I appologize in advance. I am writing on a different site now and this blog isn't as well structured as it could be. Hopefully it is still worth reading.
Oilers Brass is scheduled to meet during the 5 day all start break. They are going to discuss whether there is any hope for them this season. TSN is quoting Chiarelli is not being optimistic about them deciding to be buyers coming into the trade deadline. With the Oilers going into this break currently losing 6/7 games, it is easy to predict they will be sellers this year. As the Oilers look at their future I wanted to take a chance to arm chair GM my personal opinion.
As a note to this, I am going on the assumption that Chiarelli will stop being completely inept as a GM. I would also like to say the the Oilers have had a huge drop this season and there is a chance they can lay it at Chiarelli's feet. I would like to think the Oilers will take the time next week to change GMs so they can do their best going into the trade deadline. The Oilers have options in terms of GMs and could go with someone in house until the off season. Former GM Wayne Gretzky is among numerous obvious choices for the Oilers but I doubt it would be him as he was quoted as saying he didn't like the GM role.
The Oilers need to address their top 6 players and their blue line. They have recently fixed the back up goalie situation with Montoya, who is not amazing but he is an improvement. Montoya has one year left and that will buy the Oilers time to address their needs in net next year (which basically means another backup as Talbot still has plenty of years left in him).
I would expect the Oilers to trade Maroon, Letestu and Cammelari. The Oil will need at least one top 6 forward and these three will help make room for that player and Yamamoto who should be able to walk onto the team next year.
The Oilers have been terrible at addressing their needs in the past. It is a huge part of why they did a big contract with Draisaitl rather than the much more obvious bridge deal that most teams do. When it came time to finally extend Draisaitl's contract the Oilers had already given all power to him by not improving the team at all in the offseason. In fact they traded their third highest point producer so the team looked and is worse than last year. Whether you like Draisaitl's contract or not, he had the ability to basically name his price at that point. They Oilers could have not signed him and have him be a hold out but either way they would have had to agree to his price sometime in October since the Oilers need a decent winger and they really don't have one without him.
The Oilers have a full blue line and with the exception of signing RFAs Nurse and Benning, they have at least three years left on their top 4. Problem here is that the Oilers roughly 18 mil for their top 2 pairings and it is one of the worst blue lines in the NHL. To top that off, the players they would want to part with, Sekeras and Russell, have NTCs.
I want to be clear that trading Sekeras is a want, not because of talent but because he is getting 5.5 mil and Nurse could permanently bump him to the third paring. That is a lot of money to pay a 5-6 defender. They would need to take a bad contract back if they were going to trade him and if they can get him to waive his NTC. There are ways to motivate players to agree to being traded and I think the Oilers could put that pressure on him. However, even if they did, I don't see a market for him. He is also in a weird spot because they don't really win anything by buying him out. The cap hit they would retain is lower than it would cost to replace him. He is not terrible, just his contract is.
As for Russel; He is terrible and his contract might be the worst signing the Oilers have ever made. No one is taking him at 4 mil a year and he is not even worth the cap hit they would be stuck with if they bought him out. Which is something the Oilers should do but won't as long as Chiarelli is GM.
There are plenty of options available to them. Barrie is one that will most likely be done before the trade deadline and would be a great addition but the Oilers don't have anyone they can trade of that value. Plus Roy is a tough guy to trade with as he tends to overvalue his players. That is why Landeskog and Barrie are still on the team as they were being very openly shopped the last two offseasons.
There are options for the Oilers in the offseason and I like to think if the price is right, they will make the move before the deadline so they don't have to worry about it. However the asking price for a future UFA is rumored to be high. For example Evander Kane would be a great replacement for Maroon. The 26 year old Vancouver native plays a big game with great offensive numbers. Easily an improvement. However TSN's Pierre LeBrun believes that Buffalo will be asking for a first round pick, a prospect and a conditional pick if he resigns. Which is a huge price for what might be a rental in a season where the Oilers look to be a bottom 5 team in the league.
