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INBOX: Next stop, free agency

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
Oilers radio colour analyst Bob Stauffer answers fans submitted by fans about the team.
  1. Bob, now that the Edmonton Oilers have drafted Connor McDavid, what are realistic expectations for him this season?


— Marc in Beaumont

 
Marc,

It is incumbent on any organization to not put too much pressure on young players out of the gate. Obviously, Connor McDavid is a very special player. I’m not sure we have seen his unique set of elite offensive skills in a prospect in a long time, but there will be some growing pains along the way.

In March of last season Derek Roy, who skated with McDavid in the summer of 2014, said he believed McDavid would have been a 60-point scorer in the NHL… as a 17 year-old.

It is pretty much universally thought that McDavid will be able to step into the NHL this season and contribute in a top-six offensive role for the Oilers.

I fully expect Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan to shelter his minutes a bit, especially on the road against some of the heavy horses down the middle in the Western Conference.

One thing that will work in McDavid’s favor is that he won’t have to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders at centre, with 2011 first-overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anton Lander capable of contributing offensively as well.

 
  • How would assess the acquisitions of both Cam Talbot and Griffin Reinhart and who would the Oilers have taken at #16 had they held onto the pick?

    — Darrell in Sherwood Park

     
    Darrell,

    My guess is the Edmonton Oilers would have taken either Joel Eriksson Ek or Evgeny Svechnikov at 16 had they held onto the pick. I am surprised that Mathew Barzal dropped to 16 as I don’t think many teams had both Jake Debrusk and Zach Senyshyn ahead of Barzal on their lists.

    Let’s start with Griffin Reinhart. I remember having a conversation with TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button about Griffin and looking for an NHL comparable and the name that came up-and it’s an old school one- is Serge Savard.

    Savard was a winner that played with what appeared to be effortless poise and subtle strength.

    Like Savard, Griffin plays a controlled game.

    Many media have questioned the offensive upside in his game, based on his numbers dropping after his draft year at the WHL level. But Reinhart’s role changed and he dealt with some injuries as well.

    I am certain that had Reinhart played in the 2013 WHL Final vs. Portland that the Oil Kings would have won the series, and there is no question that Griffin was an absolute stud in the 2014 Oil Kings Memorial Cup run.

    Fans will need to be patient, but Reinhart has the ability to be a top-four shutdown D who adds offence to his game over time.

    I also like that Peter Chiarelli moved the 16 and 33, two picks which would have brought in players three or four years away from being ready, to acquire a “D” that could emerge sooner with the Oilers core.

    As for Cam Talbot, Chiarelli was true to his word that he would not give up the 16 for a number one goalie-in-waiting type. To be honest, I thought the opportunity to get Talbot was over after the Oilers made the Reinhart deal.

    Talbot is the only goalie on the NHL over the last two seasons to have 50+ starts and not get pulled, and he is getting the opportunity to truly compete for number one minutes in Edmonton.

    Based on his numbers in New York over the last two seasons, I wouldn’t bet against him taking a step forward and becoming an NHL starting goaltender. He is certainly going to get the opportunity here in Edmonton.
     
  • Bob, now what happens in Free Agency on Wednesday?

    — Fickle Fred from Fultonvale


    Fickle Fred,

    I do not expect to see Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers chasing big money “whales” on Wednesday, and I also think that this is not a particularly deep free agent crop.
    The Oilers added Talbot in goal and Reinhart and Erik Gryba on the backend to change the look of those two positions.

    I think you might see a move made to potentially alter the make-up of 3rd or 4th lines, maybe adding a harder third-liner who can chip in some offence as well.
    Entirely possible that this type of move might be made via trade as well instead of free agency.
  • Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer
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