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Pakarinen and Expansion

The Oilers made the Iiro Pakarinen signing official yesterday, although the Nation Network had already reported it over the weekend. 

The signing makes sense on many levels, and it should clear up the Oilers expansion draft list.

Here is a quick recap of the rules on the number of players an NHL team has to expose at the expansion draft.

  • One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

Pakarinen has played 77 games the past two seasons, so he qualifies as one of two forwards who need to be exposed. Benoit Pouliot will most likely be the other.

Pakarinen’s signing means the Oilers will protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie. The most plausible list looks like Leon Draisaitl, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Patrick Maroon, Mark Letestu and Zack Kassian as forwards. Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Sekera and Adam Larsson on defence and Cam Talbot in goal.

They don’t have to protect Connor McDavid, Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula, Jesse Puljujarvi, Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning because they’ve only been a pro for two or fewer seasons.

So one of Pakarinen, Pouliot, Tyler Pitlick, Jujhar Khaira, Griffin Reinhart, Mark Fayne, Dillon Simpson and Laurent Brossoit will be picked up by Las Vegas, unless they grab a UFA like Kris Russell, Jordan Oesterle or David Desharnais, which is highly unlikely.

Vegas claiming Reinhart makes the most sense, considering how valuable teams view defencemen.

I know Vegas scouted Brossoit closely this year, but he needs to clear waivers and there are many goalies available from other teams who still are waiver exempt for one more year. Taking Brossoit would suggest they expect him to be their back up, rather than expose him to waivers after training camp.

Khaira has shown signs he can be an NHL player, however, his inconsistency likely saves him from being claimed.

PAK SIGNING

Pakarinen’s signing allows the Oilers to protect both Kassian and Letestu, but they also signed him because they feel he can be a regular in their bottom six. Many of his teammates told me he might be the strongest pound-for-pound player on the team. They were impressed by how strong he is, and his pre-season injury limited his development this season.

Pakarinen could replace Matt Hendricks — a grinder who can kill penalties and is responsible defensively. He doesn’t take faceoff like Hendricks, and he won’t fight, but I’m curious to see if he can take his superior strength and use it to his advantage on this ice next season.

PARTING SHOTS

  • I believe the numbers on a player can sometimes be misleading. I feel Cody Franson is one of those players. His numbers make him look better than he is. Here is longtime Sabres reporter Paul Hamilton’s view of him.“The challenge for him is he’s not very mobile. He did not bring the offence I think they were hoping he would bring. When they signed him to a two-year deal, I think they thought he was really going to help the power play. He helped a bit, but not as much as I think they thought he would. Until he got hurt last year, he started coming on, and there were games where he was Buffalo’s best defenceman, he really started to play better. But, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t a lot of games, just a stretch where I thought he played well. I’m wondering if “Father Time” has caught up with him. He had some major injuries he had to get though. It might be a tough go moving forward. If he gets signed,  it might be as a number six or seven guy.”
  • Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s contracts will force the Oilers to clear out some cap space elsewhere, but I don’t believe it alters the ability to win. I think the term “Window to Win” is often used incorrectly or is simply inaccurate.
  • Patrick Kane doesn’t get talked about enough as one of the great players in the game. Unlike Jonathan Toews, Kane is living up to his $10.5 million contract. He has tallied 195 points the past two seasons. He’s played every game. Sidney Crosby is second in points with 174, Jamie Benn is third at 158, Nick Backstrom is fourth with 156 and Erik Karlsson is fifth at 153. McDavid is 11th with 148, but he only played 127 games. You can see every player over the past seasons here.
  • The most disappointing stat for me is only five players have averaged one-point-per-game over the past two seasons. Kane produced 1.19 points-per-game, McDavid 1.17, Crosby 1.12, Evgeni Malkin 1.09 and Nikita Kucherov 1.00. Benn and Backstrom are at 0.99, but sadly in today’s game putting together consecutive seasons of 80 points, assuming a player is healthy, is very rare. The fact McDavid tallied 100 points in only his second season is very impressive, and considering he still has room to mature and improve I still believe he could have a 130-point season once in the next five years. I know the NHL doesn’t want to hear it, but the league needs to take a look at how they create more offensive chances. The easy solution is call the damn rulebook, but for reasons I can’t comprehend the league doesn’t want to enforce the rules. The needless hooking, slashing, crosschecking and obstruction is not entertaining, nor is it good for the game. It would be nice if the NHLPA spoke up about it, but they too lack a clear vision.

ULTIMATE SPORTS FAN

For the seventh consecutive year, we are doing our Ultimate Sports Fan package in support of charity. On June 11th and 12th, I am riding in the 190km MS Bike Tour, and I’ve come up with a pretty good package for the diehard sports fan.

Here’s how it works: You make a $125 donation and you get one entry. If you make a $250 donation you get two entries, and so on.

We only take 100 entries and we will raise $12,500 for MS. The draw will be Friday, June 9th.

