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)
Lucic Draisaitl Puljujarvi
Rieder Strome Kassian
Caggiula Brodziak Aberg
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.
The Perfect But Unlikely Candidate
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.