The Edmonton Oilers as a team will experience another summer of change in 2015. Craig MacTavish had a mind to return 80% of the roster next season—and salary commitments mean massive overhaul is impossible—but the number of jobs available may increase after trades and buyouts under new GM Peter Chiarelli.
Chiarelli: “You have to come from a bunch of different angles, whether it’s player
personnel — and players are hard to find — be that the attitude, or the
‘heaviness’ for lack of a better word, whether it’s a heavy stick or a
heavy player. There are teams that don’t have hard, heavy players but
they play heavy, they’re strong on their sticks. That’s something you
have to instil. I’ve seen the progression here in past years, in talking
to MacT they’ve been trying to get bigger and heavier, and that’s
certainly an area I want to improve… There are teams that aren’t
necessarily hard and heavy but they strip pucks. They’re hard on
battles, they win more than their share of battles … they [can be] heavy
but they’re not huge. A lot of that has to do with the coach, the
philosophy of the organization, that’s part of what I hope to instill.” Source
For our purposes, I think it’s fair to use Benoit Pouliot as an example of a player who fits the description. He’s a bigger player (6.03, 193) without being a giant and he’s fast, aggressive and plays a rugged style. An example of a player who might not fit the bill? I’ll suggest Sam Gagner, who we know well from recent Oilers history (no disrespect intended to Mr. Gagner, this is more style than anything).
ARE THERE ANY POULIOT’S IN OKC?
We are looking for:
- Forwards who are 6.03 and 200 pounds (or so)
- Have speed
- Have at least some two-way ability
- Have scored .5 or better this season
Let’s have a look.
- LW Ryan Hamilton. He’s 6.02, 219, isn’t a fast skater. At 30, he’s a quality offensive player in the AHL (.860 points-per-game) but we’re not talking about an NHL solution.
- LW Curtis Hamilton. He’s 6.02, 208 and a good skater. At 23, he’s finally healthy and scoring at .508, but there haven’t been many reports on board battles won in OKC. Hamilton has a good two-way reputation.
- RW Iiro Pakarinen is 6.01, 215 and a fine skater. At 23, he delivered more than enough offensively (.718) and does appear to have some of the things Peter Chiarelli may be looking for next season. I’m not certain of his two-way ability but he did look good as an Oiler.
- C Bogdan Yakimov is 6.05, 232 and a pretty damn good skater. At 20 he scored (.491) enough to be considered in this range and does have a reputation of being a player who can help in both ends. I’m not certain he would qualify in terms of physical play and he certainly needs more time before being considered at the NHL level.
That’s basically it. We could talk about Mitchell Moroz, Travis Ewanyk or Jujhar Khaira, but those gents don’t score enough to be considered top 9F solutions. We could talk about Tyler Pitlick, but he can’t stay healthy and the offense is a concern.
Are there any Benoit Pouliot’s in Oklahoma City? No. The Oilers are going to be forced to look outside the organization.
You know who fits the Chiarelli quote up top? Darnell Nurse. Big, strong, tough, will win battles. I know the idea is to slow play the kids but if this organization is looking for a guy who can play the game while also providing smash mouth toughness and a mean streak, it’s Darnell Nurse.
Hard and heavy? God yes. I think we should allow for the possibility, however small, he makes the team this fall.