Two Cheap Upgrades to the Oilers’ Secondary Scoring

There’s a minor disturbance causing Edmonton Oilers fans and media some discomfort at the moment. The Oilers’ secondary scoring is missing. Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Alex Chiasson, and Leon Draisaitl have been carrying the scoring load this season. Between the four, they’ve scored 75 of the forwards’ 100 goals this season. That leaves 25 goals for the other 12 remaining forwards that have suited up in 2018-19.

Edmonton Oilers Alex Chiasson Connor McDavid
Edmonton Oilers right winger Alex Chiasson and captain Connor McDavid. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s clear that this club could use a bit of help from other sources, but why aren’t they scoring? I have a few ideas on that:

  1. They’ve stopped going to the areas where most goals are scored: the slot and the blue paint.
  2. They’ve stopped shooting effectively.
  3. They’ve spent too much time in their own zone or chasing the puck.

If the players deployed on the third and fourth lines would do numbers one and two while in the opponent’s zone, they would create more scoring chances. Ultimately though, they’ve got to have the puck in order to get into the offensive zone. Spending your entire shift digging pucks out of your own corner does very little to help score.

I would like to present to you two players that the Oilers should’ve signed in the summer to bolster their depth on the wings. They both play for the Vegas Golden Knights organization and could be obtained for a reasonable price.

Brandon Pirri

The book on Brandon Pirri is that he’s a very efficient shooter but his 200-ft game has always lacked polish. As a result, he’s bounced around the NHL quite a bit.

Pirri is a goal-per-game player for the Vegas Golden Knights. Since joining the club in 2017-18, he’s played nine games and has scored nine goals. His shooting percentage is an unreal 28.1%! That is extremely high and it will come down in time, but he’s always had a high percentage of shots hitting the back of the net, save for his time with the New York Rangers.

  • 2010-13: 14.3% with Chicago Blackhawks
  • 2013-15: 13.3% with Florida Panthers
  • 2015-16: 17.6% with Anaheim Ducks
  • 2016-17: 8.3% with the New York Rangers
  • 2017-present: 28.1% with the Vegas Golden Knights

I believe the Oilers could use him because the team is devoid of any selfish shooters. Recently, their power play has been excellent, but before that, I noticed a lot of passing and a general fear of being the guy that shoots the puck. That wouldn’t be the case with Pirri. If he gets the puck and he’s within shooting range, he’s going to shoot it.

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He is a wizard in the AHL. In 323 games, he’s amassed an incredible 114 goals. This season alone he has 41 points in 28 games. He needs to be playing at a higher level on a more consistent basis. His recent performances have become a welcome headache for his bosses.

The former second-round pick of the Blackhawks is signed for only this season with the Golden Knights at $650,000 and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. I don’t know if he’d thrive under the tutelage of Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock because of his serious focus on playing without the puck.

That said, if the Oilers are looking for scoring help, I think Pirri would be a good choice to target.

Daniel Carr

I like Sherwood Park-native, Daniel Carr. He reminds me of Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher in the way he plays the game. He has an industrious work ethic, he’s willing to drive the blue paint no matter the cost, and he has a history of scoring at every level he’s played.

“He has many of the intangibles that have allowed him to become successful at every level, and his drive to make it to the National Hockey League is what I feel will get him there one day. If Daniel Carr is given an opportunity to play in the NHL, it will have been earned the right way; hard work!” – Former NCAA coach Rick Bennett (source)

He has the eye of the tiger when he plays and that is the type of player the Oilers are lacking on the third and fourth lines. As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons they haven’t been scoring is because they’ve stopped going to the dirty areas in front of and around the net. Carr, like his childhood hero Ryan Smyth, makes a living there.

Carr and Nosek Golden Knights
Vegas Golden Knights left winger Daniel Carr (23) celebrates with teammate Tomas Nosek (92) after his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

He has played six games for the Golden Knights this season and has one goal to show for it. In the AHL, he has 17 goals and 23 assists in 29 games. He’s only contracted for this season at $750,000 and he’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.

The Oilers just traded away a gritty forward with speed in Drake Caggiula, a mistake in the eyes of some, and I think Peter Chiarelli could regain some trust with the fanbase if he were to acquire Carr. He’s too good for the AHL and deserves a regular role in the NHL.

Each player brings something different to the table but both have attributes the Oilers could desperately use.

  • Pirri: Pure scoring. He’s a goal-scoring predator on the ice.
  • Carr: Fearlessness and a penchant to go to the necessary areas to score goals.

Either would be a welcome addition and an upgrade over Ty Rattie, Joseph Gambardella, or Tobias Rieder. Most importantly, it would give the team the opportunity to send Kailer Yamamoto back to Bakersfield to continues his ever-so-important development at the right level of competition.