Anton Belov goes back to Russia

Jonathan Willis
April 16 2014 07:23AM

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On Tuesday, I argued at some length that Anton Belov would be a really nice option to have at the bottom of Edmonton's roster next season. Naturally, on Wednesday morning came news that the defenceman was returning to Russia. So feel free to get your requests in for my next piece below; I assume 'tell us again why Shea Weber will stay in Nashville forever' will be a popular one. 

That's a nice soft landing for Belov, offering the security of a long-term deal and presumably comparable (if not better) money than he would have got in the NHL on a second 'show me' contract. I'd also imagine that - as it is for a lot of North Americans who give playing in Europe a try - there's a certain amount of pull to go home to a familiar culture and language. 

It's a shame for the Oilers, because Belov looked a lot like a guy who could play at the NHL level. It's also a shame for Belov, who might have been more than a depth defenceman once he found his legs and adapted to a much less passive North American game, because now it's impossible to know whether he could have distinguished himself over here. 

What Remains

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With the departure of Belov, one of the (many) moving pieces is now removed from the equation at the bottom of the Oilers' defensive depth chart. With four players seemingly written in ink for next year (Justin Schultz, Andrew Ference, Jeff Petry, Martin Marincin) what's left looks something like this (players set in LD/RD format):

  • Oscar Klefbom (2-way) / Philip Larsen (RFA)
  • Mark Fraser (UFA) / Taylor Fedun (UFA)
  • Darnell Nurse (2-way)

So what's changed? Not a lot, really. As I see it, there's room for one of Klefbom or Nurse on the third pairing (with Klefbom the likely choice), and there's still a need for a veteran defenceman to augment the Schultz/Petry duo on the right side. 

Belov's departure opens up the No. 7 spot on the NHL depth chart. He would have been a nice fit, and the Oilers' roster doesn't really have one - Fraser and Larsen both looked like AHL'ers this season, Fedun's ability to translate his game to the majors is somewhat questionable and sticking a prospect in the press box a lot of nights seems wasteful. The bottom line is that this departure adds one more (small) item to the Oilers' off-season shopping list. 

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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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#101 nuge2nail
April 16 2014, 10:05PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

So if we have 34 million in cap space and you fully expect the team to spend max again....

Who should we spend the cap space on?

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#102 Spydyr
April 16 2014, 10:16PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

So if we have 34 million in cap space and you fully expect the team to spend max again....

Who should we spend the cap space on?

I don't follow the entire NHL close enough to give names.

I would look for a second line center that plays a 200 foot game a battler.He might not bring as many points as Gagner but he won't cost you as many either a win in the goals for and against department.

It is a must you try to upgrade the defence as best as you can.

I am not sold on Fasth I would look for someone to push Ben in net.

Some functional toughness throughout the bottom six.More guys like Hendricks less guys like Jones.Make the team harder to play against.

What would you do?

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#103 RexHolez
April 16 2014, 10:29PM
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Isn't it Yak and JSchultz's turn to get long term 6mill/year contracts?

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#104 Spydyr
April 16 2014, 10:32PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Isn't it Yak and JSchultz's turn to get long term 6mill/year contracts?

Yes it is but I'm thinking both get bridge contracts.

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#105 RexHolez
April 16 2014, 10:36PM
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@Spydyr

I hope JSchultz gets a 2 way, so we can send him down to the AHL to learn how to play defence

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#106 Spydyr
April 16 2014, 10:46PM
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RexHolez wrote:

I hope JSchultz gets a 2 way, so we can send him down to the AHL to learn how to play defence

You don't need a two way to go down to the AHL but I'm not sure when if or when he will have to clear waivers.Not that they would send him down he is one of the entitled ones.

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#107 Arius Mumin
April 16 2014, 11:04PM
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RexHolez wrote:

I hope JSchultz gets a 2 way, so we can send him down to the AHL to learn how to play defence

If, by "we", you mean the Oilers: I say; no-"we" will not send him down to the AHL to play defense.

