Archive for 2016-08-07

EDMONTON OILERS: UNEXPECTED APPEARANCES

It seems fairly clear that heading into the 2016-17 season the Edmonton Oilers have a completed roster. There could be improvements in certain positions, and there will be debate over how well this roster will perform, but Edmonton has 13 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders pretty well locked into NHL jobs.

Jordan Oesterle Photo credit IQRemix via VisualHunt  CC BY-SA

You may have them slotted into different positions or on your Oiler depth chart, but the players look like:

Forwards


Connor McDavid
Jordan Eberle
Milan Lucic
Patrick Maroon
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Benoit Pouliot
Leon Draisaitl
Nail Yakupov
Zack Kassian
Matt Hendricks
Mark Letestu
Iiro Pakarinen

Defense


Andrej Sekera
Oscar Klefbom
Adam Larsson
Mark Fayne
Brandon Davidson
Darnell Nurse/Griffin Reinhart

Goal


Cam Talbot
Jonas Gustavsson

This 2016-17 roster is an improved one. The Oilers are more balanced, still skilled, but bigger and tougher in a Pacific Division where bigger, tougher and skilled matter. But bubbling under are players looking to cement themselves as bonafide AHL talent and prospects worthy of an NHL opportunity. In the event of injury or poor showings by those making the initial roster, who in the system might see some time and make an unexpected appearance in 2016-17?


Jesse Puljujarvi

There isn't much to say that hasn't already been said about Puljujarvi. At the number four spot, he fell into the Oilers laps at this year's draft and Edmonton took the podium as quickly as possible for the right to call his name and put a jersey on him. 

He's an offensive driver of the play, has speed to burn and is big, skilled and by most accounts, NHL ready. A lot of experts have him penciled into the starting lineup already and that wouldn't surprise me. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he started the season on the second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot. Puljujarvi could legitimately be a threat for 50 or more points and might be Calder Trophy material. 

Jordan Oesterle


Oesterle might not be that big a surprise. He's got to be on the cusp of a six/seven role on the blue line already and perhaps gets the nod over Nurse or Reinhart if the Oilers are looking for a puck-moving defenseman or cap relief. He may not appear on the immediate Oiler roster list only because of a log-jam on the left side blue. Oesterle is a proven AHL defenseman and he's made a couple of cameos in the NHL. He's fared well for himself and showed he could be ready for a bigger role in they system.

If there's a downside, it's that Oesterle isn't Edmonton's best as a defensive specialist. He has a hard time stopping the cycle, retrieving dump-ins and winning puck battles. The upside is that he's got an excellent first pass, he's got speed and he sees the offensive plays unfold, often making the correct play. If his progression continues, it's more than likely he sees extended time in the NHL.

Jujhar Khaira


Players like Anton Lander and Tyler Pitlick are hanging on by a thread in the NHL and both should be legitimately concerned that their positions could be filled and their depth on the Oilers chart affected by the progression of Khaira and his 6'3", 214-pound frame.

Khaira didn't just see some time in the NHL last season, he was awarded playing time on the top-two lines with skilled forwards. Khaira will likely start in Bakersfield, but so far he's showed he has what it takes to get called up and provide enough gusto to stay in the lineup. He's physical, fast, will muck it up and can play on any line. These are useful tools in the NHL.


Laurent Brossoit


Jonas Gustavsson was signed as the backup goaltender this summer, but it was interesting choice. Chiarelli has some history with the "monster" but there were plenty of better net-minding options available and they chose Gustavsson anyways. Why? I think they believe Brossoit has a legitimate chance to be a backup in the NHL and Gustavsson's role is to push Brossoit just the right amount.

Gustavsson will likely falter. His statistics show it's a matter of time. Brossoit will be the first call up and if he plays well, he may win the backup role. Gustavsson is on a short-term, fill-in type of contract. I think the Oilers expect big things from Brossoit, but want to give him some time without rushing him into the NHL. He may prove he's ready quicker than expected.

