WWYDW: Training Camp Invites

Peter Chiarelli3

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

16-Purcell-4

The primary contenders for NHL work next fall look something like this:

Left Wing Centre Right Wing Left Defence Right Defence Goaltender
Benoit Pouliot R. Nugent-Hopkins Jordan Eberle Andrej Sekera Mark Fayne Cam Talbot
Taylor Hall Connor McDavid Teddy Purcell Oscar Klefbom Justin Schultz Ben Scrivens
Lauri Korpikoski Anton Lander Nail Yakupov Andrew Ference Nikita Nikitin Anders Nilsson
Matt Hendricks Mark Letestu Rob Klinkhammer Darnell Nurse Eric Gryba  
Luke Gazdic Leon Draisaitl Tyler Pitlick Brandon Davidson Griffin Reinhart  

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.

Possibilities

8-Roy-4

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?

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Barcs

    I’d take a gamble on Erat for 1.5 Mil to play on the right side. He’s an underappreciated net front presence, who didn’t fit into Washington’s perimeter game; and he had no one to play with when he went to Phoenix. I like his game.

    If Yakupov ends up on the second line by the end of the year (he will), Purcell will be trade bait at the deadline. Erat would be a nice fit on the third line with Draisaitl, going into the playoffs. That’s right, I said playoffs.

  • Train#97

    Why do people think Drai or Nurse should automatically go down to the minors? If Todd thinks they can both contribute and help the Oilers win then they are IN! Bottom line, and don’t shelter McDavid, the kid will be just fine! He is ready to be an NHL’er now!

    • Zarny

      For many it’s the age old age bias mentality , others have an experience bias going with the devil they know over the unknown entity . The age bias is kid against men . Yet they fail to realize 18 is adult , and a lot of juniors they play against were adults of 20 years old . If they are ready and best option you go with them .
      You’ll get a more valued experience in NHL than on a farm club .

  • Barcs

    Any of Bergenheim (Sp?), Glencross, Tlusty, or Stempniak would be excellent additions in my book.

    Each play both wings, score a bit, and solid defensively.

    All that needs to happen is for one of them to find some chemistry with either Yak or McD and we have one of the better forward groups in the league.

    If I had to pick one I would go for Tlusty because he is the youngest and has the most offensively upside (can score 30-40 points).

    I think Glencross may be wearing down and has lost a step. Lots of hard miles on that body.

  • Jaxon

    I like Upshall, Goc and Tlusty. Of those, I only see Tlusty as having a very good chance of supplanting a RWer. Is Upshall better than Korpikoski or Hendricks? Debatable. Is Goc better than Letestu? Debatable. I do think Tlusty could definitely be better than Purcell, Klinkhammer and Pitlick. I’d like to see Upshall over Korpikoski, but Korpikoski is a Chiarelli hire, so it is unlikely. Plus, if Slepyshev shows well, he could be up, making the LW suddenly crowded.

    Post-Deadline, I would love to see:

    SC1: Pouliot / Nugent-Hopkins / Yakupov.

    SC2: Hall / McDavid / Eberle

    SC3: Slepyshev / Draisaitl / Tlusty

    DZS: Upshall / Goc / Letestu

    X1314: Korpikoski / Pakarinen

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Slepyshev isn’t ready yet for effective NHL play yet and they didn’t trade a serviceable Gordon for Korps just to have him sit in the press box.

      • Jaxon

        I didn’t say Slepyshev is ready. I also didn’t say that he won’t be ready. You seem definitive that he is not ready, but he has been playing in the 2nd best league in the world for a few years and finished off his KHL experience on a 40 point NHLE pace. I think a short adjustment period in the AHL may be all he needs. I said if he shows well he could be up and my lineup is a post-deadline wish list, “Post-Deadline, I would love to see:”. It is a WWYDW post, not a “What is Likely to Happen Wednesday” post.

        Basically, if you read my post, you’ll see that I agree with you about Korpikoski vs Upshall. I said he doesn’t have a good chance of supplanting Korpikoski and, “I’d like to see Upshall over Korpikoski, but Korpikoski is a Chiarelli hire, so it is unlikely”.

  • bradleypi

    Pass on every single one of those guys. Oilers need some physicality up front and besides glencross, non of those guys bring it. And i wouldn’t want glencross as he’s washed up anyways. This quote baffles me….”Teddy purcell doesn’t inspire confidence as a top six option.” NO KIDDING!! Im pretty sure oilersnation are the only people in the world that thinks purcell is a better hockey player than yakupov. Seriously does oilersnation really believe that purcell is a better option than yak in the top six?? It blows my mind that oilersnation actually thinks that purcell would be a better fit on a scoring line and yakupov is a better fit on a checking line. Absolutely bizarre and backwards imo. But….. classic oilersnation lol.

    • 1. Who said the third line is a checking line? Just because EA Sports has it described that way doesn’t make it so.

      2. If you think Glencross is the only guy on that list with a physical dimension, I’m going to go ahead and assume you haven’t seen a lot of them play.

      3. This is the full argument for playing Purcell with McDavid and Yakupov with Lander. In a nutshell, Yakupov has played his best NHL hockey when matched against soft competition (he’ll get that with Lander, but not with McDavid) and Purcell will have the most value if he plays with high-end talent (he clicked with Hall last year, not so much with others).

      • bradleypi

        So you are saying that a line with lander and korpikoski on it is a scoring line? I’m going to assume you haven’t seen them play. I’m assuming lander is the reason they traded gordon. There isn’t enough skill on this roster to ice three scoring lines. And one question for ya. How has the 3 scoring line thing been going for the oilers the last couple years?? If you think letestu was brought in to check the top lines and take big dzone draws then you are on glue. That’s landers job to lose. If McLellan wastes yakupovs talents playing him on a 3rd line then why did Eakins even get fired? Not sure if you know this but yak is a skill player that should be playing with guys that can set him up or vice versa.

  • bradleypi

    If I am the Oilers I would stand pat until training camp. There are now enough hungry prospects around for one of them to earn that role better than signing a veteran player on his last legs. Although a training camp invite for the right guy might inspire good efforts and up the competitive level amongst the bubble players.

  • Draisaitl vs. Lander – the two surviving centers from last years squad with Hopkins . Gone are Roy ,Arcobello and Gordon . Draisaitl beat out Lander last season and eventually he was sent back to Junior for more playing time and seasoning . Lander finally made the most of this last tour and made huge strides in doing so . Did he do enough to knock Draisaitl down in lineup this year , however ? Draisaitl should be much better this year than last and may even try being a winger in order for Lander to remain a center . There is optimism both might flourish being on squad this year . McDavid should solidify one of top 2 center positions . Letestue just sounds like more depth .