Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

An Abrupt End

The playoffs can be cruel. In a blink of an eye the Oilers 2017 playoffs ended in Anaheim. Oilers fans were completely engrossed with playoff fever, but suddenly you woke up and the season was over.

In an instant, the great ride Oilersnation endured is over.

Now the focus turns to the expansion draft, the NHL entry draft, free agency and possible trades.

The Oilers had a great season, and there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future. I’d say it is a guarantee the Oilers will be a playoff team for the next few seasons, however, history tells us it is far from certain the Oilers make it to the Conference Finals or to the Stanley Cup Final.

It is extremely difficult to win in the postseason. You need a good team, you need to be disciplined, you need some breaks and sometimes you can have all of that and still lose.

With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl driving the bus the Oilers are poised to be a legitimate contender for years to come.

Cam Talbot provides solid goaltending.

Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning are a good foundation on the blueline.

But there will be changes and they need to improve in some areas.

Expansion Draft

If the draft was tomorrow, I’d guess the Oilers would lose Griffin Reinhart or Laurent Brossoit. The Oilers have to expose two forwards who played at least 40 games this season or 70 over the past two seasons. Benoit Pouliot will be one, and that leaves Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu and another veteran who in October I doubt anyone would have expected to be exposed, Jordan Eberle as possibilities. (They could also re-sign Pakarinen and expose him.) Anything is possible, but losing a player who has averaged 26.6 goals/season over seven years would be risky. There is no arguing Eberle had an off-year, and a very unproductive postseason, but are you certain they have someone in the system who can play RW and score that often?

Anton Slepyshev had good stretches, but asking him to score 25 right away would be foolish.  The most goals he’s scored in any pro season is 15. To expect him to regularly be a 20-goal score in the NHL would be asking a lot. Is Jesse Puljujarvi guaranteed to be ready next year and be your top RW? Again, asking a lot. The Oilers aren’t in a major cap crunch next year, but when the 2018 season begins and McDavid’s new contract kicks in, they will need to shed some salary. Maybe Peter Chiarelli does shed salary this summer, or maybe he waits to see if Eberle can rebound. Eberle needs to get stronger. He doesn’t need to add weight, but he needs to get stronger and quicker. He looked slower this season than in the past. He was never fast, he was more quick in and out of spots, but we didn’t see that this year. Can he regain it? I don’t know, but I’m sure that is a question Chiarelli and Todd McLellan will be discussing often.

Vegas would take Eberle for sure, but is that a wise move for the Oilers to lose him for nothing? Chiarelli has to be calm and rational. He won’t make a knee-jerk decision and while I’m sure he is upset with Eberle’s season today, how will he feel in a month?

If I’m betting, I say they lose Reinhart in the expansion draft.

Entry Draft

If my calculations are correct, the Oilers will have the 22nd pick, which is where they chose Jordan Eberle in the 2008 draft. Minnesota, Columbus, Montreal, Chicago and Washington all finished the season with more points than the Oilers, so they pick 23-27. The final four teams will be 28-31. I haven’t looked into the draft very much at all, which was a nice change to be honest, but now that the Oilers are out we can start looking at possibilities at #22. Unlike the past seven seasons, it will be much harder to predict who the Oilers select. Regardless of who they choose, this pick won’t be in Edmonton for at least two more seasons. I see them taking a forward, because they don’t have many high-scoring forwards in the system.

Free Agents

Mar 16, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates after scoring a goal against Boston Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin (35) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Leon Draisaitl and Zack Kassian are RFAs. Both will be signed. If they want to lock Draisaitl up for seven or eight years then they will need to pay him $7.5 million, similar to Vladimir Tarasenko’s extension. If they are looking at a five-year deal, which I think Draisaitl might be leaning towards, then he is in the $6.5-$6.8 million range based on comparables of the past few seasons.

I’d sign Kassian to a three-year deal around $2 mill/season.

