Edmonton Oilers sign Denis Grebeshkov

He’s back.

The dollar figures have not officially been announced yet but Bob Stauffer suggests Grebeshkov’s deal is likely in the $1.5 million range (and given that Stauffer has been hinting at this for months, albeit without specifically using Grebeshkov’s name, he likely knows of what he speaks).

The signing of Grebeshkov brings the Oilers to a grand total of 10 defencemen who wouldn’t look out of place on the NHL roster, and that’s before getting into ‘training camp surprise’ types like Taylor Fedun and Martin Marincin. Oscar Klefbom, who got significant praise from MacTavish earlier this summer and who impressed at the Oilers’ rookie camp, faces a tough battle to make the team, and even veteran NHL’ers are going to be fighting for minutes.

Of the following list of players, at least two and possibly three won’t make the team out of training camp:

  • Jeff Petry (RD)
  • Justin Schultz (RD)
  • Andrew Ference (LD/RD)
  • Ladislav Smid (LD)
  • Nick Schultz (LD/RD)
  • Denis Grebeshkov (LD)
  • Anton Belov* (LD)
  • Phillip Larsen (RD)
  • Corey Potter (RD)
  • Oscar Klefbom* (LD)

Players with an asterisk above are on a two-way contract.

Edmonton may not have a number one defender, but in terms of depth right now they can compete with basically any team in the league. The addition of Grebeshkov makes for a crowded blue line but it also gives the Oilers significant quality in the five through eight slots. Grebeshkov, despite some chaos to his game (there’s a reason he was occasionally known as Marc-Andre Grebeshkov), was an awfully good defenceman under MacTavish and at the age of 29 he isn’t exactly over the hill, either. Nick Schultz played top-four minutes a year ago. Anton Belov was a number one defenceman in the second-best league on Earth and brings size and a range of skills; it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he can play top-four minutes in the here and now. Larsen is 23 years old and already has nearly 100 NHL games under his belt. Corey Potter, who I have outside the top-eight, was arguably the team’s fifth-best defenceman a year ago. 

In Belov, (Nick) Schultz and Grebeshkov, MacTavish has provided head coach Dallas Eakins with three plausible alternatives for top-four work, should individuals struggle out of the gate. A year ago, the Oilers’ second pairing of Schultz and Schultz went into the tank for weeks at a time but kept getting minutes because there weren’t plausible alternatives on the roster; this year, there are. Forcing Oscar Klefbom to either win a job through an exceptional training camp performance or start his North American career in the minors is another positive.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the Oilers make a trade – looking at the depth chart, both Ladislav Smid (who should have high value) and Nick Schultz (more a case of a player getting more money than his role would seem to dictate) seem prime candidates for a move. But that may not happen; it may well be that MacTavish plans to use eight defencemen, wants Klefbom in the minors and doesn’t mind dumping a guy like Corey Potter on waivers at the start of the year – if he clears, his contract dollars are low enough it doesn’t really matter; if he doesn’t it’s not a great loss.

Recently around the Nation Network

How well did the Calgary’s first round go this summer? At Flames Nation, Justin Azevedo generates a list of comparables for the three players they selected:

All three players are above average when compared to those drafted around them year to year, which is a good thing. For the most part, all three lists have a large amount of NHL talent. It’s unrealistic to expect that the Flames just drafted Couture, Bolland and O’Reiliy – but it’s a pretty safe bet that at least one of these guys turns out to be a decent player.

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • Old School G

    I’m liking what MacT is doing here, all of the moves he has made so far this summer make sense and immediately make the Oilers a tougher team to play against. MacT has only had the reigns for a short while and he has already earned far more confidence from me than Tambellini ever did. The Oilers are going to be highly competitive night in and night out, that in itself is something to look forward to!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    There’s a sucker born every minute, hoping MacT isn’t one of them. Hopefully this puts an end to that salary dump Braydon Coburn to Edmonton chatter.

  • vetinari

    Good depth back on the blue line now, but I wonder if we will see a 2 for 1 or 3 for 1 trade at some point, using a couple of these guys as trade bait.

    If no trades happen, I imagine waiver eligibility might factor into things. Out of the 10 defencemen, who doesn’t need to clear waivers to go to the AHL? Klefbom for sure and likely J. Schultz (although I doubt that they send him there). Does Larsen have to clear waivers?

  • Rocket

    Interesting move.


    Obviously MacT is keeping his eye on Europe for players. I wonder if that’s his decision or if the scouts are allowed more freedom to check out Europe than under Tambellini?

    Seems like the contracts are filling up. I wonder what weird moves MacT will make next week.

  • Citizen David

    Would smid and petry get us Bouwmeester? St. Louis has Petrangelo and Shattenkirk. We have lots of defensive depth but need a horse that can log huge minutes and is an actual number one. This is the deal I would push.

