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Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Winging It

During meetings with season tickets holders this week Bob Nicholson discussed a few of the major needs the team will have heading into the off-season. In addition to trying to find a top pairing defenseman he mentioned the team would like to sign one or two wingers.

As Tyler Yaremchuk pointed out earlier this week the Oilers will likely have anywhere from four to five million dollars to find help on the wing. The projection from Yaremchuk is assuming the new General Manager can’t clear up any cap space via trade or buyout.

If the Oilers are actually going to find a legit scoring winger, they will likely need to spend all of the available cap space on one player. Based on a $5 million max, here are the options they may have this offseason.

TOO PRICEY

There are a number of players I think the Oilers would like to get their hands on but won’t be able to afford unless they somehow miraculously move a significant amount of salary elsewhere. This list would include the likes of Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner and Anders Lee.

ON THE EDGE

Nov 7, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) plays the puck against Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There is another group of players that may end up being in the Oilers range depending on the level of creativity brought to the table by the new management team.

Michael Ferland – In a perfect world, the Oilers should be looking to sign a winger whose two biggest assets are speed and skill and I’m not sure Ferland actually fits the bill. There were rumours prior to the deadline that his asking price will be close to $6,000,000 per year but I have a feeling that will come down before anything is signed.

Jordan Eberle – Yes, Jordan Eberle. The former Oiler has scored 39 goals in 150 games since being traded for Ryan Strome. With just 14 goals through 69 (nice) games this year Eberle won’t be getting anywhere near $6,000,000. Do you think Eberle would want to come back to Edmonton?

Gustav Nyquist – I really like Nyquist, always have. Here’s the issue; he’s already making $4,750,000 and is on pace to set a career high for points in a season. I think he would be a perfect fit in the Oilers top six but they may have to move a little bit salary to fit him in.

Wayne Simmonds – Simmonds should fall within the Oilers price range but I don’t think he would be a good fit. I mentioned earlier the team needs to focus on speed and skill, he doesn’t check those boxes.

Ryan Dzingel – I like Dzingel because he’s one of the younger UFA’s available and is capable of playing all three positions up front if needed. He’s now put together back-to-back 23-goal seasons and for the first time in his career, he’ll be looking to cash in on a big deal.

Mats Zuccarello – Zuccarello was having a nice season offensively before suffering an injury shortly after being dealt to the Stars. He’s at .83 points per game this season and would likely end up costing the Oilers almost all of the cap space they have to work with.

IN THE RANGE

Feb 21, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Alex Chiasson (39) looks for a rebound in front of New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

These are players the Oilers wouldn’t have any problem fitting into their cap structure even without freeing up additional space via trade.

Alex Chiasson – I’m very intrigued to see what the market for Chiasson will be like this off-season. He scored about 85 percent of his goals in the first half of the season but any time a player can hit the 20-goal mark they will be looking for at least a couple of million bucks.

Brett Connolly – Connolly can put the puck in the back of the net. He has already hit the 20-goal mark this season and had 15 in each of the previous two campaigns. He’s being paid $1,500,000 this season and I could see him landing in the $3,000,000-$4,000,000 range next year.

Thomas Vanek – I know a lot of people would be a fan of a Vanek signing if the price is right. He could help on the second power play unit but in a perfect world, Vanek would be the second addition on the wing, not the primary acquisition.

Marcus Johansson – I’ve always thought Johansson was capable of more offensively. Prior to last year, he had four consecutive seasons with at least 40 points. He would provide the new coach with some versatility being able to play both on the wing and down the middle.

Richard Panik – He scored 22 goals and 44 points with the Hawks in 2016-17. I would like to see what he would be capable of playing alongside Draisaitl or McDavid for a full season. I think the results would be considered a good bang for your buck.

THE IDEAL SCENARIO

I think it would be considered a solid off-season if the Oilers can somehow to add one player from my “On The Edge” group and one player from my “In The Range” group.

If they are going to get their hands on a pair of these players, they will need to find some additional cap space. Adding Gustav Nyquist and one of the more affordable players into the top nine would be a major success.

In the end they will probably have to end up settling for just one of these players, who do you want it to be?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • BringJordanHome

    I’d be very happy if they would be able to sign Eberle for like 4-5 years. He has had a pretty bad season which will make him cheaper than he would be otherwise and I really think he will be able to bounce back to a 50-60 point player as he isn’t that old yet

  • The Oilers new GM will have to do what the Leafs did and try to trade away as many players on big contracts that they can to free up some cash to sign hardworking and affordable players. If they go the draft and develop route they it will take 3 to 4 years to develop a cup contender as the Oilers need a big overhaul of their disappointing roster and replace it with fast, skilled and not rushed into the NHL young players with winning attitudes.

