Edmonton Oilers add Ference, Gordon and LaBarbera


Craig MacTavish, just under an hour into free agency, has not brought in a star player for the Oilers but he has made significnat moves, signing three different unrestricted free agents.

Goaltender Jason LaBarbera was rumoured to be joining the Oilers prior to free agency; he’ll fill the backup role in Edmonton and both offer the team a reliable player for games where Dubnyk sits. He is seen primarily as a backup goaltender, but it would be a mistake to place him in that role in ink – his performance over the lasst few seasons indicate a player capable of pushing Dubnyk if the incumbent falters. The Oilers have announced that the contract is a one-year deal; price point has yet to be revealed

Defenceman Andrew Ference is coming off a stint in Boston where he filled a second pairing role; it’s going to be very interesting to see how he fares in Edmonton. His statistics indicate a guy who wasn’t really carrying the load in Boston, and at 34 the question is how long he can maintain what he did last season. The money here is known; the Oilers spent a modest $3.25 million – which is a pretty good deal for a UFA who played top-four minutes on a contender last season – but the flipside is that they committed to the player for four years. If he pans out as a second-pairing left-side defender, this is a nice acquisition.

Centre Boyd Gordon seems likely to replace Shawn Horcoff as Edmonton’s third-line centre, barring the addition of another player. His work in Phoenix last year was mind-boggling: he saw top-six opposition and started two out of three shifts in the defensive zone, yet somehow managed to be on the ice for a team-average number of shots for and against. For a checking line centre, that’s a phenomenal campaign. The one worry: he benefited a lot from good chemistry with David Moss and wasn’t as good in the same role a year prior with other wingers. Gordon played 15:00 per game with the Coyotes, including a lot of time on the penalty kill, and won 57.3 percent of his faceoffs. At 6′, 200 pounds he isn’t especially big (and he isn’t a particularly physical player) but he is a legitimate NHL’er who shores up the depth chart in a significant way. The question now is money; we know he got three years but don’t what the Oilers will pay him over that span.

The Oilers’ depth needed a significant makeover, and that’s what Craig MacTavish has done so far. Despite the lack of a big name, the addition of a third-line centre, a 4/5 defenceman and a backup goaltender all needed doing; the only question at this point is whether the dollars make sense.

At least, that’s the only question with these signings; it would be a major surprise if MacTavish was done making moves.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Very nice work from Mac T considering that these three guys combined will probably cost around the 5.5M we’re saving from Horcoff’s contract. Leaves a lot of flexibility to go after some higher end guys.

    I really like the idea of Smid-Ference as a shutdown pairing.

  • vetinari

    First the blue ride themselves of Horcoff’s contract and get a player in return. Magic man Mac-T!

    Ference, great pick up! The other two are respectable. Me likey!

    Keep this going, baby.

  • oilerjed

    Horton got 7 years with Columbus @5.3 per( if it sounds like a prison sentence good, it should). Big risk with a history of concussions and with Mackenzie reporting that he will be having shoulder surgery and not expected back until Dec. Im sure glad we were never in on that.

    • oilman3

      totally agree. i’m also glad we’re not in on clarkson. taking on albatross contracts is not what we need right now. while mact hasn’t done anything spectacular, he’s made solid moves and acquired needed players in a market that is very difficult to attract free agents too. personally, i’m excited by what i’ve seen so far.

    • Ducey

      Maybe an AHL guy who can take Petrell’s spot?

      6’4″ and 212 lbs and a former 2nd round pick of the Islanders. Has put up decent AHL totals over the years. Hopefully has a little more Finnish grit than Petrell. He put up better numbers last year in the Finnish league than Petrell did, and at a younger age.

      AHL time means he won’t have an adjustment to North America.

      Likely means Petrell won’t be back. Yay!

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    I can’t say I am thrilled by any of the moves made so far. But…at least MacT isn’t throwing around stupid money…Ryan Clowe…5 Mil per season? Seriously?

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    For those who were critical of me being critical of the Ference signing…Rob Scudari just signed…4 years 3.25/season. He is about 4 months older than Ference…but has won 2 Cups, is 6’2, 220lbs, and had about the same point total as Ference last season but a better +/-.

    That was the guy MacT needed!

    • G Money

      Indeed, he went to Pittsburgh. Easy travel, close to home, and going to a legit contender behind Crosby and Malkin.

      Now do the math – how much do the Oilers have to pay him to get him to come here instead?

      5 years, 4M a season? Probably. And that’s assuming he’s willing to come here at all. Scuderi’s a New Yorker, Edmonton isn’t exactly home.

      Ference, an Edmonton boy at that, at 4×3.25 makes more sense.

  • oilerjed

    @ mazatlan

    Ference may only have 1 cup but tons of experience in the playoffs, late rounds at that. Your doing well though getting bashed on two boards. Like said above Scuderi was never looking at Etown,

  • 15w40

    The riskiest is definitely the Ference deal.

    Trades will be the avenue that MacTavish makes or doesn’t make his mark as a successful off season.

    Hemsky still has to go somewhere but maybe not until the season starts up.

    The desire to add “meat” hasn’t come to fruition yet at all so there is obviously some work left to do.

  • YEGFan

    I wonder why nothing has been said about Brenden Morrow. The Olympic team selected him to fill a 3rd / 4th line role. He put up 14 points in the 15 games he played with the Penguins. Former team captain. Yet, you hear nothing about him.

  • **

    Oilers possible defensive pairings

    Potter/hemsky trade for 2nd or 3rd line center man + 7th round pick

  • **

    The Ference deal is awful. Even if they can get one year out of him as a number four, there is zero chance of them getting four years of middle pairing play out of him.

    After seeing what centres were going for MacT was foolish not to grab grabo off waivers.