There have been reports this off-season of the Oilers looking for a bit more grit in the lineup, as well as some defensive help. The Oilers are currently showing interest in unrestricted free agent Arron Asham. I’ve compiled a list of UFAs out there that could help the team. Feel free to add some suggestions as well…
Arron Asham (RW)
|Assets - Owns a solid work ethic and is strong along the boards. Is also willing to crash the net to create scoring chances or even drop the gloves.
Flaws - Lacks polish in his overall offensive game. Will never light up the score sheet at the National Hockey League level.
Career Potential - Physical role player.
Racki’s Comment – Can throw hands, and loves to hit guys. Plays a good up tempo game and can get under the skin of players. Would be good for either of our bottom six lines.
Steve Begin (LW/C)
|Assets - Is fearless and can get under an opponent’s skin. Possesses open-ice hitting ability and defensive prowess. Is much stronger than his size suggests. Can play both center and wing.
Flaws – Has limited scoring ability. Tends to take bad penalties. Is breaking down physically because of his rambunctious style of play.
Career Potential – Agitating role player.
Racki’s Comment – Energy guy and agitator. Can fight the smaller guys. Likes to hit. Has had some injury issues though. Played some centre, and had reasonably good luck on the dot last year (53.8%). Would be a good guy to add to our PK.
Eric Belanger (C)
|Assets – Has terrific hockey sense and on-ice awareness. Is defensively responsible and an excellent face-off man.
Flaws – Is undersized and a bit fragile. Hasn’t produced numbers in the NHL that match his talent level.
Career Potential – Two-way center.
Racki’s Comment – Has some decent offensive ability, but is also defensively sound. Seems to have figured out the secret of the faceoff… might be a bit overrated there though, due to his great success last year. Can play the PK. He’s been talked about a lot in the Oilogosphere, but he wouldn’t be my first choice though.
Ryan Johnson (C/LW)
Assets - Has blinding speed and is a tenacious forechecker. Likes to get physical and play an energy role. Can play either center or left wing. Is a good face-off man.
Flaws - Lacks offensive flair and struggles to put points on the board. Is also somewhat injury-prone and lacking in physical toughness.
Career Potential - Checking center.
Racki’s Comment – Fast, good physical, energy guy… pretty good on the dot. Plays the PK. Has had injury issues. Tainted by playing in Vancouver, but still would be a nice addition to our bottom six.
John Madden (C)
Assets - Is an outstanding penalty-killer and shutdown pivot. His versatility enables him to play any role on a hockey club. Has great speed, sound fundamentals and an excellent work ethic.
Flaws - Doesn’t put up huge numbers in the NHL, which makes him a less-than-ideal top six pivot. Can go long stretches without a point.
Career Potential – Checking center.
Racki’s Comment – Getting long in the tooth, but he’s a top notch defensive guy who happens to be able to contribute a little on the scoresheet. Still quick for his age too. Doesn’t miss many games, either. His leadership would go a long way on a young team.
Adam Mair (C/LW/RW)
|Assets – Plays a sound defensive game and creates a lot of turnovers in the offensive zone. Works hard and is always hustling. Can play all three forward positions. Is good at agitating opponents.
Flaws – Injuries have ravaged what was once a promising two-way career. Is at times too aggressive and takes bad penalties. Doesn’t have a lot of goal-scoring instincts.
Career Potential – Veteran role player.
Racki’s Comment – Likes to play the body, is good defensively, and decent on the dot. Would make a good bottom six centre option, as well as help on the PK.
Stephane Veilleux (LW/RW)
|Assets – Has defensive instincts and the ability to play an energetic physical game. Kills penalties well, due to great speed, and can play either wing position.
Flaws – Isn’t a naturally gifted player and also lacks size and strength. Doesn’t have confidence or the offensive instincts to produce regularly.
Career Potential – Defensive energy winger.
Racki’s Comment – Good PKer, fast skater and can contribute a tiny bit on the scoresheet. Can play RW as well. Would be a good addition to the bottom six, and in particular the PK.
If I had to rank these guys in order of whom I’d like to sign here for forwards, I’d say:
1. John Madden
2. Steve Begin
3. Arron Asham
4. Ryan Johnson
5. Eric Belanger
6. Adam Mair
7. Stephane Veilleux
I’d say any of them would be a nice addition to the team though, and each of them should come for fairly cheap as well.
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