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
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):
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).
For this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday: Who do you keep, who do you send on down the line?
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.
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.
RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS
- Take the hit, but take a number
- Tyler Pitlick activated, Andrew Miller assigned to OKC
- Edmonton needs a No. 1 defenceman in the worst way
- Derek Roy, Mark Arcobello and Nail Yakupov
- Oilers sign Kyle Platzer, send Tyler Bunz to OKC
- GDB 79.0: Ready the brooms
- Oilers re-sign Anton Lander
- Follow Jonathan Willis on Twitter