Since free agency started way back on Saturday, the Oilers have been accumulating minor league players at a pretty good clip. They’ve yet to sign anything that would start the season on the big club, and it’s getting hard not to notice.
David Desharnais (2-2-4 in 18 GP with the Oilers) was a deadline acquisition acquired for defenceman Brandon Davidson late in February of this year. Desharnais has signed a one year deal with the New York Rangers. Desharnais’ contributions with the Oilers weren’t all that irreplaceable, though he did have that big OT goal against the Sharks in the playoffs.
A quick shot at the depth chart on July 5th, 2017
Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jesse Puljujarvi
Drake Caggiula - Ryan Strome - Zack Kassian
Jujhar Khaira - Mark Letestu - Anton Slepyshev
Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson
Kris Russell - Matt Benning
Darnell Nurse - Eric Gryba
OUT: Jordan Eberle, Tyler Pitlick, Jordan Oesterle, David Desharnais, Benoit Pouliot
IN: Ryan Strome
- With the exception of losing Jordan Eberle, Edmonton hasn’t lost too much this offseason from the NHL roster. Unfortunately, the loss of Eberle is a big one. Eberle became a polarizing figure toward the end of his Oiler tenure, but 51 points in his worst full season since his rookie year is production that you’re going to have to replace. The Oilers have yet to replace him on the right side, which remains a constant source of consternation up to and including today. Is Ryan Strome good for 50 points? What about Jesse Puljujarvi?
- Jesse Puljujarvi is going to be given every chance possible to make this roster. If the Oilers don’t bring in a right winger in the next little while, he’s all but certain to make the big club, and I’ve got every reason to believe that he’ll be given top six minutes. The problem? His NHLe is about 30 points over 82 games right now, and I’m not real sure that chucking him in the deep end is the right thing to do yet. Here’s hoping I’m about 25 points light, else Iiro Pakarinen becomes a name everyone might become more familiar with.
- I’ve got new Oiler Ryan Strome on the third line next to Zack Kassian. I’ve got him starting at centre after listening to Chiarelli talk about how Strome will get an extended look down the middle. I’ve also got Drake Caggiula on this line, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Milan Lucic next to Strome and the freshly re-signed Kassian, though I don’t think Lucic is on the third line to open the season.
- I don’t feel great about the defence. Losing Andrej Sekera to injury and essentially doing nothing to replace the loss so far isn’t going to give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Maybe after the club signs Connor McDavid (hopefully later today) and figures out what the hell is going on with Draisaitl (hopefully five minutes after that) they can call up Cody Franson and make Gryba the 7D option. I doubt they deviate very much from what they’ve got here. The Oilers are fully committed to Kris Russell and his new four year deal. He’ll be getting a lot of meat next to Matthew Benning, who will be expected to take further steps forward this year.
- Cam Talbot is expected to pull the sleigh for the majority of the year again, and I think the club is 100% sold on Laurent Brossoit stepping in when necessary. So, about eleven games (that’s probably a lot actually)
- All is not lost. The Oilers are five days into free agency, and they’ve got some housecleaning issues to take care of with McDavid and Draisaitl. But they’ve got to do something on that right side. Going with what they’ve got is a huge leap of faith, and it makes good sense to have something locked down. We seem to have this conversation every year, but signing a Thomas Vanek or a Jaromir Jagr or even a P. A. Parenteau on the cheap would be a real good idea right about now.