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How many wingers do the Oilers need to acquire?

The Edmonton Oilers need wingers. Alex Chiasson was their highest scoring natural winger with 22 goals and 38 points. Both Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins spent significant time on the wing with Connor McDavid. If we assume one of Draisaitl or RNH is a winger next season, the next highest scoring winger signed for the 2019-20 season is Zack Kassian and his 26 points.

I’m expecting Draisaitl remains on McDavid’s wing. I’m a big believer in the Oilers running McDavid and Draisaitl on their own lines, but the Oilers have always gone back to McDavid and Draisaitl. He’s a winger at this point.

 Players Under Contract for 2019-20

LINE 1 Connor McDavid Leon Draisaitl
LINE 2 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
LINE 3 Sam Gagner
LINE 4 Milan Lucic Colby Cave Zack Kassian
EXTRAS Kyle Brodziak

Jujhar Khaira, Jesse Puljujarvi, Tobias Rieder, and Ty Rattie are restricted free agents. Khaira’s a useful depth player, but he needs to score more than three goals next season. Rieder and Rattie won’t be qualified. Puljujarvi has to be in the NHL because he requires waivers for the AHL now. A trade seems likely.

Alex Chiasson is an unrestricted free agent. The Oilers might re-sign him, but it’s unlikely he scores 22 goals again. He’ll command a bigger salary, but I’d explore other options instead.

Internal Candidates

As the Oilers usually do, they look for solutions inside the organization before going elsewhere. Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian had some success later in the season but I’d aim higher than Kassian for that complimentary role. Kassian had a good stretch with McDavid, but he’s a fourth liner otherwise. Can he fill the same role Patrick Maroon did a couple of seasons ago?

Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody are obvious candidates. Benson scored 66 points in 68 games in his first professional season with the Bakersfield Condors, while Marody had 64 points in 58 games. Marody plays center, but many centers end up on the wing in the NHL.

After rushing Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto, Bob Nicholson is preaching patience and ‘over-ripening’ prospects. The Oilers have mismanaged prospects before, but a player shouldn’t be held back arbitrarily if he’s ready. Benson and Marody shouldn’t pay for the sins of Oilers management. Tyler Toffoli only played 77 AHL games. Benson’s at 73.

Puljujarvi is another option. It’s easy to forget the fourth-overall pick in 2016 is only turning 21 in a couple of weeks. Puljujarvi’s story isn’t over but his time in Edmonton might be. He might be an important part of a package to acquire a useful winger, or defenceman.

Free Agency

The Oilers’ cap problems will limit their ability on July 1st. The new general manager will need to move money out to add in free agency, but they can still add a winger or two.

Edmonton won’t be players for Artemi Panarin or Matt Duchene. Even Jordan Eberle’s playoff success likely prices him out of a reunion with the team that drafted him.

There are some lower-tier options who can play with skill. I’ve always thought Brett Connolly would be a solid buy-low option for right wing. His 22-goal 46-point season will get him a raise from his $1.5-million cap hit, but this is also Connolly’s first 30-point campaign. Connolly turns 27 in May.

Joonas Donskoi had 14 goals and 37 points with San Jose. Donskoi is another right wing who shoots right and has tons of speed, and just turned 26.

Richard Panik’s bounced around a few teams recently, but can play a role beside skilled players. Panik shoots left, penalty kills, and has at least 14 goals the past three seasons.

Carl Hagelin had a tough season, but recovered a bit in Washington. Hagelin has much-needed speed and won’t get the same $4 million he currently makes.

Trade

Trades and the Edmonton Oilers haven’t gone well.

The Oilers don’t have a lot of assets. Add in their limited cap space and most trades have to include low-salary players or money going out.

You can make trades without significantly losing the deal.

Mike Hoffman, Alex Galchenyuk, Max Domi, Jordan Martinook, Vinnie Hinostroza were all traded last summer. They all scored at least 15 goals in 2018-19.

Maybe the Oilers use their first-round pick for a young winger signed long-term?

 2019-20 Edmonton Oilers Projection

LINE 1 Connor Brown Connor McDavid Leon Draisaitl
LINE 2 Tyler Benson Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Brett Connolly
LINE 3 Carl Hagelin Cooper Marody Sam Gagner
LINE 4 Milan Lucic Colby Cave Zack Kassian
EXTRAS Kyle Brodziak

 

Using EvolvingWild‘s contract projections, the Oilers could fit in Connolly at $3.43-million for three years. Hagelin at $2.41 million is doable as well, but I doubt Hagelin gets three years. The Oilers can add two medium-tier free agents on the wing.