Just like with the rest of our stars, we will keep him in the NHL for years until he realizes it himself.

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#108 Spydyr
April 16 2014, 11:10PM
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Arius Mumin wrote:

If, by "we", you mean the Oilers: I say; no-"we" will not send him down to the AHL to play defense.

Just like with the rest of our stars, we will keep him in the NHL for years until he realizes it himself.

That is so true,sadly.

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#109 RexHolez
April 16 2014, 11:34PM
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Arius Mumin wrote:

If, by "we", you mean the Oilers: I say; no-"we" will not send him down to the AHL to play defense.

Just like with the rest of our stars, we will keep him in the NHL for years until he realizes it himself.

I meant "we" as in we the people who pay the bills for this crap

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#110 Harry2
April 16 2014, 11:50PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

Yak will be perennial 30+ goal scorer when he has a non smurf center.

Perron Bennett Yakupov

Hemsky was horrible without a high end center to play with, now he's attached to spezzas hip and he isn't letting go.

The difference a proven high end center makes for a winger is unbelievable.

So an 18 year old rookie is the "proven" high end center Yak needs? Also isnt Bennet listed as 6' 180lbs?

Hardly the big center we so desperately need

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#111 God
April 16 2014, 11:51PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

So if we have 34 million in cap space and you fully expect the team to spend max again....

Who should we spend the cap space on?

I fully suspect that you've read 'The Secret' and are praying for an Oiler turnaround.

As much as I appreciate the resolve of your lead statement in your posts, it's severely irritating, in syntax and repetition. Please come up with something novel instead of repeating the same nonsense.

I'd be happy to say 'you called it!' if or when the Oil start winning. Just find something new and intelligent. Please.

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#112 Sevenseven
April 17 2014, 06:31AM
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Say what you want about Belov, but he was an asset of sorts, maybe just a depth defense prospect, but some value. Its nice to have all the cap room and roster spots, but I hope not too much is filled with overpaid free agents. The oilers have very little value in the draft after the first round. A player with a bloated contract is not really a good asset. Our roster is looking very sparse, it should make it tough to make a trade happen.

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#113 madjam
April 17 2014, 07:01AM
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False Perspective ? Draisaitl is listed/touted on futures as not being " overly physical ". Sam Bennett however is physical despite being a tad smaller . Article on Flames nation Mock draft . They expect Oilers will take Draisaitl and they will draft Bennett . Most Oiler Nation seems to think Draisaitl's size translate into a more physical player , but seemingly it does not appear to be the case .

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#114 CaptainLander
April 17 2014, 08:00AM
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madjam wrote:

False Perspective ? Draisaitl is listed/touted on futures as not being " overly physical ". Sam Bennett however is physical despite being a tad smaller . Article on Flames nation Mock draft . They expect Oilers will take Draisaitl and they will draft Bennett . Most Oiler Nation seems to think Draisaitl's size translate into a more physical player , but seemingly it does not appear to be the case .

I would just like to have a center that does not get knocked off the puck by gentle breeze. There are plenty top centermen in the league that are big and very effective without being a "physical player" they can just protect the puck and make a play with it.

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#115 A-Mc
April 17 2014, 09:13AM
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madjam wrote:

False Perspective ? Draisaitl is listed/touted on futures as not being " overly physical ". Sam Bennett however is physical despite being a tad smaller . Article on Flames nation Mock draft . They expect Oilers will take Draisaitl and they will draft Bennett . Most Oiler Nation seems to think Draisaitl's size translate into a more physical player , but seemingly it does not appear to be the case .

I think you're a bit off when you claim that MOST Oilers Nation follows believe size = physicality. I dont believe this to be the case.

In any given game, you have to watch Oilers players skate AROUND guys, in both defensive and offensive roles. This is because the players they are up against are bigger than them and in a pushing contest the Oiler would lose. Big players play THROUGH other players because size affords them this luxury.

