Break On Through (To the Other Side)

It is probably dreaming in technicolor. However, if the Edmonton Oilers can sign Jason Garrison as an unrestricted free agent July 1, our friend math suggests there should be dancing in the streets.

Jason Garrison is a 27-year old NHL defenseman with less than 200 games in the best league in the world. He makes $675,000 (cap hit) and he is a free agent at the end of the season. He’s 6.02, 214 and along with Mike Weaver is delivering some of the most insane defense available in the NHL this season. Weaver–who makes a million–may be Garrison’s equal or even the better plan but at this point the Oilers can’t afford to pass on making a strong bid on Garrison.

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There is risk with this player. He’s about to get a major payday based on one season (well, two) and we know that when it comes to defensemen there is no guarantee against injury or sudden bouts of poor play.

Garrison is a pretty safe UFA, though. Young, two plus seasons of quality play, size and a nice range of skills.



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Garrison gets easier zone starts and plays the 2nd move EV minutes on the club. Interesting to see Weaver–signed for two more years after this one at just over 1M a season–getting the highest mountain on the team.


Weaver, Garrison, Kulikov and Campbell are facing the tough music for the Panters this season. Notice that Edi Jovanoski is facing the soft parade, even softer than youngsters Ellerby and Gudbranson. If that Jovo contract makes signing Garrison difficult, the GM should be answering some tough questions.


The puck is heading in a wonderful direction with Garrison on the ice, Campbell too. A quick note on Weaver: his Corsi Rel is a team worst among Panther defenders, but that’s some tough sledding as shown in the two charts above. How Weaver ended up +2 (his current plus minus) is a mystery.


  • EV: 18:27 a game, 6-11-17
  • PP: 2:27 a game, 9-2-11
  • PK: 2:41 a game, 0-1-1

As you can see, Garrison is being used in all three disciplines and has been successful on the PP (9 goals with the man advantage leads all NHL defensemen this season).  By the way, Garrison and Weaver have been doing this for some time, as our friend Jonathan Willis noted months ago.

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The Edmonton Oilers are looking at adding a quality NHL defenseman who can impact the game in all three disciplines. The Oilers wouldn’t have to trade the 2nd overall pick, or Sam Gagner, or any collection of picks and prospects.

It would cost a lot of money. However, the Oilers have $22M in cap room for next season with only Sam Gagner, Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk to sign among worthy rfa’s and only Ryan Smyth and Lennart Petrell left among the unrestricted free agents.

Signing Jason Garrison would be a solid move. He is having a career season but has been consistent over two full seasons now and is young enough to be a part of this young Oiler team for several years before decline.

Previous articles in this series:

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  • Talbot17

    FIST THING FIST, the Oilers for sure need to address the D situation this offseason…I’d say goalie too but Dubnyk is doing his yearly play-lights-out-to-end-the-season act, so i am sure they will stick with the goalies they have right now

    Really think unless you can somehow get Suter to commit (which i doubt), the availability of high end D isn’t out there and it might take a trade to finally establish the back end. Gagner, and potential picks or other assets would be legitimate to use, especially if the Oilers lock up the 2nd pick with the opportunity to get Grigorenko…he is your 2nd line center with size that the Oilers (and most teams) direly need. with him the lines would be looking good 1-2 years ahead:
    and the fourth line whatever you can do, Petrell, Belanger, and a filler

    Do not see any other forwards making the jump from OKC next year but Harti. He to me would be perfect as a 2nd line guy if you had Grigorenko and Hemsky there, literally that line would look good

    you just hope they can acquire a 2-4D man by dishing out some forwards as potential assets

      • Wanyes bastard child

        Also correct me if I’m wrong but given the clauses and bonuses in Hall’s and RNH’s contracts (not sure if Eberle got the same) we are basically paying all 3 about 4 million a year each(3.75?)?

        Meaning the cost to resign the big three won’t be as bad as most think it will, maybe an extra 6 million then they are costing us right now?

