PTO The Way To Go

As everyone waits with bated breath to see what the number is going to be on a Darnell Nurse deal I’m going to take a look at what happens once that deal is in place.

Most people still think the Oilers will sign another depth forward, likely to a league minimum deal, prior to training camp. The problem with that strategy is I don’t see any players left on the market the Oilers should be rushing out to sign before camp, especially with the lack of cap space they are dealing with. The more efficient way to go about business would likely be to bring two or three players to camp on a professional tryout.

I’d much rather take a few players for a test drive in training camp before deciding to dish out a contract for a 14th forward for the upcoming season and that’s basically all we are talking about here.

Without Yamamoto in the line up the Oilers have 13 spots accounted for as you can see with the depth chart below. (These are not line combos)

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below



Lucic Draisaitl Puljujarvi

Rieder Strome Kassian

Caggiula Brodziak Aberg

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Even if Yamamoto impresses in camp it still probably wouldn’t hurt to have a 14th forward on a two-way contract. Having the extra body around would allow Yamamoto, Marody and others to avoid being the first injury call up.


Edmonton Oilers General Manager Peter Chiarelli speaks at year-end Press Conference

The Perfect But Unlikely Candidate

Nick Shore:

I say Nick Shore is an unlikely candidate because I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get a one year deal somewhere prior to having to settle for a PTO. Shore is just 25-years old and is the best center remaining on the market.

His underlying numbers have been pretty steady throughout his career and he’s won over 50% of his face-offs. He played with the Kings, Senators and Flames last season and then wasn’t qualified by Calgary at the end of the year. If he’s still available in early September I’d definitely make the call.

The Likely Candidates

Jason Chimera:

This one makes sense simply due to the fact that the Oilers have already been linked to him. I was actually expecting Chimera to sign with the Oilers in early July so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was invited to camp.

He is actually the exact type of player I’m talking about. You could probably get away with signing him to a one-year deal in early September but why not wait? You can get a look at him and possibly some others at camp; then sign him if he seems like a fit.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Tommy Wingels:

I’ve mentioned how Wingels should be on the Oilers radar for over a month now. He has a history with Todd McLellan and can play both wings. Since leaving San Jose early in the 16-17 season Wingels has spent time with Chicago, Boston and Ottawa.

Like a lot of PTO invites around the league the familiarity with a coach or manager is the best thing that Wingels has going for him.

Joe Colborne:

It’s been a couple of tough years for Joe Colborne. Since the former Camrose Kodiak left the Flames and sign with the Avalanche he has not only struggled but has also had to deal with injuries.

I know there have been multiple conversations between the Oilers and Colborne this off-season so he’s most certainly a PTO candidate. Chiarelli originally drafted him, tried to sign him two years ago and attempted to trade for him prior to the deadline in 2016-17 when the Oilers were on their way to the post-season. I’m not sure Colborne would be a fit with the way the Oilers are currently constructed but a free look in camp may be worth it.

The Unlikely Candidates:

Kris Versteeg:

The Oilers have already gone down the Versteeg path and it didn’t exactly work out. The only intriguing thing about the injury-riddled Versteeg is that he could possibly play higher in the line up than the majority of the other candidates I’ve discussed.

He scored 13 goals and finished with 37 points just two seasons ago with the Flames.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Mike Cammalleri:

I wouldn’t be a fan of this move but I know a few of you reading this probably wouldn’t mind the Oilers bringing him back. He had 22 points in 51 games during his stint with the team last season. 

Benoit Pouliot:

Yes, I said it. He had a better year in Buffalo last season than he did during his final campaign with the Oilers. I was never a fan of Benoit Pouliot at $4,000,000 but the same player as a camp invite doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world.

Tomas Jurco:

I’ve always been intrigued by Jurco simply because I figured he was one of those skilled players the Red Wings would draft and develop into a dangerous offensive weapon. His career certainly hasn’t gone as I, or the Red Wings, likely expected.

He’s still only 25-years old and did score six goals in 29 games with the Hawks this past season. He scored four times in seven games at the World Championships as well.

Predicting The Future

I’m going to say that in the end, it’s Colborne and Chimera who end up in Edmonton on PTOs.

P.S. I didn’t put Alex Hemsky on this list because I know one of you will bring him up in the comments anyway.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • toprightcorner

    I would like them to sign Nick Shore, but maybe they think he will hang around long enough to invite for a PTO.

    I would definitely sign Chimera to a PTO, thats a no brainer. He will be like Hendricks in the locker room but can actually skate and ut up offence. 2 seasons removed from back to back 20 goal seasons and I think he could put up 10-14 goals. He can play up on the 3rd line in case of injuries and I would bet by January he would bump the Drake down or even out of the lineup.