Kris Russell is an UFA and he was solid all season. He was a great signing at $3.1 mill/year. He likes Edmonton and they like him. The negotiations sticking points will be how long of a deal. I’d sign him for three years between $3.5-$4 million. He will likely want more, and the challenge for Chiarelli will be avoiding a longer deal. Russell plays the game very hard, and for a smaller player I think when he starts to slow down, it will be quick. He turned 30 on May 2nd. So a three-year deal ends when he turns 33. If he wants four years, then the cap hits needs to be lower. His negotiation will be interesting. The free agent crop isn’t very deep this year and that might allow Russell to get a bigger payday somewhere else.

Tyler Pitlick is a Group IV free agent. He is unrestricted, but I could see them signing him after the expansion draft. He had a breakout year, but unfortunately he was injured again. He likely gets a another one-year deal.

Eric Gryba is also a UFA. He likely will be in the same position as last season. They will wait until after the first few weeks of free agency to see how things unfold. He is a solid depth defender and I could see them bringing him back on a two-way deal again, if no other team signs him.

Jujhar Khaira and Iiro Pakarinen are both RFAs. The Oilers don’t have a lot of depth forwards and with Matt Hendricks and David Desharnais unlikely to return these two will have more of a chance to play. Khaira has all the tools, he just needs to be more consistent. Pakarinen is fourth line guy who can kill penalties. He’d be a cheaper, younger version of Hendricks.

Jordan Oesterle is also a Group IV UFA. It is always good having defensive depth, and if they lose Reinhart in the expansion draft, I would re-sign Oesterle to maintain some depth on the blueline. But, at this point he looks like a depth guy more than someone who will be an NHL regular in Edmonton.


Will they buy out Mark Fayne? He is a big cap hit to play in the minors, but if you buy him out then you have dead cap space in 2018. Every cent counts at the trade deadline when you are a contending team, and if they buy him out then they have around one million of wasted cap space in 2018/2019. I’d try to trade him and eat half his salary rather than buy him out.

I suspect McDavid will get his extension sometime in July. It will be an eight-year deal. My guess is a cap hit of $10 million. If he wants to win a Stanley Cup he won’t need more.

With no major cap concerns until the 2018 season, will the Oilers be patient and look for Pouliot-RNH-Eberle to be the third line and have favourable matchups all year? Would it be crazy to think those three could produce against weaker competition than they faced in 2015, when they were productive? I’m sure it will be a question the coaches and management ponder this summer.

If the Oilers re-sign Russell, which likely occurs after the expansion draft, they would bring back the same six D-men. Russell and Sekera aren’t going to improve much at this stage or their career, but you know what you are getting from them. Consistency and experience is a welcome combination. But how much improvement is there between Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning? All four are young and have room to grow in various areas. I think it is plausible to see all six return and the Oilers hope the improvement to their D corps comes with maturity from the youngsters under the age of 24.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Clayton

    I think if the Oilers leave Laurent Brossoit unprotected Vegas will take him. They will have their eyes on other immediate starters but Brossoit represents the piece they will be looking for as their next goalie. Unless the Oilers leave someone more attractive then him or pull off a side deal it may be the end of LBs time in Orange.

      • Jaxon

        Yup. I think they have to expose him, Talbot has the NMC. Plus, even if he didn’t have a NMC, they certainly wouldn’t expose their starter. They also have someone who is nearly as promising and ready as Brossoit in Nick Ellis. Ellis’ final college season compares well with Brian Elliott’s. His 21 year old NCAA college season was better than Talbot, Schneider, Quick, Johnson, Bishop, Hammond, and O’Connor. Of current NHL goalies who went through college, only Howard, Elliott and Hellebuyck had better SV% at 21 or younger. Elliott’s 20 year old season was better but his 21 year old season was worse.

        And I’m pretty sure they won’t have to worry about losing him as there will likely be amazing to great goalies up for grabs with a longer track record than LB like Murray, Luongo, Grubauer, Raanta, Howard, Dell, Domingue, Hutton, Halak, Hutchinson, Pickard, Ward and Niemi.