Drake Caggiula


A college signing by the Oilers in May, Caggiula is a fiesty, fast and skilled forward who can play wing and center. He's not afraid to hit (in fact he loves to), he can create insane scoring opportunities on the rush and he's a 22 year old with a lot more experience than some of Edmonton's higher-end prospects. He just needs time to get accustomed to the speed of the NHL. Once he does, he could be dangerous.

Caggiula was a highly touted free agent that happened to love the direction the Oilers were headed and chose Edmonton as the place he wanted to start his NHL career. He's undersized, but has a wicked shot, great vision and highlight reel talent.

The Cast by Order of Appearance


Keep an eye out for any of the above-listed players and watch closely as they get and seize opportunities in the NHL. All of these prospects have the ability to earn or steal a roster spot on this year's Oilers and could be good enough not to lose that spot. My order is Puljujarvi, Oesterle, Brossoit, Kharia, Caggiula.

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.

EDMONTON OILERS; KLEFBOM'S HIDDEN OFFENSE

Photo By Lisa Gansky
Outside of Connor McDavid, Oscar Klefbom's injury last season was considered one of the downfalls of the Oilers season. It's no coincidence that with the loss of the Oilers top forward and the Oilers top blueliner, the season began to erode. Going forward, Edmonton will count on McDavid's elite talent to provide the offense and Klefbom is being looked at as Edmonton's number one defenseman.

He's yet to prove he's equipped to handle that role, simply because there's too small a sample size to prove it, but his numbers in limited playing time appear to show he has top-line potential. Klefbom is provided less than ideal zone starts, he posts a positive Corsi, plays over 21 minutes per game and can be relied upon in all situations. He's made lesser defensive partners look better and he's given better partners flexibility. For these attributes, he's starting to get noticed. What seems to go relatively unnoticed is his contribution on offense.

In 2015-16, Klefbom played 30 games and scored four goals and eight assists for 12 points. In 2014-15 he had 20 points in 60 games. It's not world-beating offense, but it's not shabby either. It's enough to show that Klefbom is the type of defenseman that should be given an opportunity. Where will those opportunities come from?

Powerplay


Edmonton lacks a threat from the blueline on the powerplay. While Andrej Sekera has been given the primary role on the left-side, Klefbom is more than equipped to handle second-unit duties. The Oilers of the past have been known to run a four-forward and one defenseman crew on the man-advantage. This doesn't always play well as the Oilers are known to give up short-handed opportunities.

Klefbom has an effective shot, an ability to read the play and the defensive prowess to get back in the event of trouble. If Klefbom sees significant time on the powerplay, he should be a realistic option.

3-on-3 Overtime


Sekera was deadly when placed with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins in overtime. This unit was one of the most effective for the Oilers. Every team needs a second unit and McDavid, Draisaitl and Klefbom make for a great alternative. This combination would be fast, strong on the puck and skilled enough to own the offensive possession game.


Better Offensive Zone Starts

Klefbom was effective at stopping opposition possession in the defensive zone. He'll likely continue to be deployed that way. But with Adam Larsson, he now also has help. Simply finding opportunities to start Klefbom's shift in the offensive zone will create new opportunities.

The Oilers have a dandy of a defenseman in Klefbom. If he can stay healthy all season, it should be interesting to see where his production ends up even if he's only deployed in a similar fashion to seasons past. What may surprise us, is just how much he can contribute on offense.

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.

Patrick Roy Steps Down as Coach of the Avs

While it isn't necessarily Edmonton Oilers news related, it is big news. Patrick Roy has released a statement saying he's leaving the Colorado Avalanche as head coach and VP of Operations. A statement from the Avs was later release wishing Roy the best and thanking him for his time. They will being a search for a new head coach immediately.

Patrick Roy was an interesting character in the NHL and it carried over to his time in the NHL as a coach and in management. There was always speculation that he had, or at least wanted, a ton of input on player and personnel decisions and his opinions didn't always line up with behind-the-scenes boss Joe Sakic.


