Fantasy Hockey Coach - Hockey Pool and Keeper Hockey Advice - Next Move Edmonton Oilers

  • Next Move Edmonton Oilers

    Year one of the Oil Change is complete. Overall I would have to say they are doing an excellent job. Despite finishing last overall for the second straight season the Edmonton Oilers are building a champion and after this years draft they will have an embarrassment of riches with talented kids. Steve Tambellini has stated they are building with youth. After this season he re-stated they will not be signing a $10 UFA. Instead the plan is clear, continue to fine tune the roster and build a championship contender through the draft.

    The top three lines seem to be set and should look something like this:

    First: Taylor Hall - Shawn Horcoff - Jordan Eberle
    Second: Magnus Paajarvi - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
    Third: Linus Omark - Andrew Cogliano - Gilbert Brule

    Cogliano is an RFA but Tambellini should have no problem re-signing him as well as Ryan Jones. The fourth line should be centered by Colin Fraser who is very good defensively and is excellent on the PK and Jones brings a lot of energy to the fourth line and quite frankly earned the job last season having a career year (18 goals and 25 points). This leaves only one vacant fourth line spot to fill. Most of the prospects in the system (Tyler Pitlick, Anton Lander and Curtis Hamilton) are very young and would develop better playing in the AHL or CHL and dominating.

    The defense was quite simply awful last year. Injuries played a part in that but this is the area that needs improvement. Ryan Whitney is the only top two option they have. Kurtis Foster can play a top four role and his booming slap shot lead all D with 14 PP points. Tom Gilbert was bust last year. Look for Edmonton to try to move him. He comes with a $4 million cap hit so it may be difficult, not to mention his -14 and career worst 26 point total. Jeff Petry and Theo Peckham were given chances and played very well. I believe they are both a lock to make the team.

    RFA Ladislav Smid should also be back as the teams shut down man. If Gilbert is unloaded that leaves one spot. Colten Teubert acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in the Dustin Penner deal is exactly what Edmonton needs on the blue line. He is a big, tough and nasty, smooth skating shut down D man who would pair perfectly with Smid. Teubedrt may not be ready for the NHL however.

    Goaltending is also inadequate. Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk are arguably the worst tandem in the NHL and both under contract for next season. I believe the Oil may attempt to move Khabibulin. He has two years left at $3.75 million. Finding a trade partner may be difficult given his age. Other options may be waivers, buyout or exile to KHL.

    The two biggest needs for the Oilers to address is a franchise defenseman and a franchise goalie. With two picks in the first round this year (first overall and LA's pick) they may attempt to fill those needs at this years draft. They have players available on the roster who may be trade bait to fill these needs as well in Hemsky and Gilbert.

    The top rated players for this years draft are Adam Larsson (potential franchise D man) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (consensus best player). Taking Larsson with the first overal pick will be tempting but so would trading down giving up Hopkins to pick Larsson with the second or third overall pick could be even more tempting. The best player is Hopkins. Having him center Hall and Eberle for years to come should be the most tempting option available and the way Edmonton goes.

    So what about defense and goal? Perhaps Cory Schneider could be picked up from Vancouver. There is a connection with Tambellini already and Canucks have Luongo. He will not be cheap and Canucks cap limits make any Schneider deal difficult. No doubt Mike Gillis would want picks and prospects in return; perhaps L.A.'s first pick and a top prospect like Lander or Pitlick? Other young targets for Tambellini to go after are Jake Allen (St. Louis Blues), Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals), Jonahtan Bernier (Los Angeles Kings) or Jack Campbell (Dallas Stars). A very long shot may be Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins; Tim Thomas is the clear #1 after another Vezina nomination and is currently back-stopping Boston in the cup final. A short-term fix may be found on the UFA market by signing Josh Harding.

    If Hemsky can remain healthy he may be trade bait for a #1 D man. RFA Zach Bogosian has been rumored to be available. A Hemsky + prospect package may be enough to make this happen. Nashville GM David Poile candidly stated in a news conference post playoff elimination that they will be looking to address offensive short comings and would use their depth at defense to fill that need. Ryan Ellis and Jonathan Blum jump to mind and this deal works very well for both teams.

    The bottom line is to stick to their current plan. Continue to fill the stable with horses. Be patient, don't rush young players and in two-three years reap the benefit and be class of the NHL. Top priorities are add franchise defense man, goalie and center.

    The Oilers next moves:
    • Draft Nugent-Hopkins to be franchise center.
    • Trade Hemsky, Gilbert other picks and prospects and leverage cap space to acquire franchise defense and goalie.
    • Be patient, then enjoy a long run of playoff berths and championships.

    Pete Harling is and always has been passionate about hockey. He loves to watch it, play it but what he loves the most is fantasy hockey. Email Coach Harling at [email protected].

  • BIG LEAD - 160Wx600H Ad ROS