        Vegas is also given a pre-expansion draft window to try to sign UFAs and RFAs. This means that they will get first shot at offering money to Miller, Budaj, Bishop, Bernier, Condon, Mason, Nilsson, Kinkaid, McElhinney, and Johnson. Those are a lot of options before they even start sniffing around Brossoit.

  • Spydyr

    At the start of the season if someone told you the Oilers would be playing in game seven of the second round every single Oiler fan would have been happy. Thanks for the great playoff run and the wonderful memories. The Oilers window is now just opening the best is yet to come. GO OILERS!

  • 1979

    Jason, I was wondering about something I read over on Lowetide’s blog yesterday. Can the Oilers resign Pakarinen and expose humans the vet instead of Letestu, Kassian, or Eberle? It was said that the requirement was 70 games and not 80 and that he passed the test. If true, this sounded ideal. Have you heard this? Is it true?

    • Jason Gregor

      Yes, that is an option. I really don’t see the Oilers in a tough spot in expansion and I think it would be wasting an asset to let Eberle go for nothing.

      • Spydyr

        Eberle’s playoff stats:
        GP 13 G 0 A 2 P2 -6
        They are not wasting much considering outside offence Eberle brings very little too the team.
        I can’t see too many teams rushing to trade for a six million dollar floater.

      • 1979

        I agree about Eberle. Sure the cap room would be nice, but I think it is crazy to think Chiarelli would be so desperate that he wouldn’t even try for an asset if he wanted out from under Eberle’s 6 Million. I am hopeful they also find a way to keep Letestu, so a quick signing of Pakarinen sounds good to me. Then LV would likely take Reinhart and everybody could just move on from the trade that brought him here in the first place! Ha!

  • Rob...

    Eberle doesn’t show enough ‘give a crap’ on the ice, and has taken to shooting from the perimeter, or simply giving up the puck to the opposition. Scored 20 goals this season. Three were in one game against a bottom feeder and at least three more were empty netters. How many were game winners? How many were scored where it was an easy finish? These are questions that need to be answered before they decide who to expose. Protecting a player who can have a come-back season next year is a no-brainer. You do not however want to be protecting someone who can no longer compete. 6 million off the books can be very important as you start hearing about UFA’s and disgruntled contract players who are willing/wanting to come to Edmonton.

    • Rick

      Right on. The cap space and the potential to use it on a player that will actually contribute in the playoff would take this team up another notch. Outside of the ED and in a trade, I cannot imagine another team taking Eberle’s cap hit with out wanting to off-load a bad contract of their own. I also think that RNH would benefit from another type of player on his wing.

  • Serious Gord

    This is going to be a painful season. As stauffer and Spector (et al) have noted the crushing cap issues of the 18-19 season will severely impact this year’s roster.

    Draisaitl will have to be paid. 7.5 mill is at the very low end of the scale. A messier-type centre who was the MVP skater in the playoffs – not mcdavid makes him a very desirable entity. I think he will insist on much closer to ten or take only a one or two year deal.

    And mcdavid would be a fool to take less than max dollars. Playing for a tiny market in a western time zone is costing him (tens?) of millions in off-ice revenue.

    As a result eberle will have to be moved and replaced with something far less expensive and somehow pouliot has to be jettisoned.

    Yes the crunch doesn’t happen until 18/19, but chia would be crazy going into that season far more then the cap already under contract.

    The oil have very little in the way of cheap young talent ready to fill in the 3/4 lines in the minors.

    Add-in the likelihood of more injuries than this season and the oil will have a very tough time making the playoffs.

    • Derian Hatcher

      You must be one heck of a boss…always pumping up your employees with optimism. Must be a joy to work with you. Do you ever have ANYTHING positive to say about the organization?

      • Serious Gord

        Just being realistic – as were stauffer and spec.

