This is something that I really wanted to put some time into and write a full profile on each player, unfortunately I haven’t had the time I had originally thought I would have to do so and frankly I feel many would be a waste of time upon further review. So what I am going to do in this piece is rapid fire through the remaining list, spend varying time on varying players and possibly revise how I came about my list and then get more to the point.
- Brenden Morrow
- Pascal Dupuis
- Cam Atkinson
- Vern Fiddler
- Matt Halischuk
- Marcus Kruger
- Max Talbot
- Chris Kelly
- Sean Couturier
- Dale Weise*
Fiddler is a player that is very similar to Boyd Gordon, the difference being that he’s slightly older, slightly worse at faceoffs and Gordon is slightly better defensively. In a nut shell he’s a poor man’s Boyd Gordon and thus isn’t at all what we’re looking for.
No. Plain and simple, Dale Weise has put up 14 points in 118 games and simply doesn’t belong on any scoring line.
Atkinson is a player that I believe is currently low on the depth charts of the Columbus Blue Jackets, behind the likes of Gaborik, Horton, Jarred Boll and Jack Skille. However, I feel like this is a guy that could develop behind these players and one day emerge from “out of nowhere”. The knock on this guy is he’s small, I’m talking tiny, like he wouldn’t be out of place in a cradle in Smurf Village. He’s listed at 5’7” 173 lbs and I get the hunch that’s with his equipment on. Now he wouldn’t be the first small player to play in the NHL, look at Nathan Gerbe. In fact if you want a player to compare him to Gerbe is your guy, they are separated by 1 inch in height (Atkinson is the relative giant here) and 8 lbs in weight (Gerbe the relative sumo wrestler). They both put up very similar numbers in the AHL and the NCAA in the H-East Division. In fact Atkinson appears to be the guy that stepped in to Gerbe’s skates (nobody else could get them on their little toe) at Boston College once he moved on to the pros. Gerbe had a 1.08 pts/gm average and Atkinson was 1.06 pts/gm. I truly believe that Atkinson one day could be a guy to provide a team in the NHL with quality secondary scoring. That said he’s a natural right winger (not left or center) and I’m not sure that this is an experiment we want to take on, there’s just too many unknowns in play.
Halischuk is another guy I think could be a great addition to a team for secondary scoring, but again he is a nature right winger and will not bump Eberle, Hemsky or Yakupov off of any scoring line.
Kruger has been a tremendous find for the Chicago Blackhawks. Not to sound like a broken record here but he too would add significant secondary scoring to any team in the NHL. However, Kruger is playing on a team behind some very strong centermen and is not heavily relied on for faceoffs with Chicago, which works out well for him as this is not a strong suit. The story is a little different in Edmonton and for us to bring in a centermen he will likely need to give Gordon’s arms a break every once in a while for important draws unless Gagner has improved astronomically in this area of his game. In addition to that I believe the his price tag would be to high to get him in a trade.
Yet another solid ad for depth scoring although this time age is not on the players side and frankly his production could dip any season. This means it could be this year or it could be in ten years. All that said I don’t think my arm would have to be twisted to far to add a career production 40 point guy to my 3rd line. In general we’re looking for centers but there are definite holes that could be filled on our left wing if the room was available to add this guy. That said he just signed a 4 year contract with a cap hit of $3.75M. No thanks.
Maxime Talbot/Sean Couturier
Philadelphia is one of the teams that is tight to the cap. Granted they free up a lot of room once Chris Pronger goes on LTIR to end his career, but they still may be looking to free up a little more room. One of the places that they appear to have some depth is at the center position. Couturier and Talbot are both players towards the bottom of the depth chart in Philly and both are under contract for the next 3 years with a cap his to $1.75M. Couturier could be 30 pt/season kinda guy and Talbot should be in the neighbourhood of 25. However, neither player is strong in the faceoff circle by any stretch of the imagination.
How has Brenden Morrow not been signed yet? The guy has put up 542 points in 850 games in his career. In a healthy season that kind of production is good for 50 points. Throw him on a line with one of the Oilers star studded Right Wingers and I don’t care who plays in between them. At this point if he’s not sign with Carolina to a PTO in the morning, MacT should get on the phone. At this stage in the game a PTO or a 1 or 2 year deal at $3M shouldn’t be out of the question. If this is the case I think you gotta make this offer in a heart beat, he’s not a center but could be a great fit if Taylor Hall at center is a viable option.
Chris Kelly is currently under contract with the Boston Bruins for the next 3 years at a cap hit of $3M. Kelly is a 32 year old 6 foot 200 lb centerman currently listed 4th on Boston’s depthchart but with Gregory Campbell (Also known as Chuck Norris on skates) hot on his heals. Kelly has 229 points in 603 game for a production pace of 30 points per 82 games over a 9 year career, a pace that has remained consistent over the last 3 years. Kelly has a career faceoff percentage of 49.4%, however he has developed this skill greatly through out his career. Kelly has posted a 54.6% in the circle over the last 3 season which includes his best year at last year at 57.9%. Those kind of number or dominant in the circle. Over the last 4 season Kelly has started in the offensive zone a mere 46.8% of the time and Zone Finish of 50.1% that’s good for a Zone Differential of 3.3%. While this isn’t going to blow anyone away it shows he is capable of starting in his own zone more often than not and finishing in the oppositions zone more if only by a slim margin more often. This too is a stat that has been improving over the last few years of his career, last year he had a Zone Start of 33.7% and a Zone Finish of 47.4%, a more impressive differential of 13.7%. While Kelly doesn’t have stellar Corsi numbers I have no problem pointing to the point I made in my original post on this topic that Coris doesn’t necessarily accurately display a defensive forwards possession stats. To recap Kelly is a 30 point per season player, is a stud in the faceoff circle, has decent size to hold his position on the puck and is excellent at moving it from his zone to the oppositions. This is exactly the type of player the Oilers should be targeting. Even with all this working in his favour he’s not necessarily untouchable either. Even with his impressive faceoff numbers, Kelly was 3rd on Boston at faceoff percentage last season behind Bergeron and the now gone Peverley, he was 4th in total faceoffs behind Bergeron, Krejci and Campbell. However, even after all that they aren’t simply going to give this guy away, which is unfortunate given that the Oilers don’t have much to offer. They aren’t going to give up anyone in their core, they don’t have much for quality forward prospects, and Boston isn’t exactly in need for a prospect defenseman with Krug and Dougie Hamilton adding to this foundation corner-stoned by Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk. That said Bruins are currently more than $1M over the cap and may be looking to deal. The only thing I can really see working out here is a high-end draft pick and maybe a player like Ewanyk or Moroz or maybe a deal could be centered around Jujar Khaira. I’m not really sure what it’d take to get Chris Kelly in Oilers silks but if Boston’s willing to deal, Edmonton may just have to decide what they’re willing to give up for the 32 year old veteran.