Anton Belov goes back to Russia

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On Tuesday, I argued at some length that Anton Belov would be a really nice option to have at the bottom of Edmonton’s roster next season. Naturally, on Wednesday morning came news that the defenceman was returning to Russia. So feel free to get your requests in for my next piece below; I assume ‘tell us again why Shea Weber will stay in Nashville forever’ will be a popular one. 

That’s a nice soft landing for Belov, offering the security of a long-term deal and presumably comparable (if not better) money than he would have got in the NHL on a second ‘show me’ contract. I’d also imagine that – as it is for a lot of North Americans who give playing in Europe a try – there’s a certain amount of pull to go home to a familiar culture and language. 

It’s a shame for the Oilers, because Belov looked a lot like a guy who could play at the NHL level. It’s also a shame for Belov, who might have been more than a depth defenceman once he found his legs and adapted to a much less passive North American game, because now it’s impossible to know whether he could have distinguished himself over here. 

What Remains

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With the departure of Belov, one of the (many) moving pieces is now removed from the equation at the bottom of the Oilers’ defensive depth chart. With four players seemingly written in ink for next year (Justin Schultz, Andrew Ference, Jeff Petry, Martin Marincin) what’s left looks something like this (players set in LD/RD format):

  • Oscar Klefbom (2-way) / Philip Larsen (RFA)
  • Mark Fraser (UFA) / Taylor Fedun (UFA)
  • Darnell Nurse (2-way)

So what’s changed? Not a lot, really. As I see it, there’s room for one of Klefbom or Nurse on the third pairing (with Klefbom the likely choice), and there’s still a need for a veteran defenceman to augment the Schultz/Petry duo on the right side. 

Belov’s departure opens up the No. 7 spot on the NHL depth chart. He would have been a nice fit, and the Oilers’ roster doesn’t really have one – Fraser and Larsen both looked like AHL’ers this season, Fedun’s ability to translate his game to the majors is somewhat questionable and sticking a prospect in the press box a lot of nights seems wasteful. The bottom line is that this departure adds one more (small) item to the Oilers’ off-season shopping list. 

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Fedun is a valuable asset to the organization. Give him a fat AHL contract and keep him as an insurance policy. Especially as the D in OKC gets younger. Very few people make a living playing hockey and even making 250,000 a year as a AHLer is more than a decent living.

    Dillon Simpson getting signed would be awesome.

  • Lofty

    This just shows the Oilers can’t keep a low depth defencemen on the team.

    How are they going to sign a top two defencemen that will be a difference changer.

    What agent in his right mind would allow a UFA to go to Edmonton. They have to protect their assets, so will pick a better run team.

    Won’t happen until Lowe et al are gone and the culture changes.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Agents operate on a percentage basis. Do you honestly think an agent will advise against his client signing a deal worth, say, 7.5mil over 5 years MORE than any other team is offering? Do you think the agent voluntarily walks away from 500 to 750 thousand in commission? Hmm, maybe if Ghandi is the agent.

  • bazmagoo

    I thought of one “bold” move MacT could try this summer, prop if you think it’s a good trade idea – trash if you don’t. How about Sam Gagner plus our 2015 1st round pick to Buffalo for Tyler Myers and their 2015 2nd round pick? Could give Buffalo an extra chance at McDavid should the Oilers not make the playoffs.

    Would give us a right sided #1 d-man, which would allow Schultz and Petry to play minutes more suited to their experience. He’s a big dude playing big minutes in Buffalo, also an Alberta raised boy (Calgary) I believe. If we could get anything for Sam Gagner that would be a miracle in itself. Go for it MacT!

  • Sevenseven

    I think goaltending and Left wing is the only position Mac t improved. Rw depth = worse with Hemskey gone. Number 1 or 2 center still needed. Defense still needs entire top 3. Oilers have lots of cap space in a year with not the best options. Stockpiled some good defensive prospects that arent quite nhl ready. I hope Mac t has a really good plan a, b and c. Or the mediocre rookie lineup it looks like we will have on the blueline over performs.

