Photo Credit: © Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

What is the Oilers’ biggest need?

The Edmonton Oilers have five games left and then the offseason begins. Roster moves don’t happen until June, but some coaches and general managers go, college free agents sign and the lottery balls are drawn to see who gets the first three picks in the draft. What is the Oilers’ biggest need going into the summer?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Scoring wingers

Three seasons ago the Oilers had Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and David Perron on their roster. Now, well, they don’t have anyone close to that on the wings.

They’re on pace to have no full-time winger score 40 points this season. Part of that is because Leon Draisaitl has split time between centre and wing. Same with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as of late. Patrick Maroon likely hits 40 in Edmonton if he’s not moved at the deadline. Still, their lack of scoring wingers is alarming.

Maybe RNH plays mostly LW next season, but the right wing is still a huge concern, and no, counting on Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto is not what winning team’s do. The list of upcoming free agents doesn’t show much beyond John Tavares or Evander Kane. They’ll need a better cast of wingers to support their centres next season.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Right-handed defence

The Oilers strength is at left defence. A combination of Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, and Andrej Sekera fills out a pretty good left side. A right side of Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, and Matt Benning, however, isn’t enough.

Larsson can play a top-four role, although his skill is limited towards the defensive side. Russell is a third-pairing defenceman that shouldn’t be playing as much as he has. They need a defenceman that can move the puck and play top-four minutes.

What to expect from Edmonton Oilers Matt Benning this summer

Finding a right-handed defenceman that can play top-four minutes would be difficult, but necessary. The Oilers could use a winger, but defencemen play and impact the game more than wingers. Benning’s been the Oilers’ fifth defenceman this year and he’s averaged more minutes per game than every Oiler forward not named McDavid, Draisaitl, or Nugent-Hopkins.

A backup goalie that can play 30 games

The Oilers need a backup that can play if needed. Al Montoya isn’t that. He’s had some good games, but they need someone who can push Talbot and provide cover in case of injury or poor play. Out of 69 goalies to play 50 games since 2013-14, Montoya is 51st in save percentage.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

This means not playing Talbot close to 70 games again and having a stronger option than Montoya or Laurent Brossoit.

A new general manager

No team should miss the playoffs with a centre scoring over 100 points. Peter Chiarelli hasn’t built a team good enough around McDavid. He’s lost a significant trade each offseason as Oilers general manager.

His focus on size and ‘heavy hockey’ is misguided in today’s league. The Oilers need a general manager that utilizes the skills of their best asset, Connor McDavid, and his speed and skill. He mismanaged the Oilers’ cap situation, leaving tonnes of space going into the season, as well as adding difficult long-term deals to free agents.

General managers usually get more than three seasons and at least one coaching change before getting fired. Having McDavid in his prime means an organization shouldn’t operate on normal terms.

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Mike Green opts out of return to play
Feb 22, 2017; Sunrise, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) skates with the puck against Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) in the first period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

I see a right-handed defenceman that can play in the top four and move the puck well and a new general manager as their biggest needs. They need to improve their defence, win trades, and sign some value deals. Chiarelli has lost too much value as Oilers general manager.

McDavid will do his thing with just about anyone. Maybe RNH and Draisaitl form a solid line or RNH continues to play alongside McDavid. The Oilers have options with RNH and Draisaitl’s versatility. A couple good wingers shouldn’t be too difficult to acquire. Defence and management is where the Oilers should focus.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

    • gr8haluschak

      Yes let’s get rid of the owner that has ok spending to the cap and that actually had enough money to ensure there was a farm team in place. Tell me who the hell is replacing him and keeping the team in Edmonton, how about this how about you do all of us a favor and leave – quit watching the oilers, and go find another team to cheer for.

      Answer this – if you crap all over the team so much why the hell are you here commenting?

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Because “Grade 8” this is a passionate hockey market. And, in passionate hockey markets passionate fans say off the cuff stupid things. It’s because passionate fans seem to know the sport enough to make thoughtful decisions with other peoples assets. It’s kind of fun really.
        I will say this, I am very glad & proud of my Oiler Fandom. And all of the Oiler Fans on here.
        Heck, we could live somewhere on a beach or in a desert. That would be nice, but it would be so depressing trying to find someone to watch a game with you. And really, how many times would you have to explain icing?
        So, deal with it. If you don’t like it, you go live on a beach, or the desert.

    • McDavid's Comet

      Agreed, I cannot fathom Katz’s unhealthy obsession with the idiots that run this team. If winning is Katz’s number one priority, it makes absolutely no sense at all. Will he ever realize that he needs to fire these clowns and bring in a management group that REALLY know a thing or two about winning.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        The problem is that “winning ISN’T Katz’s #1 priority.
        Hanging around & showing off his friendship with the “Good Ol’ Boy’s” is.
        That is the issue with Katz, not how much money he has.

      • polarcap

        The management issue is complex as it is difficult to establish a single root cause.
        PC initially adopted the philosophy that the Oil need to get heavier – hence Lucic, Maroon, Kassian,
        Reinhart et al. The problem he created was that he used speed assets – Hall, Eberle, Shultz, He apparently has shifted his views on that.
        The Lucic contract, he has to wear that. Even if Lucic was the answer the term, lack of performance incentives, and outs
        Shultz and Hall – maybe not so much. MacT did nothing to protect him and left hem to the wolves. Hall supported him and threw a bottle that hit MacT. I think MacT wears
        The use of Lucic as a top 6 power forward would normally be a coaches decision. But maybe PC puts poressure on him.
        The special teams is all MacT
        Getting rid of PC will not solve the MacT problem and getting rid of MacT will not solve the PC problem. PC should go and let the new GM assess the situation. Nicholson seems to support PC. Why??? He seems to have had a change of heart in regard to speed vs heavy.

      • McDavid's Comet

        How does a businessman of Katz’s caliber make so much money on the business decisions he’s made made with other businesses, keep these morons in management? He would still make his money plus more if this team was run by successful people who know how to run a hockey organization.