The Oilers' updated depth chart and 2 blue-liners they should target

We take a look back at the Oilers' hectic start to free agency as well as more moves they still need to make, including finding a right-side defenceman.
Los Angeles Kings v Edmonton Oilers - Game Five
Los Angeles Kings v Edmonton Oilers - Game Five / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages

On the opening day of a free agency without Ken Holland for the first time in five seasons, we saw the Edmonton Oilers front office deliver quality in spades. The emphasis was placed on forwards of course, which in my evaluation was not as much of a need as improving their right side on the blue line, but there's no arguing they hit a home run.

The top names acquired were Viktor Arvidsson and Jeff Skinner, who both came in on team friendly deals. What was equally impressive to me was that they returned Adam Henrique, Matias Janmark and Connor Brown, who finished the playoffs on an incredible high note as a line. They all became fan favorites and as long they're playing in a depth role, I expect them to pickup right where they left off in 2024-25. I'm also very convinced that Brown will return to a 12-15 goal pace, considering how much better he looked in the final stretch and during the playoffs.

Oilers' updated depth chart

So let's dig into it further and tinker with some possible line combinations.

It's safe to assume that Arvidsson will be on Leon Draisaitl's wing. Jeff Jackson said as much in his availability, that they envisioned the 31-year-old on that line when targeting him. Skinner is likely to start on that line as well, with Evander Kane potentially set to begin next season on Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR). So I imagine the lineup looking something like this:

I do think that the Oilers could still use an upgrade on the backend. However, all things considered -- most of all the salary cap -- I think it's safe to say this will be the group at camp and on opening night.

Speaking of the cap, the Oilers are currently not compliant. They don't have to be until Oct. 9, but there are some moves they can and probably will make prior to that date. The most likely is a trade of Cody Ceci, and/or putting Kane on LTIR. Both have been discussed a lot, so I'll instead focus on some potential upgrades on the right side if they do indeed make those moves.

A couple of blue line targets

The money the Oilers would have to burn if Kane is placed on LTIR and Ceci is traded for assets that do not carry a cap hit, would be $5,920,833. The remaining defencemen on the free agent list don't exactly shine, but there are at the very least some interesting names to consider that could all come in under that number.

Number one to me would be Tyson Barrie, for obvious reasons. He's a former member of the team and was well liked by the group. Prior to his shipment to Nashville, he was playing excellent hockey for Edmonton. I would argue he's an upgrade on Ceci as he is an excellent puck mover and could play on the second power play unit with Mattias Ekholm and would likely come in for around a $3 million Annual Average Value (AAV) assuming he's willing to take a bit of a discount from his last contract. You could then run Brett Kulak/Barrie as your third pairing, which is solid depth and a good partnership under Jay Woodcroft.

Justin Schultz is another option that should be considered for all the same reasons as Barrie. He would also likely be slightly cheaper. The only caveat -- and it's an important one to add -- is that both of these guys are offensive-minded players. It's not to say they are bad defensively. They aren't. However, I do believe a shut-down type player is more of what they are in need of.

Next. 3 Potential trade landing spots for Cody Ceci. 3 Potential trade landing spots for Cody Ceci. dark

In reality the group the Oilers have on the depth chart currently, which includes Josh Brown and Troy Stetcher, is likely what we'll see at training camp. The forward group is definitely good enough, we can say that with confidence. But is this six man unit that of one with championship pedigree? What say you?

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