Edmonton Oilers Most Likely to Leave in 2014 Offseason
The 2014 offseason will once again be a period of significant change for the Edmonton Oilers as the team tries to come to terms with another disappointing season.
The Oilers have already taken the steps to lock up their significant assets, with players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all signed to long-term contract extensions.
However, Edmonton will need to fill out the roster with supplementary players to not only fill organizational needs and deficiencies but to replace departing players.
Here is a look at the current Edmonton Oilers most likely to leave in the 2014 offseason.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Smyth
Ryan Smyth is the most likely to leave in the 2014 offseason because he already declared he would be retiring after the 2013-14 regular season came to a close.
Smyth will be extremely hard to replace for the Oilers, not only for the offensive production he provided to the bottom-six forwards but for his intangibles.
Smyth was as “true” an Oiler as there perhaps will ever be. A player whose pride for the team and for the city was unparalleled, attributes that will be sorely missed on a young team like the Oilers.
Edmonton is struggling to find identity and develop a certain culture, and losing a veteran of Smyth’s caliber, a player who has earned a certain cache in the NHL, will be a serious blow.
Ryan Jones was once a serviceable bottom-six forward who could be counted on to provide tenacity and infrequent offensive production.
Those days seem to be over, as does Jones’ time in Edmonton.
Jones is an unrestricted free agent this summer and after registering a meager six points in 52 games played, it is safe to assume the Oilers will not be inclined to offer Jones another contract extension.
Jones has proven he can be effective in the past, but it would almost certainly be best for Jones and for the Oilers if they severed ties this offseason.
Mark Fraser is another one of the bottom-pairing defenders acquired last season by general manager Craig MacTavish in an attempt to provide some size and toughness to the Oilers lineup.
Unfortunately for MacTavish and for the Oilers, Fraser’s brief stint with the club was uninspired at best.
Fraser is another unrestricted free agent this summer and will likely start 2014 in another NHL team’s system.
Sam Gagner is an interesting candidate for this list, having just signed a contract extension last year.
But after suffering a significant jaw injury during the preseason, Gagner struggled to find his form and could very well be on his last legs in Edmonton.
Gagner is now the longest-tenured Oiler currently on the roster but could be viewed as a tradeable asset at the NHL entry draft or sometime before the trade deadline next season.
If Edmonton was to draft a center this offseason, it would almost certainly signify the beginning of the end of Gagner’s time as an Oiler.
Jesse Joensuu was another one of Craig MacTavish’s attempts to try and add some size to the Oilers lineup, and while the burly Finn does have some muscle, he lacked any semblance of offensive skill during the regular season to be able to hold a roster spot on the Oilers next season.
The Oilers need bottom-six forwards who possess both a physical dynamic and can also chip in offensively and help provide secondary scoring.
Players like Joensuu, who do add size, limit the offensive creativity while on the ice. For this reason, Joensuu should be considered a candidate to be departing this offseason.