Saturday, June 30, 2012
You Want A Miracle ?!?!?
You want a miracle, I give you Justin Schultz. Justin Schultz has decided to take his talents to the North Pole. I get the feeling Oilers fans abroad are excited for the news but not exactly sure why. Let me give a rundown on why this is a wonderful thing for the Oilers going forward.
- Justin Schultz is a puckmoving, puckrushing assassin. If you have watched how the Oilers defense have mangled many an outlet pass, fear no more. Justin Schultz plays the game with much more poise.
- Schultz will enhance the offense 5v5 and on the power play. Imagine cross ice passes between he and the Nuge on the backend of a powerplay. One-timers, back door plays. Essentially what Eberle did on the powerplay last year, but not having to sacrifice the defensive aspect. You can have Eberle and Schultz on the left side of the ice on the powerplay, it will give a dual option.
- One thing Schultz might struggle with is volume of games. Coming from the NCAA circuit, where he may only get in 40-50 games a season. Usually players from Europe or NCAA experience "burnout" towards the end of the season. Once Schultz becomes acclimatized to the pro game, the Oilers should have themselves a big minute eater on the back end.
- Schultz may never be considered a "lockdown" defender, but what he can do is play with enough smarts and guile to make sure the puck is moving in the right direction. He'll never be physically imposing, but stick positioning will be top notch.
As the Oilers get prepared for UFA season tomorrow, I'll give a brief rundown on what the Oilers should be looking for.
A top 6 LW:
- Ryan Smyth would be ideal, as long he is a willing soldier upon his return. Bitterness needs to be set aside on both sides. Mikael Samuelsson, Jaromir Jagr, heck even Dustin Penner would be nice additions. Ultimately the Oilers need some veteran presence to chip in 20g without the benefit of a ton of powerplay time.
A top 9 RW:
- Oilers need a swiss army knife type playere here. A player that can play a variety of roles. A bit of PK, some PP, play toughs 5v5 without losing his shirt. I had Lee Stempniak as the #1 player here, but he re-signed in Calgary. David Moss perhaps even Shane Doan would be nice fits here. Doan would likely be overpriced though. As with the top 6 LW, veteran presence is needed.
A top 4 Dman:
- A player that can play tough, block shots and play on the PK. I have the likes of Pavel Kubina, Milan Jurcina. A player that can fit the bill now is Bryan Allen. With the addition of Justin Schultz, the Oilers can move Nick Schultz back on the right side and have Bryan Allen work with Justin Schultz. With Justin Schultz in the mix, there are some decent possibilities now.
(Optional): 2nd line C
- I'd be working on the top 3 first, and then focus in on holes that can be upgraded. Sam Gagner is the placeholder for now. I have toyed with the idea of moving Jordan Eberle into this spot to help Ales Hemsky regain some of his old form. Either way, its something to keep an eye on. Jason Arnott is the only player I can think of that would be worth the risk, otherwise I would look to fill the spot internally. A RH shooting center. With Jarret Stoll off the market, the options are thin.
(Optional): 1B goaltender
- If Dubnyk is 1A, then the Oilers will need a safety net plan. Khabibulin can potentially be a part of that plan, but I don't have a lot of faith in that plan. If the Oilers can find a cheap, low maintenance option 1B, it should be pursued and then Khabibulin moved along, likely to Europe. The only two goaltenders I would be willing to take a flyer on are Justin Peters and Al Montoya, otherwise I'd stick with Khabibulin and revisit the options in a year.