Monday, June 20, 2016

Off-Season Outlook

So with the 2016 NHL entry draft going on this upcoming weekend, I figured I'd take the time to look ahead to the free-agency outlook for the Edmonton Oilers. Who might the Oilers either sign or trade for? Since their forward core is pretty much intact and as best as it could possibly be right now, so I'm only going to focus on the defence and goaltending of the Oilers.

Let's start with the defensive core of the team. Last season, the Oilers used 12 D-men;
1. Adam Clendenning
2. Brandon Davidson
3. Mark Fayne
4. Andrew Ference
5. Eric Gryba
6. Oscar Klefbom
7. Nikita Nikitin
8. Darnell Nurse
9. Jordan Oesterle
10. Adam Pardy
11. Griffin Reinhart
12. Andrej Sekera

Regardless of the perception of the Oilers defense in the past, this was the strongest defensive group for the Oilers since 2009-2010. However the injuries to key blue liners like Eric Gryba, Brandon Davidson and Oscar Klefbom hurt the potential of the Oilers blue line this season. As such, Peter Chiarelli hasn't hidden his desire for another veteran d-man to stabilize the Oilers blue line should a key defenseman suffer a long-term injury. Of course there are a few veteran d-men that will be on the free agent market this year, so it would be interesting to see who Chiarelli will try to pick up or even if he can pick someone up. A common name I've heard tossed around the grapevine is Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues, but again, we won't know once the free agency market opens July 1st.

Now on to the goaltending situation in Edmonton. At the 2015 draft last year, the Oilers made a trade and acquired goaltender Cam Talbot from the New York Rangers. Talbot was brought in to be the undisputed No. 1 goalie in Edmonton and he has not only embraced that role, but he has earned it. His play in the last half of the season AND at the IIHF tournamet cemented the faith that the Oilers had in him. They also agreed on a contract extension, hours after the Oilers beat the Flames 2-1 in a shootout. That same draft, the Oilers also acquired goaltender Anders Nilsson from the Chicago Blackhawks who stepped into the No. 1 position when Cam struggled in the early part of the season. However the Oilers ended up trading Nilsson to the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline and finished the season using back-up Laurent Brossoit. That being said, I think the Oilers could use a backup goaltender to help give depth at the goaltending position. There are going to be lots of available free agent goalies on the market this year, and I think it would be wise for Peter Chiarelli to get a solid back-up while Brossoit continues development with the Bakersfield Condors. In fact if you were to look at the current roster for the Edmonton Oilers, Laurent Brossoit doesn't appear in the goaltenders section. Nothing against him, but that just shows the Oilers aren't ready to use him in a back-up role yet.

Looking at all the names, there are a few people Edmonton would probably be interested though the question of money is always an issue. As much as I would like to see someone like Ben Bishop or Marc-Andre Fleury suit up in an Oilers uniform, Edmonton's reputation around the league that tends to have free agents avoid the Oilers GM altogether. That being said, I wouldn't mind seeing Anders Nilsson back in Edmonton. As I mentioned above, he did provide steady, solid, and consistent goaltending for Edmonton when Cam Talbot struggled early on. Really when it comes to goalies, Chiarelli has three questions to answers. Do Edmonton really need another goalie? Can they afford one? Do they have enough confidence in Laurent Brossoit to have him back-up Cam Talbot over an 82-game season?

What do you guys think? Let me know below.

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