Two More Years Of Corey Potter

A story that broke on Twitter late yesterday has now officially been confirmed by the Edmonton Oilers: defenseman Corey Potter has signed a contract extension for two more seasons.

As per the Oilers official site, Potter’s contract extension will see him earn $750,000 next season and $800,000 the year after, for an average annual cap hit of $775,000. While those dollar figures represent a non-trivial raise from the $525,000 Potter will earn for his work this season, they still represent pretty marginal payment for even a bottom-pairing NHL defenseman and will put Potter’s salary below that of most of the highly-touted defense prospects in the Oilers’ system.

Given that Corey Potter has five years of being a minor-leaguer under his belt as opposed to just 27 games of being an NHL’er in Edmonton, was it wise to sign him to a two-year, one-way contract? Absolutely it was.

This is an exceedingly low-risk contract. Potter will earn less money over the whole of it than Cam Barker was given to come play in Edmonton in 2011-12. In the absolute worst-case scenario, where Potter turns out to be an AHL’er riding a hot streak, the Oilers can send him down to the minors for both years and still waste less money in doing so than a single season of Gilbert Brule in the AHL would burn through.

That’s under the worst-case scenario. There are a range of other scenarios, ranging from a long-term spot as seventh defenseman to regular top-four work, and in all of them Potter is either reasonably compensated or significantly underpaid.

Depending on perspective, Potter has been anything from Edmonton’s third-best defenseman this year to a number five/six guy. Only Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid have received more ice-time per game than Potter. Only Gilbert has put up more points than Potter’s 14, as Renney has turned to the long-time journeyman to be his top power play defenseman. On a blue line full of problems – from injury to ineffectiveness to disciplinary issues, Potter has been the rare pleasant surprise.

Personally, I’ve long regarded the gap between being a high-end AHL defenseman and a third-pairing guy in the NHL as being rather small. Potter has been the former for a long time, doing it all at the minor league level: putting up offense, running up garish plus/minus totals, and slowly refining his play to a more disciplined level. Given that long track record, I’m willing to believe that his play this season is more than a fluke, that he’s legitimately capable of being an average to above-average third-pairing NHL’er.

Certainly, Potter has distinguished himself from the crowd. He’s more polished defensively than virtually any of the young defensemen fighting for a spot, and he can move the puck out of his own end in a way that Andy Sutton and Theo Peckham can only dream of. He’s steady, he’s multi-faceted, and in a third-pairing role it makes a lot more sense to pay a pittance for a capable jack of all trades than to spend big money on a reclamation project like Barker or a suspension waiting to happen like Sutton.

This was a no-brainer for the Oilers. Nevertheless, after watching players like Jan Hejda slip through the cracks in the past, it’s still something of a relief to see it done. Additionally, after watching the Oilers spend big on guys like Barker, Sutton, Foster, Vandermeer, it’s nice to see a third-pairing guy get paid the way a third-pairing guy should.

P.S. Over at Cult of Hockey, David Staples has his take up on the Potter extension, and goes into some of the scoring chance numbers Potter has recorded this season.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Yes….. FIST!

    More to come…

    Edit: Now that I’ve read the post…

    Agreed. This is a no-brainer, low risk signing. But let me ask you this; is Potter an NHL defenceman on a competitive team? And if so, what is his next contract, based on what he’s shown thus far, as well as assuming Petry and another defenceman step up?

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Potter’s play was well beyond expectations.

    I have a feeling that we found ourselves a nice little deal here.

    Now if we can only win a few games here…

  • paul wodehouse

    Jdubya>>>this had to be done and i’m very happy that we have him at that price and at his level of play …

    can u tell me when you’ll be updating the lottery draft oilnation has going ? i’ve been away and would like to see where everyone resides thx

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Was Potter the one who had played for Renney in New York? If I’m not mistaken, Renney said he was “surprised he hadn’t stuck around” in the NHL, or something along those lines.

  • A-Mc

    Potter is one of my Favorites. I feel comfortable with him on the ice. I think he’ll only get better here in Oil Country!

    In Many ways i see him as the Whitney that Whitney was supposed to be for the Oilers but hasn’t been due to Injury. Potter comes at a much lower price tag too.

    When I see a player that is good before injury, and is good Immediately after injury, a switch flips in my head that tells me this person isn’t riding value based on streaks or waves but has actual talent.

    Potter, Eberle, Hall (And soon to be Nuge) all show that it’s entirely possible to come back after injury to resume being a success; you don’t have to SUCK for months at a time before your game returns.

  • vetinari

    I haven’t been big on Tambellini the last six months but I have to give him credit where it is due– Potter was a nice find from the discard pile (which may be more due to Renney’s influence and past experience with Potter than Tambi’s) but Tambi was at least smart enough to extend him at a reasonable salary and a reasonable term.

  • Reality Check to the head

    Romulus,
    I believe that he just gets paid the NHL salary in the AHL. At least that is my understanding of a one way contract.

    Good signing…anything to keep what little depth we have.

    • Copperblueandwhite

      @playoffbound: That’s my understanding as well, it’s a pay schedule thing…same $$$ up or down…this is a good signing for the team…looks like all the injured guys (Ebs, Gilbert, Nuge) will be back after the All Star break…any word on Whitney or is he done for the year?

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      and @CBAW

      thanks guys. so one-way and two-way are $$ issues not inter-league transactional issues, ie. a two-way means you get x $ depending on time spent in each league rather than you can move freely from one league to the other.

      if I still don’t have it straight anyone should feel free to sort it out.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Excellent low risk signing for the Oilers, IMO. As noted, even if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t really hurt you.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the look of next year’s D, obviously trades can happen but I woul imagine the following 5 players can be written into the top 7/8 next season, depending how many D EDM looks to carry ( I would carry 13 f and 8 d myself):

    Gilbert

    Whitney

    Smid

    Potter

    Petry

    Leaving 2 or three spots depending on roster structure, for UFAS, trade acquisitions, Peckham, Barker, Sutton, Teubert, or someone else from the system