        As for being positive you forget that I said and maintain that hall could well be a hhof player. I think the same of draisaitl. The issue I raise above is a legacy of the Lowe/Mact regime (and did you see who was glued to chias left elbow every game btw?) and that headache is about to become acute not better.

    • Coheed

      7.5 mil is very low end for a player who posts great numbers in one season? I love Drai, but let’s be realistic. He will get paid, but I don’t see it being that high. I seem to recall a player names Cheechoo, won a Rocket in 06 and couldn’t get on a roster 2 years later. One season does should not determine a players true worth.

    • Jason Gregor

      No players has ever come close to the max, but suddenly McDavid will. What an asinine statement. He won’t be asking for a cap hit of $14.6 million. Get serious. And considering how many National sponsors he already has he isn’t losing the money you suggest he is. Nice try though.

      Oilers have Pitlick, Khaira, Pakarinen who can be cheap and play on 4th line. Finding cheap 4th liners isn’t difficult.

      • Serious Gord

        Ridiculous. Imagine he is playing in any north east market team. His local endorsements would be huge and his national deals would be far higher than they are now.

        It amazes me that an edmonton based journalist would not have learned that reality when Gretzky happily moved to LA and made far more money and then on to New York and made even more.

        Your naivety is startling.

        And there are several teams who would pay mcdavid max dollars the get him. Just think of how much more dough they would make just on merchandise.

        • Rick

          Speaking of naive, it is amazing that anyone would think the world is as it was 30+years ago in Gretzky era. That is living in a vacuum. And by the way, you are not a realist, a realist lives in a balanced world that considers the positives along with the negatives, you seem to be ignoring the former.

          • Serious Gord

            Things have in deed changed. Teams can no longer pay what superstars are really worth. The shortfall for many of those stars is recovered via endorsement. Are you naive enough to think that Connor would make the same in endorsements in New York or Boston or philly? His salary would be a pittance by comparison. That’s why a Sidney Crosby signs at a discount with the pens rather than move to a team that isn’t in the north east.

        • 99CupsofCoffey

          Serious Gord, you’re nuts. Remember back in the 80’s? Remember everywhere you’d look? Who did you see? Gretzky. Everywhere. Billboards, commercials, signs, windows, stores. Everywhere. Handcuffing the Oilers with a Max deal is NOT in McDavid’s best interests. He could be a billionaire. You’re nuts.

          • Serious Gord

            That’s why asks for the max deal and then walks to an eastern team. Maybe you could refresh your memory and read brunts book on Gretz and the boatload of money he made AFTER He left EDM – and that the league did as well. Let’s not be foolish here – the league and the sponsors WOULD love to have mcdavid in the east playing against crosby and ovechkin 8 times in prime time.

        • Jason Gregor

          Gretzky didn’t have a salary of $10 million base. Another off-base comparison. Gretzky also played 9 years in Edmonton. He didn’t demand to be highest paid by large margin after two years.

          Please show us all the local endorsements Crosby is making. Also, have you heard of this thing called TV and the Internet. McDavid is big across Canada, USA and is growing world wide. Playing in Edmonton doesn’t restrict him.

          Yet no one paid Crosby max dollars. He never wanted it, but suddenly McDavid will. You state a team would want to pay him the maximum, but have absolutely nothing to back it up suggesting it is real. No players has ever come close to max cap hit, but McDavid will because you said so. Laughable.

          • Serious Gord

            See my comment above re: Crosby.

            It amazes me how little you know about how this works. Yes Gretz was here nine years – signed to a personal services contract. As brunt explains, no one realized fully the impact Gretz would have and the revenues he would generate personally and for the league.

            And why not get a sports business guy like Richard dietsch to explain to you how much more mcdavid would be worth if he was playing for a north east team.

            Mcdavid would be silly not to ask for max dough to get the most out of a bad situation here in EDM. If EDM balks then he goes elsewhere and makes more.

