Ken Holland claims his summer is incomplete. The GM of the Edmonton Oilers says he wants to add a third line center and a 20-goal scorer. It won’t be easy, and he may not accomplish it, but we have to take him at his word. After all, he’s done everything he said he would this off-season.
There are options out there. As mentioned here yesterday, via Jason Gregor, the Oilers are interested in both Ryan Dzingel and Derick Brassard. They would fill the two holes alluded to above. The club has also shown interest in Patrick Maroon and Brian Boyle. Both remain unsigned.
We can’t assume Holland will add Dzingel and Brassard. Would it be ideal? At this point, it would be. There’s no saying if the veteran forwards will sign in Edmonton, however.
That complicates things. I’ve decided to take Holland at his word when he says he isn’t done making moves, that his summer is incomplete. A look at the current depth chart explains why Holland isn’t done.
The Oilers, as currently constructed, are far from a playoff team. They’ve made minimal additions and still have many of the same holes. As we sit here today, Edmonton has a lot of work to do.
With the first wave of trades and free agent signings officially behind us, now is a good time to take stock of where things are.
Here’s a way too early look at the Edmonton Oilers 2019-20 depth chart.
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Alex Chiasson
Markus Granlund – Colby Cave – Sam Gagner
Jujhar Khaira – Kyle Brodziak – Joakim Nygard
Extras: Gaetan Haas, Joe Gambardella
The Oil, at this moment, have three top-six forwards on their roster. Connor McDavid is the best player in the world, while Leon Draisaitl scored at an elite rate in 2018-19. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a steady second-line center, one who brings lots of value.
I have a lot of time for Sam Gagner and Jujhar Khaira in depth roles. Gagner provides secondary offense, while Khaira is a solid PK’er, tough on the puck and can win battles. He’s also strong defensively and brings functional toughness to the table.
Nygard is a wild card, but he brings both speed and goal scoring ability to the bottom-six. Granlund also brings speed, and did score 12 goals a season ago. He’s not an offensive force, but should help with the penalty kill and team speed issues.
Edmonton’s needs are apparent. Chiasson and Kassian are fine role players, but both are being asked to play far too high up in the lineup. Edmonton badly needs another 20-goal scorer to play with Nugent-Hopkins. They need a second scoring line and simply don’t have it currently.
Third line center sticks out like a sore thumb too. Cave did good work on the PK and in a depth role after coming over from Boston a season ago, but he’s clearly a fourth liner at best. Ideally, he’s one of your extra forwards to start the season. I don’t think Brodziak can play at an NHL level anymore.
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Kris Russell
Caleb Jones – Matt Benning
Extra: Joel Persson
Edmonton badly needs Klefbom and Larsson to return to form. I think they are both solid bets should they stay healthy. I have more time than most seem to for Nurse, but this second pair is a problem. Russell isn’t good enough to play a top-four role on his off-side, and that negatively impacts Nurse. Edmonton badly needs to find a partner for Darnell.
I’ve selected Persson as the extra defender because of his offensive ability and puck moving skills. Ethan Bear and William Lagesson will each have a real chance to win this job as well. I think Jones and Benning will form a highly effective third pairing.
The season will come down to these two men. Koskinen was solid for Edmonton until the Cam Talbot trade in February. Koskinen was overworked form that point on and broke down. He’s a solid goaltender, although overpaid, who can handle 40-45 games. He needs rest.
That’s where Smith, who signed a one-year deal, comes in. This is a risky bet that very well could sink Edmonton. Smith posted a save percentage of .898 a season ago, the worst of his career. At 37-years-old, it’s hard to imagine him having a rebound campaign.
20-goal top-six winger: Dzingel is the ideal free agent option at this time. Maroon could fit as well, but he’d be a risk after a down season.
Third line center: Brassard and Boyle are among the free agent options. Brandon Sutter could be a trade option for the club as well.
Second pairing RHD: This job will eventually belong to Evan Bouchard. As of right now, it belongs to Kris Russell. That won’t end well.