        • Wanyes bastard child

          Correct except for Eberle his cap hit is around 1.8?? I think. But ya RNH and Halls are around 3.75 so really an a extra 2 mill and change. Plus no Bulin or Souray cap hit, Smyth’s 6.2 is off the books…alot of cap space is available.

          • Eberle: $1,158,333
            Hall: $3,750,000
            Nugent-Hopkins: $3,775,000

            That’s a total of $8,683,333 against the cap. Assuming that they each sign for something like John Tavares money ($5.5M) the Oilers will need $7,816,667 more than what they are already spending. If the cap is managed properly that shouldn’t be too bad.

    • Yes but other money comes off the books after next season as well. It’s not like that 22 mil is it.

      Crappibulin is off after next year (or before), If this amnesty thing happens there is another big chunk of change. Among other things.

    • The trinity will need a raise. But Hall and RNH are already 3.4 million plus cap hits. Even if you bumped up them up to 5 million it wouldn’t be a big hit. Eberle is the guy who stands to make the most money. The wild card is the CBA. They (the NHLPA) may put a cap on how much a player can get in his second contact. And there may be a term stipulation to go with that. So the Oliers may get the benefit of a new CBA.

      The Oilers will have to look at all the options this off season to find another more physical dman. Whitney,Petry and potter do not have that in thier game. Peckham,Sutton and Shultz do but Sutton isa 50-60 game guy and so is Peckham. I think the Oilers need another defenceman of that ilk.

      Also there is talk about some kid out of Anaheim who may be a UFA come this summer. Whats the deal with him?

  • I definitely would be happy to see another 2-way D-man added to our line up.

    We’re going to have some decisions to make though, given that we’ll have some d-men knocking on the door in minors, plus a healthy (presumably) Taylor Fedun, plus who we have up here already (8, not including Fedun).

    I think without a doubt, Barker shouldn’t be back for next season. I also wonder if Teddy will be gone. I also wonder if that will be one of those things we regret one day if we DO cut him loose. He’s been playing atrociously for most of the season that he’s actually been dressed, but we know the development curve for D-men isn’t steep nor is it always straight either. Last year’s season for him was too much to bail on, as is the toughness he adds. But we can’t keep everybody.

    Anyways, it’ll be interesting to see what our triumvirate (Tambellini, Lowe, Katz) will decide with all these guys. I think, ideally, we need a solid 2-way d-man, as well as a GOOD goaltender to play with Dubnyk.

    • John Chambers

      I’m not sure how you keep Peckham if you’re really looking to improve the blueline.

      Looks like the Oilers already have 6 guys lined up for next year, in Petry, Smid, Whitney, Sutton, Schultz and Potter. If you’re going with 7, tough to keep Peckham and see a significantly better blueline bringing back the same D. Even if you decide to carry 8D (and as I’ve mentioned before, seems like a pretty good idea to me), it may well be that you’d prefer some other than Peckham anyways.

      And that’s ignoring the possibility the Oilers draft a D and keep him in the NHL next year.

  • Lowetide

    Plus if worse comes to worse they might buy out the last season of Horcoff. I can see that happening, or as some have suggested they might do it sooner if the new CBA allows one amnesty for teams.

      • Lowetide

        Well, Horcoff still serves a purpose. He’s facing tough zone starts, tough competition and penalty killing, etc.

        There will come a time when the Oilers feel the money is better spent, and I suspect it’ll be the moment any of these kids are in danger of going unsigned.

        • Wanyes bastard child

          Doesn’t make sense to buy him out in my opinion. Buy him out and you must replace him with somebody who can play a defensive game and take face-offs. Meaning you replace him and spend 2.5 – 3 million plus the cap you take on with the buyout and your back to square one.

          • Lowetide

            Well, I wouldn’t buy him out, love the guy. Seriously. From the day he blocked that shot with his face in Detroit he’s my guy until he rides off into the sunset.

            But at some point, if he can’t play? Still solid though imo.

