laleggia williams1

The Edmonton Oilers drafted Joey Laleggia out of the University of Denver in 2012. He finished his college career, signed and then turned pro last fall. A combination of things—drafting older players, trading draft picks for immediate help—has the Oilers facing an offseason with very little coming down the pipe. What does it mean? If my math is correct, expect to see several college, graduating junior and pro signings to replace the graduating amateurs from the draft.


NHL Numbers gives us the current list of UFA and RFA players, and there could be a major cull ahead this year. Peter Chiarelli will continue to makeover the pro roster (NHL and AHL) in his own image and men from the previous regime, and here are the players who are reaching the end of their current deals:

  • UFA (7): RW Teddy Purcell, LW Rob Klinkhammer, D Eric Gryba, D Nikita Nikitin, D Brad Hunt, C Andrew Miller, LW Ryan Hamilton.
  • RFA (11): RW Iiro Pakarinen, RW Zack Kassian, LW Luke Gazdic (who was waived today), D Justin Schultz, D Brandon Davidson, D Adam Clendening, G Laurent Brossoit, D Martin Gernat, D Jordan Oesterle, D David Musil, LW Kale Kessy.
  • Source

The Oilers are at 49 contracts currently, and with 18 of those deals needing to be addressed, there is a lot of potential turn over. I would guess we see Gryba, Pakarinen, Kassian, Davidson, Brossoit and Oesterle at a minimum return, meaning between 37 and 49 contracts for 2016-17 from the current group.

In a normal year, I would list all of the possible signings who are going to be graduating from college or junior hockey and have been drafted in previous seasons. Problem? The list is not fabulous.

  • D William Lagesson—A solid freshman year at UMass-Amherst has him
    going in a good direction, as we saw at the WJs. He turns 20 this month, so could sign. Would the Oilers consider turning another lefty
    blue pro at this time? Seems unlikely.
  • F Tyler Vesel—Good two-way player, Oilers may have a
    solid pro here (not necessarily an NHL pro).
  • L Evan Campbell—A member of the famed ‘BCJHL mob’ that has netted
    Edmonton Jujhar Khaira and little else in the last seven drafts. He does not appear to be a future NHL player.
  • G Zach Nagelvoort—Not only he is failing to make progress, he hasn’t
    played much this year
  • F Aidan Muir—Big forward is not making progress offensively in year
    two at Western Michigan.
  • G Miroslav Svoboda—having a good season since the trade but no sound reason to bring him over yet.
  • G Keven Bouchard—QMJHL goalie has not distanced himself from the pack.
  • D Ziyat Paigin—Enjoying a brilliant KHL season, he is signed to one more year in Russia. He could buy himself out of the deal (based on the past), but would he be guaranteed NHL employment in the fall?

Three young men who have made progress after being drafted—Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and John Marino—could be signed but don’t turn 20 until 2017 and won’t be playing pro hockey in the fall. The cupboard is bare.


The Oilers have been signing graduating junior players to AHL-only contracts in recent seasons, examples include Mitch Holmberg (since dealt) and Josh Winquist (who has been building a successful AHL career). I think we could see men like Winquist, Josh Currie and Marco Roy (AHL deals) be rewarded with full NHL contracts as Edmonton fills in their pro list for 2016-17.

We might also see the Oilers be more aggressive in college recruitment and sign more graduating juniors. I spoke to Guy Flaming of TSN1260’s The Pipeline Show recently and he passed along some interesting names as ‘possible’ future Oilers and Condors.

  • LW Dryden Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors. A strong skater having a terrific year (52GP, 32-44-76) and he can score goals (good shot).
  • C Reid Gardiner, Prince Albert Raiders. This is a pretty good player, surprised he wasn’t drafted last summer. Great release, 50GP, 31-38-69 and will soon score his 100th goal in the WHL.
  • F Drake Caggiula, University of North Dakota. Another terrific scorer (23GP, 15-15-30), he has good speed and a range of skills. At 5.10, 180, he has to play bigger than his size, and the scouting reports suggest that is true.
  • D Troy Stecher, University of North Dakota. Righthanded blue with all kinds of offense (28GP, 5-14-19) and he is an excellent skater. He sounds a little like Joey Laleggia, with a little more defensive acument to go with the offense (that is my read based on scouting reports).
  • R Nick Betz, Erie Otters. This player comes via Brock Otten and his excellent OHL Prospects site, and Betz is a big power winger with average speed. What makes him interesting is size (6.04, 220) and offense (47GP, 15-24-39) that appears to be attached to net-front presence. Source


Starting this week, I will once again do a series of posts about AHL players who may be close to NHL-ready. Last year’s posts are here:

Edmonton grabbed Griffin Reinhart from this group last summer, and I do think they can help themselves at the pro level by dealing for these players at the deadline. Stay tuned.

Laleggia photo by Mark Williams.

