The offseason may only be a couple weeks old for half the teams in the NHL, but big decisions behind the scenes are being scrutinized in NHL team boardrooms. Arguably the biggest decisions made will be in Edmonton. They hold all the cards; some would suggest by winning the first overall pick the pressure is off – wrong.
The decision of whether to select a slick forward, cornerstone defenseman, heart & soul type of forward, or even packaging the pick for an organization changing player will all be visited by Oiler executives.
Since my trade deadline predictions went so well*, I’ve decided to look into my crystal ball once again and showcase what the Oilers will look like on July 1st. In this two part series, we start off with the contracts: Ryan Jones is deemed as the most important contract expiring, he will be brought back at ‘name your price’.
Steve MacIntyre played only 34 games and appeared in only 7 fights – this is a toss-up. As for the other forwards, who are impending RFA’s – won’t be around for the Oilers 2011/12 season. Andrew Cogliano, JF Jacques & Liam Reddox will not be given qualifying offers – they will be let go.
On the blue-line, veterans Jim Vandermeer & Jason Strudwick provided the locker-room with tons of leadership – but at this point it’s a numbers game, they won’t be back. RFA’s; Ladislav Smid, Theo Peckham & Taylor Chorney – all three will be qualified and head back to Oil Country.
As for the minor leaguers, many will be let go. Goaltenders Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers & Martin Gerber, forward Alex Giroux and defenseman Richard Petiot are impending UFA’s and will likely be gone unless they accept (once again) 500k one year deals. Grinders Zach Stortini & Ryan O’Marra are impending RFA’s who will also likely be shown the door.
The justifications behind these moves are: The Oilers are already depleted of natural right wingers, which makes re-signing Ryan Jones all that more important. Steve MacIntyre is the loyal enforcer but he doesn’t play enough, or even fight enough to be seriously considered to return.
Now it’ll be tough to say good-bye to Andrew Cogliano. The Oilers have stuck with him from day one – drafting him, developing him, but it’s time to move on. The Oilers have a bunch of younger players that can take draws – besides the money the Oilers save by not giving Cogs a qualifying offer goes towards keeping Ryan Jones. JF Jacques & Liam Reddox played sparingly, but will be let go because of the young up-and-coming forwards on the way.
The Oilers would love to rid themselves of Tom Gilbert’s contract & Kurtis Foster’s tenure in Edmonton has been rather disappointing – this creates a numbers game whereas veterans like Vandermeer & Strudwick are forced to look for other jobs or possibly retire in Strudzee’s case.
Next week I’ll cover what the Oilers should/could do with the first overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft, as well as possible deals that could go down from Oilers prospective.
*A fake Nick Kypreos twitter account led me to believe that my Dustin Penner to MTL prediction had come to fruition – it was soon thereafter crushed.