Are the Edmonton Oilers just prepared to let a 22-goal scorer Alex Chiasson walk away?Maybe to Barry Trotz on Long Island, because Trotz had Chiasson in Washington.The Oilers are spending a lot more time talking to Washington’s UFA right-winger Brett Connolly than last year’s top-six winger Chiasson, also unrestricted, with almost identical career stats and age.Maybe it’s because Connolly, a better skater, had 22 goals, 21 even-strength last year while Chiasson had eight on the PP.Both guys’ shooting percentages were better than normal.Chiasson, 28, was 17.9, Connelly, 27, 15.8. Well above the NHL average for wingers.Connolly probably has better hands but Chiasson is better defensively.“I don’t think there’s enough for Brett to be on a first line with the mentality of how he plays,” said former NHL winger Alan May, who does TV commentary for the Capitals. “Maybe a short-term fix but it didn’t work in D.C. with either (Evgeny) Kuznetsov or (Nick) Backstrom. He worked really well with (third-line C) Lars Eller the last couple of years.”We know the rationale here. The Oilers feel Connolly, a former first-round draft, could be a third-liner as he was with the Caps but maybe play second-line RW with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers see Chiasson as a third-line winger and first PP net-front presence.“Two years ago most of his goals were stick-length away from the net. Last year they were from farther out. He was shooting, trying to find shooter spots. He’s got good legs and when he strides to the net, he’s got a nice touch. Conno has to get to the net,” said May, who likes both guys, but in different ways.“Alex is an ugly skater but he gets there. I saw how committed he was in Washington with the little things, getting the puck out, blocking shots, well-positioned in the slot. He’s very, very coachable,” said May.“I’m kind of surprised he doesn’t have a contract. I would not be surprised if Barry Trotz wants him because of the system he has with the Islander, so hard-working. They don’t play a speed game. There’s definitely teams Alex could play for and put up 15-20 goals.”Minnesota, in major need of right-shot wingers, has also talked to Chiasson’s people.TALBOT AVAILABLEIf Sherwood Park’s Carter Hart had a vote, Cam Talbot would have been back in Philly because they’ve worked out together here in the summer months, but the ex-Oilers goalie’s agent George Bazos indicated last week that his client still considers himself a starter or a 1a in a goalie tandem. That wasn’t going to happen with Flyers, who signed Brian Elliott at $2 million.Fact is, there may only be one spot where Talbot has a shot at being a No. 1: Carolina, where Talbot was traded after a mid-February Oilers game there. They might not have Petr Mrazek (a possibility here) or Curtis McElhinney back with the Canes, and, while owner Tom Dundon isn’t a big spender, you would think Talbot could get $3 million there.As a 1a, he could certainly be in Calgary with David Rittich, who only played 45 games last year with average stats, with a 2.61 average and a .911 save percentage. The Flames have $13 million in cap space and could easily fit Rittich at, say, $3 million and Talbot at $2.5 million.With only $8.33 million in Oilers cap space, they can’t afford any more than, say, $2M-$2.5M on another goalie. I still think it’s either Calgary’s Mike Smith or Mrazek, whichever is cheaper or with better term, but the goalie they would really want is Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov. Too expensive.ICE TIME FOR BROBERGThe Oilers want top draft Philip Broberg to play lots of minutes this season, in junior against his peer-group or in Sweden against men on a young Skelleftea team.“The ice time trumps everything. I don’t know how good Hamilton’s going to be this season but we know (GM) Stevie (Staios) really well. There’s a lot of trust there,” said Oilers head of player personnel Scott Howson. “Philip could stay in Sweden for a year and go to Bakersfield next season. He’s not physically ready for the AHL right now. That league eats up teenagers.”This ’n that: The Oilers qualified winger Jujhar Khaira to keep his rights but after three goals in 60 games last year, nobody would be surprised if he’s traded. He’s gone from being a strong third-line guy in the team’s eyes to a fourth-liner. The Oilers are very interested in another fourth-line guy, Noel Acciari, the hard-nosed kid from the Bruins who played with a broken sternum in the post-season …Vegas president George McPhee’s boy Graham is coming off a very rough season at Boston College with nine points. “There were a variety of factors. He got off to a bad start and so did the team. Huge struggle for Graham,” said Howson … Matt Benning’s defenceman/brother Mike, who has 61 points in 60 games with Sherwood Park Crusaders, was invited to Canada’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup under 18 tryout camp. Oil Kings forward Jake Neighbours was also invited to the Hlinka camp … The Oilers expect their seventh-round draft forward, Maxim Denezhkin, to play for ex-Oilers coach Craig MacTavish at Yaroslavl and there are no plans for him to come to North America as a junior. “I don’t think he speaks a word of English,” said Howson. The 18-year-old played one game for Lokomotiv last year.
Oil Spills podcast: Oilers’ needs obvious as NHL free agency approachesAn NHL goalie and a forward with some scoring prowess are high on Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland’s shopping list as this summer’s NHL free agency comes closer.Hockey beat writers Jim Matheson and Rob Tychkowski talk to host Craig Ellingson about free agency and about the Oilers’ bounty from the recent NHL Draft, which saw the team take defenceman Philip Broberg in the first round.