Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

A Time to Reap, A Time to Sow

The Edmonton Oilers placed Benoit Pouliot on waivers today, choosing to move on from the veteran. This continues a run on 2016-17 wingers being offloaded this summer, as Jordan Eberle is in Brooklyn, Tyler Pitlick is heading for free agency and Leon Draisaitl is possibly heading for center.

Lots of discussion today about the buyout being Draisaitl offer sheet insurance, or making sure the Oilers have enough dollars to add at the deadline. I’m not buying. Why? Two reasons:

  • Even if you give Leon Draisaitl a $9.5 million cap, there’s still cap space (NHLNumbers) even if you include ALL POSSIBLE BONUSES.
  • If you look at the current depth chart (sans Benoit Pouliot) the lack of experience among the wingers is crushing.

Edmonton has flushed $10 million in salary from the wingers by moving Eberle and Pouliot, but the cost (cap hit for buyout aside) is an extreme lack of experience. These moves mean Edmonton would start opening night with four or five (of eight) wingers who would have fewer than 100 NHL games experience.

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I get the idea of letting young men grow into a role as regulars, but it’s unwise to have them audition four at a time. October wins count for two points just like the ones in March, and enduring the growing pains of youth in the early days of the coming season could put the Oilers so far behind they would be unable to catch up.

If Peter Chiarelli is buying out Benoit Pouliot in order to have a mid-season rainy day fund then you should be highly critical. NHL teams who treat the first part of the season as an audition can be found in the first two rows of each season’s draft seating.

I expect we’ll see additions in July, early or late.

  • D

    The Decade of Darkness partially came about because the Oilers tried to build first from the wings. Chiarelli came in and started the re-rebuild properly by building goal, defense, and the middle. He’s now finishing the job by cleaning up the wings. At least I hope that’s the plan.

    • the reasonable person

      I was going to log in again just to say this. You sir get it! We used to have abysmal centers and dmen (like actually horrible and maybe not even good AHL calibre) leaving goalies doomed for failure and frustration. Now we have world class center depth, solid d, solid goaltending, at the expense of up and coming wingers who look PRETTY DAMN GOOD all things considered! Yet Lowetide writes a negative article about it. Rookie wingers who are pretty solid but inexperienced do not cost otherwise solid teams playoff spots Lowetide, especially when 3 division rivals consist of Arizona, Vegas, and Vancouver.

      • Nanook

        I think there will be a signing. Marleau has history with Mclleland. I can see a 1-2 year deal for a chance to win. Sign him and there still could be some mid season ins money if the price is right. It just feels like there is something more going on, Chia has a plan and im sure we will see it unfold soon.

  • 0W-20

    So 2016-2017 regular season Eberle + Pouliot = 65 points. 2017 Playoffs Eberle + Pouliot = 2 points.

    “Experience” for $10M was certainly not worth the price of admission for this duo.

    I’ll wager 2017-2018 regular season Strome + Caggiula > 65 points. Sorry Mr. Lowetide but this was clearly the correct time to reap – it’s a young man’s game and betting on hungry, skilled youth is the very sort of move we should be applauding.

  • TruthHurts98

    So far I like the moves, Ebs and Poo did nothing against Anaheim. 10 mil cleared off and 6.17 saved to sign a couple players that will produce more. Nice moves IMO.

    • Harry2

      You dont win cups by conatantly offleafing 1st and 2nd rounders for middle of the road dmen. Brian Burke is a moron. He completely gutted Vancouver and Toronto’s prospect pools and now hes foing the same in CGY. I would be worried if I were a Flamers fan