How it Happened... Allegedly


From having a rocky relationship with Tyson Barrie and Matt Duchene to being vocal on a number of topics, even not speaking at all with Sakic during this summer's free agency period, it makes sense that this move took place. It also explains why a player like Barrie was given a much larger contract than Roy would have liked people to believe he was worth. Really, it boils down to Roy and Sakic having a difference of opinion and Roy losing out.

Pierre LeBrun published a series of tweets after chatting with Roy about his departure.





Edmonton Oilers


There was a time that Colorado and Edmonton were connected in potential trade scenarios. From Barrie to Duchene for Nugent-Hopkins plus, these rumors, were merely only rumors but no less fun to speculate about. It should be assumed; with this change and with Sakic clearly running the helm, rumors like this will likely be put to rest or at the very least slow down.

Will Edmonton and Colorado be trade partners moving forward? Who knows, but without Patrick Roy around, rumors about the Avs, in general, may likely come to a standstill. No one stirred the pot quite like Roy did and no other manager made you think any player was s stones-throw away from being on the outs with an organization.

Patrick Roy in a way made the summer fun for any avid hockey fan. If you paid attention to your team when the season ended, you always had your eyes on your own roster; but kept the corner of one eye looking at the Avs. Right now the Avs focus will be on finding a new head coach so Oiler fans can likely focus squarely on their own roster again.

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.

EDMONTON OILERS UPDATE: MISSED OPPORTUNITY

We wrote a piece yesterday about the possibility of the Oilers bringing James Wisniewski to camp on a PTO. Looks like Edmonton has missed the opportunity.



A player on a PTO can sign an SPC (Standard Player Contract) with any other team, but I can't see Edmonton going that route. It's just too risk to give a guarantee to a player who may be finished.

Options are becoming limited for the Oilers with only six weeks to training camp. Names like Dan Boyle may be available on the UFA market, but the Oilers may circle back to a player like Eric Gryba.

Tampa Bay might have hit a homerun here, but only time will tell. There's some real risk this player isn't going to make a comeback and his injuries will have slowed his game to the point where he can't keep up in the NHL. Then again, he could be a homerun and last year there were some PTO's who made provided some tremendous results for teams who took a chance.


EDMONTON OILERS IN GREAT SHAPE FOR SUMMER OF 2017

Every summer players come and go. Assets get traded, players re-sign with their teams and the unlucky ones don't re-sign anywhere and sit for three months looking and hoping for another opportunity in the NHL. This summer was busy. Next summer could be a mad-house.

Forget for a second that in 2017 the NHL will be adding a new Las Vegas-based franchise and thus holding an expansion draft that will shake up every NHL team in some way, shape, or form. There's a great deal of teams that have key players, both in their depth and superstar positions that could be on the move. Fortunately, the Edmonton Oilers are not one of them.


Edmonton's 2017 UFA List:

  • Andrew Ference
  • Matt Hendricks
  • Anton Lander
  • Jonas Gustavsson
  • Mark Fraser

There's not a name among the list that makes much of a dent as far as results will go for Edmonton moving forward. In fact, it's likely none of the players listed above will be Oilers come 2017-18. The closest thing to a tough decision might be Matt Hendricks. Then again, by the end of 2017, he'll be one of those ageing players at 36, looking for NHL work with prospects peaking up ready to take his place. 

Edmonton's 2017 RFA List:


  • Nail Yakupov
  • Leon Draisaitl
  • Zack Kassian
  • Joey LaLeggia
  • Jujhar Khaira
  • Mitchell Moroz
  • Griffin Reinhart
  • Bogdan Yakimov
  • Dillon Simpson
  • Jere Sallinen
  • Kyle Platzer
  • Tyler Pitlick
  • Taylor Beck
  • Eetu Laurikainen
  • David Musil
  • Jordan Oesterle

I've broken the RFA list up into two categories — critical decisions and not-so-critical decisions. Critical decisions include Nail Yakupov, Leon Draisaitl, Griffin Reinhart and Jordan Oesterle. Not-so-critical decisions include everyone else. Zack Kassian got some consideration on the critical side, but really, most of that came due to his style of play and name recognition. At the end of the day, if Kassian wasn't re-signed it would be a small speedbump at best (barring, of course, a massive season in 2016-17).