  • orangepylon

    Ridiculous proposition for you all. Would you be willing to trade next year’s first round pick for another top five pick in this year’s draft? This scenario being only remotely plausible if there was the chance to take ekblad in addition to one of those top centres. Not saying any of the gm’s would make this deal, nor am I saying the players we would pick could immediately step in and fill the gaping holes in our current lineup. I just can’t fathom another year where we would be eligible to potentially draft first overall. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

  • paul wodehouse

    nuge2nail…you weren’t around when the Oilers DID in fact dominate and this expression of yours just grates on my own memories of what true domination was, what it took to do just that and how this team is so far away from it…what you are saying…it’s just wrong and I hope you stop saying it some day…

    • nuge2drai

      Oiler Domination To Folllow

      I won’t ever stop saying it.

      Spent a third of my life, patiently waiting during an eight year rebuild.

      Sold on the promise the team being rebuilt will one day dominate.

      I believe one day this team will dominate- those who don’t should keep it to themselves.

  • nuge2drai

    I can understand Belov’s decision – and I think with time he could have been a valuable addition to the team. But he had the right to choose, and he did. Away from this tho, our professional scouts (read as McGregor)should be given the heave ho, every 2nd pick has fared much better than the BPAs (maybe with the exception of Hall.) I know Seguin was surrounded by top notch players in Boston, but his game is quite amazing now. Landeskog came across as a go getter in the pre-draft interviews, Nuge, pretty flat. Yak? who knows what will happen with him. BPAs are NOT always the answer. The other thing that has caught my attention this week is the Smytty departure. IF and it’s a HUGE IF, the current/future Oilers can honestly say that in 20 years time, their legacy will be on par with Smyttys, then we have a chance. I just wonder how many will be remembered with such respect and affection as he is. Right now? not many at all.

  • Arius Mumin

    I don’t understand what the deal is about Yak’s backchecking. Hall just weeks ago, admitted that this year he just learned about it himself and what importance it plays in the hockey game.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Oilers have cleared a ton of cap space on players like Horcoff, Hemsky, Dubnyk, Jones, Schultz, Smid, Smyth, etc..

    34+ Million to be exact after Gagner is traded.

    Why does the idea of spending the cleared cap space get so many trashes?

    MacT the silver fox has done a good job removing overpaid useless vets, now he should over bring in overpaid useful vets.

    Support the young core, seems like common sense to me.

  • nuge2drai

    I wasn’t a big fan of Belov anyways. If Mactavish plans on looking for diamonds in the rough this off-season then I would rather he look to the AHL rather than the KHL. Grebeshkov was a disaster and we spent the season wondering when our 27 year-old rookie would adjust to the North American game.

    • BLAKPOO

      Every player in the AHL is hawk-eyed constantly by scouts. Most are on 2 way deals with NHL clubs, or property of their AHL team’s NHL affiliate.

      Finding a “diamond” in the AHL is considerably less likely, as they are already under constant scrutiny, and are already playing a North American style of hockey. Finding a quality NHLer currently in the AHL that you could pick up at a decent rate is more akin to finding $20 in your jeans on laundry day.. it’s always been there, you just overlooked it.

      “The Rough” would better describe the European hockey leagues that don’t have the same amount of exposure. You could find a player that plays alright on big ice, but excels on the smaller surface in a more physical game. Belov looked like that guy because of his size and shot, but had trouble adapting.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    So if we have 34 million in cap space and you fully expect the team to spend max again….

    Who should we spend the cap space on?

    • Spydyr

      I don’t follow the entire NHL close enough to give names.

      I would look for a second line center that plays a 200 foot game a battler.He might not bring as many points as Gagner but he won’t cost you as many either a win in the goals for and against department.

      It is a must you try to upgrade the defence as best as you can.

      I am not sold on Fasth I would look for someone to push Ben in net.