            And this isn’t about what the team wants – it about what mcdavid is worth.

        • 40water

          gretz did not want to go to LA. He was forced into it for the good of the entire league. To grow the league in markets that weren’t as strong as Canadian ones. Serious Gord. Wake up.

          • 99CupsofCoffey

            Garbage is what Serious Gord is spewing. “Bad situation” he says. LOL! There will be so many top end players wanting to join McDavid, ther’ll be no way to keep them. And he “forgets” that 2017 is MUCH different than the early 90’s. He won’t wake up.

          • Serious Gord

            99 cups: times have changed absolutely. Yes top Enders will want to play with him even more if he’s within an hours flight of NYC. And this isn’t the NBA with the bird rule and the ability for three stars to make a trophy-winning team. The stars aren’t able to flit from team to team and consolidate around a star like mcdavid due to the cap issue. Unless you think lucic took a pay cut and settled for shortened term to play in EDM.

        • Ryan68

          McDavid is never going to do “local” endorsements. He has Scotiabank, Rogers, and Canadian Tire. Hmm, I’m pretty sure they’re nation wide companies. You’re just a disgruntled fan who either wanted McDavid for your team, or hate the fact that Edmonton wound up with him. P.S. Hall was never going to the Hall of Fame.

      • Spiel

        I think Sidney Crosby and his second contract are a realistic comparison to McDavid.
        Sid signed a 5 yr deal with a cap hit of 8.7M per season. That worked out to about 15% of the salary cap. Given today’s salary cap of approx 75M, the equivalent contract would be a cap hit of about 11M for 5 years. That buys one year of UFA. If the Oilers want more term, I’d think the cap hit gets higher as they would be buying more UFA years. You don’t think a cap hit in the $11M-$12M range is realistic for McDavid?

      • Nick Khron

        I think that’s what people forget constantly in all of this. Personally, I think with Crosby being his hero and all, that he signs for 9.7 but maybe that’s a pipe dream a decade later. Regardless, look at it however you want, whether he is a competitor and will not cripple his team or that being a player on a Stanley Cup contending(let alone winning) increases his brand significantly. I’m quite sure that I read that Crosby makes about 5-6 million extra per year on endorsements. While this number seems even a little low to me, it shows you why a star like McDavid doesn’t have to try and bleed an extra million or two out of his contract.

    • Ryan68

      What century are you living in? No NHL player makes tens of millions in endorsements. Do you think that there’s a hockey fan that hasn’t seen McDavid play? This isn’t 1986. There’s Twitter, and Google, and YouTube and NHL Centre Ice. McDavid was a millionaire before he was even drafted, and I’m pretty sure Erie is a smaller market than Edmonton. What WILL help him with endorsements is playing on a championship team. McDavid strikes me a pretty smart kid, he’s gotta know if he asks for a max-dollar contract he’s ensuring that he’ll never win a cup. If Kane is playing for $10.5M/yr it’s reasonable to predict Connor signs for 11-12M/yr. Drai will probably get $7M-$7.5M/yr. I know you’re not an Oiler fan because your whole post smacks of sour-grapes. So I’m guessing Leafs, Flames or Canucks.

  • positivebrontefan

    Thanks Oilers for the great season, and post season. Just think, if they make the same improvement next year as they did this year, they will be going to the seventh game in the finals. Lol.

    Either way, this team looks different than it did two years ago, and if Chia Pete is careful capwise, and learned something from his time in Boston, then we are in for a long term contender. With Drai and McDavid, I think the only team that has had a one-two punch down the middle that is comparable is Pittsburgh.
    And foe all the Eberle haters out there, I get it, lets not run him off yet, him and Nuge don’t know what its like to win in the majors yet, so lets give them the summer to work on it and sort things out, he, in my opinion, has had too long of a pattern of success to just have it all dry up in one season. Give it a season, and if it hasn’t changed we send him away at the deadline for something that can help us in the playoffs.