    • You would push Petry @1.2 per, a 25 yr old with RFA status, Smid @ a home town discount of 3.5 per for 4 years for a player making 6.9 on the last year of his contract!

      Bouwmeester is good, but this is not a good deal at all. This leaves the Oilers without a 2-3 defensmen.

      • Citizen David

        The Oilers have Petrys and Smids. They don’t have a number one. This would make Edmonton better. It would definitely have to have a promise to sign another contract.

        • I agree, they have enough -5-6-7-8 defensmen, but Smid and Petry are 2 to 4 who are playing 1-2 right now.

          trading them leaves a gaping hole and makes the Oilers move players into positions they shouldn’t be in, just like they are right now, so unless they can trade a Smid or Petry but not both to bring in a top guy your not solving the problem just creating another.

        • oldhippy

          Correction. The Oilers have Petry and Smid. Singular. They are far and away the best tandem on the team. They play all the toughs. All for an offensively and physically challenged defenceman, not to mention overpaid, albeit talented and positionally strong player. Bouwmeester would definitely be our number one, but we then have to match him with someone physical as a shutdown first pairing, or an offensive dynamo for a top line compliment. Bouwmeester at the expense of Petry and Smid alone is not a good enough reason to make the trade. Factor in the salary cap differential, and it’s no contest.

          With the Grebeshkov signing, it is one more player between Correy potter, and the line up. Given 23 roster player, if we can improve in most of them more than we regress in others, we should be further up the standings at the end of the season. That includes 7th defencemen and call ups.

          Put simply ryan Whytney, Peckham, and Fistric out. Ferrence, Belov, Larson Grebeshkov, in, with Potter the first casualty if all of the new acquisitions, play better than him. Of the rest, Petry and Smid in there prime, Schultz senior, regressing, Schultz junior, progresing. I like the replacements more than the players they are replacing. Plus our depth will be much improved.

          Only thing I’d do now is try and trade Schultz senior for any useable asset.

          As well, I would consider starting Schultz jr. in the AHL, just to let him play some meaningful minutes, early and get his confidence up. Start Nurse in the NHL for five or six games, so he has an idea of what to work on. Send him back to junior and then recall Schultz.

  • Every good move MacT has made has been overshadowed by every bewildering move or non move.

    Horcoff trade, Gordon signing, Jonesuu flyer, Labarbera Ference and Belov signings has looked brilliant. Perron was arguably a overpay with St. Louis cap problem. But then there is the Marlie all star fourth line signing, the draft day moneyball, the Jones overpay with better FA agents available and signing for less elsewhere. Then there was the near “Horcofian” Clarkson signing nearly no one wanted for that ridiculous contract, and Grebeshkov signing.

    At times you see MacT sheer brilliance, and then we see the mystifying madness. As its been said there is a fine line between genious and madness.MacT moves this summer have be both. He has been a Jekyl and Hide GM, it seems to depend what side of the bed he is going to wake up on to which kinda of move you will get.

    The thing I got to wonder is in all this the Oilers are softer. The Oil got a plethera of puck movers, and very little meaness. The backend will move the puck by why did MacT choose Garbagekov over Fistric. How could one missed assignment overshadow the positive numbers he put up. Who’s going to battle Getzlaf and Thornton, Kopitar and the Sedins. Hell Gibby makes a whole lot more sense then this.

  • At first I thought this was crazy but I think I see what MacT is doing. MacT wants some depth at D so Eakins has some options. Tambo never seemed to get it that the D sucks and that an injured Whitney or a cast off Barker wasn’t enough when the other options are Potter or Peckham. If MacT just got one of these guys it would be the same but he recognizes that it is a risk so he has a competition for the last spots.

  • Most of Grebber’s rep as a crazy player came from his undeniably chaotic swings in play in his first year with the Oilers. MacT kept using him because he could see there was a good player in there somewhere. His second year he may have been our best D man, with the occasional chaotic moment. He was shipped to the Preds the following year at the trade deadline as part of the rebuild, got hurt and sort of disappeared.

    I started out mocking him and claim to be the first one in town call him Garbagekhov (the day we acquired him) but I came to really like him over time. I don’t know what he is capable of now, but he had become a pretty good defender with real offensive upside his final two years here, so who knows?

  • oldhippy

    I’m not sure how I feel about Grebs resigning. I agree with so many other posters varying points of view. I remember when Mac was coaching, he said the one thing he liked about Grebs was that he was a coachable player. Hopefully that is still the case. I also agree with other posters that maybe the method to Macs’ madness for stockpiling defenders is to use in a pkg to trade for strength in a position of real need. Time will tell, but I don’t think Mac is finished yet.