Have you ever thought that the Edmonton Oilers were an easy team for the opposing clubs to play against? Have you ever wondered why the Oilers best players are constantly being run? Has there ever been a moment in an Oilers game where you wondered aloud, “Why isn’t anybody getting in there and making that bugger pay?!”
I have. Hall twice versus Buffalo and Klefbom and Pouliot in the Toronto game to name some instances recently. And don’t give me that “they make them pay on the scoreboard” BS because it’s pretty hard to do that when the players that are tasked with scoring the goals are getting their asses handed to them on a regular basis, harder yet when they’re injured.
The Oilers need more toughness in this squad because teams are targeting Edmonton’s best players. They know that nothing is going to happen. Now, I want to preface this by saying that I am not advocating that the Oilers go out and try to acquire John Scott, Derek Dorsett, or Zac Rinaldo. Edmonton has Luke Gazdic already.
What I’m talking about is the throwback player. The player that can hit, skate, shoot, and lead by example. Say, a better version of Matt Hendricks. I want to see the Oilers go out there and grab a guy that will nonchalantly forget the rule books exist from time to time. A player that will sternly remind the opposition that hitting his teammates in an ungentlemanly manner will not be tolerated and any attempt, successful or otherwise, will be met swiftly with the necessary amount of retribution.
I understand that this isn’t the 70’s or the 80’s but this isn’t figure skating either. Shit, have you watched women’s hockey? That’s hella rough.
What I’d like to see removed from the team is the big softie. Guys like Benoit Pouliot and Teddy Purcell who are fantastic talents on their day but don’t add anymore apart from the odd assist and goal. Mark Fayne is another player who could go the way of the dodo to me. Apart from being a big body, he’s shown me nothing.
Let’s take a look at a healthy Oilers roster and figure out where the team could use this toughness I speak of. I’ll highlight the players I think the team could do without.
So as we can see the lines look like actual NHL lines and to be brutally honest, if the Oilers didn’t get destroyed by that flu bug, they’d be higher in the standings and you can be assured that Mark Spector wouldn’t have even brought up the “soft skill” trade article. I wonder how much his books sales spiked after that article was published?… I like Spector but you’ve got to wonder if he had that article sitting in his back pocket for just this occasion.
When this roster is as healthy as it’s going to be, that is when we’ll need to pay close attention. If it falters or under-performs, then that is the time to make a deal. BUT if it shows that it can keep up with the rest of the playoff contenders, you may just want to hold off on calling for any significant changes. Who knows? Maybe Pouliot will revert back to the form he was showing alongside McDavid and Yakupov.
The defense is starting to come together but it’s still not where you’d like it to be. It’s still quite young on the left side but luckily the youngsters that are in the top four are very gifted. I’ll go to my grave under the impression that Justin Schultz is the greatest conman hockey has seen since Alan Eagleson. Talk about buyer’s remorse. This guy is going to have to put up at least 40 points, heck let’s make it 50, if I’m going to have my mind changed. There’s no bloody way that he’s worth over $5 million dollars on any team letalone $4 million.
So the highlighted players are Teddy Purcell, Benoit Pouliot, Lauri Korpikoski, Mark Letestu, Iiro Pakarinen, Justin Schultz, and Mark Fayne.
They all can’t go. Jordan Eberle I think will be dealt sooner rather than later. Purcell should be with the team until the trade deadline. Pouliot makes too much money and has too much term left on his deal. Anton Lander and Lauri Korpikoski’s numbers are making Tanner Glass look like an All-Star, and Letestu is a recent signing. Jultz could bring back some value if packaged up but his shortcomings are too well know. This could lead to the team just walking away from him this summer. Mark Fayne still has term on his deal but given he’s a right-side defender, there might be a team who’d take him on in money-in-money-out deal.
So if we get down to brass tacks there’s not a whole lot for the Oilers to do. They’ve got a shat ton of extra baggage and nowhere to hide it. But that’s boring to talk about and I want to talk about potential players the Oilers could bring in.
- Wayne Simmonds (PHI) – The Flyers aren’t lighting the league afire as their big guns have started out of the game in the tortoise setting. Would this be a possible setting for the oft-rumored Eberle for Simmonds deal? Wayne Simmonds def. fits the description of a tougher player that can play.
- Scott Hartnell (CBJ) – Earlier in the season there was a rumor going around that the Blue Jackets were looking to unload the veteran winger to the Oilers for Mark Fayne. Give me that deal all day long if that’s the case. Hartnell is an annoying prick out on the ice not only due to his playing style but the man’s mouth never stops. Perfect! I don’t think Edmonton has had a player like this in some time.
- Kerby Rychel (CBJ) – Here’s a younger player that can’t seem to crack Columbus’ lineup. He’s got the tools but there are so many players who play a similar fashion to Rychel in Ohio. Dubinsky, Hartnell, Jenner, and Foligno. I think he could step into the Oilers line-up and be that Ethan Moreau-like winger for very little cost. Is he worth a second round pick? It’s worth a conversation.
- Jarred Tinordi (MTL) – Another young guy who’s stuck behind some major depth in Montreal. He’s a giant standing at over six and a half feet tall and well over two hundred pounds. He’s too good for the AHL and the Canadiens know this. They won’t put him on waivers because they’re afraid they’ll lose him. I think for good reason. If you watched his dad play you’ll know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He’s got forty-three NHL games under his belt and in those forty-three games he’s accumulated 76 hits and 61 PIMS. The Habs want a second rounder for him but I think there’s room to negotiate.
- Radko Gudas (PHI) – One more from Philly how about? I love this guy because he’s probably the hardest hitter in the league. The Flyers will offer Luke Schenn but you insist on Gudas. He takes no prisoners. He is always amongst the leaders in hits whether that’s playing for a great team like the Tampa Bay Lightning or a crap team like the Flyers (Better than the Oilers but not by much tbh). He’s on pace for over 400 hits yet only 80 PIM!! Gudas is your bottom four warrior and on a good contract too. He’s got a long list of players names who he’s destroyed in his short career to date, plus that beard… Good lord that beard is Hall-of-Fame worthy!
- Other notable names: Andrew Desjardins (CHI), Josh Jooris (CGY), Zack Smith (OTT), Leo Komarov (TOR), Cal Clutterbuck (NYI), Tommy Wingels (SJ).
NEW Oilers Lineup!
Now how about that roster? That would def. make things difficult for opposing teams to play against. I don’t know how exactly you could rid the team of so many blemishes or if the $$ make sense here but this is just for shits and giggles anyhow.
It’s completely possible that this player resides within the squad already. We’ve already spoken of Matt Hendricks. What about Rob Klinkhammer. He was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing and excelling before he went down with a twisted shin bone. I think that Jujhar Khaira is showing to be a very capable power forward. He has size, strength, is fearless, and allows his more skilled linemates the time and room to make the magic happen. Meaning he can play the game a bit. We’re also waiting to see how players like Mitch Moroz turn out and Kale Kessy too. David Musil is no slouch, keep an eye on him!
Who do you think would be a good add to the Oilers to increase team toughness? Let me know in the comments below!