It’s the middle of August and training camp for the Edmonton Oilers is within sight. GM Craig MacTavish has made many moves this offseason, as promised but to many fans and critics of the team, there are still some holes that need to be addressed before they’re ready to call the Oilers a playoff contending club.
The first hole that comes to mind is on defence. Still missing is that legitimate top two blue liner that championship teams possess. A Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Zdeno Chara type of defenceman that can be relied upon to perform at the ultimate level every time he’s on the ice. The free-agents remaining don’t exactly offer up that potential meaning a trade would have to be made to fill that need. In order to acquire a player of that magnitude it would take a blockbuster of a deal and MacTavish may not be willing to part ways with a key, cornerstone piece of the roster, at least not yet.
Up front the Oilers are set with their top two lines and to some the third is solid enough for now. But when you look at the championship teams, they all have that rough and tumble line that can go out, much in the corners and change the tempo of any game with their physical play. Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky and Boyd Gordon can’t do that and Ryan Jones will try on the fourth line but can only do so much.
The first free-agent that comes to mind is Brenden Morrow who still remains unsigned. It’ll cost the Oilers more than what they’re wanting to spend but Morrow brings the leadership, grit and determination that made him a staple on the Dallas Stars and Team Canada for so many years. At the age of 34 he still has a few good years left and can be relied upon with his offensive abilities to chip in on the score sheet on a third line, consistent basis.
There are plenty of other UFA’s that remain unsigned that could make an impact on the Oilers should Mac-T look at further solidifying his roster, but for now we’ll have to wait and see if any further moves are made.
In goal it’s hard to argue with Devan Dubnyk and Jason Labarbera until one gets hurt or if Dubnyk falls on his face. While Dubnyk hasn’t exactly carried this team into the playoffs, he has progressed over the past two seasons to the point that he is deserving of being the number one. How long of a rope he has will be determined by how quickly the Oilers get out of the gates this season. Any upgrade in goal would have to come in a trade unless the thought of Tim Thomas or Ilya Bryzgalov gets you excited.
There are options on the open market that would improve the Oilers team and help nudge them to be included in the playoff conversation. As it stands now they are on the outside looking in but with a full regular season ahead and plenty of time to tinker and make moves in-season, the panic button isn’t even a thought at this point. By the way MacTavish told Dan Tencer in his interview yesterday, no more moves are expected between now and training camp. That doesn’t mean a signing or trade can’t happen in September or before puck drop in October.
Would another move or two be preferred? Absolutely. It’s just hard to determine what move that might be. Take part in our daily poll and vote in what you think the next move will be with the Oilers roster.