Free Agent Possibilities: Third Line Wing

It’s been nearly a week now since unrestricted free agency opened, and the best players on the market have already signed contracts with their new teams. For a team in need of depth NHL’ers, however, there remain options.

Yesterday, we looked at what the Oilers could do if they wanted to address their fourth line centre position; today we look at potential third line wingers.

As it currently stands, some combination of Ales Hemsky, Ryan Jones, Ryan Smyth and Jesse Joensuu are likely to fill the two positions on either side of Boyd Gordon. The organization seemingly has an interest in trading Hemsky, and the other three are all arguably better fitted to the fourth than the third line. Are there free agents available who could help bolster the position?

The Remnant

The list above is not exhaustive, but includes every winger to record at least 10 points last season as well as a few others who I identified in my preliminary sweep as being conceivably of interest.

My View

With each player, I ask myself three questions. First, is there a good probability of him out-performing Ryan Jones in 2013-14? Second, is he a good fit for a Boyd Gordon-centered line; in other words, can he handle a primarily defensive role? Finally, is it plausible that he would accept a contract that would be a good fit for the Oilers?

Personal viewpoints will doubtless differ, but here’s how that list breaks down for me:

“No” to question one: Colby Armstrong, Daniel Cleary, Radek Dvorak, Nathan Gerbe, Milan Hejduk, Chuck Kobasew, Guillaume Latendresse, Antti Miettinen, Andreas Nodl.

”No” to question two: Brad Boyes, Damien Brunner, Simon Gagne, Peter Mueller, Mason Raymond

”No” to question three: Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Morrow, Teemu Selanne

That leaves three names worth investigating. Nik Antropov adds size and versatility to the lineup; he can fill in anywhere in the top nine and can also play centre if necessary; he killed penalties sporadically last year but has been a regular on that unit in the past. Alexei Ponikarovsky is coming off a hard year offensively and hasn’t been a regular penalty killer; still he has a strong track record 5-on-5 and would add size to the lineup. Vaclav Prospal can score quite a bit; he’s on this list because he’s also played tough minutes in the very recent past. He’s a better fit for top-six minutes than on a checking line, and he hasn’t seen much time on the penalty kill in recent years.

Despite the number of names, there aren’t a lot of players who strike me as strong fits for the Oilers’ third line. Nik Antropov might be the best fit of the bunch but would need to come at a sizable discount from the $4.75 million he earned last season; but then it’s not likely an NHL team would give that to him.

Recently around the Nation Network

At NHL Numbers, Rob Pettapiece asks whether a goalie can control his rebounds and comes to a pretty interesting conclusion:

Aside from [Pekka] Rinne, who could very well be an outlier here (and we have reason to believe he could be legitimately great at this), there isn’t that much a goalie can do in a given year to suggest he has the ability to save more than a few goals. This may be an artifact of the data quality we have to work with. Or it could simply be too difficult for most NHL goalies to control what happens to a very-high-speed projectile after it hits them in the chest.

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

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Like Brad Boyes, can play the middle or the wing. He’s had good success on the offensive side of things, and at probably a little under Jones type money, i’d bring him here in a heartbeat if he was excited about a two yr opportunity here. Wouldn’t take long till Boyes perhaps even pushes Gordon down to the 4th line. The thought of moving Boyes to the right side along with Gordon in the middle and Clifford on the left side does have some serious curb appeal though, to me anyways.

  • Tikkanese

    No to the Leaf rejects.

    No to Brunner. I like him a lot but he is purely a top 6 type of player. Plus he wants $4 million per year, and is reportedly close to getting that from NJ.

    No to any of those guys with size, that don’t play with size. I’d much rather have a little guy with heart and drive like a Brendan Gallagher or Andrew Shaw over some 6’3″+ soft player.

  • The Soup Fascist

    All those players are worse than terrible. Cant we find some Belov’s in Europe or the khl to play fwd?

    this proves that the trade route is the only way to go. we should be peddling prospects and gagner to land what we need. people get too emotional about this…

    Gagner + 1st rd 2014 for?

