2017-18 is over, and not a moment too soon. It was an especially frustrating season to be an Oilers fan after the success Edmonton had last year. The club went from an impressive 103 points to a rather less impressive 78 points in one calendar year.
We’ve got Czechboy, Shona, Patrick and Corey here to answer some of the tough questions from an especially tough season. This is the second of a two part series.
Where do we go from here?
4. Cam Talbot has one more year on his contract. Do you offer an extension or do you plan for a replacement in 2018-19?
CZECHBOY: I’d wait till Christmas to make a decision on Cam. I would also bring in a competitive backup and see how he deals with it. We cannot go in with Brossoit/Montoya and playing Cam 70 plus games as ‘Plan A’. Obviously, if Cam is around .920 then we try to sign him up. If he’s not then we’re really in trouble. I do get the risk of he’ll want more money at Christmas then now but I’m not willing to be the next 3 years on him being the ‘guy’ today.
SHONA: Look this isn’t going to be a fair answer. I don’t like Talbot. I haven’t ever liked Talbot. I didn’t like trading for what seemed like a career backup and I don’t really like the way the Oilers have developed goalie tandems since they signed Talbot. But that’s not really on Talbot. I honestly don’t see who you could get when you’ve put yourself in a cap situation where you might be paying players with Monopoly money because you’re out of space. The devil you know I guess.
PATRICK: Wait and see. If he plays well next year, I’d offer a new deal. Regardless, planning for the future should be done, anyway.
COREY: Looking at Talbot’s entire career, this season does look like the outlier. But I’d still be wary of signing him to an extension at the moment. Either way, the Oilers will need a more capable backup option next season. Take care of that, preferably with someone who’s relatively young. This doesn’t mean you can’t sign Talbot to a reasonable extension if the price is right. But you don’t want to over-commit. And a contingency plan is a must.
5. The Oilers’ scoring suffered when they traded Jordan Eberle to the Islanders. Is there a free agent out there that could help in 2018-19?
CZECHBOY: Can we trade Strome back for Eberle? My guess is that if we do sign anyone that they’ll be equal to or worse than Eberle but at a higher term and cap hit. Eg. Lucic was very expensive and hasn’t solved any Top 6 problems. My guess is we sign Maroon to a bad contract.
Looking at the upcoming free agents... That Tavares kid would look great in our top 6. Carlson would help our D a lot. James Neal would be an excellent addition. Kovalchuk would look great on our RW. Vanek would be a nice temporary fix. FTR - all these guys would cost us a fortune and Chia would overpay but they’d all help.
SHONA: Find someone cheap? There are a lot of players that could help the Oilers, but could the Oilers afford any of them right now? The cap situation is going to take some finessing already.
PATRICK: If Calvin DeHann wants to take a deal similar to Karl Alzner’s, you do it. Front load it the same way so it’s easy to trade. Other than that, I’d like the Oilers to just stay out of free agency for the most part.
COREY: As far as I’m concerned, the crown-jewel of the offseason, outside of Tavares, who the Oilers are too cap-strapped to even think about, is Mark Stone. He turns 26 in May, and only McDavid and Marchand had more non-powerplay points per game last season. He’ll very likely cost more than the Oilers are willing or able to spend, but he’s good enough to try to move some money around and make it work.
More realistic options are players like Thomas Vanek, who still looks like he’s got some good hockey left in him at 34, or Andreas Athanasiou, who would’ve scored 20 goals easily last year if not for a dip in his shooting percentage (9.5% on the year, 12.5% on his career).
One more under-the-radar option the Oilers should be looking at is Brandon Pirri. He’s 27, and has had trouble sticking in the league full-time, but his career 12.9% shooting percentage would look great on the wing of one of the Oilers’ three playmaking centers.
6. Finally, do Peter Chiarelli and (or) Todd McLellan stay on with the Oilers after the debacle of a season we just witnessed? Why or why not?
CZECHBOY: I think they both stay. I blame Chia for 90% of the problems and 10% bad luck. I’m willing to give McLellan a pass at this point as I think he had a really shitty team to work with. Not sure how a new coach will turn that team into contenders. I don’t think McLellan did a good job or anything but I don’t feel he is the problem. I would’ve liked Quenneville if he became available but he didn’t.
Chia should’ve been fired a long time ago and I don’t recall the last time I heard from a ‘Chia defender’. They are all gone and silent now. Somehow I guess he keeps his job and screws us up even more. The question needs to be asked though. Who replaces him and how does that new amazing GM fix all this? I feel like we are more than a few moves away as Chia set us back a few years.
SHONA: I would prefer they didn’t, but I don’t know think that I’m that lucky. Yes, it is all about me.
PATRICK: They probably come back. I can’t explain why. Todd McLellan didn’t get near enough out of his roster and the handling of Jesse Puljujarvi was disgraceful. The Special Teams were a disaster and I don’t know how anyone can have confidence in him after this season. I’d like him to be relieved of his duties, but I’m skeptical that it will happen.
Chiarelli is a different issue. I maintain that it was a necessary hire at the time just because this organization needed front-office structure worse than any franchise ever has; However, he’s overstayed his welcome by a few trades, already. He’s not going anywhere, I think we know this, so all we can do is hope he doesn’t make another bad trade.
COREY: They have to go. I have more patience of McLellan than Chiarelli, who I literally can’t stand the sight of anymore. But, really, how can either justify keeping their jobs. They’ve both failed miserably. This team should be the western conference’s answer to the Penguins by now, but instead they’re a laughing stock. Only the Oilers would consider keeping such failures (especially Chiarelli). For some reason, I think Chiarelli stays, but McLellan probably doesn’t. Just a hunch based on what’s been said in public by both. Chiarelli must have some dirt on Katz. What am I saying? Of course he does. Damn, this team is hard to root for. At least we have McDavid.
Thanks to all of our roundtable participants!