Yesterday, the NHL and the NHLPA agreed to a deal that would allow teams to buy out albatross contracts immediately. The deal was in response to the Canadiens and Rangers choosing to send Scott Gomez and Wade Redden home for the year, with the expectation of buying them out next summer.
Now that those players can be expected to become free agents shortly, should the Oilers be interested in either?
Given the Oilers are four-deep in NHL regulars at centre, there wouldn’t seem to be a pressing need for Scott Gomez; other teams (such as Vancouver, a club looking at employing either Andrew Ebbett or Jordan Schroeder as its second-line centre) will undoubtedly be more interested in him than Edmonton would be.
Wade Redden, at least superficially, is a more plausible fit.
Where would Redden fit?
Redden, after spending last season as the captain of the AHL’s Connecticut Whale, is not about to displace any of the Oilers’ top-five on defence (Smid, Petry, Schultz, Schultz and Whitney). A signing would put him in the mix for a bottom pairing job, along with newcomer Mark Fistric and holdovers Corey Potter and Theo Peckham.
Given that Fistric and Potter look to be locks for the NHL roster, that leaves Redden unseating Theo Peckham for the eighth spot on the Oilers’ blue line, with Peckham presumably being sent to the minors or dealt to another team. This scenario also means the Oilers would keep 13 instead of 14 forwards.
Is that a worthwhile move?
Likely, it depends on exactly how good one perceives Redden as being. If the thought process is that Redden’s an above-average third-pairing guy, this isn’t a move that makes sense. It would have been sensible prior to the addition of Mark Fistric yesterday, but with Fistric now on the team the Oilers don’t need another depth-only guy on the NHL roster.
However, if the expectation is that Redden steps into a third-pairing role but has a decent shot at moving into a top-four slot on the back end over the course of the season, it’s a move that makes significantly more sense. Redden, coming off a buyout, is likely not going to earn a lot of money on his next contract; in this case rather than paying market value for a third-pairing defenceman the Oilers would be paying third-pairing money to a guy who can play bigger minutes as required.
Looking at the Oilers depth chart, I can see the appeal of a guy like Wade Redden. Prior to the acquisition of Fistric, I would have said that bringing in Redden on a short-term deal made great sense for the organization. In the aftermath of the Fistric signing, however, I think the team would need to be confident that Redden would be able to bring more than third-pairing minutes to the table. If they aren’t, I can’t imagine them being as incentivized to pursue Redden as some other teams – the Red Wings or the Islanders to name two – will be.