Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish has been a busy man this off-season on and off the ice. Below is a quick look into what MacT has been able to accomplish so far this summer:
Bob Green named director of amateur free agent scouting.
Billy Moores named director of coaching development.
Keith Acton named associate coach.
Dallas Eakins named head coach.
Scott Howson named senior vice-president of hockey operations.
NHL UFA’s Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, Jason LaBarbera, Jesse Joensuu and their own free agent Ryan Jones.
Minor Leaguers Ryan Hamilton, Richard Bachman and Will Acton.
College free agent Andrew Miller.
K.H.L. free agents Anton Belov and Denis Grebseshkov.
Traded Shawn Horcoff for a fringe NHLer Philip Larsen and a pick.
Traded Magnus Paajarvi and a pick for David Perron.
MacT had a lot of work to do this off-season and he’s certainly checked off a lot on the “To Do List” but there is still one glaring hole left IMO…centre ice. As it stands now, the center ice position is quite thin and will be one of the worst in the entire N.H.L. should Nugent-Hopkins start the season on injured reserve. If Nugent-Hopkins starts the year watching from upstairs, Taylor Hall has been told to be ready to start the season at centre followed by Gagner, Gordon, and either Lander or Acton. This does not bode will for the Oilers and will make getting off to a quick start very difficult. Even if Nuge is able to start the season I still feel MacT needs to upgrade the fourth line centre position to give his team the best chance possible of making the playoffs.
There are still a bunch of centres yet to sign and the one name that sticks out to me is David Steckel who, in my opinion, is a perfect fit for the Oilers. Steckel is 6’6, 215Lbs and was 54.3% last season in the faceoff circle. The Oilers lack size, grit and are terrible in the dot. Steckel checks all those boxes and will be cheap, cheap, cheap. He knocked out some guy named Crosby “by accident” so he has some jam to his game, as well. He may be slowing down but would certainly improve the Oilers fourth line and might just make the fourth line an asset rather than the liability that it has been in years past.
Other available centres are Brendan Morrow, Matt Lombardi, Mikhai Grabovski and Manny Malhotra. Of these four I could see Morrow filling the role nicely but it’s probably not realistic to see him signing here. I can’t see MacT being interested in the other three.
Wouldn’t Eager, Steckel, Brown look pretty good for 8-10 minutes a night at Rexall this winter…???
Keep The Faith!!!
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