Ben Betker is one of the few Oilers prospects who has a contract for 2017-18, and this coming summer will probably see Peter Chiarelli finish the job he started in the spring of 2015. What does that mean for Oilers fans? A lot of new faces at the pro level next fall, especially at the AHL level. Photo by Mark Williams, all rights reserved.
When PC took over the Oilers, the 50-man list looked like this. Players no longer here have the strike through treatment, NHL players at the time (May 2015) are in bold:
  1. G Ben Scrivens
  2. G Laurent Brossoit
  3. G Tyler Bunz
  4. G Frans Tuohimaa
  5. D Nikita Nikitin
  6. D Justin Schultz
  7. D Mark Fayne
  8. D Andrew Ference
  9. D Oscar Klefbom
  10. D Martin Marincin
  11. D Keith Aulie
  12. D Brad Hunt
  13. D Jordan Oesterle
  14. D Brandon Davidson
  15. D Dillon Simpson
  16. D Martin Gernat
  17. D David Musil
  18. D Darnell Nurse
  19. D Ben Betker
  20. D Joey Laleggia
  21. C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 
  22. C Anton Lander
  23. C Boyd Gordon 
  24. C Leon Draisaitl 
  25. C Bogdan Yakimov
  26. C Jujhar Khaira
  27. C Travis Ewanyk 
  28. C Kellen Lain
  29. C Kyle Platzer 
  30. L Taylor Hall
  31. L Benoit Pouliot
  32. L Matt Hendricks
  33. L Luke Gazdic 
  34. L Matt Fraser
  35. L Ryan Hamilton
  36. L Curtis Hamilton 
  37. L Mitch Moroz 
  38. L Kale Kessy 
  39. R Jordan Eberle 
  40. R Nail Yakupov  
  41. R Teddy Purcell 
  42. R Rob Klinkhammer
  43. R Iiro Pakarinen 
  44. R Tyler Pitlick
  45. R Greg Chase
  46. R Andrew Miller
From the 46 signed names on the day Chiarelli took over, 23 are gone and 23 remain. This coming summer? More men will be cast away, with new names coming in. Here are the players on the current 50-man who may or may not return next season.
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UFAs

  1. LD Andrew Ference. A fine NHL career will likely come to an end when his current contract expires. He had a terrific run, won a Stanley with the Bruins, and can look forward to the next phase of his career. Suspect we will hear from him in some capacity.
  2. LD Mark Fraser. He has spent the entire year (so far) in the AHL, I think Edmonton will be signing enough of their amateur talent to replace his minutes next season in Bakersfield.
  3. RD Eric Gryba. At 28, I can see the Oilers trying to do the same thing next fall as they did this one—waiting for an opening and then signing Gryba. The problem? NHL defensemen will be in even shorter supply and Gryba likely gets a contract in July. I bet Peter Chiarelli would sign Gryba if the club could find a market for Mark Fayne.
  4. G Jonas Gustavsson. I believe the Oilers will run with a Cam Talbot—Laurent Brossoit tandem as early as the trade deadline, so Gustavsson is unlikely to return based on the current depth chart.
  5. L Matt Hendricks. At 35 he does a lot of smaller things to stay in the lineup. Penalty killing, faceoffs (he took a ton against Arizona on Sunday, defensive zone LH side) and the off sortie that results in a goal from time to time. My guess is the Oilers move on, but if he were signed to a one-year deal after the expansion draft I wouldn’t be surprised. Foot speed probably the deciding factor.
  6. LD Kris Russell. At 29, I bet the Oilers are already figuring out a way to make the one year engagement into a marriage of several seasons. Coach McLellan likes the mobile defender and the offense he brings, suspect we will see Russell signed after expansion.

