Excitement is building. Now that the Los Angeles Kings have put away the champagne, attention is beginning to turn towards the draft, free agency and the trade season. One gets the feeling that several GM’s will be active this year, buying and selling to fortify line ups against teams like Lombardi’s.
The Oilers? There is much work to be done. The blue line remains the weak link, as it has been the last eight years. Expect addition and subtraction here. Craig MacTavish is determined to add top defenders to the team, and he won’t be rushing the young depth the team has acquired over time. In an interview with the Edmonton Sun on Monday, MacTavish spoke about preferring to leave Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marincin in the AHL or junior if the team can fortify the line up with NHL veterans.
This strategy telegraphs more movement than might be anticipated. In my series of trade speculations over the last week, the draft, Sam Gagner and use of blue line prospect depth were key cogs in change that the team seeks. However, management may deem Nail Yakupov, and David Perron expendable as well.
With Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky gone, if two explosive scorers like Yak and Perron are jettisoned for help in the back end, that leaves gaping holes on the second and third lines. A second line center, a third line center, and three wingers would be required. I have mentioned on more than one occasion that he third line will be a new line replete with fresh faces. Free agency ought to bring reinforcements for that line.
If MacT does trade Perron and Yak, he will be after power forwards for the Top 9, who can make some room for the skill that remains. Losing Hemsky, Perron and Yakupov will impact secondary scoring greatly, however. The replacements will need to be perfect fits—there is a ton of risk in using Perron and Yakupov as leverage if the return is not proper.
Continue logging into Oil on Whyte for coverage on the draft and free agency. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Free Agent Target.