With the initial frenzy of the draft and free agency now in
the rearview mirror, NHL teams are now entering their slow summer period.
There won’t be complete inactivity, of course. There are
still bargain-bin free agents out there who will be looking for work right up
until training camp; history suggests we’ll see a fair number of these signed
in July, a handful in August, and then the rest will be sorted out one way or
the other as teams finalize their rosters in the fall. There are also a handful
of deadlines that could spur trades, starting with arbitration and then ending
with teams’ need to be cap compliant for Day 1 of 2016-17.
In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday, we ask if Edmonton
Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli be reasonably satisfied with his
offseason work, or is there a need to further upgrade the roster?
The Current Depth
Mileage may vary on line combinations and the like, but the
above includes all of the players currently signed (or, in the case of Jesse
Puljujarvi and David Musil, certain to be signed) by the Oilers who have an NHL
component to their current contracts and who will be playing pro hockey next
In Chiarelli’s shoes, there are two primary areas that I’d
be looking to upgrade over the next few weeks.
Right wing. The
idea of relying on Nail Yakupov and Jesse Puljujarvi in the middle-six right
wing slots is decidedly unappealing, particularly since (thanks to Edmonton’s
well-documented rookie bonus issues) there’s a good chance that Puljujarvi’s
deal isn’t a particular bargain next year.
There are a bunch of decent free agents who may be able to
take on one of those jobs. Radim Vrbata, Kris Versteeg, Brad Boyes and perhaps
even left-shot Brandon Pirri or old friend Sam Gagner might fit the bill at
right wing without costing very much at all. That would allow the Oilers to go
slow with Puljujarvi if he isn’t ready.
defenceman. Tyson Barrie’s name is the one most often floated, and not
without reason; he’d be a long-term fix rather than a stopgap if the Avs decide
to deal him. If he stays in Colorado, however, Edmonton still needs a power
play specialist for its first unit and has room to add a defender in its
top-six. The obvious name out there is James Wisniewski, who missed most of
last season but can presumably be had on a cheapish one-year contract. He’s a
right-shot, an offensive specialist and doesn’t back down from physical
Failing that, it’s worth remembering that Christian Ehrhoff
used to be a pretty good power play guy for Todd McLellan in San Jose. He’s in
serious danger of falling out of the league entirely at the age of 34, and I
wonder if he’d be willing to sign at seventh defenceman-type money with the
promise of being used as a power play specialist.
It’s also too late to do anything about it now, but it’s also
a shame that Edmonton pulled the trigger on Jonas Gustavsson so quickly. Jhonas
Enroth is still looking for a home, as is Karri Ramo; either would be a
substantial upgrade and would have offered the Oilers better insurance in the
event of injury or another cold spell from Cam Talbot.
Are you generally satisfied with the way that Chiarelli has
retooled the roster, or do you see a need for further improvements? What would
you change and how would you go about doing it?