What Heading For Arbitration Will Tell Us About Three Oilers

31 players filed for arbitration on Monday. Three of them came from the Edmonton Oilers.

Gilbert Brule, Jeff Deslauriers and J.F. Jacques have all decided they have a case to make before an arbitrator. Their hope is to get the maximum allowable for a player of similar skillset, experience and salary in their given position. Their other hope? To stay employed when all is said and done.

For two of these three players, the odds of employment may have gone down a tad.

Gilbert Brule is the one player of these three that might have the right to take the Oilers to arbitration. As a first round draft pick, he played significantly more minutes last season, scored 17-20-37 in 65 games and came in fourth in team scoring. Had he played a full 82 game schedule, he can argue he was on pace for 22 goals and 25 assists for 45 points.

Those results are reasonable numbers for a player looking to get a $2 million plus salary for about two years. That Brian Burke gave Kulemin a similar deal in Toronto, helps the cause of a player like Brule when making compareables.

The other card up Brule's sleeve is that he is aware of Edmonton's desire to keep him knowing he has tremendous upside and grit unlike some of the other fowards on this roster. He fits into their 3rd line center depth chart nicely and his skills suit him to be a top six forward.

For a number of reasons, unless a trade becomes available to Edmonton that sees Brule involved and gives the Oilers better return or a chance to make other required moves, the Oilers will likely try to get a deal done before Brule's scheduled arbitration hearing. Something similar to what Nilsson got two years ago isn't out of the question.

As for J.F. Jacques and Jeff Deslauriers? They should be hoping this decision doesn't cost them their respective jobs.

With how little Jacques contributes to the Oilers and the competing forwards looking for NHL jobs, Jacques should have considered himself lucky to have been qualified by Edmonton. He's been injured, he's been ineffective and he's produced nothing offensively or defensively that would warrant a large pay increase over his previous salary of $500,000.

We know Tambellini thinks a lot of what a healthy J.F. could do in terms of grit and more skilled size, but this move by J.F. can't make the Oilers happy. What kind of raise does Jacques expect to get? Is he really of the mindset that players like Boogaard and Konopka who did well in free agency is a worthwhile measuring stick?

Whatever Jacques receives from an abitrator might be a mute point. The Oilers should have no problems letting Jacques hearing come and go. If he's awarded anything more than a sniff of $700,000, the Oilers should just walk away and I think they are prepared to. I don't have it on any kind of authority, but this is the kind of writing on the wall that leads a player who should consider himself lucky to have a job, unsurprised when he isn't lucky to keep it.

Then there's Jeff Deslauriers. Deslauriers has a bit stronger a case, but it isn't looking good for the default starter. The Oilers are in no real rush to keep Deslauriers. Instead the real issue here is that the Oilers are hesitant to give up Deslauriers for nothing. No team wants to lose a higher draft pick for nothing. Deslauriers is taking a risk that Edmonton feels that way about him too.

Edmonton is already dealing with the three headed goalie monster. Tambellini has gone on record saying there won't be three goalies to start the season. Between Khabibulin, Dubnyk and Deslauriers, where does JDD think that leaves him?

If Khabibulin doesn't return, Deslaurier may catch a break. If Bulin does come back, Deslauriers may be looking for a backup job somewhere since the Oilers can and likely will sign Dubnyk to a much lower and more reasonable contract. If all else fails, Edmonton can always head to the wealth of goalie talents on the market that can be had for fair value.

Three very different cases, three likely different outcomes. A betting man might say Brule has the best shot at being an Oiler next season. Even that isn't a gimmie by any means.


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