The dust has settled after the frenzy that was July 1st. MacTavish came away with a few very nice pick ups for his team on day one, and the days that followed saw a few ideal targets at 2C in Mikhail Grabovski and David Legwand ink deals with other teams.
The night before all the action happened, I put together a bit of a shopping list. Now let’s see how the Oilers did, and what is left to be done.
Oilers Depth Chart – Post-July 1
Image courtesy of Jason Franson, the Canadian Press.
Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Pouliot – Arcobello – Purcell
Perron – Draisaitl – Yakupov
Hendricks – Gordon -Lander
Marincin – Petry
Nikitin – Schultz
Ference – Fayne
Your take on the depth chart may vary, but I think we can see some marked improvements here over last year’s squad.
The depth on both wings is a real strength for me. I’d like to see the two big wingers in Purcell and Pouliot play together on a second line facing tough opposition. That would allow more sheltered minutes for the Draisaitl line–something that Yakupov would benefit from as well. Perron and Draisaitl would make a tasty puck possession duo with Dr Drai setting up Yak City and Perron against opposition depth forwards.
One of the most glaring weaknesses in the above depth chart is the absence of an established second line centre to play behind the Nuge. The Oilers lost out on some of the free agent options at that position, and according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, any addition at 2C is likely to come via trade.
Getting the sense that the Oilers and Legwand aren’t likely to happen. Lukewarm interest in both directions. Trade more likely for C
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) July 4, 2014
For the first time in years, it appears that the Oilers have an NHL-worthy defence, so naturally, rumours are also swirling that the Oilers intend to tinker with the defence as it currently exists, with Jeff Petry’s name being mentioned by some pretty reliable sources.
Hearing EDM D Jeff Petry’s name out there in trade talks…he has arbitration rights and is one year from UFA. Interesting player.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 30, 2014
— Bruce McCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) July 3, 2014
All of that information taken together makes it seem like the Oilers are trying to deal Petry for a second line centre. It’s a bad idea, creating a hole to fill another. But as Jonathan Willis writes on Oilers Nation today, Petry may just be the sharpest arrow in Edmonton’s quiver, so-to-speak.
What is there to do?
Derek Roy is still out there but I don’t get a strong feeling he’ll end up with the Copper and Blue based on what we’ve heard from Rishaug.
The internal option is to play Mark Arcobello at 2C while leaving the sheltered minutes to Draisaitl. Arco proved last season that he can play a decent game in the bigs against milder opposition with slightly unfavourable zone starts–and he managed 0.44 points per game while doing so.
The following chart, one of my favourite tools, is courtesy of Rob Vollman at Hockey Abstract. I encourage you to go and play around with the player usage charts yourself.
Note that I’ve used Corsi Rel.
It feels a lot like the Oilers are exploring two options at 2C: either they put their trust in the largely unproven and untested Arcobello, or they trade their best defenceman to fill the hole, creating another one. Personally, I find both options to be cringe-worthy, but the former (playing Arco) less-so.
One thing I will say is that, if the Oilers do keep Arcobello up the depth chart and in the middle, I would love to see MacT bolster that fourth line with a guy like Daniel Winnik or David Moss (where I currently have Lander slotted in). Lord knows they’re going to get some brutal usage, and they could use all the help they can get.
We’ve entered into the slow months of uncertainty before training camp picks up in the fall. Will we see more moves from MacT and company? Will Draisaitl earn his keep? Does he even have to, as things currently stand? How do you see the depth chart shaping up?
Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @soupfromthecan.