Those gaps being:
1. Top right-side defensemen = $6 million
2. Third line centre = $3 million
3. Backup goalie = $2 million
Total: $11 million
This is assuming Chiarelli makes the following moves:
Cracknell (LW) - He's okay on the 4th line fill in.
Gazdic (LW) - With guys like Kharia around, there's no need to keep him
Nikitin (LD) - I don't even have to explain myself
Pardy (LD) - Mistake-prone defenseman
Klinkhammer (LW) - I'm torn on him but he's digressed.
Pitlick (RW/C) - He's a hell of a player actually, but is injury-prone. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets signed for one more year.
Kassian (RW) - He needs to be better and have a good camp.
Pakarinen (RW) - He had a great camp last year and good season near the end.
Gryba (RD) - He's a big tough right shot defensemen - a rarity.
Clendening (RD) - Only becuase he's right shot.
Oesterle (LW) - Filled in great on both sides. Good trade bait.
Korpikoski (LW) $2.5 million - Let's stop kidding ourselves and admit he's terrible.
Yakupov (RW) $2.5 million - Let's move on from the drama. His defense is the shits. He's not a third line winger, and brings down everyone around him. Katz made a bad choice.
Hendricks (LW/C) $1.85 million - As much as we love him, he's getting slower and with one year left on his contract, might as well try and get something for him. Any team could use him. I now feel he's the stop gap for Jujhar Khaira who has tonnes of potential as a big two-way skilled fighter.
Depending on what you get back (picks?), that's $6.85 million added to the $11 million for almost $17 million for UFAs to fill three spots now. You can most certainly overpay for a two years until McDavid and Draisaitl need big contracts.
Send to AHL:
Nurse (LD) - He needs to dominate and gain some confidence. Only reason he was called up was because of injuries and Nikitin sux.
Reinhart (LD) - I saw an improvement in possession and toughness. Like Nurse, he needs to dominate.
Brossoit (G) - He didn't perform as well in net as we thought.
That brings the lineup to:
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Draisaitl
Pouliot - McDavid - Eberle
Maroon - ? - Kassian*
Khaira - Letestu - Pakarinen*
Sekera - ?
Klefbom - Fayne
Davidson - Gryba
- Trade Nugent-Hopkins for 3rd line centre and picks. I'm not a fan of trading a legitimate two-way centreman. But that can open up another $3 million for an overpayment on a top right-side UFA defenseman. Then slot in Draisaitl to centre. Now you need to find a top right winger. In that case, you can easily move McDavid's line to be the top line, so you can find a 2nd line right winger and not pay as much.
- Trade Draisaitl (gasp!). Like Nuge, he's not quite a 3rd line centreman. But you might be able to get more using his potential as a selling point--again, to land that top right-side defensemen and nothing else.
- Trade Klefbom (you crazy mang!) for right-shot d-man straight up. Davidson can play 2nd pairing minutes, but that means Nurse has to be ready to step up on the 3rd pair.
I don't think any of those things are actually going to happen though. Call it a hunch.
What might happen is trading that #4 first round draft pick. It's likely that player won't be an immediate NHLer, but for a team further down that is rebuilding, it can be valuable to trade up a guy with one year left. Who? I don't know.
Lots for Chiarelli to think about. As he's said, a good GM needs to explore all options on the table.
And as an Oilers fan who discusses these options with colleagues and friends on a regular basis, we are finally assuming Chiarelli is a good GM.