Do the Oilers Need a Tough Guy or a Centre?

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According to Bob McKenzie from TSN, the Edmonton Oilers are ramping up their search for a legitimate heavyweight tough guy.  McKenzie adds, via Twitter, that the Oilers were in the market for a so called “goon” long before the Sam Gagner incident and after watching the events unfold at the hands of the pesky Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, Craig MacTavish is adamant on finding someone to protect his star players.

Is this theory the answer for the Oilers?  Do they need a legitimate tough guy to help patrol the ice when teams like the Canucks, Kings and Flames want to try and run them out of their own rink?

Reaction on Twitter to the mere thought of inking a player who can’t contribute much to the game other than dropping his mitts is becoming one-sided.  The short answer is no the Oilers don’t need to bring in a policeman.

One of the main arguments against the move is the simple fact of having a roster spot occupied by someone who can’t add value to the team other than to fight.  Steve MacIntyre‘s name has surfaced from both fans and main stream media as an option for the Oilers but again, a fourth liner to play two or three minutes a night and wait for the opportunity to discipline players like Kassian.

Then again, MacIntyre isn’t much of an option if the MacTavish and company want to bring in someone who can do more than just fight.  Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins is the prime example of a player who can stick up for his teammates while playing a solid, two-way game for his club.

Colton Orr is another name that has been brought up, a proven tough guy who can play at both ends of the rink while knowing his role.  The problem is, Orr is under contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs and may not want to part ways with him.

The need to add size and grit in the offseason was a glaring issue for the Oilers and it’s something Craig MacTavish failed to address.  Sure he added Andrew Ference on the back end but up front they’re still the small group of highly skilled forwards who don’t play a physical or intimidating game.  David Clarkson was grossly overpaid by the Leafs and despite an effort to bring him to Edmonton, may have been worth throwing a ridiculous amount at when looking back to Saturday night in particular.

To further complicate matters the Oilers are now depleted in the centre position at least for the next four weeks until either Gagner or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can return.

Perhaps this is the more important hole that’s in need of filling?  Signing or acquiring a legitimate centreman who can bridge the gap until one of the Oilers top two faceoff men can return is almost a necessity when comparing it to adding a tough guy.

The intimidating presence of a fourth liner can wait for the time being, putting the emphasis on shoring up the middle part of the lineup.  We’ve seen how important winning key draws can be along with air tight defense in your own zone.  Having someone that can stick up for the top forwards can be addressed when the season gets underway and the roster has been identified.

It’s Mac-T’s call to make and if he feels the team needs a tough guy over a proven centre then that’s what he’ll focus on.  As fans, all we can do is hope he make the right call when presented that opportunity, otherwise comparisons of past GM’s and their decisions could be referenced yet again.

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Tags: Colton Orr Edmonton Oilers Sam Gagner

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