The Oilers are coming off of their highest point total since 1986-87 and certainly look like they’re a team on the rise. Anchored by Connor McDavid and a strong supporting cast up front, GM Peter Chiarelli told Sportsnet 590 (audio link) that he’s not concerned about their offense heading into the season but that the team is still looking to add to their defense:
“Right now, the scoring, I’m not really that concerned with. We lost Sekera and he won’t be back for a while, so that’s an area that we’re working on and we feel is an area that – I’m somewhat satisfied where we are, personnel-wise, but it can always be improved.”
Edmonton was dealt a big blow back in mid-May when it was announced that Andrej Sekera would miss six-to-nine months with a torn ACL which will keep one of their top-two defenders out for the first few months of 2017-18. While they’ve added some help in recent years in Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, and Matt Benning, they still don’t have the deepest group of blueliners to work with.
[Related: Oilers Depth Chart from Roster Resource]
Finding the right addition may prove to be somewhat of a challenge for Chiarelli. It’s likely that he has set his sights on a top-four replacement for Sekera and those types of players are rarely available at this time of year. It’s also understandable that the GM would prefer to add a rental player as while they currently have more than $8MM in cap space for this season per CapFriendly, McDavid’s new eight-year, $100MM contract is set to kick in a year from now.
Other news out of Edmonton:
- The Oilers are facing a tough decision with 2017 first rounder Kailer Yamamoto, writes Postmedia’s Robert Tychkowski. While the soon-to-be 19-year-old has made a very strong case for a roster spot so far this preseason, he is on the smallish side at just 5’8 and around 155 pounds while from a longer-term perspective, having his cheap entry-level contract begin as McDavid’s massive extension does would be more beneficial on the salary cap. If they do put him in the lineup to start the season, their attack will be even deeper with Yamamoto finishing fifth overall in the WHL in points per game last season at 1.52.
- The team announced (Twitter link) that defenseman Ryan Stanton suffered a crack in his foot and will be out for a while. The 28-year-old has 120 career NHL games under his belt but has spent most of the last two seasons at the minor league level.