          • bazmagoo

            Horcoff’s last 2 years are a combined 7 million salary, so it would be $4.66 million to buy him out. That $4.66 would be divided over the following two years, so $2.33 million per year.

            It can only be done if Lander (or another rookie) is able to step into that role next year or the following year, as he’d be at a cap hit of around $1 mil.

            In my opinion Lander taking over Horcoff’s role is a distinct possibility.

    • Eddie Shore

      I can’t remember if it was Dreger or McKenzie, but I was listening to one of them on 1260 discussing the GM meetings and the new CBA and he said there will most likely not be the amnesty clause this time around.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        If the Ducks don’t sign him by the end of May he becomes a group 6 UFA. The best D’man in the NCAA this year is looking for a one way deal which obviously the Ducks aren’t willing to do just yet.

        The Oilers need a sure thing like Weber or they have to gamble and perhaps take a chance on this Schultz kid. Garrison,Green etc, are all #2 guys on the back end. Making a move like the guys LT’s suggesting is a sideways move and not much better than what’s here already. The Oilers have the assets to go after a big fish like Weber. It’s all or nothing as far as that No.1 spot goes.

        • D-Man

          No – I don’t think the Oilers have the assets to go after Weber… Weber is an RFA – an offer sheet would most likely cost us four to five first round draft picks and $7.0 million in cap space… That’s worth considering if defense was the only concern we had to push us over the top… Right now – we have question marks with our goaltending, defense, size in our top 6 and aging veterans in our bottom six…

          I’d love Weber in an Oiler jersey but not at that cost – especially considering the fact that he’d only add another 5 wins/year – meaning Calgary Flame purgatory… We need to be patient, draft another key piece, and wait one more year for some of our stupid contracts to disappear…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Can’t believe how much Jim Morrison looks like Shea Weber, if he were to let his hair grow. Alot of forwards would make strange coming up that left side with Weber on the Oiler blueline.

    Forwards make Strange is another pretty good Doors tune i think isn’t it?

    These defensemen you’re parading by in recent articles all look like #2 guys to me. A number 1 guy is what’s needed. Edmonton probably has a #2 guy here already in Petry or Whitney.

  • O.C.

    I’ve come to the strange realization that I open Lowetide’s blog entries with great anticipation on the scenery, Scanning and admiring FIRST and THEN read the article – twice because my concentration took a hit.

    “Who? What? Oh. I dunno – ok.”

    I think the D’s pretty good for next year and it could use another 3 to 5 player.

    I’m not sure Chorney isn’t going to make the show eventually tho. D men are funny – it’s like they are stupid for a long time and then they just get it.

    Even Paul Coffey was horrible his first year (he was called “Paul Cough-Up”), then suddenly he took games over.

  • Stocc

    Whenever I can’t identify one of the attractive ladies that accompany the fine writing in pieces like these I do a right click and check out the image info for some help. For this one it said “fox” to which I had to reply “I’ll say!”

  • Wanyes bastard child

    It’s a travesty, TRAVESTY!! If you can’t identify Megan Fox from transformers I tell you!!!

    I mean… I can’t be the only former transformers nerd growing up in the early 80’s that loves hot women can I?

    • Bryzarro World

      No you’re not alone my friend and it IS a freaking travesty that some people can’t identify Megan. Been living in a cave? That scene is her at her hottest….. YUM!!

  • Stocc

    I`ve been beating the drums for Montreal to pick up Garrison this summer to round out their top 4.

    He`s a very good candidate for a UFA that a clever GM picks up this summer. Although he might get stupid money from someone looking at his goalscoring this year.

  • Lowetide

    lol. We could do questions like “name the men who wouldn’t pull over to the side of the road to help Megan Fox. Name all five in alpha order.”


  • Wanyes bastard child

    LT: I am curious too how much it would take to sign Garrison?

    The Oilers damned well better go hard after Justin Schultz. All he costs is money and they sure could make the arguement that the competition to make the Oilers defence is about as weak as he is going to find anywhere outside of Columbus. And what good Canadian boy wants to play in friggin’ Columbus?