  • Jaxon

    I’m not an Eberle or Pouliot hater, but I think the writing is on the wall. I think they’ll keep Nuge. Would this trade scenario be possible?

    The speedy, feisty, Edmonton-born RW, Brendan Gallgher, would be a great fit in Edmonton. He had the 2nd highest shots/60 for wingers in the NHL last season at 12.05. Gallagher had a bit of an off season just like Eberle. They’re not going to get much for Eberle after this season, but he is a better scorer than Gallagher. I would suggest Eberle (2 x $6M) + Pouliot (2 x $4M), which is 2 more years at $10M going out for Plekanec (1 x $6M) + Gallagher (4 x $3.75M), which is $9.75M coming in for 1 year and then 3.75 for 3 more years. So the money works out short term and is a great deal for Edmonton moving forward as long as Gallagher bounces back. Plus it gives Edmonton a decent option (Plekanec) for 3C for next season. I’d maybe throw in a Reinhart and a 3rd round pick for a Dalton Thrower and a 5th round pick coming back.

    Eberle (6.000Mx2) – – – – – – – Gallagher (3.750Mx4)
    Pouliot (4.000Mx2) – – – – – – Plekanec (6.000Mx1)
    Reinhart (0.863Mx0)RFA – Thrower (0.646Mx0)RFA
    3rd Round in 2017 – – – – – – 5th Round in 2017
    CAP 10.863M out – – – – – – – CAP 10.396M in

    Then Plekanec’s salary comes off the books just in time for McDavid’s big contract.


    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Here is my crazy (or is it) trade idea:

      Oilers stay pat up front until the deadline then
      trade Ebs and Pou and a 2nd for the Sedins (minus salary) for a cup run.
      Since the Oil are likley to not be able
      to keep Ebs anyway once McDs entry level contract espires.

      Sedins can sign a new cheap deal the following year in Van and Van get a RW the don’t currently have
      Oil are $10 mil cheaper, and 1 cup richer!

  • FISTO Siltanen

    I’d lean towards overpaying Russell for one year than being saddled with a millstone of a contract for another 2 years.

    That’s if Chiarelli wants to sign him. I’m indifferent at this moment.

  • AJ88

    I would not bet a lot of money on Nuge being a third line centre next year. I am not sure Drai, McD and Nuge will start the year on separate lines. We are asking a lot from Cagguila, Sleps, Maroon to continue to be legit top wingers. And Lucic still needs more consistency in his game, great when he is on his game, not so when he is off his game which seems to be about every 2nd or 3rd game. I would like to see them get a large third line centre that is 50% in face offs and is more physical, allowing tinkering with the top 2 lines.

  • TKB2677

    I listened to Gregor and Strudwick yesterday talk about Eberle and how the Oilers would be crazy to let Eberle be exposed in the expansion draft. I think Strudwick used the word “disastrous”. The big argument Strudwick had and was mentioned in this article is what Eberle has averaged goal wise and who would replace his 20 goals. Strudwick also mentioned he would go to Eberle and tell him he needs to put on 10 lbs of muscle and work on his skating.

    The issue I have with going to Eberle and talking about his training is and asking him to do more is. When he was drafted at 18, he was 5’10, 174. He was never the best skater. He turns 27 on Monday. If you go look Eberle up, he’s listed at 5’11, 184. So in 9 YEARS of training, he has gained 10lbs from his draft year. That’s it. As a player who was small when he was drafted. Was on the smallish side in junior and has been small his entire NHL career (7 seasons). I have to assume that when he was drafted and he went to development camp. The Oilers said to him. “You need to get bigger and stronger and improve your skating.” I would bet that for the next 2 years he camp to camp and when he was cut, they told him.”You need to continue to get bigger, stronger and work on your skating.” When he made it to the NHL, I bet at the end of the year after they sucked year after year. The told him “you need to get bigger and stronger and work on your skating.” So I would put money down that in the 9 years since he was drafted, getting bigger, stronger and improving your skating has been on his list of things to do in the offseason.