In some instances, the not-so-critical decisions are also in this category because many of the players on the list are easy contracts to accomplish on the Oilers side. These players are prospects with elements like qualifying offers and Edmonton doesn't need to compete with anyone else to get these players signed. They simply need to decide if they want to.


Oilers Compared to Other Teams in the NHL

Not every team has big name players to worry about, but some teams are going to see major shakeups. San Jose has Joe Thorton, Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau. St. Louis has Kevin Shattenkirk. Boston has Brad Marchand. Dallas has Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya. Florida has Jaromir Jagr. Pittsburgh has Chris Kunitz... just to name a few.

I haven't even touched the surface of some of the RFA contracts coming up, which include Ryan Johanson, Sam Bennett, Jonathan Huberdeau, Tyler Johnson, Tyler Toffoli, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Galchenyuk and more. These players won't necessarily be leaving their teams, but the raises they'll demand may require movement in other areas of their team's rosters. Edmonton doesn't have this issue (with the exception of maybe Leon Draisaitl).

The point here is, Edmonton is in pretty good shape when it comes to having the core of its players under control. Yes, there will be some large contracts handed out early to the likes of Connor McDavid and Chiarelli is going to have take steps carefully to afford this roster, but the ball is in Chiarelli's court. He's in a good position to make it work to not only keep his roster, but take advantage of other rosters bound for a change.

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.



EDMONTON OILERS: WILL INVITE JAMES WISNIEWSKI TO CAMP ON A PTO

Bob Stauffer was away from his regular hosting gig on Oilers Now today, but as reported on Twitter by Heather Marginet and shared by Alan Mitchell on Lowetide, Stauffer called in to make a couple interesting points. One of which was the Edmonton Oilers interest in defenseman James Wisniewski.

Photo By North Carolina National Guard


Like Lowetide, I did not hear the interview, but a number of Edmonton fans have been pretty vocal about interest in "the Wiz" and it seems some of the media is interested in him too. He checks off a lot of boxes for the Oilers, but he doesn't come without some asterisks'.

Wisniewski is well traveled, having played in Chicago, Anaheim, Carolina, Montreal, New York and Columbus. He has multiple 30 point seasons and a high of 51 points with the Blue Jackets in 2013-14. He also comes with some off-ice injury issues and an on-ice history of some slightly unethical play. Things you might not be able to overlook if you were counting on him in a minute-munching type role.

His latest injury trouble seems to be the only reason he's still unsigned now in August. He missed pretty much an entire year and it likely has teams worried a comeback isn't in the cards. Still, points are rewarded in the NHL and while he's not terribly sound defensively; he's a heck of an offensive defenseman.

I'd actually be surprised if Wisniewski goes all the way through summer without a contract offer from someone. There are always at least one or two teams feeling as though their options are limited and they hand out contracts they likely shouldn't. That said, if he makes it through, I think it's a wise move to invite him on a PTO. He's a little older and slower than he was, but that one-timer from the point makes trying him as a number seven defenseman with some time on the powerplay a real nice idea.

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.

EDMONTON OILERS: FINDING A DEREK ROY

In 2014-15 after clearing waivers with the Nashville Predators, the Edmonton Oilers traded for Derek Roy. Roy came in, scored 22 points in 46 games and contributed in a number of ways. While he didn't blow the roof off the building, he was far better than anyone had expected, accompanied by some immediate chemistry with Nail Yakupov.  Yakupov had gone on record at that time calling Roy the best center he'd played with up to that point in his NHL career. 



Derek Roy was a well-traveled veteran with excellent timing in Edmonton. Photo By Jennifer Griggs

Overall Roy's contract wasn't renewed because his game had slowed and his underlying numbers simply weren't enough to demand another opportunity. He has since been seen playing in the Swiss League, but his departure didn't happen without a few fans hoping to see a return.

