Archive for 2016-07-10

WHAT SHOULD THE EDMONTON OILERS DO WITH JESSE PULJUJARVI?

It seems like everyone is discussing Jesse Puljujarvi. On Wednesday, he signed his entry-level contract with the Oilers making him an official part of the roster. It also means we can talk what-ifs. Within minutes, bloggers and media started projecting, guessing, and of course, based on Edmonton's history with high-end draft choices, second-guessing what the Oilers might do.

http://www.eliteprospects.com/playergallery/152117/2016_02_26_jesse_puljujarvi_karpat-1x.jpg

Will he earn a spot out of training camp and stay in Edmonton to start the season? Will he start in the AHL? How healthy is he? Would the Oilers consider bringing in a temporary right winger to give Puljujarvi the time he needs? Everyone seems to have an opinion or is asking the question - What do the Edmonton Oilers do With Jesse Puljujarvi?

Jonathan Willis wrote a piece for the Edmonton Journal.
Jason Gregor had something to say at Oilersnation.com
I even got in on the action over at Oilonwhyte.com 


Most are in agreement that based on his skill set and his physical presence, Puljujarvi seems NHL ready. He should have a respectable season and he'll be given plenty of opportunity playing with a skilled forward group in Edmonton. If he starts in Edmonton, it wouldn't be a surprise. Yet, could a respectable season be turned into a successful season with the proper player management and development? There are definite advantages to starting Jesse Puljujarvi in the AHL.

THE AHL


The AHL, a league Puljujarvi may likely dominate, is a league that will get him ready for the North American game. He'll be inundated with ice-time, he'll be used in multiple situations and he'll be prepared by a coaching staff that can relay messages as directed from above. The AHL will be his playground, preparing him for a successful NHL career. When he's called up, it will be because he's earned it; and once called up, he'll likely do whatever it takes to stay.

The benefits of slow-playing Puljujarvi's rise to stardom, for the player, appears obvious. At the same time, the Edmonton Oilers have everything to gain and literally nothing to lose. Beyond what it can do for Puljujarvi's development, delaying Puljujarvi's debut may provide the Oilers some much-needed cap relief and force the Oilers to obtain another right wing option with proven ability to produce at the NHL level.

OPTIONS


Free agency still includes some keepers. Jiri Hudler, Brad Boyes, and Radim Vrbata are all still available, short-term solutions. I'm a firm believer in acquiring tradeable assets and any one of these players has shown a fairly consistent ability to be productive. From year to year, their contributions may waiver, but they're proven NHL'ers.

What would you do? After all, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.



Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

RIGHTY/LEFTY POLICE - LOOKING AT AVAILABLE RIGHTIES

If we're to believe Peter Chiarelli, the Edmonton Oilers are overflowing with lefties and in search of one more right-handed defenceman. The market isn't bare, but it isn't for buyers. Let's take a look at every viable option, with a little rumor to boot.

http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site569/2014/0929/20140929__140930wildrep-dumba.jpg

Matt Dumba


Rumored to be available in trade, Dumba was drafted seventh in the 2012 NHL entry draft. He seems to be progressing, but mostly as a one-trick pony. Smaller in size, but playing with an edge, he possesses a powerful shot from the point; but his defensive game is suspect. Dumba tallied 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points last season. He may be worth a look if spare parts are going the other way, but not a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Willie Mitchell


Likely too old to play where the Oilers would want him in their depth chart, Mitchell would bring immediate leadership to a young team. He's still available on the free-agent market, and likely on the cheap. He played only 46 games last season with one goal. We could see him announce a retirement this summer if he can't pick up a new contract.

Cody Ceci


There's some trouble in the water in Ottawa and Ceci could be looking for a new home. Issues potentially stem from an inability of the two sides to find a suitable contract situation. Still young, Ceci plays regular time on the penalty kill and is growing as a young defenceman, having taken a bit of a jump in productivity once paired with Dion Phaneuf. 10 goals, 16 assists in 75 games for the Sens last year means he tallied his second consecutive twenty-plus point season in the NHL. Again, if the ask is Nugent-Hopkins, I pass all day long and twice on Sundays, but Ceci is a good young defenceman.

Kyle Quincey


Still out there on the UFA market. Never did more offensively than the season in L.A. where he tallied 38 points, but he's a responsible two-way defenceman. He was brought up in the Detroit system and has the ability to perform well, but not in your top-four if you're a competitive team, like the Oilers are trying to become.

Justin Schultz


Just re-signed with Pittsburgh this morning, one year and $1.4 million. Did we really believe there was a snowballs chance in...

