A HIGH-END DEFENSEMAN

mact common7

In mid-April, during his exit interview, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish talked about additions needed over the summer. MacT: “In my mind I’d like to add a very high-end defenseman.” Yeah, you and 29 other teams, Mac.

HIGH-END IS HIGH-RENT

Depending on your definition, there are very few high-end defenders in the NHL, and only a very small percentage of those come available every blue moon. Here are possible options for the Oilers.

  1. Christian Ehrhoff, Buffalo. He is signed through 2021 to a very reasonable $4 million dollar per season contract. Ehrhoff delivered solid to very good results despite playing on a dog in Buffalo this season. He’s an expert puck mover, has some edge—although he’s not a natural thug—and is an experienced lefty defenseman. Ehrhoff played 24 minutes a night for the Sabres, substantial amounts in all three disciplines. Asking price: Something shy of the third overall selection. Buffalo has the 31st overall selection, and could end up with the Islanders pick at number five, if it comes to that at the draft.
  2. Matt Niskanen, Pittsburgh. He is a UFA this summer, coming off a $2.3 million dollar deal he signed two summers ago. Niskanen is playing over 20 minutes a night for the Penguins, including a heavy workload on the power play in their series with Columbus. He’s a righty, and Niskanen’s skills are already duplicated on the roster by Justin Schultz. Asking price: As a free agent, all that’s required are dollars and term. Edmonton would have to overpay to get him, I’d imagine we’re dealing in a number beginning with a 4.
  3. Brian Campbell, Florida. Campbell is a big ticket item, his contract has two more years and is north of $7 million per season. He is a minutes muncher, playing 27 a night this season. It’s easy to imagine the Oilers pairing Campbell with any of the righties and putting together an effective tandem. Asking price: Florida would no doubt be looking for some offense in return, and the asking price would be significant.
  4. Marc Staal, NY Rangers. A young veteran who has had some concussion issues, Staal may come available because he’s one year away from free agency. Slats likes to move on from these players and may be more gun shy than normal because of the Ryan Callahan result. Edmonton would have to make certain they could sign him long term, but the “Staals in Carolina” dream seems unlikely now. Asking price: Sather drives a hard bargain, it would no doubt be one of the young blue plus something nice.
  5. Braydon Coburn, Philadelphia. He has two years left at $4.5 million, and we know the Oilers were in conversations last summer. This isn’t a 25-minute man, he averaged 22 minutes in the regular season, strong on PK where he spent four minutes a night. He could be a very nice partner for Schultz. Asking price: Crazy. The draft is in Philly this season, if Edmonton makes a deal with Holmgren it will likely involve third overall. Flyers pick 17th currently (pending playoff outcomes) if it comes to that at the draft.
  6. Alex Edler, Vancouver Canucks. Signed through 2019 at $5 million a year, Edler’s -39 is a real eyesore. However, his overall resume is strong and he possesses a nice range of skills, is young enough to be a part of this team for a long time, and may be available for one summer only. Asking price: Even after a ghastly season, Vancouver will want the sun, moon and stars—especially from a team in their division. 

THE VALUE OF THE THIRD OVERALL PICK

dumb dumb dogs

I’m inclined to believe the 3rd overall pick has more value than any of the defensemen above, but a package deal may work that allows a team to snare the lottery pick from Edmonton. If Buffalo grabs that Islander pick, we could see fireworks, and don’t forget the draft is in Philly so the Flyers will bring the hot and cold running crazy.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

prank

Trading third overall selections can make you look like an idiot, but it’s very likely the number one item on shopping lists when dealing with Edmonton. Other asks might include Sam Gagner, Jeff Petry, Nail Yakupov and Martin Marincin.

Next time: How many assets are off limits? If the number is more than two, let’s have another look at the standings.

  • Thumby

    LT, love your articles, but sometimes I think you go a little crazy.

    The 3rd overall for a guy with 2 more seasons left on his contract? Put the glue down LT, it’s affecting your judgement.

    I would think Gagner and a little sweetener for Coburn, Errhoff, or Edler would be sufficient.

    By sweetener I mean Frank Musil’s kid.

  • Thumby

    Certainly, any management team that could not make the call on running SMith and Bucky out of town or at least from behind the bench, cant be trusted to make sound decisions in other areas.

    MacT thinks he’s got a couple of winners there, then he probably thinks the guys on the ice are Stanley Cup contenders.

    The circus keeps rolling along.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Nothing we have to have there on that list. Clearly just a bunch of definite B level guys, all of them. Unless one of these guys are being Perroned……stay away. Not worth the price.