  • Spydyr

    WE WAIVED GAZDIC – NO! PLEASE NO CHIARELLI….Chris Neil will be RUNNING WILD and one of our stars will get hurt…Ill be back tomorrow night to say “I TOLD YOU SO”. “It is imperative that any successful team must CREATE a safe working environment for their SKILL”- the great BRIAN BURKE. Flames dress and play Engelland, Bollig and Ferland most nights.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    None of these guys are first overall picks!!! They’re. It even top 10 picks!!! We don’t have room for anyone on this team drafted outside the top 10!!!

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    Ethan Bear looks like a gem at the fifth round. He is enjoying a nice solid season in Seattle and can challenge for a spot in a few years. At 5’11 190 he is a stump, but he has a rocket for a shot and he is right handed which the Oilers desperately need at every level of their organization.

        • CMG30

          Radulov and Kovalchuk would be nice 🙂 I Kid..

          Why you say that about Ziyat Paigin? I believe he played in the KHL All-Star game and is having a great season.

          Ziyat Paigin

          Defense — shoots L
          Born Feb 8 1995 — Penza, Russia
          [20 yrs. ago]
          Height 6.06 — Weight 209 [198 cm/95 kg]

          Drafted by Edmonton Oilers
          – round 7 #209 overall 2015 NHL Entry Draft
          2015-16 Sochi HC KHL 34 9 17 26 8

          6’6 and he can play hockey. Dont forget his name!

  • RyanCoke

    Watching a Tampa Bay player blocking a shot.

    Nothing broken but why wouldn’t the penalty killers change gloves and add a plastic skate cover, etc for the penalty kill and then remove as soon as the kill is over.

    Seems like someone could design additional protection that could be easily installed and removed.

    Safety has increased over the years, helmet, shield, neck guards, mouth pieces. It is time to protect the penalty killers.

    I want RNH back. I would have loved to see him part of the roster last night.

    • CMG30

      If anything having RNH in the line up would be one step closer to shutting Stauffer up about the Oil not playing one game with the full line up.

      Did he or some others just think to ask that this team might just be injury prone. They need this elusive depth which you would think after 8 to 10 years of rebuilding this wouldn’t be a problem.

      • Serious Gord

        You cant take Stauffer seriously, hes nothing but a shill for the team, everything out of his mouth, is to defend the team and justify there position. I do believe hes an actual employee of the team and not of the radio station.

  • Serious Gord

    A whole bunch of guys named who.

    Hard to see how a last place team gets into the playoffs only changing out 12 players – most in bottom-rung positions – much less really become a top rung team.

    Very tough work for Chia.

  • Serious Gord

    Chicago has only nine players on their roster making more than $1mm.

    they have 72 points for second overall

    EDM has 16.

    and 45 points and second last overall.

    What a freaking mess KLOWE/MACT have created.

    • Keepyourstickontheice

      Chicago only has 9 players making more than a million because 6 of those players account for 60% of their salary cap. They simply do not have the cap room to field a hockey team in any other fashion.

      Craig and Kevin left us with a few bad contracts, but the idea that Edmonton having 16 players making over a million a year(when the average contract in the NHL is over $1mm with entry bonuses taken into account) isn’t a catastrophic failure.

      What is your point you bellyacher?

        • Keepyourstickontheice

          The Oilers have been a catastrophe performance wise, I do not see what giving Taylor Hall 6Mil a year has to do with it.

          Chiarelli inherited a few stinky contracts, but its not as if he has both hands tied behind his back.

      • Serious Gord

        They are getting results and have a very low cost back end of the roster giving them the flexibility to keep stars. (That is what Scotty bowman has long said was key to success in the cap world).

        Klowe Mact lacked the discipline to keep the backend low cost and they maintained an incompetent pro and amateur scouting crew as a result the oil are screwed for some years to come.

  • TKB2677

    I don’t get why Lowtide listed Oesterle as a guy likely to be retained. Why? He’s 6-0 182lbs who’s turning 24. He’s not going to get much bigger. He’s a college Dman who doesn’t have an ounce of physical edge to his game. Sure he can move the puck but who cares. He’s got mediocre offensive numbers in the minors. He’s a smaller, less offensive version of Schultz. At least Schultz put up crazy numbers in the minors. Oesterle is a guy that will probably never play in the NHL.

    Personally, I would much rather keep Musil over Oesterle. His skating isn’t the best but you can do things to improve that and he has NHL size. Plus he came up for a short stint last year and didn’t look bad. I would much rather see the Oilers keep guys that might have a chance even if it’s a small chance rather than keep guys that have zero chance like Oesterle. The same goes with Hunt. He puts up good numbers in the minors but he will never be an NHLer or even a guy that you can call up for shirt stints and be effective. They tried that multiple times with 2 different coaches and the guy flat out can’t play at the NHL level.