The Oilers’ freakish 103 point breakout was the thing of magicians. Connor McDavid had a 100 point season, Leon Draisaitl broke out with 77 points, Patrick Maroon had his best season ever, and Cam Talbot stood tall in the net. Save for Tyler Pitlick and Darnell Nurse, the Oilers were able to avoid major injuries. A playoff berth and a series victory over San Jose (yay!) were highlights to a season I’m not sure anyone saw coming.
The Oilers have some window dressing in order to meet or surpass last season’s breakout. Really, it’s a small list. It’s only 4.5 things. You can keep it on a cocktail napkin. Here is your checklist for the offseason. Feel free to print it out and circle it as thing do (or do not) happen.
- Find someone to play 2RD.
This team traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson a year ago. While the debate still rages about the cost of the deal, there’s no doubt that Adam Larsson filled a big hole on the Oilers’ right side. The Oilers need someone else, and they’ll probably need to trade something of significant value in order to acquire a major player. The UFA line on defencemen is very thin this year, and unless Chiarelli goes yard for Kevin Shattenkirk, the Oilers will need to make some phone calls to a couple of different clubs. The Oilers will need to tread lightly, as they’ve got two big contracts to worry about after 2017-18. Colorado is in total rebuild mode, could some kind of a player+pick package find a way to shake Tyson Barrie from their roster?
- Find a suitable injury replacement for Andrej Sekera
Whatever mumblings you heard about 2015-16’s version of Andrej Sekera were whisked away last season. Sekera is a major player on the Oiler blue. He’s second to only Oscar Klefbom in time on ice on the left side, and the Oilers will need someone to fill his skates while he recovers from a torn ACL. With Sekera out until what could be early next calendar year, the Oilers need to find a suitable replacement for an integral part of the defence. I’m hoping this is a little better than just signing Kris Russell and throwing him on 2LD. What I’m really hoping that if this is Chirealli’s idea of fixing a problem, that’s it only for a year.
- Sign Connor McDavid and Leon Draisiatl the moment it becomes allowable.
This might have already happened, but I hope to hear how Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been extended forever and ever at 12:01 AM on July 1st. They’re going to make a boatload, and I want to hear about it as soon as I possibly can.
- Responsibly fill out the bottom six.
This is the easiest one of the list. If the Oilers find a taker for Benoit Pouliot, plug an actual NHL player on a short term deal in his place. Guys like Iiro Pakarinen (725K) are easy short term fixes for the fourth line. Gone are the days of three year deals for Ben Eager, we hope.
- Find replacement value for Jordan Eberle.
This one falls under the “and a half” category. There’s nothing written in stone that says that the Oilers have to deal Jordan Eberle, at least not in 2017-18. In a deal that will likely see them shed salary, they probably won’t get a tonne in return. IF the Oilers move Eberle this offseason, they’ll need to find someone who can play top six minutes and produce at a similar level, kind of like...how...Jordan Eberle is doing right now. There are a couple players who are pending UFAs (Patrick Eaves, Justin Williams, Radim Vrbata) who could come in on short term deals. Eaves and Vrbata shouldn’t come anywhere near Eberle’s cap hit.
Four and a half things. No sweat. Give me October already.