The Oilers need at least two scoring wingers, but probably three. Three additions might be difficult, but overhauling the wings is crucial. 

  • Rama Lama

    I think Kassian has proved more versatile than any other forward………the fact he can skate, pass the puck and make plays ( not to mention he played a bunch with the top line) suggests he is more than a fourth liner.

    We have enough players in the AHL that have proven they can play in the NHL……..let’s not trade away the farm to get a chicken.

  • FanBoy

    Draisaitl/McDavid/Kassian
    Top6F/RNH/Chiasson
    Top 9F/3C/Puljujarvi
    Cave/Khaira/Gagner
    Extra: Brodziak

    Ideally, the top 6 forward can play C/W and around 27. I like Chiasson in the top 6 because it gives JP a reason to push into that spot. We also can’t afford to add multiple top 6 forwards. As it stands now, we have 6M to sign one outright without trading anybody.

    The third line would look nice if we got a couple guys who can score around 30 points. Tanev, Copp, Hagelin, Brassard, Boyle, are guys I would target for the 3rd line.

  • The Whispererer

    Are you suggesting a JP for Connor Brown trade ? Not disputing that it might be fair value at this time, but in the last 3 years Brown has scored 20, then 14, then 8 goals. That doesn’t look like 1st line production. I certainly wouldn’t trade our 1st round pick for him.
    I would try something like JP plus one of our D prospects ( or Benning ) for one of Kapanen or Johnsson. I could be talked into including our 1st round pick if that would land both of them. Both are RFA and Toronto won’t be able to afford both of them ( maybe neither ? ) with the Marner signing looming, as well as finding a replacement for ( or re-signing ) Gardiner.

    • TKB2677

      Lots of rumors that the Leafs were real close to trading Connor Brown for Benning but pulled out. I would do that trade. I don’t think that Brown is more than a 3rd line forward but he has speed, some skill and can be on your PK. Benning is a 3rd pairing dman that does some things OK but isn’t that good of a skater and the Oilers need more speed on the defense. I thin Jones can do the job of Benning and is 1.2 mill cheaper. Brown makes 200k more than Benning so money wise, it’s basically a wash.

      • FanBoy

        Thing about that trade is that I believe Benning has more value than Brown and KG was the one who declined it. He countered with Khaira and Toronto hung up. I don’t like how everyone’s pointing to Brown as if he’ll light it up with McD. We have to be cautious about overvaluing guys who “potentially” plays with McD. if anything that should lower their value. Take Brown for what he is; a bottom 6F. I’d rather have a solid 3rd pair D who can play PP2 and allows Bouchard/Bear to over ripen in the minors than Connor Brown who is easily found in FA. We could resign Chiasson who is basically in the same boat as Brown.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        If I am the Oilers I trade Benning free up that cash and keep Gravel, I think Gravel is way more calm than Benning , he isnt a tire fire and he is very reasonably priced and he too shoots the puck

  • TKB2677

    I wouldn’t break the bank on Chiasson but at the same time, you can’t keep letting talent leave your team. I don’t expect Chiasson to duplicate his 22 goals this season but he’s a real NHLer who has a track record of 10-13 goals. Most fans including most of the writers here were applauding the Rieder signing last offseason and if you look at Rieders stats, it’s close to what Chiasson has been. So If 2 mill for Rieder was seen as a great deal, why isn’t 1.5-1.75 mill for Chiasson OK? Ideally he’s in your bottom 6 but he has shown that he can play on your PP, be effective and when needed elevate higher up and produce at some level. If he wants something crazy then you have to walk but if it’s less than 2 mill on a 2 yr deal, why wouldn’t you sign him?

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      The Oilers were foolish to not sign Chaisson for 1.5 or 1.75 back when he was at 15 goals, because you could see he was going to score more and making plays and they could have had him cheap, now they are going to have to hope another team doesnt scoop him and if they do sign him its going to be in the 2.25 or slightly more range…could have had him much cheaper, other teams will chase after a guy who will put 20 in the net for cheap

  • TKB2677

    For the team. They need a player or 2 from the farm to elevate and take a spot. You can’t rely solely on UFA’s. It’s proven time and time again that it doesn’t work. I would expect 1 of Benson or Marody to be on the team.