Size (Weight) affords players the luxury of having an easier time guiding or pushing guys off pucks when trying to regain possession. Smaller guys have to give "more" into a push or a check and this often slows them down, Risking becoming a pylon, and not to mention requires a lot more energy (fatigue issue).

Size (Height) affords players the luxury of longer reaches. Marincin has a great stick that he gets into all sorts of trouble. He's long and he can 'cover' more ice due to his size (but also his skating ability).

When 2 players collide, the bigger player is going to transfer much more energy into the smaller player. This negatively affects them in terms of the injuries they sustain, the energy that is depleted, and the balance/positioning they need to regain before being able to make a play.

Size is not the be all, end all, but there is a reason that the league is not filled with 5'5" speedsters. Size affords the player (and likewise the team) a number of luxuries over simple "physicality" or grit.

Perron has grit, and we absolutely love him for it, but he doesn't have size. This team desperately needs a little Size sprinkled into its lineup. Draisaitl/Eckblad are likely the picks of choice for this reason (IMO)

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#116 NJ
April 17 2014, 09:31AM
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My guess is that we're all mostly dreamers.

Facts are that it's unlikely any of Orpik, Statsny, Markhov... any of those guys are signing here. We're a proven LOSING team. Who 'wants' to come here as a UFA. Fedun isn't signing an AHL deal if he finds any team that'll offer him an NHL contract and based on what he's proven in the AHL, his agent will find a team I would suggest.

It is going to take a trade by MacT to land what we need. And regardless of what folks say, he's done good enough IMO. The team improved at the end of the year, between the goaltending and the grit, there was more at the end of the year than last June.

Paarjaarvi (sp) - Perron Dubnyk - Hendricks Prospect - Fraser Picks for - Scrivens and Fasth

4 of 5 of those I would say are upgrades and Fraser is debatable. If MacT turns 4 more players around this summer, I would suggest we're well on the way to being a playoff team and if we continue to learn the defensive side of the game... by committee, awesome.

Sucks that players just bail to the KHL or to another team as I would think it shows something about the state of the Oilers locker room when they do. I'm not sure what it says... but something.

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#117 Oiler Al
April 17 2014, 10:09AM
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Max wrote:

I can understand Belov's decision - and I think with time he could have been a valuable addition to the team. But he had the right to choose, and he did. Away from this tho, our professional scouts (read as McGregor)should be given the heave ho, every 2nd pick has fared much better than the BPAs (maybe with the exception of Hall.) I know Seguin was surrounded by top notch players in Boston, but his game is quite amazing now. Landeskog came across as a go getter in the pre-draft interviews, Nuge, pretty flat. Yak? who knows what will happen with him. BPAs are NOT always the answer. The other thing that has caught my attention this week is the Smytty departure. IF and it's a HUGE IF, the current/future Oilers can honestly say that in 20 years time, their legacy will be on par with Smyttys, then we have a chance. I just wonder how many will be remembered with such respect and affection as he is. Right now? not many at all.

He wanted a front row seat watching Tsar Putin crashing down the Ukraine.

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#118 BLAKPOO
April 17 2014, 02:37PM
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Dog Train wrote:

I wasn't a big fan of Belov anyways. If Mactavish plans on looking for diamonds in the rough this off-season then I would rather he look to the AHL rather than the KHL. Grebeshkov was a disaster and we spent the season wondering when our 27 year-old rookie would adjust to the North American game.

Every player in the AHL is hawk-eyed constantly by scouts. Most are on 2 way deals with NHL clubs, or property of their AHL team's NHL affiliate.

Finding a "diamond" in the AHL is considerably less likely, as they are already under constant scrutiny, and are already playing a North American style of hockey. Finding a quality NHLer currently in the AHL that you could pick up at a decent rate is more akin to finding $20 in your jeans on laundry day.. it's always been there, you just overlooked it.

"The Rough" would better describe the European hockey leagues that don't have the same amount of exposure. You could find a player that plays alright on big ice, but excels on the smaller surface in a more physical game. Belov looked like that guy because of his size and shot, but had trouble adapting.

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