WWYDW: Your Edmonton Oilers offseason wish list

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has already had a busy summer, re-signing players like Zack Kassian, Kris Russell and Eric Gryba. With those signings, and with the expansion draft in the rearview mirror, it’s a bit easier to get a feel for what the roster will look like heading into next season – and what it still needs.

In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we ask what would be on your offseason wish list if you were in Chiarelli’s shoes and heading into this summer’s free agent window in charge of the Oilers.

As Things Currently Stand

Left Wing Centre Right Wing Left Defence Right Defence Goal
Maroon McDavid Draisaitl Klefbom Larsson Talbot
Lucic Nugent-Hopkins Slepyshev Russell Benning Brossoit
Pouliot Strome Puljujarvi Nurse Gryba
Caggiula Letestu Kassian Fayne
Khaira Pakarinen
Laleggia Gambardella P. Russell Simpson Bear Ellis

Assuming the Oilers get all of their restricted free agents signed, the 23 men listed above look like the most logical starting roster, with the six men below being the most likely call-ups at every position. Andrej Sekera, who is not listed, will obviously factor in once he returns from offseason surgery.

What do you see when you look at that roster?

The following are my takeaways:

1. There’s a real need for a middle-six right wing. Todd McLellan played Leon Draisaitl at right wing last year even when the Oilers didn’t have a competent third-line centre on the roster; it seems obvious the big German will play there again, especially given the lack of other established options. I don’t think Jesse Puljujarvi should be gifted a roster spot and I’m not convinced that Anton Slepyshev will stick in the top-six all season. With Ryan Strome being needed down the middle (Drake Caggiula could theoretically take that spot, but he wasn’t great in it in 2016-17) there’s room for an established option.

I think the best fit for that role would be someone fast, and someone capable of sliding into either a soft minutes line or facing tougher competition. Ales Hemsky might be a nice fit. On the trade front, Golden Knights’ forward Jonathan Marchessault would be a great get, but probably costly asset-wise.

2. Will Todd McLellan really trust Mark Fayne? With Sekera out, the defence has one really solid pairing and a bunch of maybes. Kris Russell struggled away from Sekera last season, Matt Benning was really good early in the year and then nowhere near as good in the back half of the season, and Darnell Nurse is still very much in development mode. If one of those players struggles, the fallback option is Fayne, a player the coach has shown a decided lack of confidence in over their two years together.

The problem will be finding a player the coach likes who is willing to sign a one-year deal as a free agent. I’m a Brian Campbell fan, but he had a very tough year in Chicago. Still, someone like him, Mark Streit or Kyle Quincey might be the best the Oilers can do. Vegas has a bunch of guys on one-year deals who might conceivably fit the bill, too. I would have liked to see a major upgrade here, but with the Russell extension that probably isn’t possible now.

3. Depth all over. Edmonton’s recall options are really limited. I wouldn’t want to count on first-year pros (Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Joe Gambardella, etc.) in so many different positions, because at least some of those guys are going to have trouble with the learning curve. There’s a need for at least one decent ‘tweener both up front and on the back end. There are lots of options for those roles, obviously. Mitch Callahan is an interesting player, and the organization already knows Jordan Oesterle.

What do you see as potential problem areas, and what would your solutions be? It’s a weird year, so in addition to the usual list of free agents it’s worth looking at the roster of the expansion Golden Knights. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

  • Loil

    This is all assuming Draisaitl stays with us. That certainly doesn’t look like a guarantee given how long he has been left without an offer. Now that he has an offer he doesn’t seem to be in a rush to bite on it, indicating he’s likely waiting till July 1st to see what other offers are out there. I hate to say it but he may not be staying with us. It would be a nightmare situation for the team if he signs elsewhere and if he does, that one is on Chiarelli for waiting soooo long to even offer him a qualifier.
    Sorry to say it my fellow Oilers fans but we may be in for a huge disappointment.

    • Florescent Oil Orange

      One could reasonably think the dria deal isn’t complete due to waiting on the macdavid deal which can’t be completed until July 1st. It might be a percentage of the 97 deal already agreed to. He is an rfa we can match or take the picks. If he gets a huge deal that we don’t want to match we get alot of picks. Since 7.5 to 8 has been mentioned as something we’re likely to do. I don’t see many teams with the room to out bid is on his deal. And the ones that have room are mostly bottom feeders who would be offering high picks on return. As for drain signing a deal elsewhere move along nothing to see here

    • madjam

      Chia was going to announce both on July1 , so Draisaitl has probably already been settled and signed , so I doubt any offer now will be of no/any consequence . Chia not in habit of underpaying players from what I have seen .

