Monday, June 30, 2014

Looking at UFA forwards

Mikhail Grabovski spent last season with the Washington Capitals. 
As we all know, Sam Gagner was traded yesterday in a deal that yielded Teddy Purcell, a 6’3 winger from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The acquisition of Purcell gives the Oilers three capable right wingers, with Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov being the other two. Taylor Hall, David Perron and Matt Hendricks will man the left side, while the middle of the ice can be filled with the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boyd Gordon and potentially Leon Draisaitl. I would love for Edmonton to add another capable pivot to provide insulation for Draisaitl, and another solid winger certainly wouldn't hurt either. With the NHL’s unrestricted free agency period starting tomorrow, it’s time to take a look at who could help out the Oilers.

Milan Michalek

Michalek is 6'2 and 216lbs, originating from Jindrichuv Hradec of the Czech Republic. He's a left winger with excellent speed and size, two traits that should grab the attention of the Oilers' brass. At 29 years of age, he still has some productive years left in him. One of the reasons that I think he would be a good fit on the second or third line is because of his production in the past. Milan has surpassed 50 points four times in his career, and he's also chipped in five 20 plus goal seasons. He may be prone to injury, but I think he could be worth a two year deal for the right price. I would be willing to offer anything under four million a year for his services, preferably on a two year pact. Fun fact, Michalek had a career high 35 goal season in 2011-12 playing on Jason Spezza's wing, so he definitely knows where the net is. 

Mikhail Grabovski

Grabo should be an intriguing player to the Oilers, largely in part to the position he plays. Mikhail is a centre, and a good one at that. He's 30 years old and has significant experience as a second line centre, something that Edmonton could use with the departure of Sam Gagner. Signing a player like Grabovski would mean that Draisaitl could be played in a more sheltered position on the third line, with Gordon handling the heavy minutes on the fourth line. Grabovski has a wide range of skills, as he has shown respectable two-way ability in the past. He's a proven possession player with the ability to push the play up ice on a consistent basis. If the Oilers could sign him to a two or three year deal worth 3.5 million per, he'd be a stellar addition to the team.

Mathieu Perreault

Lastly, let's take a look at the skilled centre from Quebec. Perreault would be the forward I push the hardest for if I'm GM Craig MacTavish, as he's only 26 years old and just beginning to show what he can actually do. Perreault is a little undersized, standing at 5'10 and 185lbs. Don't let his size fool you, this kid is a real gamer. Mathieu posted 43 points in 69 games on a strong Anaheim Ducks team, spending most of his time on the second or third line. I like Perreault as a solid and young utility player, and the added depth at centre would be a huge bonus for this young Edmonton squad. Again, something in and around the three to four million range per year would be suitable, leaning closer to three. This is one of those deals that could be a nice bargain down the line. 

I'm not sure how much the Oilers are actually willing to spend in free agency, but I think signing at least one forward worth three or four million per year would be realistic and attainable. Any of the above mentioned players would certainly help the team, and those three aren't the only options. Names like Nikolai Kulemin, Benoit Pouliot, Jussi Jokinen and Daniel Winnik would all bring something to the team. One thing is for sure, Edmonton definitely has some choices to make. 

Thanks for reading! 

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