Edmonton Oilers: Top 5 Moves of the Offseason
The months following the 2011-12 season were met with a flurry of activity as NHL franchises looked to alter their rosters before the then-current collective bargaining agreement expired and the financial landscape changed in the NHL.
For the Edmonton Oilers, the offseason was one that saw an addition of a potential franchise player, a big free-agent signing and the addition of a new bench boss.
While perhaps not as busy as some of the other franchises in the NHL (i.e. Minnesota), here are the top five offseason moves made by the Edmonton Oilers.
5. Devan Dubnyk Extension
The Oilers decided to to see if young goaltender was Devan Dubnyk was ready to be a full-time goalie in the NHL, and they made a sizable investment in this experiment handing out a two-year, $7 million contract to the 26-year-old.
The Oilers already have a significant amount of money invested in aging goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and are unlikely to be able to offload his large contract any time soon. This means the Oilers will have a combined $7.25 million worth of goaltending contracts once NHL hockey is set to resume.
In his past three seasons with the Oilers, Dubnyk has a combined record of 36-43-11 and, though he has seen increased time due to various injuries to the aging Khabibulin, hasn't proven he can be a reliable everyday goaltender.
At $3.5 million per year for the next two years, he better start proving himself soon.
4. Ralph Krueger Named New Head Coach
Ralph Krueger perhaps wasn't the sexiest of choices as the man to succeed Tom Renney behind the bench as the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, but he was the one perhaps best suited to step into the role.
After serving behind Renney as an associate coach in charge of the power play, which saw the team improve drastically last season, Krueger already has familiarity with the players and is a voice that his players clearly listen to.
Krueger may not the experience of some of the other candidates, but the work as the coach of the Switzerland National Team can't be ignored either. Krueger had a major hand in helping establish a competitive and credible Swiss program.
A three-year deal is perfect to see what Krueger can bring to the team, and it's a breath of fresh air after Renney helmed the team into the basement the past two seasons.
3. Securing the Services of Coveted Free Agent Justin Schultz
When the Edmonton Oilers secured the services of highly coveted free-agent defenseman Justin Schultz, it was extremely important for the squad for two major reasons.
The first being that the Oilers now had a legitimate blue-chip prospect on the back end.
Schultz had a phenomenal career at Wisconsin and could develop into an all-star defenseman if he reaches the potential that everyone seems to think that he has.
The second reason this is an important acquisition for the team is because it goes a long way to help dispel the mentality that top free agents do not want to sign in Edmonton and play for the Oilers.
Pronger left because his wife didn't want to live in the city, and the squad couldn't land Michael Nylander for the same reason.
Schultz chose the Oilers over a number of teams who courted the youngster, and it will go a long way to clear the way for more top young talent to sign for the team.
2. Ensuring Hall and Eberle Are Oilers for the Future
The Edmonton Oilers went a long way in helping to ensure the future of the franchise when they locked up Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to seven and six-year extensions respectively.
While Hall may seem like the riskier signing due to the fact that he has suffered a number of serious injuries in his previous two seasons, the former Windsor Spitfire sniper is a key part of the young group of core players the Oilers are assembling.
Eberle has proven to be one of the steals of the NHL draft and is slowly blossoming into one of the most eye-catching players on the ice today.
After leading the Oilers in scoring during the 2011-12 season, it was only a matter of time before the Oilers locked up the gifted playmaker long-term.
With the chemistry the two have already developed in their two years on the team together (as well as being roommates), both Hall and Eberle will be two of the most crucial Oilers for the next decade.
1. Oilers Draft Nail Yakupov
For the third straight season, the Edmonton Oilers held the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL entry draft, and for the third straight year, the Edmonton Oilers took the arguably the best player in the draft.
While some were questioning the decision considering the lack of depth on defense, the Oilers opted to take the young Russian from the Sarnia Sting and add another dynamic scoring threat to an already established embarrassment of riches.
Drafting young defensemen isn't as clear-cut as drafting a top forward talent, and so, the Oilers made the right decision in drafting Nail Yakupov.