It’s that time of year again, and as a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, there are a few things I’d like from Santa Claus this year that will help my team in its pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
The 2018-19 NHL season has been a funny one so far for the Edmonton Oilers. The coach has been fired, the unlikeliest of characters have stepped up their play, and the defense has found a way to get the keys back to the IR. Some might say all things are equal but I disagree, there are still a few things I’d like to see happen in 2019.
A New GM
Word is starting to leak out that Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli isn’t prepared to make another big trade to help get his team over the hump. He’s happy to sit tight and let the team develop from the inside.
I’ve said in the past that Chiarelli deserves some credit for where the team is today. The signings he’s made and the coaches he’s hired to have all contributed to the Oilers being in the thick of the playoff race at Christmas time, and you cannot blame him for the injuries to Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, and Kris Russell. No team, not even the might Nashville Predators, could survive to have three top-4 defenders out of the lineup.
That said, if Chiarelli isn’t prepared to cash in on some of those prospects he’s procured in the four years he’s been general manager of this team, it’s time to move on from him and bring in someone with a bit more bravado.
A New Home for Milan Lucic
I feel sorry for Lucic. He plays his heart out but how much heart does he have left since his hands left him in December of last season. He’s got two goals in a calendar year now, and Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock has him shuffling between the third and fourth lines.
Could the Oilers retain 50% on Lucic’s deal and send him East?
A Healthy Roster in 2019
I fear with the way that Hitchcock is using the Oilers best players that they could get run down. It’s not his fault as he doesn’t have that much to work with, but the last thing the Oilers need is to be burned out come March.
Clean Out the Dead Weight
The Oilers have too many players not contributing on a nightly basis. Ryan Spooner, Drake Caggiula, Valentin Zykov, Tobias Rieder, Ty Rattie, Jason Garrison, and Chris Wideman are all eating around $9 million in valuable cap space.
I can bend a little bit with Caggiula and Rieder. They’ve produced in the past, and they’ve been bitten by the injury bug this year. The other players mentioned above don’t have an excuse.
It’s time to amend that problem and bring in players who can score from the bottom-6. I’m talking about a player like Thomas Vanek who has five goals and 15 points for Detroit this season. Three other players that spring to mind are Michael Ferland out of Carolina, Ryan Dzingel from Ottawa, and Joonas Donskoi of the San Jose Sharks.
These are the kinds of players who produce consistently from the bottom of the lineup in my opinion.
Swing for the Fences at Least Once
If this is Chiarelli’s last kick at the can, make it a good one.
The St. Louis Blues have basically put up a sign that says, “CLEAR OUT SALE” and players like Timo Meier, Brendan Gallagher, and Brett Pesce are getting looked at on a nightly basis. If there’s ever a time for the Oilers to man up and make a splash, this is it.
We know that the Oilers need a scoring winger. Brendan Gallagher is a volume shooter who is right-handed and can play in all situations effectively. Brett Pesce is a right-shot defenseman that I think would improve the Oilers defense by leaps and bounds. Both players are on very friendly $4 million dollar-ish contracts that would keep them in Edmonton for at least the next three seasons too.
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Gallagher and Pesce alone would make Edmonton an instant contender.