    I would go after a guy like Connelly. Western Canadian kid. Has decent size, lots of skill. Has been in 2 good organizations – Tampa and Washington. You have to be careful on the contract as you can’t play him like a 20 goal guy but he’s a pretty consistent 15 goal guy. The nice thing about him his points are scored on even strength as he’s never got a lot of PP time. So if you got a little PP time, he might be able to score more than 15 goals.

    I’d be interesting in a guy like Tavev. Jets are going to be up against it. He’s a fast, aggressive, competitive, physical guy. Kills penalties. All things the Oilers need.

    If you can shed some salary which I think they can do, I’d be calling the Jets about Ehlers. The Jets have some BIG contracts coming with Laine & Connor. Myers is a UFA so you either resign or have to replace him. He was making 5.5 mill. Trouba if he stays needs a new deal. He was making 5.5 mill and is due for a raise. Something has to give as there is only so much money to go around. Ehlers with his speed and skill would look real good on the Oilers second line. The Jets don’t have a first this year. Ehlers is a 20+ goal, 60 pt guy. He had 21 goals in 62 games. I’d be dangling the #8 as unless Bryam drops, there is no guarantees who you draft at #8 will be better than Ehlers.

  • Kevwan

    First of all I wouldn’t put too much stock in these evolving wild numbers. Jeff Skinner will get 8.2 mil as a UFA but Matt Duchene only 6.9? Aren’t C’s more valuable? It’s interesting to talk about but not very realistic

    Hagelin is a solid defensive player / good penalty killer. But scoring only 6, 10, and 5 goals the last 3 seasons and playing for 3 teams in one year doesn’t inspire confidence. He’s one of these “name” players living of the glory of the HBK line from 3 years ago. Someone might overpay – I hope it’s not the Oilers

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    We could use a couple of wingers, but I would look for guy who are hungry and have something to prove, if the Oilers could find a cheap guy like they did with Chaisson who can pot some goals cheap then that’s what they should do, we have some guys in the AHL in Currie etc who can possibly take a 3 or 4th spot and maybe even move up if they get going. I dont think the Oil will have a lot of cash to spend with the cap, so they will need to find some diamonds in the rough so to speak, I dont see it coming via trade unless some team is really against the cap and would rather get something for a body then nthing but it would have to be someone inexpensive or we look for a team that had a guy they had to let go and not sign due to cap issues, but no GM in place will make all of that tough

  • McHitch

    Draisaitl McDavid Kassian
    Benson Nuge Connolly
    Tanev Brassard Brown
    Lucic Marody Gagner

    We add Connolly, Tanev and Brassard for the bottom six. We trade Benning for Brown. Brodziak goes to the minors to save cap space.

    The lineup has more depth if injuries occur and we can mix around the bottom six depending on chemistry.

    This scenerio leaves little to no money for a reliable backup goalie. We will need to go the cheaper route. We also keep all our picks in this scenerio.

  • OILERSORDEATH

    Disagree with you on Kassian, I think he at least won the job for the meantime with Drai and Mcd. It’s his to lose and good luck taking it from him. If they can get two legit wingers I’ll be happy

  • ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    Kassian was 5th in goals, behind Chiasson, RNH, Drai, & McD. He played 2/3s of the season with Lucic “setting him up” or in a defensive role. He gives McDavid an extra 5ft of breathing space and and an additional second of time and he can play with speed, focus and grit. He doesn’t quit and he’s as committed as a player gets. He’s earned the chance if not the right to play for a top six spot. If he can manage his mindlessness and temper he could be the Oilers’ best reclamation project since McTavish gave the Oilers the best three centres in hockey.

  • toprightcorner

    Oilers need to add 3 wingers and a 3C at minimum, 4 wingers would be best. The first thing is I don’t count on Benson or Marody to make the team. Pencil them in the AHL and make them for e their way on the team. They should both play 30-40 games in the AHL next season.

    Using the salary projections, my first signing is Connelly to play in top 6 winger

    I then look to sign Colin Wilson who could play 3rd line C and can play either wing. He is good on the dot and great on the PK. He is a 15 goal, 30 pt player.

    After that you need to add cheaper wingers. I would add Pirri and Carr. These are both players that can be in Benson and Marody spots to start the season, and can be pushed to the minors if they are called up and there would be virtually no difference in cap space. They have both excelled in the AHL, outscoring bit Benson and Marody and Pirri has been hot in the NHL the past 35 games, scoring at a 30 goal pace. Carr scored 30 goals and 72 pts in only 52 AHL games. Both are candidates to score 12-17 goals in the middle 6. This gives the Oilers an abundance of skill without rushing players.