Luke Schenn


Highly touted and extremely overrated for a long time, Schenn now has this cloud that seems to follow him around, yet, he's not a bad defenceman. Schenn projected to be a shutdown defenceman, so he likely won't produce the offence the Oilers are looking for in a righty, but if he goes unclaimed on the UFA market, there are worse options available. He's never potted more than 22 points in a single season.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/hockey/

Dan Boyle


He's just too old...isn't he? At 40, it seems like the game is passing him by, but perhaps, in a limited powerplay role, where he made a career out of running them, he could be useful. Boyle was able to get into 74 games last season with the Rangers and had 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points. He's about 3rd on my list of phone calls, but I just don't see Boyle looking to join an Edmonton team that isn't going to win it all this season, as this season may be Boyle's last if he gets another contract.

Jacob Trouba


I don't believe Trouba to be as available as some rumors might suggest and he'd be a costly get. Trouba has had an uneven, but young and promising career in the NHL to date. He shows flashes of brilliance, puck-rushing  skill, and all-around talent, but some real inconsistencies. His last two seasons have been a dissappointment after an amazing rookie campaign and his offensive totals have dropped. I don't think it means there isn't a player there. Is he a franchise defenceman in the making? That's a pretty big gamble if you're trading away a real good asset to obtain him.

James Wisniewski


There's some steam in Edmonton for this player. Seems like fans and media have a crush on the idea of Wisniewski as a stop-gap, backup option if a big fish can't be landed. Offensively, he's gifted and had seasons where he's looked like an offensive ace, but he's got defensive, control and injury issues. He's the kind of player, that if healthy, has every chance to rebound and put up big offensive numbers in the right situation. If he does and you make the playoffs, you'll look like a brilliant GM for taking the gamble. If you aren't a playoff team, and Wisniewski has a good year, he's a tradable asset at the deadline. And if both fail, well you spent very little to obtain his services. Worth a shot and makes some sense for the Oilers.

Tyson Barrie


The big fish. He's not going to wow you defensively, but his offence is top-notch. He's an elite five-on-five producer and would solve Edmonton's top-pair right-handed offensive issues, including the number one spot on the powerplay. His offensive ability is scary good and you have to wonder why Colorado is having issues with this player. Patrick Roy must be on something calling him a number five because he isn't that, he's much better. Any coach will use him in particular roles and offensive starts only because again, he won't be your defensive workhorse.

Justin Faulk


I think it would take an arm and maybe a leg to get this player out of Carolina, yet for some reason, Faulk news doesn't seem to go away. Carolina does have a deep blueline and maybe Faulk appears expendable, but that's a pretty big risk if I'm Carolina. Faulks averaged over 24 minutes a game - two minutes more than any other Hurricane defenceman. He also had 12 powerplay goals. Faulk is exactly the type of player Edmonton could use. On a bad team, Faulk is easily a number one. On a good team, with offensive depth, a two/three. One of the better, lesser known defencemen perhaps available by trade, but probably not really.

Kevin Shattenkirk


See Justin Faulk for a price tag and then multiply that by two. St. Louis, despite all the buzz surrounding the trading of Shattenkirk this summer, the Blues seem to be in no hurry to move him and have asked for the sun and the moon. He's a powerplay wizard and can carry the puck, but he's not going to be your shutdown defenceman, often allowing opportunities against. Pair him with the right partner and he is likely a top two in a decent list of offensive blueliners potentially available.

Dougie Hamilton


Would the Flames trade him after the blockbuster they did last year to obtain him? He was a slight let-down from his expectancy in 2015-16, so there are some murmurs that he could be had via trade, but I don't think it's likely and less likely to Edmonton. Hamilton will get at least one more season to rebound a bit in Calgary and deservedly so.

P.K. Subban


Oh right... that train already left the station.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.



Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

  

THE NUGE - STAYING THE COURSE

The Edmonton Oilers should not trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Not for Codi Ceci, not for Matt Dumba, not even for Tyson Barrie.

There becomes a point where trading from a position of strength to fill a position of weakness makes sense. That said, it only makes sense, when in doing so, you do not create a new position of weakness.

As much as it strains people to say it, Taylor Hall was a tradable asset. No, there wasn't a left-wing on the Oilers that pushed the river the way Hall did; or one that will replace Hall's offense, but with Maroon, Pouliot, and Lucic, the Oilers weren't hurting for players of skill who could play on a top line with Connor McDavid. That meant the Oilers could target a player - one that was traditionally harder to obtain in the NHL - and attempt to fill a major position of weakness in their top-four defense by moving from a position where they had a ton of backup.  Moving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is not the same thing.