Roy did some good things in Edmonton, most notably giving other players confidence. His veteran leadership and poise became a real blessing and players who'd underachieved started to have more offensive production. It didn't last long, but there was a feeling in the air, if for only a few games; like the Oilers had struck-lightning. If the Oilers are looking for an inexpensive center in an attempt to repeat lightning in a bottle, there is likely another Derek Roy out in free agency. 

Jiri Hudler  


He's a veteran with a proven track record. In 2014-15 Hudler had 76 points, but came back in 2015-16 with a poorer showing. That said, even his poor year wasn't bad and some players good years and he finished well in Florida. He has 161 goals and 417 points in 676 regular-season games .There's still a lot of gas left in that tank.

Shawn Horcoff 


Edmonton knows this player well. Is he too long in the tooth now? Maybe. But, he's a veteran with a great attitude and could mentor the young guys, helping win key faceoffs. This would be one of those retire in Edmonton situations.

Brandon Pirri 


14 goals and 29 points last season. He has 80 points in 166 regular season games. Also has a bit of an injury history.

Jarret Stoll 


Great faceoff guy with a checkered past. He is a special-teams type signing as he can penalty-kill and he has a bomb from the point on the powerplay. He's not a right-handed defenseman, but he checks off a lot of the needs Edmonton has in getting that powerplay guy.  He also helps a bit at third line center as a right-handed shot. He just may be too slow and have too troubling a past to make it work.

Matt Cullen 


32 points in 82 games last season. He's up there at 39 years of age, but his last five seasons have been steady production. He's also a winner. In 1,294 games over 18 seasons Cullen has 658 points. He has 16 goals and 47 points in 98 playoff games. He's won the cup twice including last season in Pittsburgh. 

Is it Worth It?


None of these players are likely ideal choices for the Oilers, but they are less expensive, short-term contracts that could be traded at the deadline if they have decent years. Edmonton still has needs and potentially one of these players could help fill those needs.

Really, the objective would be to see if a Derek Roy type can be found, sparking some chemistry on a third line and getting some of the less productive Oilers to make that jump forward and better, more well-rounded players. 

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.

EDMONTON OILERS SCHEDULE: FIRST 9 GAMES KEY FOR SUCCESSFUL SEASON

This coming season the Edmonton Oilers will play six of their first nine games at home. Rogers Place will welcome Calgary, Buffalo, Carolina, St. Louis, Washington and Ottawa before Edmonton heads out on a five-game road trip to take on five teams in seven days.  A bad nine games shouldn't mean writing off an entire season, but if the Oilers hope to have a winning season, these first nine games are going to be critical.

In these same nine games, the Oilers will get their first real look at Jesse Puljujarvi. He has a ten game window before burning a year off his entry-level deal and the last thing Edmonton wants to do is make a mistake by rushing him into the NHL. If he's NHL ready, it will likely be in this nine-game skid that Edmonton decides his fate.


A History of Poor Starts


In the last five years, Edmonton hasn't fared well when trying to get the season off to a good start. In 2015-16, the Oilers went 3-6-0. The previous year, (2014-15) they went 4-4-1 after going 0-4-1 in their first five games. In 2013-14 they started 2-6-1 and got as bad as 4-15-2 in their first 21 games. In the shortened lockout year (2012-13), Edmonton did ok going 4-3-2 in their first nine and we have to go back to the 2011-12 season to find the Oilers above .500 in their first nine games. That season they went 5-2-2.

The Oilers need to avoid repeating history and if Edmonton can maintain a winning record in their first nine games this season —  let's assume they win one game on the road and four of six games at home — they'll be 5-4-0. It's not a great start, but far better than what Edmonton's been used to. Soo too, because the next 10 of their 15 games in November are on the road, a good start means a little flexibility.