    • Dr

      I’m not sold on Calgary. They had a ten game winning streak. That’s 12% of the season. The other 88% of the season, they were only three or four games over 500. They limped into the playoffs on a 6-7 pace. In that ten game stretch, they beat 7 non-playoff teams. From December 5 to the end of the regular season, they had only 4 regulation time wins against playoff teams. Then they got swept.
      They then add a 35 yearold goalie, and second pairing dman that everyone thinks is Scott Stevens, a young prospect who has played more AHL games than NHL games, and a career backup goalie.
      So, was there record indicative of a team that is capable of scorching the league and putting together numerous winning streaks, or was it inflated? I tend to look at 88% of the season, and I see a team that was barely of 500, which is not an accomplishment in the Bettman point era. They were barely over 500 with the great d-core of Hamilton, Brodie, Giordano. I don’t know if these additions are going to make them a contender.
      The Oilers, on the other hand, finished with 103 points, despite poor seasons from RNH, Eberle, Pouliot, and Lucic. They could’ve been better.

  • Petrolero

    lo we tide writer is over valuing the winger position. goalie, d core, and centers, as long as those positions are strong the wingers just need to be ready to play. how many rookie wingers shone these playoffs because they played with puck.moving d and talented centers? besides, only one of the top six wingers will be inexperienced. saying the winger depth is crushing is a bit melodramatic. just look at that beautiful center lineup (plus strome and caggiula can also play center). stop being melodramatic.

  • madjam

    With current roster I suspect we are going to fall in standings just as Colorado had done after a good year . We’ll be weak on defence without Sekara . The loss of scoring from wings and experience will hurt us badly . While expectations of fans rise , I am afraid in standings we will fall substantially with present Lowetide lineup . Has Chia finished gutting the team , or is Hopkins next ?

    • MrBung

      Agreed. Teams will find ways to neutralize McDavid. And Drai plays well against certain teams and others not. And the Oilers really don’t have any other scorers.

  • camdog

    I like what Calgary’s doing from an Oiler perspective. Going all in with that team, no draft picks. They might even be able to beat the Oilers next year but they won’t win a cup with that team. But then again that’s not their plan they just need to be better than the Oilers, get the fans excited so just maybe they get a new rink to play in.

    • SeethingRed

      Hehehehe…..Lucic and Russell…let those names burn into your brain…..I am getting ready to order my New York Rangers “Drai” jersey…or watch him sign for 9 million either way I’m good.

    • Dr

      Treliving has traded away 10 draft picks in three seasons. More than one entire draft. They’re going all in. Are they that close that they can mortgage the future and go all in?

      • Nanook

        I don’t see Hamonic aand Smith being the big “game breakers” they need to topple the west. They both good in their own rights, but Smith is getting old and has proven he can have dramatic down swings in his play. and really is Hamonic really going to make them into top contenders? I don’t see it. Untill I see what Chia puts forth as the finished product I cant really even guess where we will finnish. At least we didn’t mortgage the next 3 years in picks just to try keep up, its nice being the team they are trying to catch up to for a change.

        • MrBung

          I think with the Flames, their defence beats Edmonton’s hands down. Also, I think the Flames goaltending has got marginally better, but probably just for next season. I see him falling off. But enough to make a difference next season. He was one of the few bright spots in the desert last season. The Flames have more depth around their scoring. The Oil have the McDavid/Drai factor but nothing much else. Maroon – who knows – one season of upped production. The Flames were not as bad as the start last season and not as good as their finish. This season, I expect them to be somewhat better overall than they were last season. They will likely split the games with the Oil at the least. No season sweeps for sure.

  • Big Nuggets

    It would be pretty cool if we could pick up Jagr. who knows if he would be willing to sign in Edmonton, and part of me hopes he goes back to Pittsburg for a season with Crosby. McLellan would have a lot of fun shuffling up the lines with Jagr in the mix.

  • RJ

    I don’t see what everyone is complaining about.

    There is no depth on either wing. Maroon had a career year. It would be great if this is his new normal, but regression is likely. Lucic had never been an elite scorer.

    On the RW, Strome was labelled in NY as a third-line singer with upside. Expecting him to instantly mesh with McDavid or in first line opportunities is silly until he proves he can handle it.

    It just makes sense they add a player or two from the UFA market. If it’s early July, they’re marquee players. If it’s late July, they’re 3/4 liners. It will be curious to see who they add.