    Gregor and Strudwick yesterday mentioned that they thought Eberle looks slower and weaker. So if Eberle for the last 9 years has known he needs to get bigger, stronger and faster and by eye, it doesn’t look like he’s done much to improve in those areas. At 27 yrs old on Monday and with 7 years in the NHL under his belt, when the coaching staff asked him to get bigger, stronger and faster AGAIN, its all of a sudden going to clue in to him he needs to work on that? I just have a hard time believing that a 27 yr old, 7 yr NHL vet is all of a sudden going to take his training serious now and do what he should have been doing all along. I more believe at 27 and 7 yrs of NHL under his belt. He is what he is and I would get what you can for him while you can.

    Also, the Pens who might go back to back on cups this year. Have 2 elite centers, one very expensive, high end winger who only had 23 goals this year in Kessel then a bunch of dirt cheap, relative no names that score 20 goals. So why again do we need Eberle at 6 mill so he can maybe score 25?

    • Gravis82

      Id like to see Eberle, Pouliot, Fayne turned into Salary of McDavid and Draisaitl. Nuge turned into a LW for Drai. Lucic turned into a 3 C, for 4 mill who can win a freaking faceoff.

  • Spiel

    Chiarelli won`t make a knee jerk reaction? This is the GM who traded away a 20 year old Tyler Seguin who lead his team in scoring because he was soft in a playoff series.

  • OnDaWagon

    Drai will earn whatever he gets paid.

    McMUFFIN needs to find some gut and heart, both of which he never showed during the playoffs.

    If he had a serious injury, I will take that back, and give him a chance to prove he can be a positive difference, instead of a negative difference.

  • Spiel

    The luxury of McDavid and Draisaitl is that you can play any half-competent wingers with them and have productive lines. Eberle at $6M is too much to pay for a winger when a rookie like Caggiula or a journeyman like Maroon showed they can fill the role just fine. A $16M line of RNH-Eberle-Pouliot was amazingly unproductive while receiving less defensive attention from the opponents. The wise move, either this offseason or next, would be to trade away the good (but replaceable) pieces of the roster for younger, cheaper players and picks to fill roster spots in anticipation of the upcoming pay days for McDavid and Draisaitl. That is the strategy the Blackhawks used to stay competitive while paying big money to their core of Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Hossa. After their first cup win they traded Ladd and Byfuglien among others for future, cheaper assets. It is not that Ladd and Buff are not good players, they were not the foundation pieces. The Oilers foundation pieces are McDavid, Draisaitl, Klefbom, Larsson, probably Lucic (his contract necessitates they keep him), and Talbot while he has a reasonable deal. Nurse and Benning are potentially foundation pieces in the same way Hjalmarsson has been retained as top 4 D by Chicago. Other veterans need to be sold off as their contracts expire or become prohibitive to keeping these core Oiler pieces.

  • Consultant

    Just like they can’t overreact to Eberle having a down year they also can’t overreact to Leon having awesome playoffs.
    8 years with a cap hit of 7.5 is a lot. He gains so much by not being THE guy, getting the secondary match-ups or being on McDavid’s wing. It seems to me 7.5 is for THE guy type players (best on team) like Tarasenko or Gaudereau (6.75). I hope the Oilers can get him signed for under 7 per.

    • Serious Gord

      Tarasenko gets referred to a couple times here. He’s an excellent – winger – making 8 mill. Hands up those reading this who would swap him for draisaitl at that salary… seeing no one it’s a very safe bet draisaitl gets much more than eight

      • QuitForRealThisTime

        Serious Gord….since you know exactly how the McD and Drai contracts will go down..give us the exact numbers please, then we can see. If you are right on then I for one will well take you seriously of you are way off then well maybe you don’t actually know everything about everything….Just from reading is $14 mil for 8 years fror McD and $8.5mil for 8 years for Drai sound about right?