    • Hockey Forever

      The problem is… No one is going to take those big contracts (unless it’s one of the players Edmonton can’t afford to lose). And getting one of those “on the edge” players to even consider coming to Edmonton is going to be quite the chore.

    • joilers

      I like ebs a lot and would be so tempted to bring him back on a value deal (relatively considering his down year). But I wouldn’t bring him back. There was no chemistry on the top line with him here. On paper it would be awesome…. But it wouldn’t be any better than it was.

      • Battman

        Perhaps not. However could Draisaitl and Eberle make magic together leaving rnh and McDavid together? Intriguing possibility. I think no matter which winger you look at, that should be a basic starting point to try to diversify the top players

      • I’ve always been a fan if Eberly but first the Oilers have to dump bad contracts for almost no return so they can sign a couple of wingers that can score. The Leafs dumped Phanuf and Kessel so its not impossible.

  • Ass Eatn Szn 69

    Lucic and Bear for a 7th
    Russel for a 7th
    Gagner and some picks to ottawa for a buyout resign at 1.5
    Brodziak burried in minors
    Sign Connolly
    Sign Eberle
    Nurse for Parayko
    Benning for Brown
    Perssons, bouchard and Jones to the team
    Draft Byram

    Than next year Sekera, Gagner out, hall and Byram in.

      • Ass Eatn Szn 69

        people dont like this because it involves trading nurse, he is so overrated and horrible defensively. Maybe he is better without russel but with he will need a big pay raise. We need to sell while his perceived value is high. Let another team worry about extending his contract.

        • toprightcorner

          Trading Nurse is not the issue with your list, it is how you are dumping contracts. Nobody just gives a 7th round pick to take on a big chunk of salary.

          The only way you dump Lucic is to take 50% of his cap and it would still take more than Bear.

          Russell, you would have to keep $1 mill in cap and then you would have to find a top 4 dman to play the right side for $3 mill to have the same cap hit for the position, at that price, it will be a downgrade for Russel.

          3 NHL rookies, 1 never played on NHL ice, on the defense will be 10 times worse than this year.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Just because a player scored 22 goals and had 44 points in 2016/17 does not mean we should sell the farm to get him…
    Enter Kyle Brodziak, with St. Louis before he joined us, he had 10 goals and 33 points. I think he has a whopping 8 points this season?
    I think that it’s more about chemistry and work ethic. Sam Gagner is a prime example, he stunk in Vancouver, couldn’t take a pass, make a play. Just disconnected. They sent him to another teams farm system (not even their own). The chemistry works well for him here & he likes it here, making him a more effective player. The same can be said for Chaisson. He seems to like his situation here & is playing some of the best hockey of his career. Give Chaisson what he needs, & sign someone that will mesh with the attitude that exists with the successful producing players that we have now. Get rid of all the pieces that don’t fit with the mindset that you want among the players. The players are here to play hockey, let them concentrate on that & become a team on & off the ice… (NOT Eberle, please, let’s move forward.)

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Whatever you say “Mr. Positive”, all I’m saying that his play after he arrived back has done a complete 180. He’s even had a few “hero points” very quickly after his return & he certainly hasn’t looked like that in that last couple of years on other teams… But, I know, I know,… The Oilers will never win, because of the meatheads at he top making decisions. And even if they made the right decisions, it wouldn’t matter because they are not an American Team… I have to ask you a very serious question? Why do you watch hockey at all, if you are always looking forward to the predictable, abysmal, depressing outcome… Get a life.

          • HockeyRooster

            I think the most important part of Glen’s post to you was the part about you losing the Negative Nancy bit. We ALL get it, you think OBC are stupid and want to see them fired. At some point you have to stop focusing on the negative man. Enjoy life, the sun’s out in Edmonton. Have a beer on a patio, go for a walk, I dunno. Just stop ranting multiple times a day about how bad this team is. Go find something positive in life and enjoy it.
            And for the record, I am happy with Samwise back with the Oil; much better than Spooner!

    • toprightcorner

      Panik played on the 2nd line with CHI with Toews. ARI is where offense goes to die, just look at Strome. Panik put with an offensive center is very likely to score 18-25 goals. He has mostly played bottom 6 in ARI.

  • JimmyV1965

    Other than some of the guys In The Range, signing any of these guys will be a big mistake and cause even further cap issues. For the love of all things good, the Oil have to simply stop signing expensive free agents. Wait until day five of free agency and start negotiating with the guys who are desperate for a contract.