This is where a good GM would come in handy. There will be some players that can fill holes being offered in the next month and by trading for them early, rather than waiting for the trade deadline, is something that should be looked at. Still the Oilers don't have much to offer in a trade. Maybe their 2019 first round pick or this years second round but the first round pick they get this year should get them an amazing prospect.
Taking a quick look at the draft and the Oilers first round pick as this is also their most valuable asset that they could trade. Smart money is on the Oilers finishing somewhere between third and fifth. Arizona and Buffalo seem to have locked up the last two spots. With the lottery in place the Oilers would have a decent chance to pick top 3 but they could also fall as far as eighth. This years draft provides a lot of options for the Oilers as there are some extremely talented players. Lets take a quick look at who I think will be the top 8 so it is clear that this pick should only be moved if it brings an incredible player back. They picks in my predicted mock draft:
1. Rasmus Dahlin (LD) is obviously going to go first. A franchise defender and without a doubt the player the Oilers would take if they won the draft lottery.
2. Adam Boqvist (RD) is a fast and gifted offensive defender. Something the Oilers need for they PP. He plays a big game and will be picked if he is available when the Oilers draft.
3. Andrei Svenchnikov (RW) is a Left handed RW so easily able to play either wing. He is a fast player with huge offensive talent. He plays a big game and he might be the most NHL ready forward in the draft. He is ranked second by almost every prediction I have seen except ISS who has him at third.
4. Brady Tkachuk (C/LW) is said to be a very similar and maybe more talented version of his brother Matthew Tkachuk. He is fast, plays a great two way game and can play any forward position. An obvious option of the Oilers.
5. Filip Zadina (LW) he is a fast two way players that has an incredibly accurate shot. He had 7 goals and 8 points in 7 games with the Czechs in the World Juniors this year. He also has 25 goals and 48 points in 33 games in the CHL. He might be the most well rounded player in the draft and there is little gamble when selecting him. He is already an incredible player.
6. Evan Bouchard (RD) He is a fast, agile and very mobile defender. Known for his hard work ethic he is said to be a great two way defender. He plays a big game and has a huge offensive tool box currently with 49 points in 40 games with the London Knights.
7. Oliver Wahlstrom (C/RW) He has a big frame and plays a physical game and is already roughly 205 lbs at 17. ISS labels him as a "Natural goal scorer" and he would provide them options up front.
8. Noah Dobson (RD) I am going off book on this because I am writing from an Oilers perspective. Hockeyprospects.com has him listed at their 9th ranked player but after that a bunch don't predict him to be in the top 20. The 6'3 defender is one of the larger players scheduled to go first round. The thing holding him back is his skating. Although he is very agile, he lacks the speed of the other top ranked defenders. With that said he has great hockey sense and positioning. He has a huge shot and although known for his defensive ability he has 39 pts in 41 games in the CHL this year. He is a reliable defender and with his offensive upside, he would be a great addition for the Oilers as they can develop him to be ready to take Russel's spot in a couple years.
All of these are great prospects so the thought of trading the first pick to for anyone other than an established player sounds crazy. Definitely not for what maybe a rental.
Problem again comes back to the Oilers brass and their unwillingness to part ways with Chiarelli. I can think of countless teams that would fire a GM at this point after taking a team poised for a playoff run after last season and putting them back in the bottom 5. He got lucky on Talbot and that is the only good thing he has done so far. If they decide to keep him the there is no mystery to what he will do. He will continue to do desperate moves to try to improve the team but he is inept at negotiating. He traded Hall for Larsson which is still listed on numerous sites as the worst trade in NHL history. However you feel about either player, it was not an even trade straight across. There were numerous UFAs and other defenders being shopped at the time. Plus Hall's value was high coming off the gold medal World Championship team where he demonstrated his defensive ability. Chiarelli traded their third best forward in Eberle last year and got nothing for him. They got just Strome for him and that was a team who was known to be shopping Hamonic. The trade there was obvious and it should have brought Hamonic with Strome.