    We can put him on the Blake Wheeler fast track like no other team can.

    • Lowetide

      I honestly wouldn’t know where to start in terms of dollars. He didn’t get a strong 2nd contract with FLA but at this point I’ll guess they’d go something like 3×3. How much MORE will he make via free agency? It’ll be a big number I expect.

  • Hmmm…OK. Buddy is a UFA this summer and a desirable commodity who will get paid buckets of cash wherever he goes AND will be getting loads of offers.

    Now what are the chances he’ll pick Edmonton…???


    • Lowetide

      Well, the Oilers would have to overpay, in dollars and term. I can see a player like Garrison buying in to a 5 year plan in which he’s paid very, very well.

      • Interesting. My thought is that if the guy is as highly respected as you say he is, he’ll be getting more than one serious overpay offer, and probably in far better locales. We’d have to offer him a contract Horcoffian® in size, right up there at the far end of the stupid scale. My question would be at what level does the overpay become unjustified?

        Aaaand back to square one.

        • Lowetide

          I have no idea if he’s highly respected, but the numbers suggest he is effective.

          The Oilers imo do have one advantage over teams with heavy cap numbers rolling out over several seasons. They have enough cap room to sign him next year and then with Whitney coming off the books more room a year from now.

          The change they’re taking is that Garrison doesn’t have the proven resume of other free agents. On the plus side, he’s younger and should be able to hang around and be effective for longer.

  • Lexi


    My belief is the overpayment for free agents we have to do to get someone here makes it too dangerous for us to go for non elite guys like Garrison or Schultz(and Green/Carle). I believe the one management area the Oilers seem to have improved in the last two years (since Steve Smith arrived) is get progression in their dmen. I hope that trend continues, because defense seem to be the one position that you can nurture and develop, and they can hopefully create their own Garrison. I also worry that because the Southeast is such a bad division that everyone’s stats should be taken with a grain of salt.

    That said, I had never heard of Garrison before today and you have given me a reason to watch the Florida game on Friday. All I know is that Jovo contract is a reminder to everyone why we should be glad we do not have Tallon as our GM.

  • John Chambers

    LT, I’m sure this segment is coming up, but how do you rate Garrison vs. Wideman?

    I’m going to assume that Wideman gets Wisniewski money from somebody ($33M over 6), so with less pedigree perhaps Garrison gets into the $4.5M range over a 4 or 5 year term.

    Is Wideman’s experience woth the extra $1M (in my humble estimate), for your money?

    • Lowetide

      I think Wideman goes supernova with this contract, and he IS a guy who will end up on a strong contender for the Stanley. San Jose maybe.

      As for comparing them, Wideman is more established but Garrison might be a better player. Of course, the Oilers could get him out of there and a year from now everyone’s saying “damn, it was Weaver.”

      But Garrison might be a better player overall. I don’t know that we have enough evidence on Garrison yet.

    • bazmagoo

      Wideman was good in Florida, and he’s good in Washington. Because he had/has no pressure. But he couldn’t handle the pressure in Boston and he was chased out off town. You think he’d get away with the blunders he makes on the ice if he played in this town?

      Garrison? Same as I said about Wideman. It’s easy to play where fans don’t give a rats ass.

      If you can find players who can handle the heat, dinner will get served.

  • Seriously....Gord?

    The pickings are going to be slim for so called STUD defense men, especially those wanting or Oilers able to come to the Oiler camp.Suter, he’s not signing with a building team. The only other two UFA,s, that probably are not really stud type, are Garrison and Wideman.The only possiblity is a trade with a team wanting Cap space to sign say a Nash. There maybe some older guys around but if you are rebuilding, you;d want younger guys I would think.

  • Seriously....Gord?

    Garisson is interesting. never heard of him before this article. I will be looking when they play the Oil. I’d expect we can sign a piece of the D puzzle as a UFA this summer. But, not at the risk of overpaying an average defender. For a legit, all star, #1-2 Dman,(prongeresque) back up the armored van!

