One of my favorite traditions in the spring has been doing the Oilers’ ‘Off-Season Targets’ series here at The Oilers Rig. The last 13 years haven’t exactly been fun to be an Oilers fan. The team has missed the playoffs in 12 of those years and has had constant changes to management, the coaching staff and the roster.
The one positive from all of that? I grew to love the draft, free agency and all of the speculation that came with it. Roster building has become a guilty pleasure of mine, and having the chance to profile potential additions is fun. It gets the mind going, and makes you wonder how players could help Edmonton finally get back to where they belong.
This year, we started the series by looking at coaches. There were numerous candidates looked at, but only one got the job. Dave Tippett, one of the guys profiled in the series, is the new head coach in Edmonton. He’s got Glen Gulutzan and Jim Playfair on his staff, and will make another hiring at some point later in the summer.
Ken Holland has been quite adamant about adding a goaltender. He admitted that the addition is more likely to come from free agency than via trade, and the rumor mill has been churning with names like Mike Smith and Brian Elliott. In this year’s series, we profiled goaltenders Brian Elliott, Petr Mrazek, Cam Talbot, Anders Nilsson, Keith Kinkaid and Robin Lehner. All but Nilsson are currently looking for work in the free agent market.
The Oilers, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, have shown interest in Mrazek. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector is betting that Mike Smith is Edmonton’s main target, while sources indicate the Oil and Talbot are not likely to reunite.
Defensively, the moves are likely to be more exit than entrance. The Oil need to clear cap space and also must create roster spots for young players like Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Evan Bouchard and William Lagesson.
Subban was traded to New Jersey over the weekend and was not an option, while Myers appears destined to sign with Vancouver on Monday. Moore underwent surgery and will miss training camp for Boston. Sources indicate the Oilers checked in on Faulk over draft weekend.
Lastly, we looked at the forwards. Holland knows his wing depth isn’t nearly good enough and that he has to make multiple additions to this group. The goal, in the GM’s own words, is to compete for and make the playoffs in 2019-20. This group must be improved to have a chance.
The forwards profiled were Tyler Johnson, Nikolaj Ehlers, Andre Burakovsky, Connor Brown, Gustav Nyquist, Thomas Vanek, Richard Panik, Joonas Donskoi, Brett Connolly, Tyler Ennis, Taylor Hall, Mats Zuccarello and Brandon Tanev.
The club has confirmed interest in Connolly and Donskoi. The Oilers also tried to trade for Brown at the deadline and have had talks about acquiring him this spring. Ehlers is on the block in Winnipeg, according to reports.
Who will the Oilers sign next Monday? It’s anyone’s guess, but if history is any indication at least one name from this list will be heading to Northern Alberta.