    I get the interest in Colburne, but do you really want to take up a roster spot with a guy who just can’t stay healthy? That is a huge risk to waste precious cap space for someone who might only be healthy for 30-40 games.

    Personally, I don’t think the Oilers need to add anyone else. I think they could run with 1 less forward than normal and rotate 5 guys in the bottom 6. The players on the bottom 6 are all capable of playing 12 minutes a night. More importantly, You can double shift McDavid, Draisaitl and even Nuge more often and get their 5×5 time up 1 minute a game. Strome, JP and Reider could all easily add 1-2 minutes a night over last year. This helps give you some cap space that would work for a trade deadline addition. It also throws the other team off balance when all of a sudden you throw McDavid out on the 3rd line for half a shift, with Strome on his wing, against week competition.

    To me, thats a much better use of your cap and you have Malone, Marody and Yamamoto who could easily fill in to cover any injuries. A depth forward on this team, barring injuries, only plays 15-20 games a year

    • LAKID

      We will see today when Troubas case is done but Dumba has definetly put Nurse in the 4-5M range on a bridge deal. The Oilers are going to have to trade someone to even fill their roster.

    • crabman


      correct me if I’m wrong but it sounds like you are suggesting running just 11F, 6D in game. That doesn’t really do anything for cap relief and puts the team in jeopardy of really being short if an injury happens in game, not to mention I’m not even sure that is legal within the rules.
      I could see them carrying I less forward in the pressbox and have just the 1F and 1D extra to save on cap space though at least after Bouchard gets sent back to junior.

      • Seanr

        Dressing less than 12 forwards and 6 d is not allowed. And does absolutely noting in terms of salary cap relief. It’s not like you can just not pay a player under contract by not playing a full line up. Dude… Please don’t stop trying to perfect the forth swirl on the ice cream cones at dairy queen because you have no future in hockey management

      • toprightcorner

        Most teams used to have an enforcer that played less than 5 min a night. What is the difference in not playing that roster spot at all?? the other 11 forwards are far better than the enforcer is, so it increased the actual overall talent on the ice throughout the game.

        Were it saves on cap is that typically a team will have 2 forwards and 1 dman in the pressbox. You still keep 2 forwards and 1 dman in the pressbox, more that enough to cover any immediate injuries. With 1 less player on the NHL roster, you save that salary on the cap and that would typically be $750-$1 mill. When you get an injury, you call up someone from Bakersfield to cover in the pressbox. For times when you have a lot of games in a row, you only have 1 forward in the pressbox and play 12 forwards if guys are feeling a little tired. The number of people in the pressbox doesn’t matter as they can only play in the next game and someone can be called up and arrive with the team within 12 hours…….just to sit in the pressbox to cover the player filling in. Your 12th forward moves to the pressbox, you 13th forward becomes your 2nd pressbox guy and you old 2nd pressbox player goes back to the minors to work on his game, which is much better than going 20 games without playing in a game situation

        It makes sense financially and it makes sense from a team skil point of view. If Rattie does not click with McDavid, it makes more sense to send him down to play in the AHL and call him up in case of injuries.

        I would rather have Caguila in the pressbox, have 1 less player on the bench and spread out is 10 minutes to the players in the top 9. It’s not like Reider, JP, Strome, or Nuge can’t handle an extra 90 seconds a night.

        Within 2-3 years, this will start becoming the norm to better manage cap space by having 1 less person on the NHL roster.

        • crabman


          No offence but it still makes no sense to me to only dress 11F and keep 3 players in the pressbox. I would much rather dress the regular 12F and have #12 ride the bench the entire night but available if the game has injuries or as you say either team is running away. Still only have 2 players in the pressbox and save the cap space by carrying 1 less player on the roster.

      • toprightcorner

        Nobody says that when McDavid played 25-27 minutes some games. When you way ahead or way behind, that is when you give them a bit more rest. Having McDavid play 2 more shifts in a 3rd period of a tight game is a good thing.

        • Bills Bills

          25-27 mins?? He averaged 21.33 per game last season and just over 20 mins a night for his career. Those 25-27 min nights may have happened once or twice but it was likely because of a certain circumstance and in no way a regular occurrence. No should it be.

          I am sure McDavid is capable of playing 25 mins a night at a high level but I would rather see him at 20 or 21 at his highest level.

  • Big Nuggets

    I like some of those names for a PTO. I always had Stempniak on my shortlist. To my knowledge he missed most of last season with injury, but his abilities haven’t necessarily degraded. Also Hartnell had a bunch of goals last season.

