Last post I marvelled at the fact that the Oilers are firmly ground into a playoff spot. They're ahead of the Flames by nine points, which at this point in the season is a good enough reason for me to start thinking about the future.
While the Oilers are looking good in third place in the Pacific (one point out of first, mind you), there's definite room to improve. A brief review...
The Oilers have seen Cam Talbot appear in 43 out of 49 games so far this season. Barring anything sensational, he'll make it 44 out of 50 tomorrow night when the Oilers visit Anaheim. Talbot has responded well to his bombardment of starts, posting a .919 SV%. He's also the goaltender that's seen the most ice time in the NHL. He's headed to play over 70 games this season, which...well, it's quite a lot.
SHOULD THE OILERS GO GET A BACKUP GOALTENDER?
Jonas Gustavsson was brought in at the beginning of the unrestricted free agency period to back up Talbot, and it proved disastrous. Now Laurent Brossoit mans the pipes behind Talbot. He picked up his first career win on Saturday night against the Flames, though his NHL experience remains quite limited at 7 total games played.
The most controversial offseason move was the one to move star winger Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for the services of a top four righty in Adam Larsson. We've assessed this trade to no end, and while I think that the Oilers sold very low on Hall, they received a quality player in return in top four defenceman Adam Larsson. They struck gold on Matthew Benning. Andrej Sekera has clearly emerged as the team's most valuable defenceman this year, and before his injury occurred, there arrows are pointing in the right direction for Darnell Nurse. Kris Russell was brought in on a one-year deal after no team would bite on a longer term, and he can be effective if sheltered.
SHOULD THE OILERS GO GET A DEFENCEMAN?
I touched upon Kevin Shattenkirk yesterday and the possibility of him being a rental player for the Oilers' upcoming push into the Spring. (I'm not saying the P word yet). The club has used Eric Gryba as their seventh defenceman on some nights, and while you're seventh defenceman is, usually, say, your seventh best defenceman, there's a very good argument that's to be had for an expiring rental that can shoot pucks from the right side. And while Shattenkirk looks like a fun rental player, there are a couple more options (although slightly less attractive) options out there.
There's no discussion that Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are this team's 1-2 down the middle. With Leon Draisaitl playing next to Connor McDavid on the top line, it leaves a couple of questions open for the third line. Drake Caggiula had an impressive training camp that led to him being on the 23 man roster after the final cuts were made. More impressive was the fact that he did it while recovering from a hip injury sustained in a preseason game. The undrafted forward was out for a month. Since returning, he's scored nine points (3-6-9) in 31 career NHL games and he's currently alongside a weird mixtape of Zack Kassian, Anton Slepyshev and Milan Lucic.
SHOULD THE OILERS GO GET A THIRD LINE CENTRE?
Caggiula is a player that you can move to one of the wings if you bring in another centre. I don't know how long Anton Slepyshev has on the 3RW, so there's a chance that Caggiula could be moved there if the club were to bring in a C. There's that Lucic fellow on the other side, and unless he's moving up for Benoit Pouliot, I don't think they're gonna scratch him any time soon.
Specifically, the right wing. With Draisaitl on the right side, it doesn't show how glaringly poor this position was at one point this year. Draisaitl-Eberle-Slepyshev (for now) and Kassian doesn't look nearly as bad as having two big question marks on the right side, and it also helps that Draisaitl and McDavid are clicking well right now.
SHOULD THE OILERS GO GET A RIGHT WING?
I like Slepyshev a fair bit, but if the club is going to be serious about pushing for the second season, it stands to reason that you're probably going to be looking for something more than six points (3-3-6) in 32 career games. After backup goaltender, I think this would be the easiest position to fill, especially on a player with an expiring contract.
I think it's a good argument that all four of these positions could use an upgrade, but let's narrow it down to just one.
Which one do you make?