I know, some people love articles like these, some people hate them, however, for fun, if I were looking to turn this organization around with a little more success, this is what I would do:
Players to keep
There, those are the only players I consider necessary. And I know, RNH is overpaid at the 3C spot, but that’s fine for now. So, these are the players I’m leaving out:
Forwards: Purcell, Eberle, Pakarinen, Klinkhammer, Gazdic
Defense: Davidson, Fayne, Schultz, Ference, Reinhart
Who’s Coming In?
Now, first things first: Goaltending, the Oilers need to acquire a stable veteran backup. Some teams put a prospect here, when they’re supporting a veteran tested goaltender. We don’t have that. What the Oilers need is a quality backup who’s been in the show a long time and can get the job done. And preferably one that can steal games and handle heavy minutes as needed. My choice there would be Anton Khudobin, a proven backup who can perform on multiple teams. He’s a low risk choice. Nilsson can either be kept at the minor league level or, more likely, dealt for a low-end draft pick. He was a gamble, it failed, we move on.
Next, the forward corps. I assume Purcell is dealt for a solid pick, Eberle goes as part of fixing our defensive core, and Klinkhammer and Gazdic just don’t get resigned. Now, the one thing the Oilers have continually refused to do is bring in quality skilled veterans who can play Top-6 minutes, are proven leaders, and have the ability to be role models.
First, on our Top Line, we need a defensively skilled veteran winger who has the speed to keep up. This doesn’t need to be an elite guy, and it can be a budget signing for now. Looking at free agency, the names that jump out are Troy Brouwer, Jaromir Jagr, and Kris Versteeg. Jagr would be a great mentor, but I doubt Florida lets him walk. My choice here is Kris Versteeg on a 2-year deal. He’s got good defensive skills, he provides leadership, plays physical, and has the speed to keep up to this line. I like Pakarinen, but I’d let him develop another year or so in the minors to see if his scoring ability continues to improve.
Moving to McDavid’s line, we want someone there with playmaking ability and defensive awareness who can provide physical play. Eriksson or Ladd would be great choices here, but I’m unsure how nasty the price tag will be on either one. However, I’d go for Eriksson. He’s not overly physical, but his defensive ability is very good, and although his price won’t be cheap, he’d be a very good player for McDavid to have to rely on, and would take some of the defensive lifting off of Yakupov. If he wants too much term or costs too much, I’d consider bringing in a guy like Alex Tanguay. Yes, I know, he’s a soft player, but he’s a cup winning veteran with very good hands and his defensive intelligence is underrated (but this would be on a one year deal only).
So we’re now at:
Fixing the Defense
Now, that takes us to the defense. First up, we all know how much we want Hamonic, but the rumors are he’s going to go in a deal for Trouba, so I’ll sadly accept this as a reality. That leaves us Shattenkirk in the off-season, and possibly Vatanen. Now, with Shattenkirk, I know I wanted to keep RNH, but odds are they’ll ask for him in a deal, and they’ll want a young LHD as well (because they’re weak on the left side). So I’ll sigh and deal RNH and Davidson for Shattenkirk, and ask them to throw in Berglund for our 3C coming back, and ask for a conditional pick as part of the deal until I resign both.
I’ll also assume, other than Eberle, all the rest of our trade bait will likely just fetch us back draft picks, which is simply life these days. At that point, I’ll sigh and call up Anaheim to offer them Eberle for Vatanen. I know, Eberle’s a great player, but we do need defense badly, and we can use the salary room for a couple of quality veterans at forward anyhow. All the players I can deal for picks and prospects I use to replenish the RW and RHD sides.
Your Revised Edmonton Oilers
So, this is what we end up with:
So, is this a roster we can actually afford to ice? Yes, this roster works out to be cap compliant with re-signings, and we shed a few high-dollar (for their relative spot) contracts gradually over the next 2 years in Korpikoski and Hendricks (who’ll be replaced with prospects like Slepyshev and Pakarinen). As well, Versteeg would be on a 1-2-year deal, and Pouliot will also wander off down the road at some point. When Draisatl comes up for renewal, we’ll have lost $2.5mil for Korpikoski and $1.85mil for Hendricks that season. When McDavid comes up for renewal, we’ll have also shed $1.8mil for Letestu, and Pouliot will be in his last year and can be traded.
But, for next season, this would be a more veteran team, with stronger hockey IQ, veteran leadership, and not all that much less talent (and quite a bit more talent on the back-end).
Give me your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and/or comments about what I might be drinking today.