If one was to look at McLellan's list of areas his team needs to improve...well it would be a very long list. However, it's probably fairly safe to say that near the top of that list would be the PP.
One of the things that excited many people when it was announced that McLellan would be the Oilers next coach was what he could do for the PP. While in San Jose McLellan's Sharks were a consistent top 10 team when it came to PP%. Unfortunately, despite all the supposed elite offensive talent the Oilers have in their top 6, the PP has been relatively ineffective.
This is in large part to how McLellan and his staff want to run their PP, with a defenceman quarterbacking everything, starting with the puck in the defensive end and bringing a strong shot from the point in the oppositions end. There is no one on the current Oilers roster who fits that description.
Many names have been tossed around for who the Oilers can target as a top pairing D-man, Hamonic being the most discussed. However if one was to look at the 19 points Hamonic has amassed, not a single one has come on the powerplay (although he does have a shorthanded goal).
Here are 5 players the Oilers could target as potential solutions to the powerplay.
We'll start with another player who has been connected to the Oilers. Anaheim has an abundance of young talent on their back end. With more well rounded players such as Hampus Lindholm or the emergence of players like Josh Manson, Vatanen could be on the table as he is an RFA. It's rumored he's looking for north of 5 million which might be too much for Chiarelli.
While not the Coyotes defenceman that most people would want, Stone is an interesting player. The 25 year old, who is an RFA at the end of this season currently has 33 points. While he does not have a single PP goal, he does have 13 assists on the PP. A couple of other points worth noting, he's done most of this on the second unit behind OEL. As well, despite the fact that the Coyotes have fallen down to earth in the last couple month, Stone has still managed to produce, scoring 9 points in his last 15 games.
Third on our list is...you guessed it... another RFA. After splitting time in both the AHL and the NHL last year, Dumba is enjoying his first full NHL season with 24 points in 73 games. Half of those points have come on the PP with that number also split, 6 PP goals and 6 assists. While I can't imagine the Wild wanting to part easily with a young skilled player like Dumba cap issues may be a concern and allow for a different GM to take advantage.
Krug is a bit different than the others as he is a left side defenceman, which the Oilers have an abundance of, what they need is a right shot. However Krug's offensive capabilities still bring an aspect the Oilers are missing. Like Stone, Krug has not scored on the PP but he does have 15 assists. Overall Krug has 36 points on the season.
For my last pick I decided to go a bit of a riskier route. Last season Weber recorded a 21 point season with 8 of those points (5 goals 3 assists) on the powerplay. This season the Canucks have been a tire fire. On top of that Weber has been injured and bounced around the lineup, being a healthy scratch many nights and also cleared waivers earlier in the season. Now that I've given him that glowing endorsement I do believe there is still a player there. Weber is a UFA this season and could be a very cheap option to bring in on the bottom pairing.
Assuming that Chiarelli is able to make a deal to bring in Hamonic and let's say he brings in Michael Stone. Edmonton's defence could look like this next season
By no means is it an all star defence however it is still a vast improvement over what the current roster has. There are a variety of other potential options out there, Barrie and Shattenkirk come to mind as options that could also play top end minutes. It will be up to Chiarelli to make the most of his cap space and bring in guys McLellan believes can help him run the systems he wants to.
Thanks for reading!