  • madjam

    Currently , and that can change with some additions and/or trades , I have Oilers finishing in 4th or 5th position in the Pacific division . The new order might be Anaheim , Calgary . L.A. , San Jose and Edmonton , Vanc., Arizona and Vegas . However , I believe the Central division might end up with 5 teams making the playoffs this year . Chicago , Minnesota , St.Louis , Nashville , Dallas or Winnipeg who have made major improvements . Oilers are simply not as strong as we were last year as of today , nor is San Jose without Thornton and Marleau .

  • Redbird62

    A lot of doubting Thomas’ on this website. A lot will impact whether the Oilers will improve next year. From a regular season perspective, there isn’t that much room for improvement given that they were only 2 points away from 1st in their division and 6 away from 1st in the conference and they were 16 points up on Winnipeg who finished 9th. And as Nashville showed, you just need to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh actually went slightly backwards in 2008-09 in the regular season but still won the cup. I only see 2 maybe 3 downgrades from the roster so far based on past performances with the Eberle vs Strome, Sekera out for around half a season and some of the value Pouliot brings as a penalty killer. However, the Oilers still have several players who have probably not reached the potential in the NHL including McDavid, Draisaitl, Hopkins, Caggiula, Klefblom, Larsson, Nurse, and Benning for sure. As well, Strome and Kassian probably have upside potential. The older key players on the team are not yet at an age where significant regression starts to happen. I fully expect, absent several more long term injuries to key players (besides Sekera) the Oilers to make the playoffs this coming season. A few more additions in free agency might provide insurance but Chiarelli knows what he is doing.

      • Randaman

        When you haven’t seen or heard anything from PC for a while (like the last week or so), that is when he comes out with something big. Be prepared tomorrow. He won’t be sitting on his hands

  • camdog

    RnH is going to play win this season. I’m hoping the Oilers look for another centre in the next couple days. Surprised this hasn’t been brought up yet. If he isn’t starting the season on the wing next year I’ll be shocked.

  • Dr

    Lowetide, I would be more concerned if three of the four inexperienced forwards were on one line, but they can be distributed between the lines. I didn’t see Slepyshev or Caggiula as defensive liabilities in the playoffs. I wouldn’t rely on them to carry the team, but they could play with the experienced guys and learn their craft.
    That’s the worst case scenario. I still hope they sign someone.

  • MrBung

    On paper, the Oilers have got worse since last season. The wings are sh*t. There is a lot more being counted on in terms of unproven players. Chia won’t be getting any best GM nominations this upcoming season. I think the team will fall back from where they were this season probably a 5-10 point correction. McDavid accounts for 40% plus of Oil offensive production.

    • Hemmercules

      Which teams in the west got so much better in the last 2 weeks that makes you think the Oilers are going to struggle?

      Losing Sekera for some time is the only real worry I have. Eberles points will be missed a bit but he isn’t getting any better than he already is. Strome will fill some of those missed points though. Chia will add a couple guys Saturday and the Oilers will be fine.

      • MrBung

        I never said struggle but I think there will be more parity and I don’t see the Oil breaking 100 points next season but still make the playoffs. There is going to be more inexperience on this Oilers team and mistakes with the “learning” going on.

  • Nanook

    I keep wondering if something like this is feasible. Nuge will likely need to go next year anyway. What if they traded nuge now for some good picks and such and dropped his 6 mill cap hit. that would leave 18mil if im not mistaken before Drai signs. If we can swing drai in the 8.5-9 mill range that leaves 9.5-10 left. Now hear me out, I wonder if you could split that to get 1 year each on Marleau and Thorton. Offer them a legitimate 1 year deal at a run at the cup. Nuge will be gone likely after that anyway and all that cap drops off at the end of the year with Fayne anyway. McD, Drai,Thorton, and Marleau would be insane for any defence to try handle. Just a thought, Cheers or trash away its just a wild crazy idea I had.