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|
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.