WWYDW: Right Wing

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As of right now, Jordan Eberle is far-and-away the most
established right wing on the Edmonton Oilers’ roster. The team has some interesting
options behind him, but not a lot of proven NHL talent. In this week’s edition
of What Would You Do Wednesday, we ask whether the current depth chart is good
enough, and if not what options our readers would look at.

The Status Quo

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  • Jordan Eberle. Eberle
    has scored between 24 and 28 goals in each of the last three seasons, including 25 last year in only 69 games played. He generally finishes in the mid-60’s in
    terms of points and is a capable first-line NHL right wing.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi. The
    Oilers’ most recent first–round selection was somewhat surprisingly available
    with the No. 4 pick. He’s a 6’3”, 200-pound forward with a varied skillset, and
    he’s coming off a 13-goal, 28-point performance over 50 games in Finland’s top
    league. He’s only 18 and has never spent a season on North American ice.
  • Nail Yakupov. The
    2012 first overall pick scored eight goals and 23 points last season. Offensive
    development has been slow and his on-ice shot metrics have improved with time
    but haven’t been particularly good at any point. He turns 23 in October.
  • Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl
    excelled on his off-hand in some right wing cameos last season, but it remains
    to be seen how he’ll adjust to playing without Taylor Hall. Perhaps more
    importantly, moving Draisaitl to right wing would bump Mark Letestu into the
    third-line centre position.
  • Zack Kassian. Now
    25 years old, Kassian is big and plays a rambunctious physical game, but his
    offence was intermittent and underwhelming last year and the shot metrics weren’t
    particularly good, either. Is he more than a depth piece?
  • Iiro Pakarinen. Pakarinen
    turns 25 next month and appears to have established himself as an NHL roster
    player. He has good size and speed, plays aggressively and has a two-way
    conscience. Offence is still a question mark; he had five goals and 13 points
    in 60-odd games last season as a depth piece.
  • Mark Letestu. Letestu
    is worth mentioning because he does have some offensive skill (10 goals last
    year) and is a right shot. I expect he’ll be the Oilers’ fourth-line centre
    next year, but using him as a winger on a line with one of Edmonton’s young
    pivots might provide some defensive insurance and a fill-in faceoff man.
There are also some other players we haven’t mentioned, but I didn’t want to go to far into the Oilers’ depth slots. Tyler Pitlick, Taylor Beck and others currently pencilled in as AHL’ers may yet surprise and push their way into regular NHL employment. 

Free Agency

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Although we’re now through the initial rush of free agency,
there are still a bunch of players out there who would be plausible fits in a
middle-six role for an NHL team. The following is not a comprehensive list, but
rather an overview of six of those options.

  • Brad Boyes. Boyes
    was mostly stuck in a depth role in Toronto, but even so he put up 24 points in
    just 60 games on a cheap one-year deal. He posted 38 points for Florida in
    2014-15 and scored 20 goals the year before that.
  • Sam Gagner. Since
    leaving Edmonton, Gagner has mostly been bumped to the wing rather than staying
    at centre. He had just 16 points for the Flyers last season over 53 contests,
    but just one year earlier scored 15 goals and 41 points in Arizona.
  • Jiri Hudler. A
    left-shooting veteran who can play any forward position, Hudler is undersized
    but undeniably skilled. He had 31 goals and 76 points for Calgary in 2014-15,
    and last year scored 16 times and recorded 46 points.
  • Brandon Pirri. Another
    left shot, Pirri is attractive not only as a scorer (14 goals, 29 points in 61
    games last season) but because of his age. He just turned 25 in April and could
    potentially be a long-term fit wherever he lands.
  • Kris Versteeg. The
    well-travelled Versteeg won a Cup in Chicago in 2010 and returned to win
    another in 2015. He’s coming off a 15-goal, 38-point campaign split between Los
    Angeles and Carolina and just turned 30.
  • Radim Vrbata. Vrbata
    had an awful year with the disappointing Canucks, scoring 13 goals and
    collecting 27 points. He just turned 35, so it’s possible that we’ve seen the
    end of him as a high-end offensive player, but it’s worth remembering that he
    had 31 goals and 63 points as recently as 2014-15.

What Would You Do?

Shrugging Veronica

Is the status quo good enough, and if so how would you
deploy the Oilers’ current collection of potential right wings? Should Edmonton
bank on Puljujarvi being NHL-ready, on a Yakupov recovery, or on some other
internal piece in a key role? Or is it best to look at trade and/or free agency
as a means of upgrading the position?

Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • BorealNinja

    Kassian is interesting because of how he turned his situation around last year. Hopefully he keeps it together, because a full offseason of training while being 100% healthy and committed could make him the power forward he was envisioned to be. Or at least a closer version of it.

    Hudler is also intriguing due to the offensive potential. His smaller stature would be a non-issue, due to the appropriate mix of heaviness in the roster that Chiarelli is putting together.

  • btrain

    Its clear that Oilers nation is somewhat split on what kind of asset Jordan Eberle is. The guy had a crappy start to last years season and all of a sudden everyone wants to throw out the media driven critiques of “soft” (thanks Mark Spector), “lazy” (thanks Kelly Hrudy), and “not an offensive driver” (thanks everyone who compares Hall to other players on the team). Check out Eberle’s 100 goals and explain how he is so reliant on other players to drive offence? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sDH1nbgagM

    Eberle is no Patrick Kane but he does deserve more respect for the body of work that he has put in over his career. He has had significant success on a poorly managed team. If he had guys like Seabrook and Keith to help him run up his point totals, I think the comparison to Kane wouldn’t be so far fetched, especially after watching his first 100 goals.

  • Connor McFly

    If Chiarelli continues managing like a brainless dope then we will know Mact and Lowe are still making the decisions. His choice on back-up goal keeper for the coming season, failure to acquire an offensive RH-D man and finally trading Hall for Larson essentially trading a Meredes for 1980 VW Rabbit has scared the crap out of me.

    Maybe Nicholson’s trust was mis-placed.

    I am not comforted.

  • DannyGallivan

    You can improve on any position on a team. RW is not our problem. We need a puck moving RD so lets focus there…..squirrel….. and not get distracted.

  • GCW

    I would sign Hudler and Versteeg, and let Yak go. Hudler and Versteeg being more reliable offence and they have good track records in possession.

    That would leave:

    Lucic – McDavid – Hudler

    Maroon – Nuge – Eberle

    Pouliot – Leon – Versteeg

    Hendricks – Letestu – Kassian/Parkarinen

    That’s three scoring lines. Every line has veterans. No one is playing above their established ability.

    As a bonus, if Jesse rips up the AHL then you can trade one of Versteeg or Hudler at the deadline to help recoup the draft pick they are going to lose to Boston.

    Given they are still unsigned, you would have to think Hudler and Versteeg would both accept one year deals at reasonable rates. And, if you are Hudler, could you turn down a deal to play of McDavid’s wing for a season?