If the stunning boredom that is the NHL’s free agent market is any indication, the Edmonton Oilers (and the vast majority of other major-league teams, too) are pretty much done their summer shopping. That’s bad news for a pile of decent second-tier free agents, who may have to rely on training camp invites to find work.
This week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday asks whether the Oilers should invite some established players to training camp, and if so which ones?
The Current Roster
The primary contenders for NHL work next fall look something like this:
There are other names we could mention, but those are the main ones. Edmonton has three NHL contracts spent on goalies, so there really isn’t room to add a veteran even if one could be sweet-talked into coming. Defence is also pretty packed; room could be made for a top-four rearguard but there isn’t much point in adding yet another third-pairing option when the Oilers are brimming with those.
That leaves the forward group, and here there is some room. Teddy Purcell doesn’t inspire confidence as a top-six option; neither does Lauri Korpikoski as a top-nine option. Rob Klinkhammer, Tyler Pitlick and Luke Gazdic can all be buried without cap repercussion, while an argument can be made that AHL time is in the best interests of Leon Draisaitl, who is on a two-way entry-level contract.
If a player or players are to be invited, they will likely be forwards. Any of a scoring right wing for the second line, a versatile left wing for the third line or a right-shooting checker for the fourth line might appeal to Edmonton.
NHL Numbers has a full list of unrestricted free agents which can be browsed here; some of the names which stood out to me are as follow (presented in alphabetical order, and not intended to be an exhaustive list):
- LW Sean Bergenheim. He’s fast, he’s physical, he scores a bit and kills penalties, too. I really like him as a potential fit on the third line and think he could fall through the cracks.
- RW/LW Martin Erat. It’s been a tough few years for Erat, whose scoring has slipped a little. Still, he plays a robust game, chips in offensively and adds speed. If he doesn’t sign in Europe, a camp invite is plausible. He could fill multiple roles for Edmonton.
- LW Curtis Glencross. Of all the players on this list, this is the one that I’m most convinced will get a contract. Too bad; he’d be a nice fit.
- C Marcel Goc. If Edmonton wants to use the fourth line as a tough defensive zone starts unit, Goc could be a fit, perhaps with Letestu shifting over to right wing. He might also work as a reserve forward.
- LW/RW David Moss. I’ve always liked Moss, who formed a pretty great checking tandem with Boyd Gordon for a few years. He’s a fourth-line right wing now, though he has a 20-goal season with Calgary in the rearview mirror.
- C Derek Roy. I think others on this list are better fits. I also very much doubt that Nail Yakupov agrees with me on that.
- RW Michael Ryder. I’d pass on Ryder, though he is only two years removed from scoring 16 times in 46 games (2012-13 season). He tallied 35 goals the year before that. He took a hard road to the NHL, but the man could score and it carried him through, eventually; he should be an inspiration to any late pick toiling his way through the ECHL.
- C/RW Mike Santorelli. Santorelli is a versatile forward and was on pace for 40 points before a deadline move to Nashville (after scoring 28 points in 49 games for Vancouver the year before). He might fit anywhere from the right side of the second line down to the 13th forward and could end up needing to prove himself in camp.
- LW/RW Lee Stempniak. A favourite of mine, Stempniak does absolutely everything and managed to put up 10 points in just 18 games post-deadline for Winnipeg. At 32, he may have to settle for a camp invite, but I’d be surprised if he’s done yet. He’d add speed and brains to a team that could use them.
- C Jarret Stoll. I wouldn’t touch him. Would you?
- LW/RW Jiri Tlusty. I’m still a little shocked that he hasn’t signed, and I can’t imagine he won’t get a contract. He does a little bit of everything, adding size and speed and scoring. I doubt he’ll have to settle for a camp invite, but then I thought he’d be signed by now too.
- LW Scottie Upshall. He’s a prime candidate for a training camp invite, and the 31-year-old Alberta native would provide the Oilers with a physical element and strong two-way play which includes both penalty-killing and some offensive presence. He might be a third-line left wing.
That’s my list, and there are a bunch of names on it that I would think hard about in the Oilers’ shoes come training camp. Who stands out to you, either from my list or from elsewhere?