and the Eerie Otters if that has trickled down to the players there. If so, wouldn’t it be great if we won the lottery and McDavid says no to the Oilers because of Katz? The reputation of the Oilers from management to owner is mud around all hockey circles. All this because he was trying to get rights to an arena to put pressure on Edmonton city council prior to the deal he got.

        From the globe and mail:

        Katz made the deal with Bassin not because he was interested in the welfare of fans in Erie. Instead, if he could quietly buy the Otters, he could move them to Hamilton and take control of his ultimate prize – the hockey lease at Copps Coliseum – even though a fellow NHL owner, Michael Andlauer, was the existing leaseholder at the Hamilton arena. Andlauer, who made his fortune in the transportation and logistics industries, has a minority stake in the Montreal Canadiens and also owns their American Hockey League farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs.

        Bassin agreed to be his front man in the Hamilton transaction because Katz insisted on a low profile. No one is saying it straight out, but the timing of Katz’s move on Copps in late 2012 suggests he may have been interested to use the Copps lease as leverage to get more public funding in Edmonton in a deal to build a new downtown arena for his Oilers.

  • Poke Check

    I’d sign Slepyshev, even if he technically won’t re-enter the draft for another year. The Oilers should want him in the AHL… I mean, look at your list for LW at that level!

    Shouldn’t a contract or two be set aside for our first rounders? With the braintrust left in charge they may not be headed back to college/the CHL.

  • wiseguy

    Speaking of Oiler year end, for those who have not had chance, check a great article by Staples in the Edm.Journl…. Re: Terrible record of the team since Katz took over.

    Now if only someone can sit down with a face to face interview with Katz would be amazing to hear his view on the situation. [ I think it would it would be easier to get one with
    the President of the USA.]Then again snakes and lizzards are difficult to corner.

  • Sal-Sational

    I would proceed as follows, 1st facts:
    extend Bachman – 1 year, 1 million one way as NHL backup.
    Viktor Fasth contract runs out, he is already 32 years old, too expensive and uncertain as backup.
    Ben Scrivens contract runs until 2016 for 2.3 million buyout he charged the team with poor performance and excessive levels (Cap Space).
    Tyler Bunz is RFA at the end of the season, no contract extension.
    Laurant Brossoit contract as RFA will run until 2016, he is a classic starter in the AHL with a possible NHL career.
    Frans Tuohimaa is RFA with bad cards, but I could imagine him as AHL backup for another year.
    Ty Rimmer on AHL base would be an alternative as a backup when he has fully recovered from cancer constantly. Always check the 50 man reserve list!
    2nd free agency:
    Available Goalie at NHL Karri Ramo, Michal Neuvirth, Cam Talbot and Anders Lindback would be worth a look. Possible returnees from the NHL?

  • wiseguy

    buyouts candidates would also Nikitin and Purcell. Nikitin has a poor cost – performance curve, with its many injuries buyout makes sense. He costs the Oilers nearly $ 100,000 a game in 2014/15.
    Purcell could not find a permanent place in the system of the Oilers, with a space of 4.5 million cap, a costly achievement. Better alternatives should be to have more favorable.
    I could live with Roy as a center for another year. The right LW here is the decisive one. Iiro Pakarinen or Tyler Pitlick in the third line, with Miller as AHL-up call? We will not see Matt Fraser in the AHL, I can’t imagine safe to say it would be better for his development. Draisaitl – Yakimov – Lain will give the Condors a gain for the center position.
    A trade for one or two veteran winger would be desirable. They should give the young team some content and share their experience.
    Rumors say it will pull Steve Pinizzotto to his brother to Germany. Both have the German citizenship.
    About Hall we’ll may need to think in the future, if not entering a power increase.

    Next defense. Keith Aulie for little money for another year? Why not, he is not cost factor and he protects the young players. Give them ice time at AHL.
    Justin Schultz, from a cost – benefit point of view, it is comparable to Yakupov, RFA, another year (s) for 4 million or more? That would be worth a separate article.
    Brad Hunt is difficult to decide, he’s an AHL defenseman. He’s important for the young player, but he is not to be useable for the NHL. An alternative which can also be used in the NHL would be desirable or AHL-contract only.

    This would be again 5 spaces available on the 50 man reserve list. Done, but better?

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Tyler Bunz, Matt Fraser, Kellan Lain and Frans Tuohimaa do not get re-upped. all are RFA’s and can be shown the door as far as i am concerned. there you go, 4 extra contract spots are now open.

  • Harry2

    Pouliot – RNH – Ebs
    Hall – FA – Yak
    LD – Lander – Purcell
    Col. Klink – BG – Hendricks

    This is what I would like to see from the FWD group. Why is everyone so horny to break up that top line?

    The defence is a mess. Seems to me that Mac is doing with the D the same Tamby did with the FWDs. Bring in younguns and throw them to the wolves with little to no Vet support.

    A no1 dman is not going to come via trade. I think a defence by commitee approach is the best option. Bring in some good vets on an over pay fpr 2/3 years.

    And may god help us if we cant find an upgrade on Scrivens. Hes been absolutely terrible

    • Sal-Sational

      If we want to make the Playoffs next year this is what we need to do —-Forwards— Line#1 Hall – #1 Center(Thorton?)- Yak, Line#2 Pouliot-Nuge-Ebs Line#3 Pitlik-Lander-FA(big aggressive body) Line#4 Klink-Gordo-Hendy… Extras:Gazdic/Percell(if we cant ger rid of him)
      Defence- #1 (phaneuf) – Klefbom, Fayne – Marincin, Ference – Heavy hitter….. Extra: B.Davidson
      Goal- #1 Goalie and a Back-up goalie….