The Oilers Massive Holes on Defense And Ebs vs. Nuge

So by now, you’ve already heard the news. Andrej Sekera is outtie 5000 with a blown up knee and to add to that, the leverage the club had with regards to signing Kris Russell just went flaccid.

The rumors of Russell wanting $4M times four years that you’ve been hearing are the same that I’ve been passed along but you have to wonder now if Russell’s agent tries to push that a little bit.

Personally, I’d be happy to move on and let somebody else pay him that much. I was fine with a shade over $3M and that’s how much I still believe he’s worth. That said, the Oilers ARE in a tough spot here and Russell did perform very well in the playoffs.

That should dispell the myth that Russell is a poor playoff player, right? I mean the folks that were saying that, are they the same people that are on Eberle’s ass right now after his one bad playoff?

How this plays out now is that we’re almost back to the same position, trade market-wise, as last summer with Taylor Hall. What I mean by that is, the Oilers are over a barrel a bit and other GMs definitely know that won’t be doing them any favors unless Chiarelli overpays… Again.

The Oilers will need TWO defensemen in this offseason I believe. One that plays a similar style to Russell but is cheaper (Bob Stauffer has been talking about Mark Pysyk all week) and another who is a tad more offensive-minded, can skate well and move the puck.

Off the top of my head, I wonder if Jordan Oesterle has bulked up enough to fill in for Andrej Sekera? He can sure skate and move the puck well. If I remember correctly, his problem was that he wasn’t strong enough to take on the bigger forwards. This would be a very cost-effective solution to ‘Rej’s injury.

Of course, Darnell Nurse could fill in and Matthew Benning did a fine job during the playoffs floating throughout the three pairings but for me, I prefer a more veteran presence and I also believe that leaving Nurse and Benning on the 3rd pairing for at least one more season would be much better use of their talents.

The Mark Fayne supporters will wonder about him and the die has been cast with regards to Fayne’s role in the Oilers organization. Bob Stauffer even spoke briefly about him recently saying that he doesn’t believe the defenseman will be bought out. Probably that is so the Oilers aren’t on the hook for any of his salary when McDavid’s contract kicks in. Mark Fayne will serve as an excellent mentor for the young defenemen who’ll be lacing up the blades in Bakersfield next season.

So if Russell decides to sign elsewhere, who would I like to see replace him? It’s a good question, if I were GM, I’d pick up a veteran like Brian Campbell ($1.5M last year) or maybe a guy like Matt Hunwick ($1.2M last year) to fill in and then toss Sekera on the LTIR until the 2017/18 trade deadline and then activate him for the playoff run.

It’s a good question, if I were GM, I’d pick up a veteran like Brian Campbell ($1.5M last year) or maybe a guy like Matt Hunwick ($1.2M last year) to fill in and then toss Sekera on the LTIR until the 2017/18 trade deadline and then activate him for the playoff run.

Sekera isn’t going to be at 100% when he comes back. He’s going to need time and if the Oilers have more veteran depth then they can afford to bring Sekera back at an appropriate pace whilst blooding the younger players in with said vets.

Hunwick and Campbell are not elite dmen by any means but they are quite serviceable on the 2nd pairing and if the Oilers could get them under contract for around what they made last year, that would give Peter Chiarelli a bit of rope to make some improvements to his forwards. Specifically, he might be able to add a true faceoff man.

EBERLE OR NUGENT-HOPKINS

This is pretty simple right. I know Jason Gregor had it out with Ryan Rishaug on his show a couple of days ago and he wrote a post over at OilersNation about it. So he believes that Eberle has more value for the Oilers than RNH. I’m sorry but I think that’s complete horseshit.

I get that Eberle had a rough year and that happens but to say that he’s more valuable than RNH… Come on man!

Can Eberle switch to center? No.
Can RNH switch to wing? Yes.

Ok, argument over. Not really.

Peter Chiarelli talked about giving his coach players with versatility. You do not have that with Jordan Eberle but you do with Nugent-Hopkins.

One of Gregor’s main points is that consistent scoring is tough to do in the NHL today and he’s not wrong but we’ve never seen what RNH could do on the wing, have we? And that goes back to the versatility. Also, I can’t remember completely but didn’t Nuge play wing during the World Cup of Hockey and didn’t he end up amongst the leaders in scoring for that team?

Last year, Nugent-Hopkins had 18 goals and Eberle had 20. Now, who had the most responsibility during the season? Would it be fair to say that honor goes to #93? So with all of the things that he had to battle through to get those 18 goals, surely his skills would hold more value than Eberle’s, no?

I think a similar question came up last summer too after Taylor Hall was traded. Who will replace Hall’s production? Well, the TEAM did. Pat Maroon got 27 goals, Milan Lucic score 23 goals, Mark Letestu had 16.

So if you’re going into next season sans Jordan Eberle’s 20 goals, I have a feeling the combination of Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyler Pitlick, Anton Slepyshev, and Zack Kassian could reach over 40 goals and not break a sweat. All for around $7 or $8M…

The question of who holds more value for the Oilers isn’t really a question at all or should it be one at this point, both players will be playing on other teams come 2019 unless Chiarelli can work some serious magic and get some surprises from his prospects. The only reason we’re talking about it is because one of them has to move.

The Devils have a kid named Steve Santini that I really like. He’s a righty and he plays defense. Very stay-at-home type and good with the stick. Doesn’t mind the rough stuff and apparently has quite the shot. Wonder if Ray Shero would part with him to bring Eberle over?

If I had to choose, I’d say Nuge would bring you more in a trade but why would you handicap yourself like that? Yes, in two years when McDavid’s contract kicks in, RNH’s $6M won’t be affordable but why not keep him, move him to the wing when need be and have that insurance policy right there in-house in case of injury or slumps? Then next summer deal him and sign your “Nick Bonino”.

Plus, the free agent pool could be a tad deeper next summer,

  • Tyler Bozak
  • Lars Eller
  • Riley Nash
  • Kyle Brodziak
  • Colton Sceviour
  • Leo Komarov
  • Matt Stajan
  • Mikael Backlund

Just to name a few.

One player I believe the Oilers will go all-in on this summer is Martin Hanzal though and that could change things. He really needs to offload Pouliot and Fayne in my opinion.  But faceoffs were a huge problem for the Oilers in the playoffs and Chiarelli said it himself, he didn’t like all the puck chasing the team did vs. Anaheim.

But say Edmonton goes into the 2017/18 season with these line combos, do you like it?

Maroon-McDavid-RNH
Lucic-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi
Caggiula-Hanzal-Slepyshev
Pitlick-Letestu-Kassian
(Khaira)

Klefbom-Larsson
Hunwick-Campbell
Nurse-Benning
Gryba (Sekera)

Let me know in the comments section what you figure!

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Beer League Hero Written by:

I’m the Beer League Hero! I am from Camrose, Alberta but I make my home in Taipei City, Taiwan. I’ve been through the ups and downs and the highs and the Lowes, the Bonsignores and the McDavids, the Sathers and the Eakins but I’ll never leave my Oilers, no matter what!

They’re with me until the end and then some. GO OILERS GO!