    If they can hit one in I would like to see a few PTOs. A wily old veteran to add depth and character to the team would be good.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    What’s Shore worth? $800K? So if the Oilers sign him and Shore doesn’t make the team he’s on waivers for anyone who wants him and off to the AHL for organizational depth – either way he’s a zero cap hit. And it still leaves wiggle room for a PTO guy to challange and put some heat on the kids.

    Am I missing anything? Don’t they have like 3 spots open on their 50 man contract list so even if Shore busts and they are stuck with him there is still breathing room.

  • OilCan2

    I would strongly consider keeping a roster spot open and grabbing a waiver wire player who fits our winger needs. That leaves the door wide open for some impressive camp performances from Yammer, Benson & Co.

  • Arfguy

    I don’t know why TF Benoit Pouliot would be on that list. The guy is like Patrick Maroon, without the worth. Takes penalties at the worst possible times. I’m surprised that Alex Chiasson wasn’t on that list.

    Ideally, I’d like to see Shore given a PTO out of all the ones listed. Wingels, especially, I’d like them to stay away from given the major concussion he got last season.

    • ubermiguel

      Pouliot is the first player I’d ever seen take a holding penalty, while in the offensive zone, while he had the puck on his stick. His problem as a player is all between the ears, and that’s hard to fix at this point.

  • jesse says yep

    How much does bringing in PTO players detract from the young players training camps? Does it limit their oppourtunity for ice time?
    Honest question. I like the idea of adding competition for roster spots but if the PTO player is at best marginally better then the younger player is it really worth the time taken away from the developing player?

    • Arfguy

      Sorry, but I had to trash the idea (if you weren’t being sarcastic) mainly because I think the Oilers need a little more speed. Hemsky is very skilled and poised and I don’t doubt that he would be a really good addition if it wasn’t for all his recent injury issues.

  • Leichs

    Not extremely bullish on Nurse TBH. I really don’t believe his ceiling is much higher than where he is right now. Id be happy with a show me bridge deal. Right now hes not a great defender in his own zone. Still gets lost constantly and gets caught puck chasing and puck watching. He also cannot make a tape to tape pass to save his life, hence why he always skates the puck out rather than move it up to the forwards. He loops around the net and tosses a little backhand pass out in front of the net every single time. Its his go to. His shot is pretty abysmal as well. He is also not a great hitter. I do not see this nastiness that peope speak of.

    • Woodys Destroyers

      I know a lot of posters disagree with you, but I tend to see nurse in the same vein. I think his shot has improved but still is not an intimidating what so ever. He is not a good at bodychecking as he tends to hit standing upright and hits with his hands and not with his shoulder as we were taught back in minor hockey.I noticed he seemed checked out in a lot of games and didn’t present the physical intimidation he did as a rookie.Just my 2 cents.

    • Big Nuggets

      I still think there is a lot to like about Nurse. When a player don’t want to put too much weight on a season where the whole team underachieved. Although Nurse might not be passing your eye test he did manage to improve his 5 on 5 scoring and shouldered a lot of responsibility with Sek and Klef injured. Only 23, he can skate, he can scrap, maybe he doesn’t think the game at a high level, but experience helps to streamline decision making. With time the decisions that take a half second too long will become second nature.

      I understand the feeling that whatever Nurse ends up getting will be an overpay. But all the contracts will look like an overpay unless you recallibrate. Salary cap is up, McDavid set a new standard, contracts are up across the board. Also players don’t get paid what is deserved, they get paid what they can negotiate.

      One last thought on Nurse, how good will he look with Bouchard as his partner? In my imagination this is a dominant pair in a few years. fingers crossed.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Why does the 14th forward need to be a two-way contract? If its a one way contract for under $1M (and any new signing will likely come in well below $1M) it is fully buryable in the minors.

    The only people that should care about it being a one-way versus a two-way are the player and Daryl Katz as, in this situation, the only difference is actual money earned if the player is in the minor leagues.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Given the organization currently has plenty of room vis-a-vis the 50 pro contract max, absolutely, in time, I would like another forward added – a player under $1M (likely closer to $700K) so that the contract is fully buryable in the minors.

    We need another body between the NHL and Brad Malone.

    I agree that no contract should be signed at this time as I don’t want the organization to commit until we see what is available on the waiver wire – there will likely be some better fits on the wire than what is currently available unsigned.

    No harm in some PTOs, no commitment and no risk.

  • GoodboiConnor

    Another week and Nurse still hasn’t signed an extension. Chiarelli still working on a trade.
    Who cares about PTO, this is what will make the oilers take the next step?lol
    Chiarelli did nothing this off-season. Signing 2 bottom 6 players who can’t crack an play-off team line and an over paid KHL goalie, big deal!


    Jeez we have talent already on the club that are better than any of these clowns. Give Todd the job of filling his lines and d pairings and have at it so sick of these over the hill gangs taking up space from our young players.