The Edmonton Oilers made only three signings on Sunday, but did quite well in what was a quiet Canada Day for the organization. The Oilers filled holes at the NHL level, signing defender Kevin Gravel and forward Tobias Rieder to one-year contracts while inking center Kyle Brodziak to a two-year pact.
These deals aren’t seismic deals and they aren’t sexy names, but they accomplish a goal for the hockey club. The Oilers added NHL depth to the lineup today and made their bottom-six forward group much better.
Kyle Brodziak will be embarking on his second stint with the Oilers this season after playing for the club in parts of four seasons from 2005-2009. He’s a veteran right-shot center that can play on both the third and fourth lines, and will likely anchor line four in Edmonton the way Mark Letestu did for two and a half seasons. He’s strong in the circle, can provide 25-30 points a season and will no doubt help an Oiler penalty kill that was simply awful a year ago.
Rieder, like Brodziak, will help the club’s penalty kill next season. On top of that, Rieder should provide speed to a lineup that is certainly lacking it, and also provides a little bit of secondary offense. He had a down year this year, just 25 points, but hit 30 points in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. I won’t be shocked if he got a look higher up the lineup with friend and fellow German Leon Draisaitl.
Lastly, Gravel is poised to battle Keegan Lowe for the club’s seventh defender role. Gravel is a lot like Eric Gryba in the sense that he is a big defender whose value comes in, well, defending. There isn’t much offensive upside here, but Gravel is still a fine seventh defender option who comes uber cheap ($700,000) and could have some upside after having last season impacted by crohn’s disease.
Overall, it wasn’t a sexy day for the Edmonton Oilers, but rather an effective day. They found their fourth line center and added a top-nine winger with some speed, both on value contracts. They also found a cheap seventh defender who can easily be assigned to the AHL if need be, giving them some flexibility on the back end.
I thought Peter Chiarelli did quite well today, and believe credit should always be handed out when due. He gets it for these three signings, none of which break the bank and all have the ability to help this club next season.
Chiarelli had some interesting comments at his press conference this afternoon, mentioning that the club was close on a few things today, including a trade. I, personally, do not think the Oilers are done making moves this summer.
Club insider Bob Stauffer speculated that the trade could involve one of Pontus Aberg or Zack Kassian heading out of town. Both of those names make sense because both players had tough years in 2017-18, and both have been pushed down the depth chart.
Aberg didn’t exactly win a roster spot after being acquired at the deadline, and there’s a good chance he finds himself as the 13th forward or on waivers in September. Trading him for a different piece makes sense. Ditto Zack Kassian, who I don’t think is being paid like a fourth liner but that’s his role. Stauffer speculated Carolina being a team that might have interest in him, and I could see that.
In addition to dealing one of those two players, It is my belief the Oilers would like to sign two forwards, one in the mold of a 13th forward who is a veteran presence and can PK. You’ve heard the name Jason Chimera quite a bit in the last few days, and he is certainly an option. Keep an eye on Scott Hartnell as well. The longer he sits out there, the more likely he’ll take a lesser contract.
I also believe the Oilers would like to find a “up-and-down” center who can be recalled and play in the NHL if needed while running the show up front in Bakersfield. The young kids on the Condors, specifically the rookies, would greatly benefit from a player like that being around them.
All quiet on the western front as of now, but I suspect we see a move or two within the next week. The tinkering will continue.