That is what most people don't take into account when evaluating Chiarelli's moves. He didn't need to trade Hall. The contract was good and trading him opened a hole in their roster. A hole he filled with Lucic for the same cap hit but for some reason a NTC as well. Lucic is no where near Hall in Talent. Eberle too. They traded for Strome who wasn't even remotely close in talent. Which forces the Oilers hand in terms of keeping Draisaitl on the wing. Now going forward they will need a top 6 right winger.
The next trade will be Nuge and the return will somehow be less than nothing. He has built a team with two forwards and Nuge is the odd man out. Now I personally think that Nuge might need to be traded. They have McDavid and Draisaitl down the middle, the team could really use a top winger instead. However I don't trust his ability to get anything for Nuge. Oilers need a top 6 LW and they need to upgrade one of their RW players.
They have Yamamoto but I think he is two years still from being a legitimate top line player. I think he could be a great fit on line 2 or 3 next year though. They have Lucic on the left side as well but I think he has proven that he is a career second line winger. The next best on the left side is probably Tyler Benson, who somehow got passed on for the World Juniors. With his numbers he could be ready for a third line as early as next year. They would be set if they could get rid of Lucic and add an actual top line LW player.
On the right side the Oilers have Puljarvi who is looking better and better the more he plays. I think again it wouldn't be fair to him to expect top line minutes for another year at least. Which isn't bad since they can keep Draisaitl on that wing.
I mentioned Kane would be a great answer and if he hits the UFA market I hope the Oilers would be kicking tires to see what it would take to get his rights. Still there are a lot of options in the offseason. Right now it is tough to say who since a bunch of the UFA's like Tavaras will resign with their current club. Others might not be enough if you grab just one. For example Hornqvist and Perron are solid wingers with little gamble. They should be available at a fair price and could play top 6 minutes but the team either plays established veterans and develops their young guys slowly or they need a big name.
Also Vanek will be only 33 and he has signed two very reasonable 1 year deals with Detroit and Vancouver. He could provide them options as he plays either side and he would have a reasonable cap hit. If they can add a veteran winger with some actual skill on a short term deal like this, it can keep them competitive while Benson and this years top pick are developing.
There are options on the UFA list, the Oilers just need to find a GM that can sign them.
As always, the blue line is the big problem. They need someone to take Sekeras with his horrible contract. I think getting him to waive his NTC is not as hard as people believe.
After that, they need to buyout Russell who might actually have the worst contract since Holik got 9.6 mil to play with the Rangers in 2002-2003. No one is taking Russel even if you the Oilers keep the bulk of his salary. The guy is brutal. If the Oilers are going to compete they will have to deal with Russel as he is not a second tier defender. Buyout is not ideal but it might be the only option to free up a little cap space to replace him. Unless they take a bad contract in return.
I think the part of the Oilers problems could be solved by a pending UFA from Alberta. Thirty two year old offensive defender, Mike Green. Oilers didn't appear to go after him last time he was a UFA but he would be a great option if they were able to get rid of Russell. Green's best years are most likely behind him but the Oilers need a player on the blue line that can add offence for their PP and not be a liability defensively. Still I think the best fit would be Barrie but they don't have the assets to trade for him.
I think a good GM would go on a selling spree before the trade deadline. Part ways with Sekeras, Strome, Maroon, Letestu and Cammelari. Grabing picks/prospects for them. Then they can move the picks around if they want to move up or down in the draft or trade the picks for a player with some talent to play either top RD or second line LD. As well as a third line center and a top 6 LW. Then buyout Russel in the offseason.
They are going to finish near the bottom this season anyways, they might as well sell off their three pending free agents and part with some cap space. This allows them to go into the draft and the UFA market this summer with a clear picture of what they need and some actual assets to get them.
This however all comes down to the Oilers firing Chiarelli next week when the Oiler's brass sit down to look at the teams future.