    • Homer

      Ugh this site has a lot of glass half empty people! Leon is under team control still he CAN’T go anywhere unless someone gives him an offer sheet that he signs. If some idiot wants to pay him 10 mill for 8 years we take the draft picks and be happy

  • Simba99

    Get off your high horse Leon’s gone maroons gone next year or by deadline strome won’t last they will try and trade nug to save money but this contract they supposedly giving 97 will handcuff them for years

  • 0W-20

    Sign Pitlick for the mid-6 RW gig. This gives Puljujarvi another year to marinate in the AHL before earning his full-time NHL paycheck and mitigates the potential bonuses. RE: 2nd pair RHD promote from within – Benning gets the spot deservedly so. I’m okay with Fayne as the 6/7 defenceman, he’s certainly getting paid as one. There will be plenty of 3rd pairing guys looking for jobs on July 2nd or August 2nd so no rush to ink one.

  • toprightcorner

    Firstly, I think Draisaitl should play 2C, that spreads the scoring and threat to the other team.

    Starting on the back end, for the 7th dman, I would sign someone cheap that you could hopefully do a 2-way deal with but has NHL experience. I would look at RD Christian Folin. 26, played 52 games with MIN, UFA was $750k last year. Sign him to $950k/$350k 2 way deal, send him down when Sekera gets back and reap the cap benefits. If you can’t get that type of dman on 2-way deal, then I look at a vet like Hainsey that can play 2nd or 3rd pair and would sign a 1 year $1.25 mill deal. Doesn’t force Benning or Nurse to move up if they are not ready.

    For RW, I would like to see Pulujarvi spend half a season in the AHL regardless of his training camp. I would add either Vrbata or Williams on a 2 year deal around $2.5 mill, who could both play in the top 6. Marleau would be great, but he is talking 3 year deal which is too long.

    These adds are cheap, effective and won’t hamper the team in anyway. I would NOT do anything extravagant as we have a lot of players wit good potential that could really turn the corner this year like Benning, Nurse, Caggulia, and Slepeshev. Oilers cannot afford to sign someone that blocks a better value contract. This leaves them money to add at the deadline for a real need like Neal, Bozak or Enstrom for the playoff push.

  • Connor'sGotHart

    For one thing tell me why Draisaitl wouldn’t dig not ? They have something special here in Edmonton. He will play the next 8 years at least with Connor. I’m sure he wants to get a deal done . ITs only June’s so people need to relax.

  • Won’t see us going all out like we did for 2 straight years but I think Chiarelli will still be making a few moves, I don’t think he’d just add Strome then call it a summer. I think Marleau, Iggy, or Williams would be fine as long as they aren’t for $6M. A cheap depth D-man who can come up from Bakersfield and do a decent job up here for a game whenever he’s called on wouldn’t hurt either, can never have too much depth defensemen especially when we already have Sekera out. Sidenote I don’t think an offer for Marchessault would hurt considering McPhee gave away Methot for a peanut.

  • Simba99

    They are done can’t sign any Frey agents with the money they are filling out for mcdavid and a so call match of any offer sheet for Leon simply won’t be able to afford it unless they come for free

  • LordVallko

    Todd is terrible head coach, may be a fantastic assistant coach, but head, no way. He sucks at line matching, he sucks at challenges, his win loss is better away than at home. That alone proves other coaches are better especially when home ice advantage is a disadvantage, think about it. And who loses a 3 goal lead in the last 3 minutes of a majore playoff game, geez. Todd and Company, that’s who. You are wrong and time will prove it, mark my words, every year of Todd is a wasted year of McDollars. This team will never win a Stanley cup with Todd as the coach, again I am giving 3 to 1 odds and hearing crickets. PS, I’m older than Don Cherry, how can you have seen more of anything than I, ha.

  • TKB2677

    Assuming Draisaitl is here. I would play Drai as the second line center. I would then trade Nuge for a good 3rd line center, preferably right handed. Then with the cap space you free up with Nuge and his 6 mill gone because I legit 3rd line center is probably costing you half of what Nuge makes, you can go out and get that depth winger if you need one. If you shop right, you can turn Nuge’s 6 mill into a 3rd line center and a RW. Versteeg as an example signed in Caglary for 1 mill. I can’t see how you couldn’t go get someone similar even if you have to double that salary to 2 mill.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    I think Nuge could be traded to relieve some $$ space for a competent R’ wing. Move Drai down to 2nd line centre.
    Acquire a proven back-up goalie in say, Condon or whoever… trade picks for a short contract defense-man.
    Then, Bob’s UR Uncle…

  • Smuckers

    It will be interesting to see what happens with Drai. With no news or leaks out of either camp and the local media pumping up the offer sheet angle, it would appear that is the road we’re headed down. Which is fine – Nuge will be gone shortly after they match.

  • Consultant

    Call Iginla, if he is by the lake chillin’, or at Physio then hang up, if he’s in the gym or out for a run then leave a message.
    Seems Marleau would be too expensive, he should get 4-5 per year so I imagine Chia would start with an offer of about 9 million per year.

  • Muleman84

    Maroon McDavid Strome
    Lucic Draisaitl Puljujarvi/Slepyshev
    Cagguila Boyle Kassian
    Khaira Letestu Pitlick

    Klefbom Larrson
    Russell Faulk
    Nurse Benning
    Now we are talking!