Craig MacTavish entered his first free agent frenzy with a long shopping list and a UFA pool that was shallow by historic standards. He was also facing a free spending league (close to record spend) and at the top end lost out to the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams. MacT pulled the trigger on three significant deals and then made several minor signings that may end up being bigger than they appear today.
- D Andrew Ference, 4 years times 3.25M. An overpay where he’ll play, Ference is ideally suited as a veteran pairing for Schultz the younger. He was 4th among Bruins in EV TOI (17:06) and fourth in PK TOI (2:13) and will probably play similar minutes with the Oilers. I think we should probably prepare for Ladislav Smid or Nick Schultz heading out of town (Ottawa or Philly is my guess) before training camp. The current LH depth chart is Smid, Ference, N Schultz, Anton Belov, Oscar Klefbom–suspect we’ll see a flip before fall.
- C Boyd Gordon, 3 years times 3.0M. An overpay where he’ll play, Gordon played 12 minutes a night at evens and 3 minutes a night on the PK, and should expect the same workload in Edmonton. The clearest sign yet that MacTavish plans to build that 3line as a checking trio. I don’t know who is going to play on the wing, but the Oilers have the biggest item–a center who can mark his man.
- G Jason LaBarbera, 1 year times 1.0M. A nice contract for a solid goaltender, and it probably gives Devan Dubnyk some relief after a rocky month in the news. A little older than some of the other options, but this is a very good move.
- Taylor Hall 6M
- Jordan Eberle 6M
- Ales Hemsky 5M
- Sam Gagner 5M (est)
- RNH 3.775M
- Nail Yakupov 3.775M
- Boyd Gordon 3.0M
- Ryan Smyth 2.25M
- Magnus Paajarvi 1.7M (est)
- Anton Lander 900k
- Mike Brown 737k
- Justin Schultz 3.775M
- Ladislav Smid 3.5M
- Nick Schultz 3.5M
- Andrew Ference 3.25M
- Jeff Petry 1.75M
- Anton Belov 1.525M
- Philip Larsen 1.025M
- Corey Potter 775k
- Devan Dubnyk 3.5M
- Jason LaBarbera 1.0M
We began the day with $14M (est) for 5 guys. After signing three guys, the numbers stand at 6.75M left for two players. My guess is that those players are a center and a left winger with size, and that the Oilers deal Ales Hemsky for one of those and move Smid/N Schultz for a defender like Coburn. The GM has a lot of work to do, but let’s see how much he got done on day one.
Top 4 defender(signed Ference, he may not end up in Edmonton’s top 4 but played in BOS top 4D a year ago)
- Sign Sam Gagner to a multi-year deal that has begins with a number in the 4′s
- Get Paajarvi signed and then find a role that suits him (suspect it’s 3line).
NHL goalie(LaBarbera was a nice option)
- Find a 2line L who can complement Gagner-Yakupov with puck retrieval, blocking out the sun, etc
- Find a 3line R
Find a 3line C(Gordon fits better here based on role, may end up playing de facto 4line minutes at EVs)
- Find a 4line C
- Deal Hemsky for immediate help (even if its a checker).
Deal Horcoff or slot him into the 3line job for which he is actually ideal.Continued to improve D depth. Decide on Lander/Belanger or other for 13F. Lander it is! Better blue depth(MacT has done this with Belov and Larsen, plus Klefbom/Fedun/Marincin)
- AHL #1/NHL #3 goalie
Sign Paul Ranger(should have said ‘sign Marlies)
- W Jesse Joensu: Huge Finnish winger Oilers signed to a 2-year deal. 6.04, 207 and has some nice things, suspect he’ll have a very good chance to make the Oilers in a support role. Has a nice range of skills and apparently can play either wing. HN: Has great size and some scoring ability. Is aggressive on the forecheck. Can play either wing position effectively. Also has a little two-way upside.
- C Will Acton: Strictly an AHL option based on his 19 points in 67 AHL games this past season. Brings size.
- L Ryan Hamilton: I very much like this signing and will cheer like hell for him. He’s the new minor league all-star to cheer for, big and strong and older and lacking in footspeed. THN: Has good size and the ability to play a physical game. Works well in the corners. Can score goals and put up good numbers at lower levels.
SIXES AND SEVENS AND NINES
When MacT talked about adding grit and toughness and being hard to play against, he was talking about men like Andrew Ference and Boyd Gordon. This is us. You can expect a power winger to be added and I do believe a center like Grabovski is possible in the coming days. I also think we may see an established defender heading to Philly for Coburn, and Ales Hemsky sent away for a skill L with size.
Craig MacTavish doesn’t need any jacks or kings, they’re already under contract under names like Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Yakupov, J Schultz. He needs to add those pesky players who can play an efficient game and take a piece out of the other side while doing it.
Players like Boyd Gordon and Andrew Ference. Sixes, and sevens. And nines.