Edmonton Oilers Need To Secure Young Core For The Future

By Randy Holt
Justin Schultz
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been discussed multiple times in the last few years, that the Chicago Blackhawks have set up a pretty good model for the Edmonton Oilers to follow. Draft high end offensive talent, build through the draft, sign a few role players, and you have yourself a Stanley Cup contender.

The Oilers haven’t quite reached that point yet. They do have the offensive core in place, but don’t have the role players necessary to contend for a Stanley Cup. Still, there’s at least one element of what the Blackhawks are currently doing that the Oilers could follow.

Unlike the last time they won the Cup, the Blackhawks have spent this summer retaining players, rather than watching them walk. Much of their roster is locked up for the next several years, meaning that their core is intact for multiple championship runs.

This is a model that the Oilers should be following. Before they bring in the depth and the role players, they must first make sure that their core guys are taken care of. From this past July, up through next summer, the Oilers will have had three key players eligible for contract extensions.

Already eligible are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz. Each represents a significant part of the Oilers’ future, and each represents a player that teams would be chomping at the bit to bring in, even if they are holding restricted free agent status.

Next summer, Nail Yakupov will become eligible, as his contract is up after the 2014-15 season. He came on strong last year, and showed that he has the ability to be an absolute star in this league. Also in the extension mix is Devan Dubnyk, who looks like this team’s goaltender for the foreseeable future. His contract is up after this year, making him eligible for an extension now.

The Blackhawks have shown that growing from within and retaining talent really is the way to build sustained success in this league. The Oilers look like they’re on the way to doing so, but it starts with being able to retain the talent that they currently have in the mix. Meaning they may want to get the extension talks rolling sooner, rather than later.

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