Making The Oilers Heavier


As the dust starts to settle as we approach the two-week A.D. mark (After Draft), Oilers fans are still left wondering what sort of moves will be made during the offseason. Plenty of speculation is flying around trading one of the big three that currently are in Edmonton:

Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Let me preface this by saying I do not believe that trading anyone of these players is the right move at this point in time.

The Oilers should be looking to fill the voids on the roster by not shying away in trading draft picks, as well as being open to moving some of the prospects we have stacked in the cupboards. Otherwise, trading one of the big three could open up another hole we’d have to fill.

It is evident that right now the holes lie in the defence, and in the crease. The duo of Scrivens and Fasth posted some downright ugly numbers this season where their 5v5 sv% was ranked 46th and 47th out of 47 goaltenders with 1250+ minutes played.

Granted, this can also be alluded to the fact that the Oilers boasted a defence filled with players that were question marks. The likes of Nikita Nikitin and Justin Schultz could be on the out this offseason which would allow for some fresh bodies to be brought in.


As Peter Chiarelli  alluded to during his introductory press conference, he wants to see the Oilers play as a heavier team. Now, there are many different definitions of “heavy” when you talk about a player.

“I’ve seen the progression here in past years and talking to MacT, they’ve been trying to get bigger and heavier,” Chiarelli said, “That’s certainly an area where I’d like to improve.”

Heavy as in slow? Or heavy as in they’ll wear you down? Or heavy as in the type of team the Bruins have been for Chiarelli years?

It’s fair to say that the latter is where Chiarelli is looking towards, but how do the Oilers get there?

First things first, Darnell Nurse could very well end up on the Oilers roster next season. I have heard Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now recently speak to the fact that Nurse could simply beat out Nikitin or Ference for a roster spot.

His play with the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds certainly shows that Darnell is capable of stepping into a large role with his team, and is able to “put the team on his back”, as they would say.

His ability in the defensive zone should not be overshadowed by the fact that he has been given a green light with the Greyhounds to initiate the rush coming out of the defensive zone. His speed allows for him to get up ice in the rush, but also be able to get back for his defensive responsibilities without missing a beat.

He also likes to post up in front of opposing goalies on the powerplay.

There is no denying the fact that he will soon be a large part of this organization and if he is able to work for a spot on this roster next year, then I will be very excited to see what he is able to bring to the table as a rookie. At 6’4, 205 lbs, Nurse’s nasty game and size would provide immediate help.

Even if Nurse isn’t ready to make the jump to the next level, the Oilers will still need to get bigger. Rumors have been swirling around Milan Lucic coming to Edmonton and there is no denying that he would provide a much-needed boost to this team on the ice.

At 30 years old, 6’5 and 230 lbs, Brent Burns would certainly help the Oilers in becoming a team that is heavier, and much tougher to play against. He scored a career-high 60 points this season, with 32 of them coming at 5v5 play while his 5v5 CF% was 53.4%.

Those 60 points were 2nd in the NHL by defenceman, and he only trailed Norris Trophy candidate Erik Karlsson, who had 66 points.

With bouncing back and forth between forward and defence the past few seasons, the ability of Burns as a player outreaches the norm for what a lot of players are asked to do. The experience he has gained from that has helped him in his successful season.

More from Oil On Whyte

The Sharks as a whole are a mess right now. Between McLellan and the team parting ways, the war of words between GM Doug Wilson and Joe Thornton, as well as the fact that the Sharks haven’t made it to a conference final since 2010 – 2011, a shake-up may be necessary in San Jose.

Burns’ value has never been higher, and the Sharks would likely be looking for a puck-moving defenceman in return to help fill the void left by him. He just celebrated his 30th birthday two months ago, and also has two years remaining on his contract at $5.760 mil per.

If Chiarelli were to make a phone call to Wilson regarding Burns, the conversation should begin with Justin Schultz and Pittsburgh’s first round pick this year. Would that be enough to get Burns out of San Jose? I’m not 100% sure.

Burns does have a limited no-trade clause where the details are unknown, so at the end of the day it would be up to him if he was willing to come to Edmonton or not.

It is arguable that Schultz has earned his $3.675 million qualifying offer the Oilers owe him, so maybe the team could look at finding a possible replacement for him through trade.

Looking ahead, it is very tough to forecast what types of moves we will see from Chiarelli in the early days but we do know that he dismantled Boston’s defence upon his arrival and built it from the ground up.

Some say history repeats itself, so we will see if that is the case here.