On the Road Again


Travelling for five games in a single week will likely take a toll on the Oilers. An optimistic guess would be that Edmonton wins at most, three of those five road games. They'll be in for a rough night against the Red Wings in the second half of a back-to-back (which also happens to be a matinee game) and they face the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the final road game of that trip. If all goes right, the Oilers might be lucky to be 8-6-0 which should be looked upon as a great start to the year.

That said, this record considers the most optimal scenario. The Oilers have been a terrible road team the past three seasons and it shouldn't surprise anyone if they lose four of five. This makes those first nine games all the more critical because if Edmonton can't manage a .500 record at home, they'll be 5-9-0 and playing catch-up.

Like seasons before it, the Edmonton Oilers are hoping this is the season things start to move in a positive direction. The only way to do that is not to get behind early and be forced to figure out how to make ground in the standings. The opening nine games of the 2016-17 campaign are critical for Edmonton. I can't think to describe it in any other way.

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.



EDMONTON OILERS: SIGNING ERIC GRYBA BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE

If we assume status quo, the Edmonton Oilers depth chart looks like Oscar Klefbom paired with Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera paired with Mark Fayne, followed by Brandon Davidson paired with (?). Darnell Nurse or Griffin Reinhart/Jordan Oesterle will battle it out for the seven spot. It's a much-improved core over last season and is starting to resemble an NHL competitive blue.

Photo Courtesy of http://thenationnetwork.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/images/6a/8c/article_6a8c82ed-c015-49e9-a3fb-2ef93674c44b.png

On the outside looking in appears to be Eric Gryba. Gryba is an NHL vet with a capacity to play a six/seven role. He brings some grit, steadiness, and poise to a young group and despite only playing 53 games last season, did everything asked of him by the Edmonton Oilers. Injuries hurt his chances to prove his value for another contract, and to date, Gryba is sitting and waiting for an NHL job next season.

A Proven Track Record


If the plan is to play Davidson on the left side in your bottom pair, Gryba has a proven track record to play with Davidson on the right. They played 283 minutes together and had a CF% of 53.7. Both players boosted each other's production and Gryba is a nice stay-at-home compliment to Davidson's ability to move and shoot the puck. As is stands now, one left-handed defenseman will have to play their off-side. Gryba allows the Oilers to keep players where they need to be.

Because Chiarelli knows what he'd have in Gryba, Chia has stated there's some interest on the part of the Oilers, but interest is only slight and likely limited to near the end of the summer when the rest of arbitration or free agency plays itself out. If I'm Chiarelli, and the outlook on landing another top-pair defenceman seems unlikely, I think hard about and consider bringing back Gryba for one more year. I say this because I don't believe Eric Gryba lasts to the end of the summer.

Gryba's Contract


Eric Gryba will become the type of defenseman an NHL club will quietly pick up, without much fanfare, and on the cheap. If he's a million dollar player by the end of the summer, that would be shocking. He'll be one of those value deals I frequently talk about and after he provides more than his contract value to a new team, he'll be an asset at the deadline a team can move to pick up a fifth, maybe fourth round draft choice. Assets you can move always have value.


Style of Play


Bruce McCurdy over at Cult of Hockey did a nice piece on Adam Larsson, taking a look at some advanced stats and in those assessments, Eric Gryba showed up on a couple of occasions as a pretty good defensive player with some nice goals-against stats. Sure, there are better offensive options available. Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski, Kyle Quincey, could be an option and provide more offence. The reality is, Eric Gryba won't score for your club, but Gryba is steady. He brings size, a bit of tenacity and is a right-handed shot - to which we've heard Chiarelli describe all summer about the righty/lefty positions and how important that balance is. Gryba won't hurt your club, he's big and nasty and he gives some flexibility to your cap situation.

It would be a shame if the Oilers didn't at least add one more right-handed defenseman. If they're waiting on just the right fit and in the process let a player like Gryba slip through their fingers, that would be a crime.

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.


EDMONTON OILERS: LATER ROUND TALENT AND ETHAN BEAR

Winning NHL franchises do one thing better than almost every other franchise — recognize talent in later rounds of the draft. The Edmonton Oilers have spent a near decade at the draft tables showing why they've been closer to the basement of the NHL than the penthouse. Outside of their top-tier, lottery draft picks, they've consistently missed on prospects after the second round.


