From Day 1, Chiarelli has had one consistent message regarding his vision of what he expects from his Oilers. Bigger. More physical. Tougher to play against. It doesn't take a genius (after all I'm the one writing this) to gather that Chiarelli wants to emulate how he built the Boston Bruins. As I sit here, recovering from an Easter dinner hangover I thought it'd be a fun exercise to put these two teams side by side and look at who Chiarelli might target to fit this mold.
The current Oilers roster for next season stands like this
Here's roughly what the 2010-2011 Bruins roster looked like
There's some ridiculous depth there. I'm a bit off with some of my Bruins roster. I recognize Seguin played a fair amount of his rookie season on the wing and was also a healthy scratch for much of the playoffs. When Horton was injured lines were shuffled. Either way this is I believe, an acceptable blueprint for how these Bruins were constructed, and can be used to map some option Chiarelli may look at for the Edmonton Oilers.
For this blog I'm going to focus on the forwards.
The Bruins had 4 very versatile forward lines.
The Lucic-Krejci-Horton line had a skilled center between two physical skill wingers.
A second line that was faster anda bit smaller, but guys who could play an agitators game in Marchand-Bergeron-Recchi
A veteran third line with one rookie - solid complimentary scoring.
Last, your typical big body defensively strong 4th line.
So how close are the Oilers?
Well they are and they aren't. They've got some pieces that are much better than that lineup, and plenty of pieces that... not so much. Let's start with the top line.
Well as far as top line centers go, I think the Oilers are going to be alright with McDavid in that spot. But who will be his wingers? To fit the Bruins model there should be two wingers who can play with size, use their body to physically punish the opposition, and create space. On the RW I think the Oil have an option in Leon Draisaitl. While he may never lead the team in hits, he's a large body who has shown his skill in using his size to cause turnovers and be strong on the puck himself. We have seen him successful in this position, albeit in a small sample size. During this period I was very impressed with his ability to make backhand passes when he was against the right side boards.
But a LW that can bring Lucic's skillset... hmmmm.... how about...Lucic?
It would be quite the story for Chiarelli to bring his prized big body player back onto one of his teams. The 27 year old is set to be a UFA this year and you can bet there will be plenty of teams interested in his services.
Line #2 is up next
Like many players from that Bruins team, it's difficult to find a player who matches Marchand's skill set. Currently on the Oilers roster, Pouliot would be the closest option, a year prior I would have said David Perron. At center Ryan Nugent Hopkins would be your best bet. RNH is still arguably the Oilers best two way forward. Injuries and illness have plagued Nuge's season and I believe it would be a huge mistake to trade him now, when his value is potentially at it's lowest. On the other wing Patrick Maroon has looked like a player rejuvenated. After collecting 13 points in 56 games with the Ducks this season he currently has 11 in 12 with the Oilers. Usually a LW, I wonder how difficult it would be for him to play the opposite side.
Line 3 will see some significant turnover.
Complimentary scoring has been an issue for the Oilers for almost a decade now. While the top 6 has had offensive firepower and a defensively responsible 4th line, the third line has been "everyone else." Once again, going by the Bruins blueprint we are looking for at least 2 veteran players, as well as a younger skill guy. A brief look at the UFA market leaves much to be desired, Chimera would fit the bill but I wonder if he would want to return to where his NHL career began. While not exactly a veteran player, Kassian does fit the Chiarelli mold and I would not be surprised to see him return. As for a younger skilled center, there were rumblings that Edmonton was interested in Brandon Pirri at the deadline. Could we see a deal made with his new team the Ducks?
The 4th line
Edmonton actually I believe has the pieces needed to make this line. Hendricks-Letestu-Pakarinen has the makings of an effective shut down line.
Where does that leave us?
To put that all together we would have
Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Lauri Korpikoski would be the regulars gone (one of those names is not like the others). If Chiarelli trades one guy from "The Core" fans will go nuts debating the merits, if he trades 2 (depending who you talk to 3) from that list... this could be a very interesting summer.
Keep in mind with this hypothetical lineup I've created; Lucic and Chimera are set to be UFA's this summer and could be had for $$$. Pirri is set to be an RFA. So if I have "traded" Hall, Eberle, and Yak then it's for something that isn't forwards.
Is this lineup better?
Debatable. It's going to be tough to take offensive talents like Hall and Eberle and say a team got better. However, I do believe this is a more well rounded lineup, capable of standing up to the physically grinding Western Conference. If Chiarelli wants to shake up the current foundations of this group, this would certainly be a way of accomplishing that. I'll post the options for the defensive pairings in a few days. It will be interesting to see how this roster looks when all is said and done.
Thanks for reading!