What Areas Can The Edmonton Oilers Address?
That is the question going through most fans minds this summer as we edge closer and closer to the NHL Draft. Will new GM Ken Holland trade the first round pick for immediate help? Will the team find a way to add a top-6 winger? How can the team fix all of these holes with the current cap situation?
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
As much as fans don’t want to hear it, it’s highly unlikely that Edmonton is going to be able to fix everything in one summer. The hole has been dug too deep by the past regime and the organization is going to have to let some contracts run their course.
That being said Edmonton should still be able to address a number of areas.
Bottom 6 Scoring
This is arguably the Oilers greatest need this summer and by far the easiest to address. Edmonton’s top three scorers last season, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins vastly outproduced most other teams top three players. After that group of three, the drop off was significant. RNH produced 69 points and the next best forward was Alex Chiasson with 38.
Chiasson, Kassian, and Gagner fall into the category of complimentary players that should be able to slot anywhere in the lineup. Ideally these are third/fourth line players but we will end up seeing these men in more prominent roles in the 2019/2020 season. Kassian in particular really took to the wing with McDavid and Draisaitl and could be the next Patrick Maroon. An additional note; I am absolutely in favour of bringing back Alex Chiasson, providing the price is right.
Brodziak, Khaira, Cave, and Rattie are the remaining cast that are likely best suited for fourth line duties at best. Khaira has shown flashes of skill, especially in the brief time he had with RNH but he is still too inconsistent to play more than 10 minutes a night. Cave and Brodziak each have their own issues but are signed for another year. Rattie may or may not return.
What will be addressed?
There is a prominent hole at centre on the third line that has existed since trading away Ryan Strome. UFA names that could be available in the 1.5-3.5 million dollar range should include Jason Spezza, Colin Wilson, Tyler Ennis, and Derick Brassard.
From there, Holland will look to add at least one more 10-15 goal scorer on the wing. Last season Peter Chiarelli hoped he had done so by signing Tobias Reider to a one year deal worth 2 million… we all know what happened there. Once again, the free agency pool is the quickest way to address this without giving up assets in return. On the wing names like Brandon Pirri, Brandon Tanev, Riley Sheahan, and Joonas Donskoi should bring some secondary scoring with them.
Trade is another option. It was reported after the trade deadline that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Oilers were in discussions revolving around moving Connor Brown for Matthew Benning. It is unclear why talks broke down but with other options rising up the ranks for Edmonton and the cap issues the Leafs will soon face, I could see this as a solid option for both teams.