Depth UFA's. Oilers Yes? Oilers No?

With July 1st fast approaching the work is only partially done. A big step was taken today and the Oilers now have a better, but not entirely clear picture of how this roster is going to shape up after the Nilsson, O'Sullivan and Moreau waivers/buyouts.
As it is, the depth chart for the Edmonton Oilers (if we assume at least two of the rookies at camp make the team) would look something similar to what's below.

Hall/Horcoff/Hemsky
Penner/Gagner/Comrie
MPS/Brule/Cogliano
Jones/Fraser/Stortini

Gilbert/Whitney
Smid/Souray
???/???

Khabibulin/DD


There are more moves coming I'm sure and I'm making some assumptions here. Slotting certain players in certain places is by no means an exact science at this stage, but I figure giving a player like Hall the most chances to succeed and keeping too many rookies off the same line is a safe bet.

I'm also guessing both Andrew Cogliano and Sheldon Souray find new homes. This leaves a spot on the 3rd or 4th line (depending on where you slot Cogs in the depth chart) for a more suitable replacement and a gaping hole(s) on the blueline.

One of the question marks on the blue should be filled by Jason Strudwick as a 6th or 7th d-man and at forward, I think the Oilers are interested in bringing Comrie back. Comrie would and should play in the top six or top twelve at worst.

Other than the obvious lack of depth on defense, this is actually a line-up I don't mind too much. Without overrating players, there is a possible five or six forwards who can score 20 if healthy and a start to the blueline. That's the plus.

The minus is the need for a more fiesty sandpaper type on the 3rd line who can kill penalties. You could look within the line-up to plug a hole somewhere and leave an easier to fill spot elsewhere or you could go outside to the UFA market. I think the Oilers might do both.

For example, moving Fraser up to 3rd line center and Brule to wing, thus creating a spot for a brute of a forward on the 4th who isn't doing much besides banging the snot out of the opposition, makes sense to me. Renney is more likely to do that type of coaching based on his track record than Quinn ever would have.

These are the players I think they'll target if that's the direction they choose to go.

Derek Boogaard: (F)...(who cares, he'll barely play and position won't make a difference)

As silly as it sounds to pluck someone who can't play a lick of hockey, the Oilers might just do so. Boogaard has run roughshout over the Oilers for a good three years and been solely responsible for the injuries to some of Edmonton's key pieces.

Edmonton may see a need to find that enforcer type who plays three minutes a game and sole purpose is to put fear into the eye of the opposition. Just by having Boogaard on your team, as a franchise you're telling everyone, "touch our kids and the Boogyman will make you pay for it".

Pat Quinn would never have given the time of day to a player like Boogaard hence the exit of a Steve MacIntyre, but Renney will. As Oiler fans we won't see much of him, but when we do, we'll know there's a reason.

Boogaard could be had for $1-$1.2 mill. If so, the Oilers might take interest.

Rob Neidermayer: (C)

There's an extremely good chance Rob isn't leaving New Jersey. If he does, he'd make for a great fourth line center. He doesn't have the jam so to speak that the Oilers would like, thus the reason they didn't qualify Pouliot or Potulny, but he does bring something else those two didn't. Neidermayer is an extremely good faceoff guy and penalty killer.

While Pisani (less the fact he wasn't a center and often injured) would have kept a job on this team for these similar skills, Neidermayer is a much safer bet and smarter move for the Oilers at a $1-$1.5 million dollar deal. If the Oilers gave him two years, he'd likely take it because few other teams will.

Craig Conroy: (C)

Conroy may be one of those players Calgary keeps thanks to their need to resign forwards on the cheap, but they haven't done it yet and they may not.

Conroy would be a nice one year pick up. He's a penalty killer, has some size, wins faceoffs and brings a wealth of experience to a very young team. With that experience however comes the fact that Conroy is reaching the end of his career. He'd be the oldest Oiler by far and injury would always be a concern, but he does have some scoring touch at one time being a 75 point player.

John Scott: (D)

John Scott is a big boy, plain and simple. At 6'8" and 258 pounds, he's built not to piss around. Just ask Dean Arsene. Scott much like Boogaard won't produce much offensively, but he will be that 5th and 6th blueliner that makes the opposition pay for taking liberties with his players.

