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Playing For Jobs

Digging into Todd McLellan's comments this morning.

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Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Some interesting comments from Todd McLellan this morning, who talked about the importance of players doing well over the last stretch of games. McLellan specifically mentioned those who will be restricted and unrestricted free agents this summer and referenced players from last seasons roster.

I did a study the other day and went back and looked at Edmonton's roster from last year and the number of players that played in an Oiler jersey at one point. And, if I'm driving home in my car and I'm saying to myself "well if it's not in Edmonton it's going to be somewhere else", I'd go do that homework. Because for a lot of them it wasn't somewhere else, it was nowhere. And we're in 28, 29, 30 range. Those players aren't quite as desirable as Stanley Cup champs even if it's on par. (Source: 630 CHED)

For reference, here's the list of UFA's and RFA's this summer (Source: General Fanager). McLellan did mention that even the top players need to do well over this last stretch, but we know moving guaranteed contracts is a lot tougher.

Player Position Age Cap Hit Current Contract Length Status (2016/17)
Nikita Nikitin D 29 $4,500,000 2 years UFA
Eric Gryba D 27 $1,250,000 2 years UFA
Adam Pardy D 31 $1,000,000 1 year UFA
David Musil D 22 $894,166 3 years RFA
Jordan Oesterle D 23 $767,500 2 years RFA
Adam Clendening D 23 $761,250 1 year RFA
Brad Hunt D 27 $600,000 1 year UFA
Luke Gazdic LW 26 $800,000 2 years RFA
Rob Klinkhammer LW 29 $725,000 1 year UFA
Zack Kassian RW 24 $1,750,000 2 years RFA
Iiro Pakarinen RW 24 $817,500 2 years RFA
Tyler Pitlick RW 24 $761,250 1 year RFA
Adam Cracknell RW 30 $575,000 1 year UFA

As for the players that did play for the Oilers last season and went nowhere soon afterwards, below is a list of players that dressed for at least 18 games in 2014/15 and who spent time in the minors or overseas in 2015/16 (Source: Hockey Database).

Player Position Games Played (2014/15)
Ben Scrivens G 57
Derek Roy C 46
Nikita Nikitin D 42
Martin Marincin D 41
Rob Klinkhammer L 40
Luke Gazdic L 40
Matt Fraser R 36
Mark Arcobello F 36
Keith Aulie D 31
Viktor Fasth G 26
Jesse Joensuu L 20
Steve Pinizzotto R 18

Now some of the players from last season, like Marincin and Arcobello and Scrivens, are seeing NHL icetime this season, but they're all still trying to establish themselves as regulars. They all have their flaws, but it's pretty likely their values took a hit playing for a terrible team last season.

The other thing to consider is that the players who lost their jobs last season were mostly depth players that were quite easily replaceable. At this point, the replaceable ones include Clendening, Klinhammer, Pakarinen and Gazdic, all of which have been in and out of the lineup. Both Kassian and Cracknell made some obvious errors in the last game, but have done alright otherwise. It's really this group of players that McLellan might have been referring to this morning, as the rest like Oesterle and Musil, are developing prospects that should continue seeing time in the AHL next season.