Do desperate times call for desperate measures? With Marcel Goc re-signed in Pittsburgh, Olli Jokinen landing in Nashville and Mikhail Grabovski signing with his best buddy Nikolai Kulemin in Brooklyn, it makes the current pool of available centres shallow.
While David Legwand is still available, he is on the wrong side of 30 and his foot speed has been an issue for many critics during this year’s free agent frenzy. Rumours have been flying that the Oilers are trying to package up a trade to acquire Patrick Berglund from St. Louis, but so far it is all conjecture. Word on the street is that the Blues are looking for a first round pick. With next year’s draft apparently a deep one, that could be a steep ask.
It may make sense for the Oilers to perform a trade. And who knows? Legwand isn’t totally washed up, and might be worth a one year contract while the center position is figured out. Clearly, the Oilers could have signed Kulemin and Grabovski to contracts that would have suited them, but it is my belief that the team didn’t like how Kulemin was trending and lost out on Grabbo in the process.
There is also the variable that is Mark Arcobello. Arcobello performed nicely in the 2nd line center role last season and even had himself in Calder trophy talk before Sam Gagner came back after his jaw injury. It may come to pass that the Oilers choose to give Arcobello the opportunity to display his acumen in the same role again this year.
The downside of performing the Arcobello experiment is that he is such a small forward. For him to work as second line centre, he would need one of Benoit Pouliot and Teddy Purcell to protect his ice and add some size to the line. Frankly, David Perron, Nail Yakupov and Arcobello is too soft and short a line. Perron offers that nastiness we’ve all come to know and love, but Yakupov needs a veteran presence at centre to guide his game. Arcobello is still on a learning curve, and this could lead to the offensive black hole that Gagner and Yakupov became last year.
A good line combination should Arcobello slot in might be:
Hall – RNH – Eberle
Perron – Arcobello – Purcell
Pouliot – Draisaitl – Yakupov
Hendricks – Gordon – Gazdic
Naturally, new draftee Leon Draisaitl may have a stellar start. Should that be the case, he ought to be centering Yakupov and Perron, as they remain the best options for scoring prowess on the second line. But, if he struggles a bit, the second line centre position remains in flux.
Management need to act this summer to secure a second line center. They’ve missed out on the best options, at least via free agency. We should see resolution on this sooner rather than later.