At the moment, I’d like to say that the Oilers depth on the right-wing is one of the weaker areas of the team. More so at the minor league level than the NHL one but nevertheless, they both could be improved.
CURRENT RIGHT WINGERS
- Jordan Eberle
- Anton Slepyshev
- Jesse Puljujarvi
- Iiro Pakarinen
- Greg Chase
- Patrick Russell
Free Agents: Zack Kassian (RFA), Justin Fontaine (UFA), Tyler Pitlick (UFA)
Players who can play RW: Mark Letestu, Drake Caggiula, Leon Draisaitl
Maybe Caggiula and Draisaitl get a few games on McDavid’s right wing but I can’t see them spending any extensive time there in 2017/18. And Letestu might for a few shifts here are there for faceoff purposes. But don’t expect any of them to be full-time RWers next season.
I believe that Kassian, Fontaine, and Pitlick will be retained, as they should be. Zack Kassian had a very memorable season for the Oilers and is very well liked in the community and the locker room. Justin Fontaine played very well for Bakersfield (11pts in 15 gp) and should be re-signed to add some veteran scoring to the AHL club. And poor Tyler Pitlick, he looked as if he were just scratching the surface and a 1 yr deal would only be fair in my opinion.
We don’t really know what is going to happen with Jordan Eberle, do we? Things have died down a bit with him and if I had to say today if he was going to be on the team starting next season, I’d say yes.
I feel like everybody’s role is going to be clearly defined for next year and there’ll be no need for deviation. Last season I got the feeling like Nuge, Eberle, and Lucic didn’t really know what their roles on the team were because the coach had his line blender out all the time. And with the cap possibly going up to $77M, that’ll give the Oilers a bit more time to figure out their next move.
Speaking of moves, I’d like to propose that the Oilers sign Spencer Foo and use one of their picks in the upcoming draft on right winger, Nikita Korostelev.
We’ve already gone over Spencer Foo, so I’m not going to waste your time doing it again. But you should go here if you’d like to read a well-written in-depth article about the local lad.
Now, Nikita Korostelev, there’s a player I’m not sure you had your eyes on in 2015. He was initially projected to be a 1st rounder but somehow fell all the way down to the laps of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 7th round. Some people say it was his skating that let him down, others say it was his dedication to the offensive side of the game only. But he was one of 33 players that weren’t signed by their teams from the 2015 draft (The Oilers let Czech goalie Miroslav Svoboda walk as well).
I imagine we won’t find out why he fell that far in the draft or why the Maple Leafs decided to cut bait on him but that’s neither here nor there and this is a very skilled player who doesn’t lack size (6’1″ 196lbs) and would fill a pivotal role on Edmonton’s farm club.
Last season he racked up 29 goals and 35 assists for Peterborough and Sarnia, then went on fire in the playoffs scoring 4 goals and 7 assists in 12 games.
Although, I reckon there’ll be some Oilers fans out there that would be wary of drafting a Russian who spent most of his time with the Sarnia Sting in previous seasons. He’s now a Peterborough Pete and teammate of Dylan Wells, an Oilers draft pick.
I believe that one of the assets that the Oilers organization is lacking is a pure offensive forward in its pipeline. You might argue that Slepyshev or Puljujarvi might be that guy but I see more of a two-way game when I watch them. What I’m talking about is a player who is responsible for making plays and scoring goals and nothing more or less. You’re probably saying that the Oilers have a guy like that and his name is Jordan Eberle and I’d agree with you if it was his rookie season or a couple of years ago but not now.
Nikita Korostelev’s profile over at Elite Prospects says he’s relentless on the forecheck and doesn’t shy away from the physical game. So that is a plus.
If the Oilers could draft and groom Korostelev and Foo for a season or two, I think they’d be WAY better off long-term and would give them a few more options going forward instead of having to trade for a scoring RW or signing one through free agency.
Actually, signing NCAA players and drafting overagers who can jump right into the lineup of your minor league team allows you so much control with regards to how to allocate your salary cap funds. Of course this plan’s effectiveness is predicated on those players turning into NHL players on a regular basis.
Now, do I think that Peter Chiarelli would take a chance on this Korostelev kid? I don’t to be honest. Not because he’s Russian either (he actually has dual citizenship with Canada), I’m not sure he’s cut from the right cloth for Chia and T-Mac. It’s obvious that Chiarelli and McLellan want players who have the right attitude and are willing to “buy in” to this new Oilers culture. Also, players that take care of defense first and offense second are right in their wheelhouses.
I’d like to see Korostelev and Foo in the Oilers system playing for Bakersfield next season but I reckon the Oilers are in tough to sign Foo as they’re not the only ones with interest in him. And if Shanahan, Hunter, and Big Lou have no interest in Korostelev, I’m not sure that’s a good sign for the Russian/Canadian.
What do you think? Would you draft Nikita Korostelev? Let us know in the comments below!