Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett is ready to dive into the deep end.
Of his roster, of course.
“I think last year, we had a lot of question marks on where people were going to fit — and not just fit but were they going to be able to play? What roles were they going to be playing?” Tippett said on Tuesday on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer.
“It just seems like we have a better choice of skill in our lineup than we did a year ago.”
The Oilers should have more depth than last season.
They added forwards Kyle Turris and Dominik Kahun through free agency. Jesse Puljujarvi returns from playing in Finland. Tyler Ennis is back after joining the Oilers at last season’s trade deadline.
Tippett is hoping those players can help improve his club’s five-on-five performance, which was a weakness in 2019/20. The Oilers had a Corsi of 47.8 per cent, 27th in the NHL. They were outscored 154-144 five-on-five.
“The improvement we have to make, both offensively and defensively, is five-on-five,” explained Tippett.
“That’s going to determine how good a team we’re going to be this year. The added depth up front will really help us there.”
On the back end, Oscar Klefbom won’t play because of a shoulder issue. Tyson Barrie, signed in free agency after a year in Toronto, will take Klefbom’s spot on the power play.
“With Klefbom being out, those are big minutes we have to fill,” said Tippett. “You’re not going to fill it with one guy. I think between (Caleb) Jones and (Slater) Koekkoek, (William) Lagesson coming in, we’ll have people who can jump in.
“I suspect somebody’s going to go out there and be a good fit in there and run with the ball.”
Late Monday night, the Oilers announced that right shot defenceman Ethan Bear had signed a two-year contract with an annual average value of $2 million.
“We got the business side of it behind us. We need him to show up with the same attitude he had at training camp last year,” said Tippett.
“He came in with the mindset he was going to win a job and that’s what he did. He had a very good season.”
On Tuesday, the Oilers signed forward Devin Shore and defenceman Ryan Stanton to profession tryout contracts. Shore, 26, has played in 288 NHL games. Stanton, 32, has 120 NHL games under his belt and is under contract with the Oilers farm team in Bakersfield.