    • Big Nuggets

      That’s my philosphy as well. Make small signing, build through the draft and try to make some nice trades if they are available. Every year the fanbase finds some reason to justify trying to sign a big free agent, this year it is because McDavid’s career is being wasted. I’d like the team to just do the right thing regardless of fan pressure. Maybe there is a trade to make that will free up cap space and bring in scorer or top defenseman. But if that trade isn’t there I hope they keep the 1st round pick and try to make the right small moves to improve the team.

    • toprightcorner

      I would sign 2-3 guys in the “Range”. Everyone of them would be better than any winger that is currently signed for next year. Johansson, Connelly and Panik would be better fits in the top 6 than anyone this year. That doesn’t mean they are all top 6 players, just far better top 6 wingers than we currently have. All have scored 20+ goals playing with offensive centers.

  • Rick Stroppel

    Bring back Eberle…wow. They brought back Comrie, how did that turn out? They brought back Smyth, how did that turn out? This year they have three more re-treads: Gagner, Brodziak, Rieder (although Rieder never played in the NHL for the Oilers). Have those guys moved the needle? Eberle’s career has peaked, he is 28 years old. This season he has 31 points in 69 games and he is -10 on a team that is +28. He was not good enough for the Oilers team three years ago but he is now…I guess that means the team is going backwards. Based on the analysis in this article and options and money available, they would have to consider it. What does it mean? The Oilers would be sending a message to every free agent and GM in the NHL: The Oilers are now about mediocrity. The Oilers are now not about winning championships, they are about possibly struggling into the playoffs and maybe winning a series every five years or so.

    BTW, nobody wants to talk about about goaltending. So I guess everyone is OK with Koskinen as the starter for the next three years?

    Anybody who had ANYTHING to do with scouting or building this team needs to be fired. They need to apologize profusely to the fans and start from scratch. Half-assed “retools” will never do it.

    • Ass Eatn Szn 69

      the needle will be moved if we clear out slow crap and put decent nhl players in, we dont need elite, we need competent,

      Overpaid crap includes, brodziak, reider, lucic, russel, benning,

  • TKB2677

    Why on earth would anyone list Vanek as an option? He’s 35 freaking years old and he’s slow. The NHL gets faster every day, the Oilers need to get faster so what would it be a good idea to bring in another slow guy?

      • Kool-Aid Man

        Well the advice Bobby Nic has been receiving from 6-rings and the other useless tools haven’t exactly worked out either. It still seems redundant to be asking other people in other organizations (successful?) how to do his job properly.

        I suppose that’s Katz’s idea of successful Oiler management culture… 🤦‍♂️

    • toprightcorner

      If you could sign Vanek for $1 mill to be a PP specialist and play 12 min on the 3rd line, that would be a decent signing. The right shot trigger and he could score 10 PP goals. That is worth $1 mill alone.

  • Odanada

    I’m inundated with Leaf media where I live and you can’t help but see a lot of it. To me, the biggest change in them has been Babcock. He has managed to get the players to commit to a work ethic that serves the team. The word is “Accountability” – which is not something associated with the Oilers – especially from the top down.
    Do I think the Leafs will beat Boston? No, I don’t; not enough “grit”. Not the right mix of players yet, but the coach gets every ounce out of his players.

    • camdog

      They remind me of the Washington Capitals when Ovie first came to the league. Score lots of goals with octane offence and bounced in 5 games in first round of playoffs.

  • toprightcorner

    I would go for Johannson, Connelly and Panik. The players listed “On the Edge”, many are not the best fit. Ferland is too slow, Simmonds is on the decline, Zucarello is too old and Eberle won’t come back. Dzingle and Nyquist will cost too much.

    The Oilers forward group is soooo thin, I think 3 middle 6 wingers is the best play. I think any of these 3 could succeed with McDavid and Draisaitl.

  • The Perceptor

    Sign Eberle at 3 years, 4.2M per.
    Trade Lucic to a cap floor team like Phoenix, entice with a 2nd or 3rd rounder and a b-grade prospect.
    Sign Chaisson
    Trade Russell for a 2nd or 3rd to acquire 1 more asset, like a Panik or Zuccarello.
    Promote Benson, Promote Bouchard . (Or whoever wins the spots at camp)

  • The Perceptor

    Sign Eberle at 3 years, 4.2M per.
    Trade Lucic to a cap floor team like Phoenix, entice with a 2nd or 3rd rounder and a b-grade prospect.
    Sign Chaisson
    Trade Russell for a 2nd or 3rd to acquire 1 more asset, like a Panik or Zuccarello.
    Promote Benson, Promote Bouchard . (Or whoever wins the spots at camp)