Photo courtesy of http://oilersnation.com/uploads/Image/nugent-hopkins_940-8col.jpg

Free agency tends to make decent left-wingers available. Look around the current market and you'll see a number of offensive and skilled left-wing options are available to the Oilers, should they need to add one prior to the start of this season. Centers are not as easy to find.

Despite the depth that it appears the Oilers have, one injury could mean big problems. Both Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid are going to be big-time players in the NHL - McDavid likely already there. But, having only those two as your center options, at their age, is a lot to ask. Nugent-Hopkins brings some experience, defensive, two-way awareness and the ability to be flexible in your line combinations that removing him from the equation does not.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is also clearly a gifted offensive weapon. With two fifty-plus point seasons under his belt, last year was an anomaly. His low point totals had more to do with being unhealthy than it did any sort of step-back in skill. He wasn't right with injuries and when he was playing, was often asked to take a more defensive role, to which he became a much more well-rounded player.

His ability to play the penalty kill and the powerplay is a unique skill for most centers. He's the type of center the Oilers don't have two of. Trading him means opening a crater-sized hole when some powerplay defensive help is available on the market. That powerplay point-man may not be a permanent solution, but I don't sacrifice my center depth to make a move I can repair in other ways. I also don't sell Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at his lowest value, which he currently is.

Trading Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Matt Dumba, Codi Ceci or any other one-dimensional defenceman is not the right move. I'd have more of an issue with it than I did the trade of Hall for Larsson. At least in that scenario, I understood the rationale.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.



Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

WHAT CHANGES ON DEFENCE MEAN IN THE 2017 EXPANSION DRAFT


The Edmonton Oilers are still actively looking for a top-four powerplay defender who can put up some offense. It seems as though everyone is clamoring for that player to be Tyson Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche. He'd be a great fit.

Photo courtesy of http://www.denverpost.com/2014/10/07/tyson-barries-revenge-is-simply-a-victory-for-avalanche/

The Catch


Part of any trades the Oilers, and for that matter, any NHL team should consider going forward are the ramifications of the NHL expansion draft coming up. As Las Vegas enters the NHL, teams will be allowed to protect either seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goaltender; or they can choose to protect eight skaters and one goaltender.

If the Oilers were to trade for and ultimately sign Tyson Barrie, one would have to assume part of that signing would include a "No Movement" clause that would require the Oilers protect him during that expansion draft.

Defencemen


Let's assume that Edmonton did land their target and Tyson Barrie donned the Orange and Blue -- there's one protected defenceman.

We'd have to also assume that newly acquired Adam Larsson would also be protected. It cost the Oilers dearly to obtain his services and giving him up in an expansion draft would be heartbreaking. Edmonton believes they have a top-pair right-handed defender at the right age and cap hit, so we'd be crazy to think they'd let him slip away. That makes two protected.

In addition, the Oilers are forced to protect Andrej Sekera due to his "No Movement" clause.  This leaves Edmonton with a difficult decision. Do they use the eight skater rule and protect one more defenceman or do they leave it at Sekera, Barrie and Larsson? With only three protected defencemen, this leaves Oscar Klefbom unprotected.

Unless Klefbom's ankle injury turns out to be worse than people are anticipating, I can't see the Oilers willing to take the risk of losing what could be a true top-pair defender. In this scenario, we'll assume the eight protected skaters option is the chosen path for Edmonton (remember Darnell Nurse does not require protecting due to his standing as a player in the NHL in his first two seasons).

What I'd Do


If Edmonton lands another defenceman, I wouldn't take the risk that Larsson or Klefbom are exposed. Since Sekera has to be protected, I'm choosing the option of eight protected skaters and I'm also protecting Jordan Eberle, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, and Milan Lucic (who as per his agreement and "No Movement" clause has to be protected.

This leaves Patrick Maroon, Benoit Pouliot, Matt Hendricks, Griffin Reinhart, Mark Fayne, Mark Letestu, Nail Yakupov, Zach Kassian unprotected.

The biggest concerns for me in this group are Davidson and Yakupov, but both are a risk I'm willing to take knowing that maybe, one team, picking from 30 leaves these guys as less obvious or attractive options.

I'd also consider a stop-gap like a James Wisniewski or other small single-season contracts in the UFA market to improve the team this summer on defence. After the expansion, maybe I look at another longer term contract and hope a team hands out "No Movement" clauses in an effort to land players, leaving more attractive options open to new expansion teams in the future.

The Oilers have to watch what they do here this summer. Any new big ticket items could come at the expense of a player Edmonton could really use.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.



Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.