Ever year a bunch of mediocre depth guys go on waivers before the season starts and fans debate whether their team should claim several players.
The Oilers claimed Valentin Zykov and Colby Cave off waivers last season. Zykov barely played and went back on waivers, and was subsequently claimed by Vegas. Cave stayed on and is still a member of the Oilers. He’s a decent depth center but doesn’t have enough offence to be a full-time NHL player.
Players on waives are often overrated. They’re appealing because they’re from other teams and cost just a roster spot on the team.
There are some interesting players on waivers this year. A bunch of skilled wingers that could immediately slide into the Oilers’ top six.
Waivers are still based on last year’s standings, so the Oilers have the seventh highest priority on the waiver wire. The Oilers are at 48 contracts. A player would have to be pretty intriguing for the Oilers to get closer to the 50-contract limit. A bunch of players were waived on Monday, but we’ll only look at the most compelling options here.
Let’s see if there’s a fit.
RW Josh Ho-Sang – New York Islanders
Ho-Sang has been a player talked about a lot for someone with just 53 NHL games in five years since being drafted. Ho-Sang can score in the minors and his 24 points in 53 NHL games isn’t bad either.
Should the Oilers claim? No. Yes, Ho-Sang is a right-shot skilled winger, but he doesn’t score much goals. He’s had double-digit goals in the AHL once and the Oilers need guys that can finish Connor McDavid’s passes.
LW Sven Baertschi – Vancouver Canucks
Baertschi scored 0.53 points per game in 26 games with the Canucks last season. Beartschi also has seasons with 15, 18, and 14 goals. A winger who can score and play with okay players is exactly what the Oilers need. Unfortunately, Baetschi makes $3.36 million for this season and the next. The Oilers can’t add that much salary without some going out.
What about a Kris Russell for Sven Baertschi trade? The Oilers could retain a bit of Russell’s cap hit and the Canucks get a useful third-pairing guy and the Oilers get a useful middle-six winger?
G Eric Comrie – Winnipeg Jets
Comrie’s had a save percentage of at least .916 in his last two AHL seasons. The problem with Comrie is he only has five NHL games to his resume. Still, a 24-year old goaltender with good numbers in the AHL is an intriguing option.
Comrie probably isn’t a fit for the Oilers with their two ancient goalies.
G Casey DeSmith – Pittsburgh Penguins
Comrie probably isn’t worth the headache of running three goalies, but DeSmith definitely is. DeSmith has a career .917 save percentage in 50 NHL games. He had a .916 save percentage in 2018-19 in 36 games last season. It’s entirely possible that DeSmith is better than both Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith.
Should the Oilers claim DeSmith? Yes. Sure, it’d be a pain to waive or trade Smith, and no one is taking on Koskinen’s contract, but DeSmith is a legitimate goaltender who makes almost nothing ($1.25 million per year). That’s a value contract and it’s on waivers.
RW @Nikolay Goldobin – Vancouver Canucks
While Baertschi isn’t an option currently due to his salary, Goldobin is worth a look because of his. Goldobin makes just $900,000 and scored 27 points in 63 games with Vancouver in 2018-19. He’s not much of a goalscorer, but he’s a skilled winger that could play a top-nine role for the Oilers.
RW Daniel Sprong – Anaheim Ducks
Ken Holland wanted guys who can score double-digital goals and, well, Sprong had 14 goals in 47 games with Anaheim in 2018-19. Sprong’s a right-shot right wing and skates well. That alone is enough of a reason to claim him. The Oilers badly need useful wingers and Sprong makes just $750,000.
The Oilers can’t claim three or four players. But DeSmith is worth a claim even it meas disrupting your goalie situation right before the start of the season. One of Goldobin or Sprong might be worth a look given their low cap hits.