Edmonton Oilers: The 5 Biggest Stories to Follow During the Offseason
The 2012-2013 offseason will be an interesting one for the Edmonton Oilers hockey club as new General Manager Craig MacTavish looks to make significant changes to a team that once again failed to live up to their enormous potential.
Ranging from player additions to potential departures, the Oilers could be a very different looking club entering the start of the 2013-2014 season.
Here are the five biggest storylines to follow during the Edmonton Oilers’ offseason
Will Shawn Horcoff Be with the Team Heading into 2014?
Shawn Horcoff has been a serviceable player and a decent captain during this tenure with the Oilers. But with two years remaining on his contract at $5.5 million per-season, the team may look to buyout Horcoff’s contract.
Horcoff is a great third line centre who is more than capable of killing penalties, but he has failed to live up to his contract after the Oilers’ remarkable run to the Stanley Cup Finals some seven years ago.
While Horcoff should be one of the supporting cast members whom Edmonton can rely on to provide supplementary offense, he has struggled over the past few seasons to establish any real consistency to his offensive game. The money that Horcoff is making could be spent better with other alternatives.
It will be interesting to see if the Oilers decide to part ways with their current captain and buy out his contract during the offseason.
When Will Ground Break on the New Downtown Arena?
Now that the remaining $55 million towards the new Edmonton arena complex has been secured, all attention will be focused on when construction will begin.
The new arena could be a valuable recruiting tool for the team who has struggled to land marquee free agents over the past few years. It is also a solid vote of confidence that the team will be entrenched in Edmonton for many years to come.
The arena process has been such a drawn out process that fans and residents of Edmonton need some tangible rewards for their patience. The sooner the shovels get in the dirt for the new arena, the better for everyone involved.
Will the Oilers Trade Their First Round Draft Pick?
For the first time in three seasons, the Edmonton Oilers will not be selecting the first overall pick in the upcoming NHL entry draft. With the team currently holding the seventh overall pick, it will be interesting to see whether or not the team trades their pick.
With a relatively deep draft, the Oilers could look to trade down to secure a player that they like as well as add a roster player in the process.
If the team decides to part with the pick to move down, they very well could package a prospect or a roster player to try and land a prominent player in return.
The Edmonton Oilers and fans of the club will be watching closely as former first-overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recovers from shoulder surgery in the offseason.
It was clear during the 2012-2013 season that the shoulder was hampering his performance as RNH only managed to record 24 points in 40 games played.
With roughly a six-month recovery time, Nugent-Hopkins likely won’t be ready to play until around October. That means that the star will miss training camp as well as the preseason.
RNH factors to play a large role with the Oilers going forward, so his shoulder will be closely monitored.
MacTavish’s Bold Moves
As soon as Craig MacTavish took up the mantle of General Manager for the Edmonton Oilers he promised to make bold moves in order to help the team take the next step.
A statement such as this likely means that one of the Oilers’ top young players could be dealt if the correct deal presents itself. But the question would then center around who would stay and who would go.
Sam Gagner, 22, has proved to be a valuable player for the Oilers. The team will likely look to secure the restricted free agent’s services in a multi-year deal this offseason.
Edmonton could move a player like Magnus Paajarvi or even a player like Jordan Eberle to help secure that legitimate No.1 defender the team has lacked since Chris Pronger left the team.
While trading a player like Eberle would be a tough pill to swallow, the return from such a deal could have a very positive impact on the team.
It’s not easy trading away young talent, especially a player with such enormous offensive potential. MacTavish will have to do his due diligence before executing such a bold move.