        • Serious Gord

          Term vs salary. Traditionally the longer the term the lower the salary. But in both these players cases I think the longer the term the higher the money. Mcdavid might settle for less than max money if it’s a three year term when he could sign for far higher and as a FA. Ditto draisaitl.

    • Spiel

      But how can management with a straight face offer Leon anything under 7 when Nuge and Eberle and making 6. Leon was clearly the next best player after McDavid on this team. Oilers should be happy to reward him with a contract and move on from the “oil change” era.

  • CMG30

    I look at this series as a learning experience. As I was watching game 7, I grew increasingly frustrated. They responded very well after the robbery of game 5, but, by game 7 they seemed to forget every good thing hey did in game 6. They weren’t hitting, they weren’t skating and they weren’t even in the offensive end enough to forecheck. They got one quick goal then fell back to the defense-first style that coaches seem to love but loses Edmonton hockey games. A hold-over from the Eakins era? I really wonder why it’s so hard for these guys to understand that this team wins when they drive play, not when they sit back. Hopefully, with enough reflection over the summer the players will start to internalize this.

  • Drill Bit #97

    It took a day to decompress and reconcile I’ll suffer meaningful hockey withdrawal for the next few weeks. This team will undergo some tweaks both major and minor over the summer, but it is in the most capable of hands and the Oilers will only get better and go deeper next year. Thank You Oilers and ON for a truly great season, can’t wait for Sept. Have a great summer, stay safe, and I know we’ll all be tuned in over the summer. Cheers! GO OILERS GO!!!!

  • btrain

    I am admittedly biased but I believe Eberle should be back next season as I believe his down season, where he still put up 20 goals, is now behind him. People can use his 25 goal 15/16 season as ammunition against him as well given his slow start, but I think the fact that he still reached 25 despite a slow start is telling. There are plenty of examples of players who bounce back and though I wouldn’t suggest he is in the same ball park as a Patrick Marleau, I think Marleau offers an interesting comparison on a personality and goal scoring level.

    The first similarity I want to point out has to do with emotional expression. These guys don’t feel their way through anything nearly as much as they think their way through. So when they are not on their game and don’t ramp up their emotion, it can appear they don’t care. Thing is, they don’t play with a ton of emotion even when they are on their game so even if they do make attempts at ramping up their emotional level, they will likely still not be effective unless their mind and particularly their confidence is right. We can see examples of this with Marleau and now with Eberle.

    In 2011/2012 Patrick Marleau was called out by former teammate and loud mouth, Jeremy Roenick for being “gutless” after falling to the Wings in round 1. No doubt many of the Sharks fan base shared similar thoughts as Marleau had 0 points and was a -1 in a series they were heavily favored to win. I think many would quickly apply “gutless” to Eberle’s playoff performance as well. Since Marleau’s poor playoff showing, he has put up 35 points in 48 playoff games (.73 pts/game). Another interesting non-playoff comparison when it comes to goal scoring, Marleau had 2 (19) goal seasons after already establishing himself as an elite goal scorer. The first 19 goal season occurred in 07/08 for which he followed with a 38 goal season. His next 19 goal season didn’t happen until 7 years later where his lowest total in between (aside from the lockout year) was 30. Following his last 19 goal season in 14/15 Marleau has had 25 and 27 goal seasons.

    Conclusion, it would have been a mistake for the Sharks to disregard everything Marleau had accomplished in the past because of one playoff performance or season and I think the same thing is likely true for the Oilers with Eberle. Given that he represents a position of organizational uncertainty, and that his value is currently low, it makes more sense to see if he can rebound then to give him away or pay part of his salary while he potentially lights the lamp for another team. Eberle will need to move on eventually, but I think another year in Edmonton while JP develops is the smart move while there is cap room. Can always move him to a team lacking offense at the deadline if he doesn’t bounce back.