I always enjoy the waiver wire this time of year. For bad teams like the Oilers, it seems to me that it's a vastly underused resource to acquire talent. It's extremely cheap ($90,000 or less), and there's often some pretty talented players available. Last season, the Oilers actually lost talent via waivers in training camp (Rob Schremp to the Islanders); this season, with ample cap and budget (?) space and a pretty flexible roster, the Oilers could potentially bolster one of their two positions of greatest weakness: their goaltending or their defense.
But before I talk about candidates, I wanted to discuss one of the objections raised most frequently to claiming players off of waivers: they generally aren't very good and can't be immediately assigned to the AHL. The rule is that if Team A puts a player on waivers and Team B (and only Team B) claims him, Team B can't then assign him to the AHL; if they try, Team A can reclaim him and immediately assign him to the AHL. While this is true, it's also true that after the player plays in 10 NHL games and remains on the NHL roster for 30 days that he can then be assigned to the AHL without Team A reclaiming him for their AHL roster (although Team A or some other team can claim the player and keep him in the NHL). Since the Oilers are very likely going to be a poor team this season, it makes sense to me for the Oilers to add a promising project or two to the blueline.
One such project is Tampa Bay blueliner Vladimir Mihalik who was put on waivers on Monday. Mihalik was drafted 30th overall by the Lightning in 2005, so he was once a pretty highly touted prospect who's only 23 years old (he'll be 24 in January). At 6'7'' and 240 lbs., the man is a load. He also had a pretty good season in the AHL last year, finishing in a tie for the team lead among Norfolk defenders (minimum 40 games played) in plus/minus at +6 while providing minimal offense. To me, it seems like the guy is worth a shot, especially for a team that's looking for effective defenders right in that age range. If, after a month-long try-out, the coaches don't like what they see, you can (try to) send him down to Oklahoma City, and the organizational depth has been improved. I know that I'd much rather use a roster spot on a guy like Mihalik than on a goon like Steve MacIntyre.