Edmonton Oilers in 2013
Newly-minted general manager Craig MacTavish has a lot of work to do in the next two to three months.
If the Edmonton Oilers are going to make significant progress next season, there are some large holes that need to be filled through trades, drafting and free-agent signings.
Unless the Oilers move up from their current seventh position, it is unlikely that they will be able to draft a player that will join the roster next season. Free agency and trades will be the likeliest sources for new players.
The Oilers need to have more balanced scoring next season. This must come not just from the bottom-six forwards but from the defense as well.
With all of this in mind, these are the three biggest holes on the current Edmonton Oilers’ roster.
6’5” Devan Dubnyk made tremendous strides this year in net. He solidified his claim to be the Oilers’ starting goaltender in the present and for the foreseeable future.
What the Oilers need now is a dependable veteran goaltender that can work in tandem with Dubnyk to help the Oilers make a concerted push to the 2014 playoffs.
Nikolai Khabibulin may remain with the team but a younger goaltender without Khabibulin’s recent injury history would be an upgrade.
Veteran Yann Danis, already in the Oilers' system, might be an answer, but his inconsistent play at the NHL level may not be enough for what the Oilers need to gain a playoff spot next season.
New Jersey's David Clarkson
It is no secret that the Oilers have a lot of skilled forwards. What they don’t have enough of is sandpaper to make life more difficult for opposing teams.
The Oilers have some prospects that may be able to fill this role, but with the team being so young, it makes sense to add a veteran to fill this role. If he can chip in 15 to 20 goals, this would be an added bonus.
These complementary players are easier to trade for or sign than the skilled forwards the Oilers already have, but it is imperative that they do it this summer.
Stanley Cup Winner, Drew Doughty
The Oilers have some very good prospects at the defense position. What they don’t have, outside of Justin Schultz, is a defenseman that has the potential to be a perennial NHL All-Star.
With Ryan Whitney almost certainly playing elsewhere next season, the Oilers do not have multiple defenseman able to contribute in the offensive zone.
Obviously there are at least 20 teams that don’t have this roster piece, but the Oilers do have some young assets that they may have to part with to fill this gaping hole on their roster.
It will take a lot to pry someone out of another situation, and the Oilers will likely have to overpay given some of the challenges the Oilers have had in attracting veteran stars to stay in Edmonton. But they have to do this to play in the NHL’s second season in 2014.
Most NHL teams would like to get their hands on a number of Edmonton’s young stars, but Craig MacTavish will have to be prudent in not giving up too much in acquiring an impact defenseman.
If the Oilers can add these three pieces, there is reason to believe that they could contend for a playoff spot next season.