This year’s winner will win the following prizes and more.: The final package is valued at over $6,000.00

  1. The “Oilers experience” at the Oilers home opener in October, which includes tickets, parking, dinner and a behind the scenes tour.
  2. A pair of Edmonton Eskimos season tickets in the lower bowl.
  3. A signed, game used Mark Letestu stick.
  4. A signed Adarius Bowman jersey.
  5. 20 tickets any Oil Kings game. Also, you will get an Oil King player of your choice to
    come to your backyard rink or minor hockey practice for an hour. (Between November 1st and December 15th.)
  6. Ten tickets to the Rugby Canada Super Series on Saturday, June 17th at Ellerslie Park presented by MB Events. Canada vs USA in the U20 at noon and then Canada’s Men’s team battles Romania at 3 p.m.
  7. A signed Oilers jersey by every player from this year’s team.
  8. $500 GC for dinner at Vivo Ristorante 

Keep in mind this sold out in two weeks last year, so if you want a chance to win and help end MS get in the draw today.

You can make your donation here.  (click Donate Now to the right of my picture).

Thank you and good luck.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

    • Hemmercules

      They should have just moved the Coyotes to Vegas. What a disaster that venture in Phoenix has been. I think Vegas will do fine, maybe not sellouts every night. They don’t have any pro sports teams so that helps too. Even if its largely tourists buying tickets, as long as they are selling tickets what does it matter?

    • RJ

      I would think that depends on the ownership group in LV, as well as management.

      I’ve never attended a game in Nashville, but from everything I’ve seen, it seems like Nashville supports their team as much or more than fans in Vancouver. I wouldn’t have thought of Nashville as a solid hockey market until the last few years. They’ve done a great job of promoting hockey there, and it helps the team has been successful.

      Most fans are fickle. Edmonton is the only place where they sell-out every game even when they miss the playoffs. If LV can build a winning team quickly, then they should have a ton of support from LV fans.

    • Jack Dupp

      There are massive cross marketing campaigns with all sorts of sponsorships. It will be big down there if they can build a good team. The population is excited. The real issue comes down the road when the Raiders move in. If the Knights don’t have something going on at that point they will fight for the corporate attention and fan support.

    • Hemmercules

      Im thinking he stays with Edmonton. I think there will be better options for Vegas to take from the Oilers, this just allows them to protect another guy they rather wouldn’t lose.

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      Pak will not “likely” stay in Edmonton. He will “definitely” stay. Vegas aren’t going to draft him. The Oilers signed Pak partly because they want to protect Letestu because he is a very useful player (1st unit PP, PK, top faceoff man).

  • TruthHurts98

    I know the NHL doesn’t want to hear it, but the league needs to take a look at how they create more offensive chances. The easy solution is call the damn rulebook, but for reasons I can’t comprehend the league doesn’t want to enforce the rules. The needless hooking, slashing, crosschecking and obstruction is not entertaining, nor is it good for the game. It would be nice if the NHLPA spoke up about it, but they too lack a clear vision.
    Jason Gregor you are spot on. I’ve been saying this for years now and watching playoff hockey outside of the Oilers isn’t horrible exciting with all the clutching, slashing and mugging that doesn’t get called. If the NHL ever starts calling the rule book Connor would have more than 130 points in a season. And the fans would be far more pumped to watch hockey!

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Tough to say, really depends on which d-men are exposed or who get moved. Reinhart may be the best pick for them from the Oiler available players but not make the cut when compared with the other young d-men from other teams. I think they take a long look at Jujhar…has not cracked the NHL just yet but is on the bubble. Big, skates well enough, picking a player for potential.

  • D

    Thank you JG for that Window to Win article. Great work. I really hope your article is a start in putting to rest yet another “fact” that is not supported by the real facts.

    • Jack Dupp

      He was overhyped because… Toronto. Had a couple decent seasons but really nothing special in terms of a player. 2nd pair guy in his few prime years. The game is too fast for him now.

  • Oiler Al

    Surely the officiating in the play off;s needs to be reviewed, but another issue is that coaches, coach to defend with the various trap schemes, [ Senators the most boring team on the planet earth] They plug up center ice ,breaking up rushes and then its dump and chase.In the past there were more two on one and three on two rushes ionto the O zone. Not so much now.

  • DWalsh7

    I simply cannot understand why the NHL decided to is once again expanding. There are teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, Arizona Coyotes and hell even the Ottawa Senators who can barely ever sell out their arenas. All of these teams would be a viable candidate for relocation. Instead of expanding into a non-hockey city they could move one of the above-listed teams to Quebec City, Hartford or Seattle (The T-Birds games have crazy atmosphere). But Mr. Bettman decides the ‘Vegas’ Knights would a better contender than any of those cities

      • Jack Dupp

        The talent pool is actually much larger now than it was in the 70s, 80s and 90s. The 3 Canadian major jr leagues as well as the provincial leagues. The US league as well as all the euro leagues and the US collegiate system make for a huge pool. The scouting departments have to be good and a little lucky.

  • “The easy solution is call the damn rulebook, but for reasons I can’t comprehend the league doesn’t want to enforce the rules. The needless hooking, slashing, crosschecking and obstruction is not entertaining, nor is it good for the game.”

    I can’t agree more. Call the freaking penalties and they’ll be weeded out of the game. I can’t stand that the games get called one way during the season (still poorly) and then in playoffs its a free for all which benefits lesser talented players.