There is no doubt that there will be changes across the Oilers roster between now and October. The defence is in need of a massive overhaul, especially on the right side, and the forward group will likely be tinkered with in an attempt to acquire defencemen and to make cap space to potentially sign defencemen.
There's a good chance that Teddy Purcell, a free agent as of July 1st, will be moved at the deadline. There's also the chance that young talent like Jordan Eberle and/or Nail Yakupov could be moved out to acquire a defenceman. This leaves the Oilers management with a few options for the 2016/17 season. They could move Zack Kassian over to his natural side on the right and have him play with either Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid. The Oilers could also shift Draisaitl to the wing and slot in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to center him and Hall. Maybe Yakupov stays and moves up to the top six, but the way things are gong for him, and really the lack of ice time he's been getting, has me wondering if he even has a future with the club.
I really think, just based on the current roster situation, that the Oilers are going to be shopping for a right shooting forward who has experience playing in the top six, can drive possession, can attack the crease and can generate shots on a consistent basis. It's been made pretty obvious by the head coach that shot volume is important and playing an abrasive style in front of the opponents net is going to be important for team success.
One winger that the Oilers should consider is 27 year old David Perron, who played 116 games with the club between 2013 and 2015. Perron will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, coming off of a 4-year, $15.25 million contract he signed with St. Louis.
Perron produced well as an Oiler scoring 76 points (all situations), including a 29 goal campaign in 2013/14. He did this while being centered by Sam Gagner and Mark Arcobello, both of whom are currently trying to establish themselves as full-time NHL players. He went on to Pittsburgh where he started strong, but cooled off at the end of the 2014/15 season. He was recently dealt to Anaheim, where he's been playing predominantly on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Stewart, and has scored 13 points, 10 at even-strength, in 14 games. Below are his career numbers at even-strength.
There will definitely be options in the market this summer as players like Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo and Teddy Purcell will be available. What makes Perron stand out is that he's a right shot, he's only 27 and he shouldn't need a heavy contract in terms and dollars. He might even be a little undervalued at this point, as he's on his fourth team in four seasons and has developed a reputation of being inconsistent. But of course this could change if the Ducks make a run in the playoffs and Perron can continue to produce.
Whatever happens this season for Perron. the Oilers can't overlook his ability to not only produce points wherever he lands, but also his ability to drive possession and scoring chances. He does fluctuate season to season when it comes to these metrics, but when aggregating all of his games by the teams he's played for, we see that he's been pretty consistent.
Here we see that Perron had some terrible luck in the 86 games he played in Pittsburgh as the Penguins did better in terms of possession and scoring chances when he was on the ice, but for whatever reason, the goals weren't going in for him. I didn't post the Anaheim numbers since it's only been 14 games, but the numbers are well in to the positives, driven largely by a high shooting percentage. We can expect that to cool off and get closer to his career averages.
The other thing to consider is Perron's ability to generate individual shots on goal and scoring chances, which the Oilers have been largely lacking. Currently the Oilers rank near the bottom when it comes to most of the metrics, as they lack the ability to prevent shots on goal, but also lack the ability to consistently get pucks on net. Among forwards who have played at least 100 games over the past five seasons, Perron ranks above average when it comes to individual scoring chances (7.49), high danger scoring chances (3.47) (those in the slot) and shots on goal (7.28) per 60 minutes. Perron would easily be one of the best shot producers for the Oilers if he joined them today, ranking only behind Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov when it comes to these metrics.
If Perron is available this summer, the Oilers would have to seriously consider the option of adding him to the top six group of forwards. He plays an abrasive style, consistently attacking the net and can produce at a rate similar to Benoit Pouliot. Perron could potentially slot in on the top line with Hall and Draisaitl, who he played 129 minutes with in 2013/14, posting a 53.4% Corsi For percentage with the young German.
Perron should be a far more attractive option than Purcell, who will be 30 and has shown signs of decline in production. And he should come in much cheaper than Milan Lucic and Kyle Okposo who are both excellent candidates, but would command term and dollars. The key will be for the Oilers to sign someone that fits the style Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan are looking for, without taking up too much cap space as a few defencemen need to be acquired this summer.