Oilers Later Round Draft History


Since 2006, of the 59 draft selections made in round three or later by the Oilers, only Theo Peckham (drafted #75 in 2006), Linus Omark (drafted #97 in 2007), Teemu Hartikainen (drafted #163 in 2008), Brandon Davidson (drafted #162 in 2010) and Tobias Rieder (#114 in 2011), can be considered as prospects who've had more than a cup of coffee in the NHL. Statistically speaking, that's 8% of players drafted after round two, who've taken regular shifts in the NHL and arguably only three of those players (Peckham, Rieder and Davidson) will have made any sort of NHL impact.

NHL Average


Clearly, as draft picks get into the later rounds, the percentages of a player making it to the NHL go down. This is the case for any NHL club. An article done by Scott Cullen of TSN shows that on the low end of the scale, players drafted in the third round have a 29.3% chance of playing 100 games or more. From there, players in the fourth round have a 19.3% chance and players in the fifth round have a 16% chance and so on. Even at the bottom of the scale, players drafted after selection 211 in the draft still have a 12% chance. While my evaluation of players drafted by the Oilers may change from yours, it's pretty clear, Edmonton has done a lousy job at hitting these averages.

It's also unfair to judge the Oilers on draft selections made after the 2012-13 draft. There are plenty of prospects from Jordan Oesterle to Jujhar Khaira who were selected in recent drafts and still have a chance at hitting these averages. Since many of these players are still prospects in the system and some take longer than others to develop, we can't be too harsh the amateur scouting department between 2012 to now. In fact, before front office changes last week, the previous regime may have hit a later-round draft homerun when they selected right-handed defensman Ethan Bear.


Ethan Bear

Ethan Bear was taken in the fifth round, of the Oilers 2015 draft at #124 overall. A right-handed defenseman, Bear was drafted for his defensive awareness, but last year took a giant offensive leap forward for the Seattle Thunderbirds. He was signed to his entry-level deal this summer by the Oilers and to say the least, Edmonton is excited about his potential as a prospect.

While he was steadily progressing, 2015-16 was a coming out party of sorts for Bear who potted 19 goals and 46 assists for 65 points in 69 games. He had 24 more points than the next closest Thunderbird defenseman and he was clearly a go-to player on his team. In the playoffs, Bear continued his hot hand and finished with 22 points in 18 games. That was second on his entire team, not just from defensemen.

There is a great game scouting report on Bear from Ben Berland  who has had a chance to watch Bear and get to know him well. It's an interesting read in that Bear is considered an excellent shooter, passer, read and react player and does pretty much everything well. You read this report and you wonder why Bear fell all the way to #124.

Bear's NHL Chances


Here is the best part. While it won't be this year that Bear gets any significant time in the NHL, he's a player the Oilers badly need. A right-handed defenseman who can run a powerplay, shoot hard and on net and is sound in both zones. He's fast enough, he's physical enough and he's motivated enough to be a difference-maker in a game. On paper, he's everything the Oilers don't have in the NHL at that position.

If there's a flaw, it's Bear's size. At 5 foot and 11 inches and under 200 pounds he's not the biggest blueliner in the system. That said, if it is a flaw and/or the reason he dropped down the draft charts, he's already proven it was a mistake to write him off because of it. It won't be his size; or lack thereof, that stops him from NHL success. It sounds like he's the type of player who uses these kinds of obstacles as motivation.

If the Oilers have in fact had a lousy record in the later rounds of the draft, consider it only takes one player to change the way we view their draft history. Bear could be the type of player who takes Edmonton from a lousy amateur scouting team to one who found a gem near the bottom of the draft. It may be too soon to label Bear a defensive savior or the next great hope for the Oilers, but, it may be fair to suggest that even a blind squirrel can find a nut every once and a while. The Oilers being the squirrel and Ethan Bear being the nut.

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.



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