Edmonton Oilers: Power-Play Quarterback Sits on Roster

Mar 10, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) on a breakaway in second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) on a breakaway in second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

Edmonton Oilers fans have done much hand-wringing over the decisions made (or not) by Peter Chiarelli, this Summer. I have to say: I think you are marking him awfully hard. The “10 years out” thing probably has some of you bitter and jaded, but that’s not a good reason to judge this season’s possibilities so harshly.

The twp key decisions (to date) have been to add a top-pairing, right-hand-shot ddefender, and (so far) to NOT add a right-hand-shot D-man with Puck Moving and/or shooting ability. The Adam Larsson deal has been analyzed to death, and skepticism over how high of a price the Edmonton Oilers paid for him will likely only ever abate as Larsson performs at least as good as he did in New Jersey last season. But that deal, for better or for worse, is done. Milan Lucic is “in” for Hall, and that’s the way it is.

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The puck moving D-man “deal”, however, is not done.

Yes. Acquiring a Tyson Barrie-type player would have filled the bill on the Power Play, but at what was feeling like too high of a price. And I am not in the camp that thinks the Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup Playoff hopes have been dashed because of Peter Chiarelli’s visible activity on this front.

While Barrie would have been great, many of the other choices would have been an extreme stretch to play 2nd pairing minutes. In fact, I would (and will) argue that there are existing pieces already on this roster capable of running the Power Play from “back there”, superior to what was available.

There are numerous candidates:

Andrej Sekera. Yeah, I know…the Shin-Pad Assassin. But the fact is that Sekera s a legit Top-4 D-man in this league with the skating, passing skills and vision to get the job done. Yes, he tends to hold onto the puck a bit long and can have tunnel vision when he winds up.

Oscar Klefbom. The only thing stopping Klefbom from filling this role is a track record of doing so. He has all of the necessary skills, although I would argue he would be most effective on the first unit, with Connor McDavid, because of his high-end first pass ability.

Brandon Davidson. He may sound like a Value Village solution, but Davidson is a sleeper Power Play tool in my books: Not quite as mobile as Oscar Klefbom, he does possess very good 1st Pass skills and has a cannon of a shot, the best on the D-core.

Darnell Nurse. I’m not saying he could be P.K. Subban. I’m not. But he does have similar offensive tools and tendencies: Wheels, puck protection, a shot, offensive “aggressiveness”. In 18 months, and I think Nurse will contribute to an NHL Power Play. Hopefully…in Edmonton.

Jordan Oesterle. I think he has a chance of winning the 7-D job. Oesterle has excellent speed and very good first-pass abilities out of his own zone. He has other limitations and in small samples has not been effective on the PP. But worth noting.

Nail Yakupov. He DOES possess the shot that could contribute to an NHL Power Play in a meaningful way. Yakupov is probably the closest to a heavy one-timer in the entire organization.

So, by my count, Todd McLellan has no less than 6 options for Power Play duty on the blue-line, and that’s AFTER Connor McDavid.

Seriously, which available blue-liner possesses the same ability to move the puck through the neutral zone as McDavid? I submit there’s only a handful of NHL players, period, who measure up. He has the speed, the vision, the passing ability. I saw enough of #97 last year to rise from my seat and shout, “What are YOU carrying it for…pass it to Connor”.

Alas, you say, Connor can’t play the entire 2 minutes? Well, maybe not. I actually think he could, but let’s assume you are right, and that we’ll need someone on the 2nd pairing who can to a reasonable enough job.

Next: Edmonton Oilers: Should They Consider Marek Zidlicky

Well…there are “real” candidates already on the roster, and better ones than the “2-years separated from a good NHL season” James Wisniewski.