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:







    • Quicksilver ballet

      Of course we are going to win the Cup this year with Schultz , Belov , Klefbom and Nurse being front and center . The other defenceman are just there to be their on ice trainers . It’s just the new Oiler way of developmental coaching – playing coaches in reality/or manner of speaking .

    • 1) All caps?

      2) Nobody thinks the Oilers will win the Cup this year.

      3) Because Nick Schultz is a third-pairing defenceman earning $3.5 million.

      4) You want the Cup, yet your focus is on the fourth line next?

      5) Seriously, all caps?

  • Bucknuck

    Remember that “Goat Grebby” was a young offensive d-man and those kinds of players make a lot of mistakes. I hope that the 29 year old version is less “defensively exciting”. Usually the older they get, the less likely they are to be a “secret agent for the other team”.

    The secret agent comment was stolen from some dude who commented on a blog… but that’s an awesome saying.

  • MacTavish should just call up Cory Cross and ask him to spot in a few games.

    Now that MacTavish has the best 8-6-7-5 defensmen in the league maybe he might want to finish the gaping holes in the forward lineup.

    Maybe Jenny is available?

  • MKE

    I don’t know why we are shocked or upset. MacT said all along he wanted a mobile back end that could excell at the transition game.

    That’s exactly the kind of guys he has gone out and signed. Maybe I’m the only one who sees this as a good thing. Also consider maybe they want another russian for Belov to play with

  • Do we know the Waiver eligibility for Larsen and Belov?

    Someone has to go to OKC or another NHL club and the Oil have been averse to exposing certain guys to waivers. Even plugs like Peckham were sheltered from waivers.

  • Bleak Winter

    Grebeshkov?! What a bloody shame. I don’t remember him being an “awfully good defenseman” at all. I DO remember him playing flakier than pie crust. The Oilers took about two seasons longer than they should have to flush this guy the first time, and he really should have stayed flushed.

    Instant GOAT (unless they resurrect Pouliot).

  • A-Mc

    Hmm. Right on Mac T. It’s nice to see the defensive roster experiencing a bit of a log jam. This has definitely been a good summer for the Oilers IMO. Even if we’re only marginally better, atleast change was made; i was ready to riot after all the dithering of years past.

  • For a minute there I thought it said Grobovski…now that would have been an addition. This…nyet so much! The Oilers now have the deepest D-Corps in the league if you are thinking 3-10 on the roster. I still don’t like any of these guys as a top 2 pairing. With all the changes the Oilers will likely now move into the 10/11 slot in the Western Conference…but still lack the punch to make the playoffs.

  • 15w40

    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)

    I’m guessing the top 6 will be on the roster and the rest will be fighting for #7. Belov the likely winner there. Potter is likely on the favorites list anymore with the change in management and coaching.

    Unless Nick Schultz is getting traded somewhere

  • John Chambers

    Craig Mactavish :”yes we have 9 or 10 defenceman capable of playing in the NHL but you have to remember that 3 or 4 of these guys will have shoulder injuries by the end of training camp….”

  • MKE

    dont worry about this….stay tuned for the Press Conference Tomorrow

    “We are pleased to announce the signings of Patrick O’Sullivan, Petr Nedved and Tony Hrkac”

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    AHHHH, I am losing my mind!!!! clearly he’s loading up for a trade. Who is going? Whose coming back? Is it as simple as Nick Schultz for x player? Will Grebeshkov and Belov form our bottom pairing? I’d be great with that. Maybe it’s a huge package deal that somehow involves Smid? N. Schultz, Hemsky, and Marincin for Clifford and J Stoll. Does that work for both teams? We get a third line centre, they get a solid veteran shut down D on their back end, a great prospect, and another skilled winger to mix in with all their size in the top nine.

    What are you doing Mac T, what are you doing?????

    • northof51

      N. Schultz, Hemsky, and Marincin for Clifford and J Stoll. Does that work for both teams?

      Don’t think the Kings have near the Cap Space to make that happen. They can’t really take on salary and don’t have any to give away. Plus, Stoll’s health is now a major question mark.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Hope it’s for a reasonable term. I’m hoping MacT’s looking to sling some d-men for a center or two. The depth down the middle is kinda non-existent.

    • Ducey


      What do we need another mediocre defenceman for? If you are looking for another mediocre player add a mediocre centre.

      The only way this will turn is if he can be moved at the deadline for picks. We want to see Klef, Marincin develop in the minors but you want them up for a cup of coffee as well when some one is down. How is this an improvement on Potter and by how much????

      I don’t like it. We need cap space and contract spots for depth up front.

      • Bucknuck

        You really think they are going to keep all these guys? You don’t think, maybe Mac T is sorting out the blue line and stockpiling so he can trade someone for help at forward somewhere?

        Also, where is everyone getting this idea of mediocre from. 7 goals and 32 assists in 72 games? That puts him in the conversation with Burns, Carle, Johnson, and Keith from the full 2011 season.

        That’s a tremendous signing if he can return to that.