RFAs

  1. R Taylor Beck. He has seen action in the NHL and has been an AHL star so far, so I imagine the Oilers would do a repeat deal if Beck is interested. He may feel that expansion is his chance to get another NHL job so is likely to keep options open.
  2. C Leon Draisaitl. Oilers no doubt feel he is a big piece of their cluster, now and into the future. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to go with a bridge or shoot the moon.
  3. R Zack Kassian. He has been a solid addition since the trade with Montreal, and fits the Oilers template in the Chiarelli-McLellan era. I expect he will return. Arbitration eligible.
  4. C Jujhar Khaira. Ideally situated for the post expansion draft Oilers, although the club could lose him to Las Vegas. In the previous expansion drafts, he would be deemed a strong option due to his contract, years of control and the fact that he appears to be a plug-and-play (NHL ready). We shall see.
  5. LD Joey Laleggia. Minor league defender has shown impressive offensive ability and power-play acumen, but he is an adventure defensively. I think there is a chance they walk him. Arbitration eligible.
  6. C Anton Lander. Suspect we are at a crossroads with Lander, who might catch on with LV or another NHL team next year. He does duplicate much of Matt Hendricks’ skills, so there is a chance the Oilers retain him. Arbitration eligible.
  7. G Eetu Laurikainen. Timing is everything, and this goalie hasn’t had a lot of luck since signing with the Oilers. Although he appeared to be the first official signing by Chiarelli, one suspects the deal had been place under the previous regime. At this point, Laurikainen appears to be No. 5 out of five pro goalies, and that isn’t going to work. Arbitration eligible.
  8. L Mitchell Moroz. He is a former second-round pick and organization don’t like to give up on them early. That said, Chiarelli wasn’t here when the Oil Kings winger was drafted. I suspect this season will go a long way to informing the decision here.
  9. LD David Musil. A strong early showing has to give Musil fans some hope, but at some point I think the player and organization have to look at the leftorium and conclude this player needs a second opinion. I wonder if more weeks of strong play get him a look. Arbitration eligible.
  10. LD Jordan Oesterle. He was sent down in a quick hurry from camp and then got himself hurt early on. I suspect the team loves his speed and worries over his defense, making him a similar player to Joey Laleggia. I bet they like Oesterle a little more, but that is a guess. Arbitration eligible.
  11. R Iiro Pakarinen. It’s complicated, all of a sudden. With Tyler Pitlick, Anton Slepyshev and others performing well in his absence, it is not completely clear there is a job waiting for Pakarinen for 2016-17 in Edmonton. I will guess Edmonton signs him and then lets the competition decide. Arbitration eligible.
  12. R Tyler Pitlick. It is reasonable to suggest he was on his very last Oilers contract when the tumblers finally clicked for Pitlick. An extremely nice run through the season’s first 20 games would seem to have corrected his career and given the young winger a new lease on life. Suspect he gets signed. Arbitration eligible.
  13. RC Zachary Pochiro. He is so new to the organization it is perhaps unfair to make a call on him, but based on his current spot on the depth chart Edmonton seems unlikely to retain.
  14. LD Griffin Reinhart. Injuries have impacted his season so far, so it is hard to get a current reading. That said, the team gave up two dear draft picks for him, one suspects the club signs him to a bridge deal. One other possibility: LV takes him. Don’t discount the possibility, Knights GM McPhee likes the big blue.
  15. LC Jere Sallinen. Although he has been in the Bakersfield lineup for much of the year, it is hard to get a feel for what he brings. I would say that coach Gerry Fleming has found other veterans to feature, and that tells a story itself. Arbitration eligible.
  16. LD Dillon Simpson. At this point, he is probably ready for a full NHL audition and that could come later in the year (he was already called up for a time but did not see action). It might come down to a matter of taste—do the Oilers like a low event two-way D or a stay-at-home type. Arbitration eligible.
  17. LC Bogdan Yakimov. It is impossible to know where this goes. Yakimov bolted back to the KHL last season, mid-year. Ordinarily that would be met with a divorce, but the Oilers aren’t so flush in talent they can afford to set him free. There is at least a chance he returns.
  18. NHL NUMBERS
There are 23 names. Who would you retain?