Free Agent Possibilities: Third Line Wing

Jonathan Willis
July 18 2013 09:42AM

It’s been nearly a week now since unrestricted free agency opened, and the best players on the market have already signed contracts with their new teams. For a team in need of depth NHL’ers, however, there remain options.

Yesterday, we looked at what the Oilers could do if they wanted to address their fourth line centre position; today we look at potential third line wingers.

As it currently stands, some combination of Ales Hemsky, Ryan Jones, Ryan Smyth and Jesse Joensuu are likely to fill the two positions on either side of Boyd Gordon. The organization seemingly has an interest in trading Hemsky, and the other three are all arguably better fitted to the fourth than the third line. Are there free agents available who could help bolster the position?

The Remnant

The list above is not exhaustive, but includes every winger to record at least 10 points last season as well as a few others who I identified in my preliminary sweep as being conceivably of interest.

My View

With each player, I ask myself three questions. First, is there a good probability of him out-performing Ryan Jones in 2013-14? Second, is he a good fit for a Boyd Gordon-centered line; in other words, can he handle a primarily defensive role? Finally, is it plausible that he would accept a contract that would be a good fit for the Oilers?

Personal viewpoints will doubtless differ, but here’s how that list breaks down for me:

“No” to question one: Colby Armstrong, Daniel Cleary, Radek Dvorak, Nathan Gerbe, Milan Hejduk, Chuck Kobasew, Guillaume Latendresse, Antti Miettinen, Andreas Nodl.

”No” to question two: Brad Boyes, Damien Brunner, Simon Gagne, Peter Mueller, Mason Raymond

”No” to question three: Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Morrow, Teemu Selanne

That leaves three names worth investigating. Nik Antropov adds size and versatility to the lineup; he can fill in anywhere in the top nine and can also play centre if necessary; he killed penalties sporadically last year but has been a regular on that unit in the past. Alexei Ponikarovsky is coming off a hard year offensively and hasn’t been a regular penalty killer; still he has a strong track record 5-on-5 and would add size to the lineup. Vaclav Prospal can score quite a bit; he’s on this list because he’s also played tough minutes in the very recent past. He’s a better fit for top-six minutes than on a checking line, and he hasn’t seen much time on the penalty kill in recent years.

Despite the number of names, there aren’t a lot of players who strike me as strong fits for the Oilers’ third line. Nik Antropov might be the best fit of the bunch but would need to come at a sizable discount from the $4.75 million he earned last season; but then it’s not likely an NHL team would give that to him.

Recently around the Nation Network

At NHL Numbers, Rob Pettapiece asks whether a goalie can control his rebounds and comes to a pretty interesting conclusion:

Aside from [Pekka] Rinne, who could very well be an outlier here (and we have reason to believe he could be legitimately great at this), there isn't that much a goalie can do in a given year to suggest he has the ability to save more than a few goals. This may be an artifact of the data quality we have to work with. Or it could simply be too difficult for most NHL goalies to control what happens to a very-high-speed projectile after it hits them in the chest.

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Quicksilver ballet
July 18 2013, 01:23PM
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Rocket wrote:

Yeah I wonder how Hemsky would have worked at centre. With his puck moving (and losing), skills? He has speed & has shown he can back check.

That would have been interesting and potentially disastrous to see.

Nobody turns the puck over more than the Crosby's, Stamkos and Ovechkins of the hockey world. Damn those puck transporters to hell! Good chance we'll see those 3 turnover machines in the HHOF one day.

10 yrs is along time to grow ones abilities, no?

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#52 Rocket
July 18 2013, 01:30PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

LOL totally. I'm (obviously) not a pro hockey player so I wonder how they develop their skills that may be out of their comfort zone?

Maybe Hemsky was sore from carrying the teams offence for so long he couldn't develop in other areas.

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#53 Romulus' Apotheosis
July 18 2013, 01:34PM
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Grebs is back

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#54 DSF
July 18 2013, 01:35PM
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Dan Tencer ‏@dantencer 34s

NHL web site lists defenseman Denis Grebeshkov as being back on the Oilers roster. Stauffer hinted earlier that this was possible…

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#55 OilersBrass
July 18 2013, 01:40PM
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DSF wrote:

Dan Tencer ‏@dantencer 34s

NHL web site lists defenseman Denis Grebeshkov as being back on the Oilers roster. Stauffer hinted earlier that this was possible…

Gonna be interesting to see which Dmen get traded now.

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#56 Ducey
July 18 2013, 01:43PM
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DSF wrote:

Dan Tencer ‏@dantencer 34s

NHL web site lists defenseman Denis Grebeshkov as being back on the Oilers roster. Stauffer hinted earlier that this was possible…

Its on the official website now. 1 yr deal.

Holy, they have a lot of defensemen.

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#57 trentonl
July 18 2013, 01:49PM
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Grebs back! I for one am happy

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#58 Quicksilver ballet
July 18 2013, 02:01PM
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Grebeshkov, great, yet another 4 thru 7 blueliner for the pile. Put him out back with the others. What a waste of another contract spot.

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#59 DSF
July 18 2013, 02:06PM
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The Oilers have too many defensemen.

The Red Wings have too many forwards.

Jeff Petry for Justin Abdelkader.

6'1" 220 LW.

Led the Red Wings in hits with 120.

10G 3A 13P +6 in 48GP.

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#60 madjam
July 18 2013, 02:07PM
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Looks like our new farm team is the KHL . Step up on the opposition perhaps ? We appear to be good at that marketplace . Perhaps we should send some of our prospects back to them for seasoning and playing time ?

