Opinion

The Summer of Mac: Part One

First off, I want to welcome everyone to The Oilers Rig once again. I’m so excited to get this site rolling and talking hockey with all the great Oilers fans out there. I have a lot to get to, and we’ll cover it all in the coming days as we prepare for what will be a wild and wacky NHL draft weekend from Newark.

Focusing in on the Oilers, it’s not just going to be a wild weekend, but rather it will be a wild summer in Oil Country. New GM Craig MacTavish has his work cut out for him, and I fully expect that he will try and fill most of the holes on the roster this summer. It’s a lot of work, and it will no doubt be an interesting process.

This will start a three part series looking at the holes and making a to-do list for MacTavish. Tonight, we’ll focus in on what the Oilers have for roster holes, and the next two days we’ll look at possible candidates to fill those holes. 

Let’s start with what we know will be back for Edmonton. The Oilers will see their first line of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle return when camp opens, so there’s no need to worry about that. As for the second line, we know right winger Nail Yakupov will be back, and it’s expected center Sam Gagner will be back as well.

There’s been a lot of talk about who will man the left wing on this line. Magnus Paajarvi’s name has been tossed around, but I don’t think he’s ready, and I don’t think the Oilers quite see him in the spot either. This means Edmonton will be looking for a top six forward, and there are a few on the market.

To get specific here, Edmonton is going to be looking for a power-forward, a guy like Clarke MacArthur, or in an ideal world, Nathan Horton.

The bottom six? Well the bottom six is a total mess. Magnus Paajarvi SHOULD be the third line LW, but nothing is set in stone there. With Shawn Horcoff on the way out, the Oil will need a 3C badly. With Ryan Jones a UFA, I expect the Oilers to look at adding a 3RW as well, someone like, oh Cal Clutterbuck.

The 4th line will see Ryan Smyth return on the left side, but will need replacements at center and right wing. Eric Belanger and Lennart Petrell will both be moving on. The Oilers also need a spare forward to pair with Mike Brown, and ideally that would be a center.

Defensively, the Oilers will no doubt see Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz and Anton Belov in October, and it’s highly likely they see Ladislav Smid as well. After that? No promises. The Oilers are in need of a top four defender, ideally a top two guy. The means a trade could be looming, and someone like Nick Schultz or Corey Potter could be moving to bring that upgrade in.

The Oilers need one more guy to complete their top four group, and there will be options available to them, especially via trade. 

Add to that the team needs two goalies (backup and third man), and you can see the summer shopping list is quite expensive and quite long. 

Adding isn’t all that needs to be done either. MacTavish will have to get creative and move along two long time Oilers in Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff. Horcoff has already moved out of Edmonton and has been informed he can look for a trade on his own, while Hemmer will be shopped.

Horcoff served the Oilers well, but his contract simply isn’t worth it, and the constant losing is taking it’s toll. Moving Horc, IF they get a replacement, is the right thing to do. It’ll be tough, but it’s what needs to be done.

As for Hemsky, teams will be interested. While Ales has a tough injury history, Hemmer is an extremely talented player that is willing to go to the dirty areas. He just doesn’t fit on this Oilers roster anymore with Eberle and Yak in the top six, but I fully expect him to land on his feet, most likely out in the east.

Neither move will be easy emotionally on Mac, or easy to put together, but the writing is on the wall…..they need to be moved. 

So here it is, Craig MacTavish’s official summer to-do list (In order of importance):

  1. Top four defender, preferably a puck-mover
  2. Top six power-forward
  3. Trading Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff
  4. Signing a 3rd line center 
  5. Signing a 3rd line RW
  6. Signing….well a 4th line pretty much
  7. Adding a back-up goalie
  8. Adding an AHL goalie

It won’t be easy, and maybe it won’t all get done, but one thing is for sure, it is setting us up for one wild ride this summer.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at some forwards that can fill the holes in Edmonton. Follow me on twitter @Alex_Thomas14

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