I always watch with interest when the Edmonton Oilers sign defensemen. From the time Kevin Lowe took over in the summer of 2000 until this summer, the number of quality signings and acquisitons has been impressive. A team like Edmonton (or like my other favorite team, the Montreal Expos) must look under every rock to find items of use. As a fan of the Oilers, it makes sense to closely examine each and every free agent signing that involves a defender.
There’s usually exceptional value in this area, as the complete list reflects:
- July 5, 2000: Scott Ferguson from Cincinnati (AHL).
- July 19, 2000: Terran Sandwith from St. John’s (AHL).
- May 29, 2001: Marc-Andre Bergeron from Shawinigan (QMJHL).
- July 12, 2001: Steve Staios from Atlanta (NHL).
- August 29, 2001: Elias Abrahamsson from Providence (AHL).
- August 21, 2003: Dan Smith from Springfield (AHL).
- August 23, 2004: Rick Mrozik from Rochester (AHL).
- July 14, 2006: Jan Hejda from Khimik (RSL).
So who is this fellow, anyway? Based on the comments about him as he heads out of Hershey, I’d say the Oilers got an exceptional character player:
- “He was a warrior in every sense of the word,” Bears head coach Mark French said. “He carried that into the community and was a consummate professional. You hate to see a guy like that leave. He was a great person in the room. We’ll miss him, but we understand the circumstances both ways.”
It also looks like Arsene had very specific requirements moving forward and has an idea about where he stands with his new organization:
- “I talked to [Bears president-GM] Doug [Yingst] before I left. He said he wanted to have me back. I was honest with him. I said I would love to be back, but it has to be an NHL contract. I wanted to get my chance, like everybody else. I don’t know if it’s so much to stick in Edmonton right off the hop. I think it’s more of a depth-player signing. I’m going to go down to Springfield and play as well as I can to be the first to be called up. I don’t have stars in my eyes to think I’m going to stick out of camp.”
We don’t know this player well, but he’s certainly among the top three or four possible callups from Springfield based on resume. Theo Peckham and Jake Taylor are probably the best defenders headed to Springfield, with the organization committed to the talented but flawed Taylor Chorney.