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#61 John Chambers
July 18 2013, 02:17PM
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@DSF

Could be like a Hemsky + Philip Larsen to the Wings for Mikael Samuelsson and Darren Helm.

Detroit would upgrade an ageing, injury-ridden Samuelsson to Hemsky, but sacrifice Helm, himself also marred by injuries this past season.

The Oilers save a tiny bit on salary, while potentially adding 3rd line wingers, or at least one quality 3rd line winger on a value-contract by way of Helm.

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#62 OilersBrass
July 18 2013, 02:21PM
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DSF wrote:

The Oilers have too many defensemen.

The Red Wings have too many forwards.

Jeff Petry for Justin Abdelkader.

6'1" 220 LW.

Led the Red Wings in hits with 120.

10G 3A 13P +6 in 48GP.

DSF, are you Dead Cat Bounce on Lowetides site?

Or did you just steal his quote?

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#63 DSF
July 18 2013, 02:26PM
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John Chambers wrote:

Could be like a Hemsky + Philip Larsen to the Wings for Mikael Samuelsson and Darren Helm.

Detroit would upgrade an ageing, injury-ridden Samuelsson to Hemsky, but sacrifice Helm, himself also marred by injuries this past season.

The Oilers save a tiny bit on salary, while potentially adding 3rd line wingers, or at least one quality 3rd line winger on a value-contract by way of Helm.

That would make some sense although I'm not sure how much value Larssen would be to them.

Helm is a centre and Detroit does have a ton of them.

But Helm is only 5'11" 190 and I think the Oilers should look at more size in the bottom 6.

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#64 DSF
July 18 2013, 02:30PM
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MKE wrote:

Won't happen. MacT has made it clear he wants mobile puck moving dmen.

Plus you don't trade one of your top dmen for a guy who at best is a third line winger

Petry is a #4D on a good team and Abdelkaeder isn't "at best a third line winger".

He one of the "best third line wingers".

Young, signed for three more seasons at $1.9M, big and hits like a truck.

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#65 fuzzy muppet
July 18 2013, 02:50PM
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@DSF

doubtful. Samuelsson has no value and Helm has back problems and may not play this season.

I think they are gearing up to go Whale hunting ...How many fish are they willing to throw away to "maybe" net a big one?

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#66 DSF
July 18 2013, 02:55PM
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MKE wrote:

A guy that has a career high of 22 points, is at best a third line winger.

Like I said, you don't trade one of your top guys on the back end for a third line winger.

Especially someone who is exactly what your GM has stated he wants on the back end.

You really do need to expand your horizons.

The value of a player is NOT just how many points he scores.

To win hockey games, you have to give up fewer goals than you score.

Last season, Abdelkader had a GFON/60 of 2.14 while GAON/60 was 1.49.

While a player like Sam Gagner scored more, GFON/60 2.71, he also gave up far more, GAON/60 3.14.

Having a positive differential is how you win hockey games.

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#67 DSF
July 18 2013, 02:56PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Petry isn't going anywhere unless a Big, Big, Big RD is coming back.

MacT won't leave the right side depth at J. Schultz, Larsen, Potter, Fedun.

yowza!!

no thanks.

Ference plays both sides.

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#68 Pouzar99
July 18 2013, 03:01PM
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DSF is right about the Oil and Wings as natural trade partners but there is NO way they trade Petry for Abdelkader. Nick Schultz maybe, with a B prospect or a sixth round pick. Maybe the Wings can find better trade partners but obviously J Schutz, Ference Smid and Petry aren't going anywhere unless a Top 4 D man is coming back. Its not like Garbagekhov can step into Petry's skates.

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#69 Oil_Dude
July 18 2013, 03:36PM
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I would do the deal that DSF listed above in a heartbeat.

Don't underestimate what a really good third line could do for a team.

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#70 S4H1
July 18 2013, 03:41PM
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@Oil_Dude

Probably not as much as a good second pairing defenseman who can play in all phases.

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#71 madjam
July 18 2013, 03:42PM
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Ducey wrote:

You mean like Zharkov, Hartikanen, Yakimov, and Slepyshev?

What abut Yakipov's stint? Or maybe bringing back Thoreson or Omark ( not sure if he is in KHL now ) and probably the odd one we missed . Grebs at 37years of age is a stretch - some might say scrapping the barrel of recycle bin ?

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#72 Oil_Dude
July 18 2013, 03:50PM
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S4H1 wrote:

Probably not as much as a good second pairing defenseman who can play in all phases.

Take a look at our roster and pick which defensman you would part with to fill a obvious need?

The only ones with value : Smid ,J Schultz , Petry and Andrew Ferrence.

This team is already pretty soft so moving Smid or Ferrence would not be a good idea and Justin Schultz is part of the "core" so he isn't going anywhere.

Petry and Hemsky are the two most valuable moving pieces we have outside of the 5.

Petry upgrades our third line via trade , I don't mind that , but don't go by me as I am not a huge Petry fan.

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#73 madjam
July 18 2013, 03:50PM
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Just for the record I prefer Abdelkater to Clifford . I think he would fit nicely and be productive on both our kids line as a bonus to boot . The only hangup is trying to remember how to spell his name .

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#74 MKE
July 18 2013, 03:58PM
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madjam wrote:

Just for the record I prefer Abdelkater to Clifford . I think he would fit nicely and be productive on both our kids line as a bonus to boot . The only hangup is trying to remember how to spell his name .

Productive? He's scored a career high of 10 goals....on a year he had a career high shooting %.

He would not be playing ahead of Hall or Perron...

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