What Should the Oilers Do Post-Lockout?
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Watching Justin Schultz play and seeing Nail Yakupov's goal scoring totals has me thinking. Sooner or later, the lockout is going to end. Regardless when the season begins, Oilers management have some decisions to make. Not only Yakupov and Schultz are on the radar now.
- It looks like Andy Sutton's injury might cost him the rest of his career. Nikolai Khabibulin is also injured too. I have no idea how they got hurt; I just know it would be great news for the Oilers if both of these gentlemen called it a career. No offense, Andy and Nick. The NHL is a young man's world and the Oilers have plenty of options.
- Ales Hemsky is playing point-per-game hockey right now for Pardubice of the Czech league. That's great news for the Oilers if they want to move him. Yakupov is filling the net and absolutely deserves a Top 6 RW job. Could Hemsky be turned into a 1st round pick? A back-up goalie of quality? What is the value of a healthy Hemsky who's at least playing great pro hockey somewhere?
- Teemu Hartikainen is proving he can hang with the big boys. Consider the Oilers Top 6 to start the season Hartikainen/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle and Hall/Gagner/Yakupov.
- Is Ben Eager going to jail for a long time? I'm not happy about his situation, but I'd be happy not to see him return to the Oilers. They don't need headcases like this.
- Big Ears (Shawn Horcoff) will be back, as will Ryan Smyth and Ryan Jones, so the Oilers situation on the 3rd line is set. If Eager is gone, the Oilers could have a roster hole to fill on the 4th line. I have Eric Belanger (barf) and Lennart Petrell pencilled in. Darcy Hordichuk is there, too, but he's more the "13th" guy. Maybe the answer is a call up from the AHL, Antti Tyrvainen? Bring back Zack Stortini, maybe? I have no idea. You'd think finding a 4th line winger to play six minutes a night would be easy, but check the Oilers track record. I like Tyrvainen because he has a little Raffi Torres in him. Players on the edge are always good to stir up trouble.
- At forward, I'm leaving Magnus Paajarvi, Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton and Anton Lander all still down on the farm. Paajarvi is the closest one, but he still has yet to put it all together. Plus, you're not exactly going to stick Maggy on the 4th line...He's not that type of player.
- On D, I'd make Ryan Whitney and Justin Schultz my main pairing if hockey is played this season. A year from now it could be Oscar Klefbom and Schultz, but for now...I'm not even sure I'm resigning Whitney if I'm the Oilers this summer. Between Schultz, Marincin, and Klefbom, plenty of replacement talent exists.
- Ladislav Smid/Jeff Petry is excellent as a 3/4. Maybe we go Nick Schultz and Theo Peckham as a 5/6, and Corey Potter as the #7?
- All I know is, Justin Schultz looks more than ready to go. I think eventually Martin Marincin will join him as his D partner on the Oilers, but Marincin is still a baby and a full year of AHL isn't going to hurt him.
- Speaking of players staying on the farm for now, I believe Taylor Fedun still has work to do to get back. Fedun and Marincin can play top minutes for the Barons if the season starts on December 1st as many suggest it will.
- In goal, neither Olivier Roy or Yann Danis have looked brilliant in goal for the Barons. Danis is a veteran though and was brill last season. I'd have no problem making him the backup to Devan Dubnyk.
So in summary, if the NHL season gets going this season, my roster looks like...
L1: Hartikainen - Nuge - Eberle
L2: Hall - Gagner - Yakupov
L3: Smyth - Horcoff - Jones
L4: Tyrvainen - Belanger - Petrell
extra - Darcy Hordichuk
D1: Whitney - J. Schultz
D2: Smid - Petry
D3: Peckham - N. Schultz
extra - Corey Potter
Notes: Ales Hemsky dealt for 1st round pick. Nikolai Khabibulin and Andy Sutton both out due to injuries. Ben Eager in the clink, trying not to drop his bar of soap.
All things considered, this will be, again, a roster worthy of a lottery pick. That's the bad news. The good news is, the draft this year has four or five guys who all could be good enough to be a #1 selection. I really like the potential the Oilers have here to add a large offensively-gifted center to run the 2nd line (sorry Sammy). Sean Monahan or Alexander Barkov? Yes, please.