Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oilers Depth Chart July 2013


Taylor Hall - Ryan NugentHopkins - Nail Yakupov
- This line has the makings of a dominant # 1 line heading into the future. Speed, playmaking ability, shooters. If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can channel his inner Pavel Datsyuk and develop a proper two-way game, this line could become flat out dominate and tip the scoring scales towards the side of the Oilers.

Jesse Joensuu - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
- Defacto 2nd line for now. I feel Sam Gagner is trade bait for the time being. If the Oilers feel they can't get proper value for him, I'd expect him to sign by September. Joensuu wins the 2nd line LW spot by default but I feel the Oilers are looking for an upgrade. I always wondered what kind of chemistry Gagner & Eberle wouls have together. They never got much of an extended look together. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Oilers cannot win the matchup battle with bigger centers if the Oilers top two centers are Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I feel Sam Gagner needs to be moved in order for the Oilers to get better.

Ryan Jones - Boyd Gordon - Ales Hemsky
- 2/3rds of the 3rd line for now. I can't see Ales Hemsky being here to start the season, therefore I think Jesse Joensuu will eventually end up on this line on the right side. Happy that Ryan Jones is re-upped, lukewarm to the Boyd Gordon signing. I can't help but feel that Boyd Gordon is under the same umbrella that an Eric Belanger or Marty Reasoner were when they came to the Oilers. Flourished under another system, got paid, and then floundered under the Oilers brand. I'm willing to give Gordon the benefit of the doubt, but his lack of offense leaves very little room for error.

Magnus Paajarvi - Anton Lander - Ben Eager
- I feel Paajarvi and Lander should be joined on the hip and be groomed to become 3rd line players. Giving them 4th minutes and responsibility will allow them to grow into their 2-way games. The same offer I gave Eager last year applies again this year. Give Ben Eager a carrot by putting him players that can handle the puck, in turn, Eager needs to tally up the hits and become a demon on the forecheck. Plain and simple, if Eager doesn't hit, he doesn't play, and likely will be sent to OKC for the duration of his contract.

Ryan Smyth - Mike Brown
- Ryan Smyth is at the point of his career where he is no more than an extra forward. Giving him games off will allow him to preserve his energy quotient throughout the season. Mike Brown is pretty much Ben Eager insurance although I don't know if I like having an extra forward be so specialized.


Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
- Same top pairing as last season. Otherwise not good enough. I believe the Oilers are going to try and upgrade this spot but are going to have a dickens of a time trying to do so. Otherwise Smid & Petry will do their darnedest to not drown in the deep end.

Andrew Ference - Justin Schultz
- The Schultz & Schultz tandem really fell apart towards the end of last season. This is where, I'd think Andrew Ference, with new hefty contract in hand, should get a shot to run with the young Schultz. The Ference signing was likely my least favorite signing of the UFA day. A lot of money for a player who turned 34, has been at best a middling defender on a very good team. Can he handle an upgrade in duties? I guess we'll find out, but signings like this seem to never work out in the end. Justin Schultz couldn't handle the rigor towards the end of the season, how will he handle an 82 game season? We'll soon find out! When on his game though, Justin Schultz is a sublime puckmover and point producer on the backend.

Anton Belov - Philip Larsen
- Two newcomers being paired together on the bottom pairing. Belov is fresh from the KHL, a player I can best describe as an Anton Babchuk type. A big, rangy, mobile skater that could stand to be better defensively. Philip Larsen, a player they got in the Shawn Horcoff deal, is a smallish puckmover type. If these can help out at the offensive side while not givig up too much defensively, the Oilers will be much better off. But if these two end up heavy in the minus, it will be yet another failed experiment.

Nick Schultz - Corey Potter
- One will stay, one will go, or both could be gone. I can't see both of these players being here to start the season. When Craig MacTavish talked about players being "non-factors" he was talking about the now bought out Eric Belanger, along with these two. Just not enough here to warrant them coming back. The thing that might keep Nick Schultz here is his contract.


Devan Dubnyk
- He'll be back once again to get the bulk of the games. By the numbers, he should get another crack at the starters gig. By eye, he looks like a goaltender that should be getting lit up game after game. The answer likely lies somewhere in the middle. Then again, I think Corey Crawford is nothing more than an AHL goaltender and now he is a Stanley Cup Champion, so what do I know? At any rate Dubnyk will be back to show his wares once again, with likely an undermanned defense in front of him.

Jason LaBarbera
- After 4 needless, overpaid years from Nikolai Khabibulin, the Oilers go with a more economical backup in Labarbera. Labarbera is the clear #2 in this equation. His career high is 45 games with the Kings back in '07-08. Otherwise a lot of 17 & 19 games on his career chart to signify he has been a clear backup throughout his career. He will at least be a decent option to go to if Dubnyk falters but Jebus knows how long he will be able to hold the ball for.

Wrapup - All in all it was a busy UFA day for Craig MacTavish. Don't think he did much to help the team in its playoff conquest, but if MacT delivers on his bold move, the rest of the pieces may fall into place and therefore make sense. But as of right now, its still a lineup that is very incomplete.