Every summer, when NHL Free Agent Frenzy rears its head, Oiler fans invariably turn to Daniel Winnik as the type of player they’d like to have management sign. As it happens, the bulky left winger is on the market this year, and there’s a good chance that he will test the waters.
Oilers GM Craig MacTavish is likely to make a pitch for Winnik. With the departure of Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth, the third line is ripe for a remake. Winnik is an ideal player for the role that’s there for the taking. The current Anaheim Duck is a nice size, at 6’2 and 207 lbs, giving Edmonton a tough minutes guy with a little bit of offensive upside.
While Winnik is no Wayne Gretzky, he can be counted upon for 30 to 40 points on the third line, numbers which would be ideal for that line in Oil Country. A plus six this past season, Winnik is an excellent two way player. Edmonton needs guys who can back check and put a little fear into the opponents and Winnik fits the bill.
The question is, will Anaheim let him walk? Probably, yes. Anaheim is an attractive destination for free agents, with all the sun and surf and such. It’s not a stretch to think they can find another player of Winnik’s type to fill the role he once did.
Coach Bruce Boudreau thought Winnik wasn’t up to the task in the playoffs, healthy scratching him three times. To some, that points to the end of a player’s career when he isn’t deemed an important enough piece to make the post-season push. Sometimes, though, it can mean they need a change of scenery.
In Edmonton, Winnik would most certainly be placed on a checking line along with another new winger that will come by way of free agency or trade over the summer. IF MacTavish can form a line that can contribute offensively while tackling some tough minutes, it will go a very long way to solidifying the Top 9.
OIL ON WHYTE OUTLOOK: Winnik signs somewhere else. While the Oilers will try to acquire him, there are several other attractive options on left wing, like Matt Moulson, Benoit Pouliot or Milan Michalek that would be worth a more aggressive push. Should the Oilers fail to make a splash this year and Winnik is free, he may find his way to Alberta.