He finally spent some consistent time in the NHL last year with Minnesota, so he's not as much of a project as he once was. Scott is defintely a what you get is what you see type player. He's pretty big, so you see a lot of him.

It's unlikely the Wild will keep both of these players (Boogaard and Scott) and he'll come on the cheap. Pick him up for $700,000 or so and you'll have some very happy young Oiler prospects who won't be shy about doing what they're good at. Someone like Scott alone may give a player a second thought about creaming Taylor Hall if he has his head down like many fans are worried about.

Denis Grebeshkov: (D)

It sounds strange to suggest the Oilers consider bringing Grebeshkov back, however they don't have to qualify him now and he'd be signing for a lot less than the outlandish $3.1 million the Oilers gave him before when he fits free agency on July 1st.

He's still got defensive gafs in him, but playing him along side Ladislav Smid who has become a much stronger shutdown d-man is where they'd put him. Those two could be a good pair -- think Visnovsky when he played with Smid.

David Staples over at the "Cult of Hockey" has been writing a few bits about this idea and at first I didn't like it, but knowing a one year is out there at a lower price tag, makes me wonder if it would be worth a shot for 2010/2011. I wouldn't offer him more than $2 million though.

Colby Armstrong: (RW)

A good number of GM's will have Armstrong on their radar and if they do and the offers are similar, Armstrong will likely choose a team other than Edmonton. However, if Armstrong is thrown a bone by the Oil to the tune of maybe $8-$8.25 million over 3 yrs, Armstrong might consider Edmonton a valid option.

Armstrong brings height, size, a scoring touch and the ability at RW to get any team about 30-40 points. This makes him the perfect 3rd liner and the amount of minutes a 3rd liner gets has to be key. Armstrong is good at making the most of those minutes.

Armstrong doesn't get you a lot of powerplay time, but the Oilers don't need that. What they need are penalty killers and Armstrong is that to a tee. He's also nasty and relentless. The Oilers could use a bit of that too.

Dan Hamhuis (D)

He's the only big ticket item I have on this list, but I've spoken of him a few times and would love to see the Oilers take a run at his services. Despite the fact that other teams like the Flyers, Penguins and Canucks have also shown interest, why should I change that?

Ultimately, I think Hamhuis will sign in Vancouver for far too much and become their highest paid defenceman with the most minutes which is why he'll go there, but what's the harm in making an offer?

Throw out a front loaded 5 yrs at $3.8 million average over those five years. It probably won't get it done price wise, but term wise, who knows. I only like this because I can see Hamhuis as a big part of any teams future, even one that is rebuilding like the Oilers.

4 comments:

Are you OK dude?
Where's Eberle in your line-up?
Your depth chart is out of whack...
The Oil need a big C and some D.

Anonymous
June 30, 2010 at 6:43 AM comment-delete

I dont think Comrie will be back. Eberle will be in. They should resign Johnson on D and go hard for Armstrong and or Betts. Oiler fans LOVE enforcers... oiler fans had so much fun with Macintyre in the line up and this year there will be even more of a need. Lets get er done!!

Marsh
June 30, 2010 at 7:59 AM comment-delete

@ anonymous

I agree that and admitted that the depth chart can't possibly be an exact science, but what's so out of whack about it? That I didn't include Eberle?

I'm not sold that Eberle makes the team coming out of camp. I think he'll have the talent to, but I get the feeling the Oil aren't kidding when they say they want to give these kids more time in the A before they put them in the lineup. Of the three rookies, Eberle is my pick to fit that description.

Edmonton needs a center and defense, hence the reason almost all of my noted free agents fill those positions.

June 30, 2010 at 8:28 AM comment-delete

@ Marsh

Betts signed an extension at the end of this year with the Flyers, so unless there is a trade there, Betts won't be available.

I didn't think at first Comrie would be back either, but the more I read and get a feel from people closer to the team, the more it seems a possibility.

I'd bring Comrie back just because he's a much better bet on your 2nd line and he's always good for 18-20 goals, but could score 30. On a one year, he's still looking to reestablish himself and earn a better than $1-$1.2 million dollar contract.

Comrie has come and said he will wait a certain amount of time to see what Edmonton does before he signs elsewhere because he wants to return.

June 30, 2010 at 8:31 AM comment-delete

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