    2014 1st rd for?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Now we are talking bold moves . How about putting Hemsky in with the group and go after a Toews , Tavares , Weber type acquisition ? However , our bottom six is the topic and it could also stand some upgrading . I’m not sure what the bottom six even is beyond Smyth ,Gordon , Jones , and maybe Brown . Maybe our own prospects are better than what’s left on UFA list ? Anyone aware of any of their agents trying to get an offer from us ? MacT. has probably contacted any he might consider . Doubt were the first choice destination for any one of them . Many on Willis’s list could prove to be an upgrade , but at what price . I like Morrow and his intangibles , Raymond , bargain players like Armstrong and even Kobasew .

        • Ducey

          First off Crosby is the one big name i’d probably not want to risk going after with his injury record . Doubt Pitt. would even consider moving him at that price anyways .

          • MKE

            See, stuff like this isn’t “yanking the chain” or promoting intelligent conversation. All these comments get you is people either being sarcastic or inferring how stupid you are to make such comments.

          • Clyde Frog

            I like your logic…

            Definitely rattles a chain…

            I was all for using Hemsky and Omark to trade for Crosby, but you changed my view with your amazing hockey sense.

            Crosby’s 56 pt’s in 36 games is way too much of a risk, your right!

            I thank my lucky stars professional bloggers such as yourself take the time to “troll”** people.

            **By troll I mean educate of course.

          • 24% body fat

            Wax man was obviously being sarcastic. Second if Crosby is so injury prone why wouldn’t pitt trade him? Oh yeah cause he’s the best player on the planet and puts up more points injured than 99% of the players in the league. My god there’s some stupid oiler fans out there.

    • Tikkanese

      So trade Gagner + a 1st for a 3rd liner? No need to mention that Nuge is out to start the year and that would leave Gordon and Lander as our #1 and #2 centers. Great plan!

        • Tikkanese

          Who needs the glasses? The thread is titled “Free Agent Possibilities: Third Line Wing”. So when you don’t bother to mention what you think we need, then we have to go by the thread title.

          Not to mention trading Gagner “to land what we need” still leaves Gordon and Lander as our #1 and #2 centers to start the year, then our #2 #3 the rest of the year when Nuge is back… Great plan! Not to mention Mac-T has said more than once how much he loves Gagner, so in other words he isn’t getting traded any time soon. Get over it.

          Or are you saying that Gagner will land us another 2C, a 1A D-man, a 2LW, a 3LW and a 4C?

          • Mike Krushelnyski

            reading comprehension problems as well ic.

            Were you to have read properly, you’d see i addressed the thread topic in my first sentence, gave a suggestion for what we consequently should do, then…..started a new paragraph to illustrate an entirely new idea.

            start eating goji berries…good for concentration

          • Tikkanese

            How do you expect anyone to “read properly” your incoherent babble when you:

            – cannot spell

            – cannot capitalize properly

            – have entire paragraphs as one sentence

            – cannot stick to the subject of the thread

            – cannot punctuate

            – resort to insults when you’re losing

  • Tikkanese

    The answer is Ryan Smyth. He will have a bounce back year. No more Belanger Triangle to ruin him. No more playing out of position at center. No more failed Hartikainen experiment in front of the net on the PP. He is also to proud, to much of a warrior and has to much heart not to bounce back. True Oiler fans believe in you Smytty.

  • The Soup Fascist


    You don’t think Hejduk would be a better offensive weapon than Jones?

    To be clear, I don’t think the Oilers should remotely consider signing Hejduk. I guess the question is more what your expectations are for Jones if he is a full-time 3rd liner playing with Gordon and Hemsky (or his replacement)?

    Is 30 – 35 points a reasonable expectation?

    BTW, I did not realize Ponikarovsky was anywhere near as big as listed. The guy is huge.

  • BurkeTheTurd

    Brunner…. he may not be the typical third line player, but we are one injury away from a huge hole on the top 6 without anyone to fill it…Unless of course Hemsky stays.

    Guessing biggest issue for all NHL teams is Brunner is looking for massive pay raise.