    Oilers need to add a PK specialist on the 4th line, preferable centre, that can win faceoffs. This will help defensive play as well as the brutal PK. Kreuger is that player who is finally done his huge iver paid contract. He is a defensive specialist and is very hard on the puck and hard to play against. This gives Cave to the wing, which he is better suited to because he is not great at faceoffs.

    Drai – McD – Kassian
    Pirri – Nuge – Connelly
    Carr – Wilson – Gagner
    Lucic – Kreuger – Cave
    Brodziak

  • Loilty

    I thought Nugent Hopkins and Gambardella had some chemistry. It’ll be interesting to see what Nuge can do with some consistent line mates. The second line wings and first line RW are the oilers biggest needs this year. Benson, Marody, Currie, should get a good look next year. I also think our defence should be fairly solid but I see Larsson as a second pair defender and AHL men pushing for jobs. James Neal for Milan Lucic oilers retain 1m?

    • TKB2677

      The Oilers have puck moving dmen in their system, some of which are ready to move up so why would you waste assets to get something they have? If the Oilers swap out 2 defense spots with guys who can skate and move the puck they are fine.

      They have 2 guys you build around who are good skating, all around dmen in Klefbom and Nurse. Then they have 4 guys, 2 of which need to go in order to create roster spots to bring in different types of dmen. Sekera, Benning, Russell, Larsson.

      In the system who is ready to go:
      – Jones is a fast skating, puck mover who has offense and is NHL ready. Is left but plays both sides.
      – Persson is a fast skating, puck moving, offensive dman who is right. He’s 25, spent 2 seasons in the Swedish league being one of their better dmen. That league produces NHL dmen yearly.
      – Bear is a OK skating, puck moving, offensive dman. Who is getting close.
      – Bouchard is a decent skating, puck moving, super offensive dman. He will turn pro, might need some AHL time but it won’t be long I suspect.
      – Samorukov will be turning 20 and people RAVE about him. Probably needs some AHL time but I suspect he will not be that long.
      – Lagesson is supposed to be real close to NHL ready if not ready. Put up 27 pts in the AHL which isn’t bad. Supposedly he moves the puck pretty well.

      Of course if a really good, right shooting, puck moving offensive guy just falls in their lap then you have to look at it. But I wouldn’t be spending a whole wack of assets on a dman when you have potentially 6 guys who in the very near future, some of whom are looking for spots next season coming.

  • SlovakOiler

    Legit wings? 3-4!
    Please dont rely on Yamo or Pulju, nor other callups. We need proven wingers. Looch is deadweight, Gags will probably get bought out…
    Personally I wouldnt count on Kassian too, but maybe he can prove us wrong after he defeated his demons. Maybe. And please dont say “but he can score 30 with Connor”. Maybe, but how many could a legit sniper score in his place.
    I would trade picks for legit cheapish wingers. Dont overvalue our players like the last 12 seasons and dont wait for magic beans to pan out. We have maybe 2-3 more years before Connor says how it is and wants a run for the cup. We don’t have time for beans imho…

  • CARLSOTO

    I think a right handed shot on the wing is something the Oilers desperately need. They need someone who can play on the left side of the ice for the power play and provide an extra layer to allow the skilled puck movers some options (and spread out the PK). I can’t think of any pure shooters on the Oilers current roster, and I think that is what the Oilers desperately need. Players like McDavid and Draisaitl can of course shoot the puck, but they don’t have a player who can find the soft spots in the offensive zone and be a one-time option.

  • If im the GM and coach(whoever they’ll be) then im completely leaving the AHL prospects off the table for the moment. If one or two of them kill it in the preseason then why not but we should be prepared for the likely scenario that most or all of them still need more seasoning in Bakersfield.

    • CARLSOTO

      The only issue I have when evaluating players during the preseason is that it’s the preseason. Players like JP, Rattie, and Yamamoto tore it up during the preseason, but fell on their faces when the season started. Preseason is where you evaluate a players positioning and decision making abilities, and decide who you call up if certain players get injured.

  • Arfguy

    I never see enough interest in Ryan Dzingel. The kid’s got speed, is creative and has increased goal production since entering the league. I would be very curious to see what kind of money he’d make if he hits free agency.