    There’s a very good chance what’s headed back their way will be better than the player the Oilers are getting. Fools gold, all of them.

  • Rick Stroppel

    THIS IS AN ART, NOT A SCIENCE

    Last year, just before free agency, TSN posted a list of the TOP 30 most valuable free agents. I am sure a number of smart and “connected” hockey people worked on the list.

    Number 1 overall, David Clarkson, number 2 Nathan Horton, number 3 Mike Ribeiro.

    Only five defenceman were ranked in the top 30: Scuderi # 5, Ference # 12, Roszival # 20, Zidlicky # 22, Hainsey #23.

    With a whole professional career behind a player, you might think it is relatively easy to predict how valuable he might be as a FA, but it is actually really hard.

    • Rick Stroppel

      PS

      Phoenix signed Ribeiro to a four year $22 million contract. At the end of the year he was a healthy scratch. Do you think they are comfortable with that contract?

      Rob Scuderi, the top ranked FA defenceman, was injured for part of the year. In 53 games he was 0g, 4a, minus 8. His average ice time per game was fifth amoung Penguins defencemen which tells me he was a 5-6 defenceman on that team.

  • Acumen

    What about Myers?

    He’s the only one I’ve seen linked to the Oilers by a credible source–which was Bob McKenzie saying right after the deadline that a deal was still on the table where they would move the pick for him.

  • Acumen

    Perhaps the most astute staement made in this article is to have a look at the standings. Due to the terrible finishes for what seems forever, Oiler fans have a tendency, due to familiarity and desperation, to over value their own talent and also potentially over value assets which other teams have.

    Last season I did not see Ehrhoff, Coburn or Edler as a solution to the Oilers problems. If MacT goes whale hunting and lands any of these three then we are in for some major disappointment. Niskanen or Staal at the right price might work but certainly no guarantees.

    I believe absolutely that the Oilers must retain their #3 Overall pick and draft either Ekblad or a #1 or #2 Centre. Any other action would be a disaster. Couple this with acquiring a decent 3/4 option on defense and we will see a marked improvement providing MacT is able to fill some of the 3rd and 4th line holes in the lineup.

    My sincere hope is that MacT makes progress without selling the farm.

  • BobbyCanuck

    I do not know about all this 3rd 4th line talk, I agree with the need for 1-4 D men

    It would appear to me that the first two lines are responsible for winning games, and it would appear to me that the Oil faithful do not think our top two lines have any issues.

    I sure hope MacT does not think our top two lines are issue free, I also hope he realizes that the Oilers have exactly one player (Hall) that should be held on to.

    I do not want to talk about Gagner as a trade chip, cause he isn’t one.

    All trashes will be on th assumption that Oil nation is happy and willing to acquire a record of Stanley Cup futility that will eventually rival the Leafs 47 yr drought.Relax we are only on year 24, we can easily go another several years at the bottom before the fan revolt.

    btw, do not give our players any ideas about the quickest way out of Etown is to be critical of team/mgmt to the media (Smid).

    On a happier note, did you’all notice that Cogliano, and Fisteric were on the ice for the Ducks when they scored the OT winner last night? Good times, good times.

  • HockeyYoda

    We need to change our entire coaching staff first, then we need a top two defence and a big solid centre man. Let the new coach pick his staff. Other teams far better than us have fired there coaches and will sign another that has NHL experience. Eakins is a AHL coach and even after a year he is still a AHL coach. His Ego and temper are not needed here. there are some good NHL coaches available.
    We can not build with a coach with no NHL experience.

    Eakins may talk a good show but even that is always the same. His coaching knowledge is very poor for the NHL.
    We have the making of a playoff team under a experienced NHL coach. Clean house for the last time and get some keeper coaches for the next few years otherwise we will continue to be the laughing stalk of the NHL.

  • HockeyYoda

    We need to change our entire coaching staff first, then we need a top two defence and a big solid centre man. Let the new coach pick his staff. Other teams far better than us have fired there coaches and will sign another that has NHL experience. Eakins is a AHL coach and even after a year he is still a AHL coach. His Ego and temper are not needed here. there are some good NHL coaches available.
    We can not build with a coach with no NHL experience.

    Eakins may talk a good show but even that is always the same. His coaching knowledge is very poor for the NHL.
    We have the making of a playoff team under a experienced NHL coach. Clean house for the last time and get some keeper coaches for the next few years otherwise we will continue to be the laughing stalk of the NHL.