Before I started ‘The Oilers Rig’ back in the summer of 2013, I used to (and, well, still do) read Lowetide every single day. One of my favorite pieces each and every year was his annual summer shopping list for the General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers.
Last night, Mr. Mitchell posted his annual list over on The Athletic (Subscription required), so I figured today would be the perfect time to share my list.
As I do every year, I want to thank LT for inspiring this yearly piece from myself. I think it’s a great idea to put everything down in list form and revisit it as the summer goes along.
The 2017 Version:
Last May, after Edmonton’s tough Game seven loss to Anaheim, I posted the 2017 edition of the list (here). It included six items, with the Oilers failing to fill them all.
The top two items were successfully accomplished by Chiarelli, but they were fairly obvious. The club signed Connor McDavid (#1) and Leon Draisaitl (#2) to long-term contracts, locking them up for the foreseeable future.
Edmonton failed to address item three, which was to address the second-pairing RHD spot. The club gambled on Matt Benning, who wasn’t ready for the role, and had to scramble to replace the injured Andrej Sekera, another ignored hole. This remains an issue.
The club also failed to fully fill item four, which was to add a third-line center or top-six RW. Ryan Strome eventually filled the 3C spot, but that created an even bigger hole on the right side. Item six, add depth, was addressed on July 1st, but the options there didn’t really have an impact (Ty Rattie) until far too late.
Item five, addressing Mark Fayne and Benoit Pouliot, was addressed. The club bought out Pouliot and buried Fayne in the minors for the final year of his deal.
The 2018 List:
So, as we begin another lengthy off-season, let’s set a new list, shall we? Here’s my 2018 shopping list for Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli.
1.) A top-six scoring winger: If the Oilers are going to roll with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid as a duo next season, then the club should be looking for a winger for Leon Draisaitl’s second line. If they plan on playing Nuge elsewhere, then this winger should be an option to play with McDavid. Ideally, the 93/97 duo starts the year and Edmonton shops for a winger for Draisaitl this summer. There are a few interesting free agency options, but I suspect a trade is the likely route here. I’d prefer a right winger, but any legit top-six winger will work for me.
2.) Address second-pairing RHD: Copied and pasted from last season’s list, this is still very much a hole in Edmonton. It’s no secret the Oilers are looking for a more offensive option from the backend, so that should give us a clue about the type of player required for this spot. Like item one, this is probably going to have to be a trade unless the Oil go with a less proven option.
3.) Bottom-six penalty killer: For those of you that brought up a lack of leadership and Matt Hendricks leaving hurting the club, this is for you too. The Oilers need an NHL veteran that can play in the bottom-six and help the club’s penalty killing woes. Ideally, that player would be a winger and possess a little speed. Could also be a depth center ala Derek Ryan.
4.) Figure out the coaching staff: Todd McLellan certainly sounded like he would be back next season when he spoke to the media yesterday at Rogers Place. It also sounded like he knew changes would be coming to his staff. The Oilers need to get this right to avoid disaster on the special teams groups again next season.
5.) Add a backup goalie who can play 20-25 games: I firmly believe that Cam Talbot will bounce back next season and once again be the man for Edmonton. That said, the Oilers can’t have a liability in the backup spot like the last two seasons. I’m not sure, based on this season, that Al Montoya is the guy either. It might require a little creativity, but the Oilers have to acquire an option they are actually willing to play for next season.