The Oilers Rig

Oilers Offseason Moves Part 1

mact-slats

Well the trade deadline came and went yesterday and like many of us thought, Craig MacTavish never did pull of the bold move we’ve all been expecting since he took the team over last off season.  Now the excitement must wait until the offseason. What kind of splash can MacT make at the draft or in free agency? I’m going to put my armchair GM slippers on and make some moves of my own.

Successful teams build their organizations one of two ways, from the Goaltending out, or down the middle. The team already has a decent core of offensive forwards and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is becoming a very capable top line center. But the defense is in a terrible spot and because of that I’m going to build my Oiler team from the goaltending out.

Goalies

The goaltending is set for next season with the addition of both Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth. Scrivens is signed through the 2015/2016 season for a reasonable sum of 2.3 million per season. Fasth is signed through the end of next year at a cap hit of 2.9 million, which if everything we’ve heard and read about the Swedish goalie could be a deal. Having both goalies for 5.2 million is a major help going forward. No matter what MacT decides to do, be it trade or via free agency, the Oilers are going to be adding some big salaries to fill their needs.

The Defense

As mentioned above the defense for the Oilers aren’t good enough, they haven’t been good enough for a while either. Yesterday saw the loss of Cory Potter, claimed on waivers by the Boston Bruins and the trade of Nick Schultz to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fifth round pick.

As it stands now the only two current Oilers defensemen under contract for next year are team captain Andrew Ference and rookie Martin Marincin. Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz are RFA’s, Mark Fraser and Taylor Fedun are UFA’s.

I’ve taken over the reins and am pretending to be Craig MacTavish, so my first move is going to be to negotiate a contract with Jeff Petry. Petry is currently making 1.75 million/season and is due for a raise. I know that a lot of you don’t like Petry and think he is too much of a liability defensively. My mindset here is I am going to (or at least attempt) do enough to improve this team on the back end that we have seen the last of the days of Petry in the top 3 of defensive minutes and the idea will be for my coach to slot him in as a 4/5 defenseman.

As far as pay goes his agent is going to drive a hard bargain, Petry plays 21:30 a night, kills penalties and regardless of what I think and/or the fans thing I’ll agree to give Petry a raise to 3 million per season for 3 years. We are taking way 3 years of his ability to be an unrestricted free agent. When his contract is done it will be seen either as a deal money wise due to Petry’s positive development or the contract will be running out at the same time I’m due to sign RFA’s Darnell Nurse and Aaron Ekblad (if we are able to select him in this year’s draft). The contract will be seen as value around the league and at the end the option will be there to trade the player as a rental.

Step two will be to sign RFA Justin Schultz to a bridge contract. Justin currently leads Oilers d-men in ice time and points from the back end. He’s starting to develop into a decently rounded player and is going to want the sun and the moon. His potential is worth the money but there are still question marks on exactly what kind of player Schultz is going to be.

Because of all of this I am going to offer Schultz a two year bridge contract at 3.25 million per season.  He’ll be in the second pairing at least, and will be playing a ton of power play time. This signing will be a long and drawn out one, and likely not signed until the first week of August. Regardless it gets done though and the team has the three defensemen that will be returning to the roster.

Here come the trades and the signings…

At the draft I’m going to be working hard with Buffalo to acquire Tyler Myers, I’ve also had talks with Philly about Brayden Coburn but  the price is too much and I consider Myers to be a better player.

I end up sending Sam Gagner,  Martin Marincin and throw in the 2015 1st round pick (A hefty fee for sure but I want to improve now and have faith that the team will not be in a lottery draft position again next season). In return I get back Tyler Myers, Chris Stewart and a 2014 2nd round pick from the Sabres. BOLD.

Let me say this before I move on; anyone that knows me, follows me on twitter or has had a conversation about the Oilers with me in the last two months knows how hard it would be for me to trade Martin Marincin. I think he is on his way to becoming an excellent NHL defenseman. However much like the Magnus Pajaarvi for David Perron trade, I’m trading potential for right now. I would love nothing more to trade a different prospect, say Klefbom or Gernat but I think that Marincin would be the piece that completes the deal for Buffalo.

Ok so this leaves us with Myers, Schultz, Petry and Ference, and again I’m assuming the Oilers are lucky enough to draft Aaron Ekblad, and everything we’ve read says that Ekblad has the ability to step right into the NHL and be a significant contributor. One more signing to go.

The Edmonton Oilers have signed left handed shooting defenseman Nikita Nikitin to a 2 year 5.5 million dollar deal. This rounds out the top six and drastically changes the look of the defense. They are bigger, and would be a much harder to play against d-core.

I would also resign Taylor Fedun and Mark Fraser to be the 7th and 8th defenseman. Fedun is a guy that could play with any of the newly built defense and Mark Fraser adds toughness and another left handed shot on a right handed heavy team. Ekblad, Myers, Schultz and Petry are all right handed shots. These two signings also give the young Oilers defensive prospects more time to develop in the AHL, Klefbom, Gernat, Musil will only benefit and Darnell Nurse will get another season in Junior to grow as a player and a step closer to being and NHL capable defenseman.

Like I said this is what I would try and do. I am not an NHL general manager nor qualified to be one, I don’t know enough about winning although I once played on a team that went undefeated at a beer league tourney in Tampa Bay, but if there is to be big bold drastic change to this team then I hope that the defense would even look remotely this good going into next season.

I’d love to know what you think about this, tell me how bad or good my choices are, or even comment below with how you would build the defense if you were in MacT’s shoes. I’ll be back with another article soon where I’ll do the same thing with the forward group.

Thanks For Reading

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5 Comments

  1. DJ

    March 6, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I like it…gotta get better now! Wait much longer and Hall will be asking to move

  2. Geoff

    March 7, 2014 at 12:04 am

    marincin isn’t far behind myers and that 2015 1st round pick is going to have a ton of value, thats a bad trade for the oilers..think about this if myers was as good as his reputation is why would buffalo be willing to trade the giant young d-man.

    I agree they need to trade for some D and if its from buffalo i rather have ehrhoff

  3. GEO

    March 7, 2014 at 6:54 am

    Before they make any changes on defense they must get rid of steve smith and get a real defensive coach!

  4. Tyler

    March 7, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Myers will become expendable in buffalo, because they are going to draft ekblad and build around him and ristolinon and zadorov.

  5. Rick Raesler

    March 7, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I basically agree but believe that Marty is a keeper; we can see what is coming from him with each game and trading him is just plain dumb. I am also not convinced that leaving Nurse to play junior or the AHL is smart. He could impress right now with the Oil and will make the team out of camp next year. I would prefer to trade Peets over Marty.

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