Ok Ok we all know that the market is a little dry and maybe looking like the Sahara Desert right now, but there are still plenty of NHLers out there without jobs. We have seen the top end talent go but there are still some warriors out there, some depth out there, heck even some projects out there. C'mon, hockey is these peoples careers and would definitely not take a club giving them a contract for granted.
That being said... Here is the list of the 5 free agents that could be most useful to the Oilers and why, plus a rating of 1-10 how much of an impact they would make to the team.
#5 - Brad Boyes
Boyes is a player that rejuvenated his career last year with the Islanders for a salary of $1 mil. He has always shown the talent to be a scorer but in this point in his career he has shown the ability to be a solid all around player while being able to play along side talent (like he did with Tavares) Sure he isn't a prototypical 3rd liner but I trust him more than Hemsky there and he has the ability to move up the depth chart when needed.
#4 - Manny Malholtra
Father time is not on Manny's side as he is 33 and he been a warrior for years. I would take a gamble for him to come in as he is another vet presence in the locker room and add depth down the middle. I watched countless games between Edm and Van and saw Manny put on clinics in the dot against us. Another player to help win draws is an added bonus. With Nuge's health a concern for the start of the season we look thin up the middle. I do not expect Malholtra to fill that spot but Eakins would have to find a solution within the team. No matter what I would pencil Manny in the bottom 6 forward group.
#3 - Simon Gagne
Oilers love having players with the same name so it makes sense (Shultzs, Ryans, Smy(i)ths). I would love to have a team full of Halls or Eberles, I feel they would all be good players. Anyways, yes Gagne isn't in the peak of his career and his health is an issue. But hear me out. He was once one of the most coveted 2-way players in the NHL. He could teach our young stars so much just like Jagr did for Giroux and the kids in Philly. He is still capable of playing smart hockey and here he would have little pressure to put in numbers. If I had to chose between Gagne and Hemsky its a no brainer. Gagne offers way too many intangibles to overlook signing him at the right price.
#2 - Tim Thomas
2 words. Dubnyk and Labarbara. Those 2 words sort of scare me if we want to be an elite hockey team. Sure Dubey is ok, but he is not quite there in my opinion and is too inconsistent for the Oilers to go anywhere this season. I would rather see Thomas and Dubnyk split games 50/50 than what we have right now. Timmy isn't a young pup but he could handle a half work load nicely. Not to mention he is an absolute competitor and would fire up the boys. Plus its less pressure on Dubey so its a win-win.
#1 - Damien Brunner
How is this guy not locked up yet??? He has been a professional for years at the age 27 and he came to the NHL the most established club in the Red Wings and fit right in. That means he plays smart, mistake free, 2-way hockey. If anything he learned a ton from the likes of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. The main reason he could help us is he is capable on the wing and at center. Again, with Nuge unsure if he will start the season that adds the best available player till fill in 2nd line center to the team without having to shuffle Hall or Perron to center. Brunner is an ideal signing and could come at the price he got last year. $1.35 mil is a bargain for a player the Oilers could really use.