Are the Oilers actually a better possession team now? Rather than write yet another post about centre ice, as that horse has been beaten so much all that is left are the shoes, I thought I’d look at another theme that has appeared this off-season; the idea that the new additions make the Oilers a superior possession team versus last season. Is this the case?
The other guys at centre ice-So the dream has died. Ryan O’Reilly has signed a two year deal with the Avalanche that will take him to free agency. He likely won’t be dealt (if he is) until sometime next season. Ryan Johansen appears to be close to re-signing with Columbus which leaves all the tier 1 possibilities for acquiring a centre via trade closed to Craig Mactavish. Couturier? Forget it. His low-cap hit is found gold for the cap-strapped Flyers. Jordan Staal? He’s never coming here; he has a no trade clause and is playing with his big brother. So Mactavish is likely looking at a player like Josh Bailey out of Long Island or a cap castoff like Chris Kelly out of Boston to fill the void at centre (if he is looking). Of course, this is just me speculating and it is probably very likely that the current depth chart down the middle will be the crew the Oilers start the season with. So what happens if one of RNH, Gordon, Lander, Arcobello, or Draisaitl gets injured? What if, despite all the speculation to the contrary, one or more of Draisaitl, Arcobello, or Lander can’t cut it? Who else do the Oilers have?
Oilers lineup positives- Make no mistake…The Edmonton Oilers are a better team today than they were at any point last season and I expect this team to take take one giant step forward this season. The goaltending is better. The back-end actually resembles an N.H.L. defence. The stud forwards will all be better. Both wings have skill, depth and are grossly improved. I truly believe every sentence that I just wrote.
Oilers odds of winning the Stanley Cup? Visit William Hill- After free agent frenzy, I love to go look at the odds on who will win the Stanley Cup. Is it too soon? Probably, but that’s the fun of it. A friend of mine made a 22-1 bet on the Kings last year when they were sitting on the cusp of a playoff spot. I think we know how that turned out.
Tomorrow could be very important for fans of the Oilers- Yup, this is another post about centre ice. Can you tell what has been dominating my thoughts lately? Even though it is highly probable that I would concede (under torture or extreme duress) that the Oilers’ centre ice chart will look much the same on October 1st, 2014 as it does today, as a fan I hold out hope that a big name player will be on his way up north to start the season. After reading Adrian Dater’s blog at the Denver Post website today, it is actually possible that a big name centre could come on the market between now and the trading deadline next season.
In the absence of a trade, could Yakimov be the answer? My knowledge of Bogdan Yakimov is limited to what I have found on the internet. Like most of you, I have never seen a KHL game live (or MHL or VHL). I’ve also never been to the Ivan Hlinka tournament or a World Junior Championship game. The opinion I have is shaped by what I read and could be very different if I had a first hand point of view. I’m also one of those pathetic Oilers’ fans who is very concerned about the current state of the team’s centre ice depth. I realize that the team won’t be contending for a Stanley Cup in the spring of 2015 and the team is still very much a work in progress, but I see the team entering the season “as is” as a huge mistake. Mactavish has improved the goaltending, the overall forward depth, and (at least on paper) he has assembled a defense which could actually be confused with that of an NHL team. However, I believe (like many) that a centre ice comprised of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Marc Arcobello, Anton Lander, Boyd Gordon, and Leon Draisaitl will have a very tough time in the Western Conference. However, is it possible I have under-estimated Bogdan Yakimov as a possible internal candidate?
Adding a centre- On Saturday we posted a poll asking what Craig Mactavish should do about addressing the Oilers weak centre ice depth. 646 votes later (as of writing this), it is clear that the majority of voters don’t feel trading Jeff Petry for a centre is reasonable nor is bringing Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier out of retirement for a season. Almost 19% of voters think the team should stay the course and see how Draisaitl and Arcobello fare while just over 68% of voters , spread out between three different options, favour some sort of move.
What is the likelihood of any of the more popular outcomes actually coming to be?