A Busy Couple of Days for the Oilers

Trevor Moeller July 2, 2012 0
Trevor Moeller | Fighting for Stanley

The Edmonton Oilers have certainly been busy the last couple of days having a multitude of signings, some of which were for a couple of key players.  The Oilers signed guys like free-agent prospect like Justin Schultz, veteran Ryan Smyth, and guys like Darcy Hordichuk, David Musil and Yann Danis.  I like all of these signings as they give the Oilers some vital pieces of the puzzle going forward in both the short term and long term.

Justin Schultz

Justin Schultz, 21 (22 on Jul. 6), has agreed to terms on a two-year entry-level contract worth $925,000 with the Oilers.  He’ll receive a $92,500 signing bonus and, if he hits all bonus marks, will be a worth a cap hit of $3.755 million US.  The Oilers had quite an impressive sales pitch to the young defenseman; including Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish and Taylor Hall and in addition to them a pair of legendary Oiler Alumni in Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffee called Schultz.

“Going into that process, I didn’t expect that and it’s obviously pretty neat to get calls from guys that are legends in the game,” Schultz said. “Gretzky and Coffey were very nice guys and really shed light on the city of Edmonton and what it’s like to play there. I don’t think I said one word when they called. I was in shock,” admitted Schultz, who grew up in Kelowna, a Vancouver Canucks’ fan, but knows his history. “For them to even take the time to call me, that’s something I’ll never forget.”

This is pretty awesome for the Oilers as a franchise, as for the first time in a very long time a Free Agent has chosen to come to the Oilers.  A rather lengthy list of players have chosen not to come to Edmonton over the years, including Dany Heatley, Marian Hossa, Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander, who went so far as to agree to a deal only to change his mind when the paperwork arrived.

“It’s been a long process for me and a lot of tension that I didn’t think was going to get involved in it, but I’m glad it’s over and am really glad to be a part of the Edmonton Oilers organization,” Schultz said. “It’s a team I grew up always liking and I’m really excited right now.  You look at the team they have right now with all those young guys that are turning into superstars,” he continued. “They have a good, solid core of young prospects and that’s intriguing to me.”

Simply put, the Oilers are getting a very good young hockey player. Schultz has spent the past three seasons with the WCHA’s University of Wisconsin Badgers, posting 16 goals and 44 points in 37 regular-season games in 2011-12.

“Some people made it out that I was trying to get guaranteed ice time or a guaranteed spot and that was never, ever the case. I want to earn my spot and I know I’m going to do have to do that.  It was surreal … a little overwhelming at times, too,” he said. “I definitely didn’t expect to get this much attention or for it to get so big. I haven’t played a game in the NHL yet.  So it was overwhelming but definitely really cool to meet some of the people involved with some of the teams.  But when I knew I was going to go through this process, Edmonton was always in the back of my mind … with the young talent they have here, I always saw myself fitting in pretty good.

Ryan Smyth

The 17-year NHL veteran signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal Sunday morning, mere minutes before becoming an unrestricted free agent at 10:00am.  Smyth, 36, scored 19 goals and 46 points in all 82 games last season. However, 26 of them were recorded at a point-per-game pace to start the campaign, giving him only 20 points in the remaining 56 games.

With a loaded top 6 with guys like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the addition of Nail Yakupov, Smyth will be taking a slightly different role for the Oilers next season.  It’s possible that Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky will compose the team’s third line. Sprinkled with power-play and shorthanded time, Smyth will still be expected to bring his game to another level. He noticed the slowdown late last year, but is ready to re-discover the pace that made him one of the Oilers’ leading goal-scorers early on.

“We had discussions about all that,” Smyth said. “Wherever the coaches feel I fit in, it’s just nice to be a piece of the puzzle. That’s all you want. Eventually the puzzle will be completed and it’s because of all the pieces that go into it.  I wouldn’t have taken the deal if I wasn’t OK with it, but I feel there’s tremendous upside in the team, particularly with the acquisition of defenceman Justin Schultz and first-round pick Nail Yakupov. He seems to be excited and ready and willing to be a part of it,” said Smyth. “For a team to be successful, everybody has to identify their role and accept it. You have to find a way to be a piece of the puzzle.”

Darcy Hordichuk

This is one signing I particularly like, as I always thought that he wasn’t used correctly by former coach Tom Renney.  It is hoped, by fans and Hordichuk alike, that this will change under Ralph Krueger.  Last season, Hordichuk was used sparingly, often deployed for under six or seven minutes a game in the 43 he appeared in.

“There are a lot of young guys to protect on this team. That’s what I want to do,” he said. “With this new transition with Ralphy, I look at it as a new opportunity and I’m excited about it.  For me, it was simple. I wanted to get a chance with Ralph. I thought with some of the other teams I was looking at to sign with, Ralph knows me and how I can play. When he did take over last season, I thought I got a good chance to play for him and had a good opportunity to succeed. I want to build on that and that’s why I ended up signing.  That’s where my positive attitude comes in, when I sat out last year, and really understanding my role is something the organization has seen in me and respected,” he said. “At the end of the day, you want to help your teammates become a better team because you’re all in it together. You want to make that push and being negative doesn’t help anyone get better.  I’m trying to bring the organization together in the room and lift their spirits throughout the season. It’s all in an effort to make that push for the playoffs and let the younger guys experience what I got to experience throughout my career.”

Danis and Musil

The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with goaltender Yann Danis on a one-year contract.  Danis, 31, played in 43 games with the Oilers main affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League, posting a 26-14-2 record with a 2.07 GAA, .924 save percentage and five shutouts. He etched his name into the Barons record books twice. His five shutouts is the most in the brief two-season history of the Barons.  He also owns the individual record for consecutive shutout minutes by a Barons goaltender at 173 minutes 16 seconds.  “I was hoping to get a one-way, but we looked around the league and saw what was going to be available and the goalies on the market and we realized it would be tough. And from the start, I said if I was going to get a two-way, Edmonton was definitely my first option,” said Danis.

I like this signing because it gives the Oilers another option in net if Nikolai Khabibulin flops again like I suspect he will or if Devan Dubnyk gets injured or struggles.  Though I suspect the Oilers will search for another veteran goaltender if either scenario occurs.

The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with defenceman David Musil on a three-year entry level contract.  Musil, 19, has played three seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. In 192 games, the 6’4″, 198-pound Jihlava, Czech Republic native has 84 points (19G, 65A) and 254 penalty minutes.  Musil has also appeared in 20 post-season games with the Giants recording two goals and three assists, including helping the team to the 2010 WHL Conference Finals with two goals and two assists in 16 games.  Internationally, Musil represented the Czech Republic National Team at the 2009 and 2011 IIHF U18 Hockey Championship and the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship here in Alberta.  The Oilers selected Musil in the 2nd round, 31st overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Now I’ll be the first to admit I don’t really know much about Musil aside from the little tidbits that the media says when discussing the Oilers prospects, but judging by what I’ve heard I’m going take this as a good signing for the future. The consensus seems to be that after Oscar Klefbom, Musil is probably one of the next prospects to make it up to the NHL.

So my take on this overall is a good one, the Oilers have made signings that improve the team going into next season and locked up some talent for the future.  Now there are still some signings that need to be done, like Sam Gagner, Jeff Petry and Dubnyk among others but I’m sure they will be done before too long.