Ranking the Edmonton Oilers' Top Offseason Moves
For the seventh straight season, the Edmonton Oilers have missed the playoffs, and right or wrong Steve Tambellini was relieved of his duties as general manager, and former Oiler player and coach Craig MacTavish was hired.
MacTavish has a long summer ahead of him as he evaluates the current talent on his team and addresses the problem areas needing correction.
With there being a few problematic areas on the roster, the rankings of priority for offseason moves will be based on what moves will have the most immediate and the most positive impact on the Edmonton Oilers going forward in the 2013-14 season.
Here are the rankings of the Edmonton Oilers' top offseason moves.
Honorable Mention: Goaltending
Devan Dubnyk has quietly had quite a respectable season for the Edmonton Oilers, and yet, many will be convinced that he is not capable of taking the team to the next level.
Considering the lackluster defensive play in front of him, Dubnyk has posted an impressive .920 save percentage and a 2.59 goals against average.
Dubnyk will be entering the final season of a two-year extension, so MacTavish will have to decide during the summer if Dubnyk will the guy in net for the Oilers to begin the season or if the team will entertain other options, either via trade or free agency.
3: Strengthening the Defense
The Edmonton Oilers are desperate for help on defense and have leaked scoring chances against due in large part to the fact that they do not have a legitimate guy on the roster who can play the big minutes against the opposition's best players.
Justin Schultz was a nice addition to the team and provided the team with a skilled puck-moving blueliner, but the rookie has been a liability in the defensive zone this season.
Edmonton has stockpiled defensemen in the draft over the past few seasons, but prospects such as Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat are a few seasons away from making an impact on the NHL level.
Oscar Klefbom could be the Oilers' best defensive prospect but missed the majority of the last season due to shoulder surgery and has yet to play a game in North America.
Edmonton will need to address the defense in the offseason, and while this would normally be one of the top priorities for the team, unfortunately for Edmonton, there are bigger problems that need to be addressed as well.
2: Coaching Change
While it is hardly unfair to judge a first-year NHL coach's performance during a lockout shortened season, the Edmonton Oilers cannot afford to wait for Ralph Krueger's system to start taking shape in Edmonton.
Throughout the course of the season, Krueger has shown little to no emotion to the fact that his team is struggling so mightily, and while a volatile coach may not be the right answer in Edmonton, the Oilers need someone who is capable of holding his players accountable.
As soon as Edmonton was eliminated from the playoff race, it appeared that the team simply rolled over and called it a season, and a head coach cannot let this type of attitude be acceptable especially on such a young team.
Craig MacTavish spoke about making bold moves in the offseason, and perhaps firing the coach isn't bold but it would definitely help reshape the Oilers' identity.
1: Adding Versatile Forwards
The Oilers are loaded with young, offensively gifted forwards but have found out this season that the team cannot win with all of the same players.
Guys like Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins form the core of what should (and probably will) be a formidable and explosive offense in the next couple of seasons, but the Oilers need to fill out the roster with versatile forwards to complement the skill.
It would take a lot of guts for MacTavish to trade one of these players, but the bottom line is that trading one of these superstars would net a large reward.
It's unfair to speculate names, but the Oilers would certainly benefit from having a player who has the ability to play top-six forward minutes but has more of a physical aspect to his game.
As it stands the Oilers are far too easy to play against, and that culture has to change.
Thanks to a woeful end of the season that has seen the Oilers lose nine of their last 10 games, the club should finish with another top-five draft pick, and this could be the first year that club's first-round draft pick could be moved.
Every team in the NHL needs and covets skilled power forwards, but the Oilers have the assets to acquire one.
The team needs to stop signing players on the decline and invest in a diversity of players who are coming into their prime. If the Oilers can add some size and some skill in the offseason, it should be the move that will have the biggest impact on the club going forward.
It would be a risky move to trade away a player like Eberle or their first-round draft selection, but perhaps one is necessary if things are to change in Edmonton.