      Some functional toughness throughout the bottom six.More guys like Hendricks less guys like Jones.Make the team harder to play against.

      What would you do?

    • Admiral Ackbar

      I fully suspect that you’ve read ‘The Secret’ and are praying for an Oiler turnaround.

      As much as I appreciate the resolve of your lead statement in your posts, it’s severely irritating, in syntax and repetition. Please come up with something novel instead of repeating the same nonsense.

      I’d be happy to say ‘you called it!’ if or when the Oil start winning. Just find something new and intelligent. Please.

  • Sevenseven

    Say what you want about Belov, but he was an asset of sorts, maybe just a depth defense prospect, but some value. Its nice to have all the cap room and roster spots, but I hope not too much is filled with overpaid free agents. The oilers have very little value in the draft after the first round. A player with a bloated contract is not really a good asset. Our roster is looking very sparse, it should make it tough to make a trade happen.

  • Harry2

    False Perspective ? Draisaitl is listed/touted on futures as not being ” overly physical “. Sam Bennett however is physical despite being a tad smaller . Article on Flames nation Mock draft . They expect Oilers will take Draisaitl and they will draft Bennett . Most Oiler Nation seems to think Draisaitl’s size translate into a more physical player , but seemingly it does not appear to be the case .

    • CaptainLander

      I would just like to have a center that does not get knocked off the puck by gentle breeze. There are plenty top centermen in the league that are big and very effective without being a “physical player” they can just protect the puck and make a play with it.

    • A-Mc

      I think you’re a bit off when you claim that MOST Oilers Nation follows believe size = physicality. I dont believe this to be the case.

      In any given game, you have to watch Oilers players skate AROUND guys, in both defensive and offensive roles. This is because the players they are up against are bigger than them and in a pushing contest the Oiler would lose. Big players play THROUGH other players because size affords them this luxury.

      Size (Weight) affords players the luxury of having an easier time guiding or pushing guys off pucks when trying to regain possession. Smaller guys have to give “more” into a push or a check and this often slows them down, Risking becoming a pylon, and not to mention requires a lot more energy (fatigue issue).

      Size (Height) affords players the luxury of longer reaches. Marincin has a great stick that he gets into all sorts of trouble. He’s long and he can ‘cover’ more ice due to his size (but also his skating ability).

      When 2 players collide, the bigger player is going to transfer much more energy into the smaller player. This negatively affects them in terms of the injuries they sustain, the energy that is depleted, and the balance/positioning they need to regain before being able to make a play.

      Size is not the be all, end all, but there is a reason that the league is not filled with 5’5″ speedsters. Size affords the player (and likewise the team) a number of luxuries over simple “physicality” or grit.

      Perron has grit, and we absolutely love him for it, but he doesn’t have size. This team desperately needs a little Size sprinkled into its lineup. Draisaitl/Eckblad are likely the picks of choice for this reason (IMO)

  • A-Mc

    My guess is that we’re all mostly dreamers.

    Facts are that it’s unlikely any of Orpik, Statsny, Markhov… any of those guys are signing here. We’re a proven LOSING team. Who ‘wants’ to come here as a UFA. Fedun isn’t signing an AHL deal if he finds any team that’ll offer him an NHL contract and based on what he’s proven in the AHL, his agent will find a team I would suggest.

    It is going to take a trade by MacT to land what we need. And regardless of what folks say, he’s done good enough IMO. The team improved at the end of the year, between the goaltending and the grit, there was more at the end of the year than last June.

    Paarjaarvi (sp) – Perron
    Dubnyk – Hendricks
    Prospect – Fraser
    Picks for – Scrivens and Fasth

    4 of 5 of those I would say are upgrades and Fraser is debatable. If MacT turns 4 more players around this summer, I would suggest we’re well on the way to being a playoff team and if we continue to learn the defensive side of the game… by committee, awesome.

    Sucks that players just bail to the KHL or to another team as I would think it shows something about the state of the Oilers locker room when they do. I’m not sure what it says… but something.