One of the words you will hear from every team around the NHL is, depth. In today’s era of the salary cap and parity, the ability to find players with a well-rounded skill set and lower salary are a huge key to success.
All successful teams have their share of players that can play a regular shift on the bottom two lines, but that also have enough skill to play within the top-six if injuries or other issues take place.
As the Oilers continue their progress and look towards the future, there are a number of players that are showing signs of being just these types of players. Ryan Jones
is certainly a guy that comes to mind in this category. Jones can usually be seen on the third or fourth line crashing the net and providing the team with a much-needed energetic spark. Although more known for his hair and gritty play, Jones can also put the puck in the net as seen by the 18 goals he scored last season and the 14 so far this year.
|Ryan Jones is the type of depth player any team would love to have. |
It was this type of versatility that had Jones seeing some time in the top-six earlier in the season. When injuries arrived to players such as Taylor Hall
and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
, Jones was there to fill in. It is this type of depth that will eventually allow Edmonton to climb out from the bottom of the NHL standings and into contention again.
“My role is to do whatever the coach asks of me and that’s exactly what I try to do,” explained Jones.
Another more recent example of this growing depth is the Oilers’ Lennart Petrell
. The 27-year-old Finish forward is playing in his first season in the NHL and has adjusted very well to the North American game.
“Every game I play I get a little more comfortable playing over here,” said Petrell.
Petrell has found his groove in the Oilers lineup as a quality checking forward and excellent penalty killer. Petrell brings a talented skill set and thus has earned himself a spot playing on the top line with RNH and Eberle in tonight’s game against Dallas.
It is quite the accomplishment for a player who didn’t come over to the National Hockey league until a relatively late age. Petrell spent seven seasons playing for HIFK Helsinki in Finland before coming over here. To adapt this quickly is a testament to both the player and Oilers coaching staff for developing another player with the ability to play up and down the lineup.
“Obviously playing with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle is special, they are very skilled. I think the main thing for me is to just stay focused,” said Petrell.
Whether it’s a guy like Jones, Eager or Petrell stepping up to fill a role, the point is that the Oilers are starting to build that all important balance in the lineup. It is said that you can't win in the NHL anymore without a lot of depth; the Oilers have taken notice and are working to get it done.