    Short of that, what will Gags, Omark and a pick get us from another team?

    As for my target in UFA. N Grossman is on my list of middling UFA defenders we have a chance of signing.

    Sutter gets a big offer too but he’s not coming here.

  • Seriously....Gord?

    Garisson is interesting. never heard of him before this article. I will be looking when they play the Oil. I’d expect we can sign a piece of the D puzzle as a UFA this summer. But, not at the risk of overpaying an average defender. For a legit, all star, #1-2 Dman,(prongeresque) back up the armored van!

    Short of that, what will Gags, Omark and a pick get us from another team?

    As for my target in UFA. N Grossman is on my list of middling UFA defenders we have a chance of signing.

    Sutter gets a big offer too but he’s not coming here.

  • Seriously....Gord?

    maybe if they get rid of jeff petry, and put potter on the farm where he belongs they can just carry seven left handed shooting defencemen. i mean, throw around all the names you want, but i really think there needs to be some condsideration for what hand they try to bring in. who does garrison play with? they already have terrible chemistry on the back end, adding another left handed shot will only make it worse.

  • Bryzarro World

    Who do you see getting a larger contract? They wont end up with the same contracts will they? I would like to see how they track next year and RNH has an extra yr so wont have to worry about him. I would say that Eberle deserves more than Hall by a bunch. I think Ebs is the whole package and will be our MVP for years.

    If I had to rate them now I would say it is 1. Eberle 2. RNH 3. Hall.

    Hall has fire but cant stay on feet and will probably end up with a shortened career if he doesnt start playing smarter and keeps getting destroyed.

  • DSF


    You said:

    “If that Jovo contract makes signing Garrison difficult, the GM should be answering some tough questions.”

    “However, the Oilers have $22M in cap room for next season with only Sam Gagner, Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk to sign among worthy rfa’s and only Ryan Smyth and Lennart Petrell left among the unrestricted free agents.”

    Worth noting that Tallon has almost $24 million in free cap space next season with only Garrison, Kulikov (RFA)and Versteeg (RFA) as significant unsigned free agents.

    Don’t think he’ll have much difficulty re-signing Garrison if he wants to.

    Man knows what he’s doing.

    • Peterborough

      Except that FLA is not a cap team and certainly won’t be any time soon. Versteeg gets a big raise and so does Kulikov.

      Thats Really a 16 million -9 for those two and another 3.5 for Uberwonderkind who plays next year imo.

      How do they have room again? They don’t.

      • DSF


        Versteeg is already making $3 million. He might get $4 or $4.5.

        Kulikov’s cap hit is $1.35 million and he’s going to get his second contract so he might get $3 million.

        Samuelsson ($2.5M), Sturm ($2.25M) and Wolski ($3.8M) are all coming off the cap.

        You can expect Huberdeau will make the team but he’ll get less than Wolski.

        Only a fool couldn’t make those numbers work.

        Tallon is no fool.

          • DSF

            They are relevant in the sense that you can get a pretty good idea what they are going to get paid.

            Versteeg $4M?, and Kulkov, $3M? are easily paid from the cap savings on other expiring contracts.

            With cap space of close to $24M and 16 players under contract, Tallon could sign another 7 players and pay each of them $3M and still be in good shape.

            I expect you’ll see him add Markstrom @ $1.3M to replace Clemmenson @ $1.2M, Huberdeau @ $3.175M to replace [email protected] $3.8M and [email protected] $1.1M to replace Sturm @ $2.25M.

            Of course, we have no idea what the cap is going to look like in the new CBA but that applies equally to the Oilers and Panthers.

  • John Chambers

    My only concern with Garrison is that playing in Florida and playing in Edmonton are two very different things. Maybe it’s unfair but there have been plenty of players who play well in obscurity then fold under the microscope. He certainly is more intriguing than Phaneuf or Green though.

    That Schultz kid from Anaheim sounds intriguing but it’s always a risk when a kid is already asking for a one-way deal right out of college. Sounds like he is good enough to do it but you never know with young dmen.