Anton Lander re-signed with the Oilers, Roman Horak headed overseas, and there are rumours flying that the Toronto Maple Leafs would like to trade Dion Phaneuf to the Western Conference.
Looks like I picked the wrong weekend to head out of town.
Lander and Horak
Jason Gregor covered Lander’s re-signing on Monday. A one-way contract worth $600,000 puts Lander in the same boat as Mark Arcobello – he gets the one-way deal and guaranteed money, but he’s also so cheap that being buried in the minors is a real possibility.
Roman Horak, meanwhile, bolted for the KHL.
It’s a shame the organization had to lose Horak, who is a very good AHL player (he came on toward the end of the season, too, with 31 points in his final 24 games) and had legitimate NHL upside. Originally acquired as part of the Ladislav Smid trade, it seems likely that the Oilers will retain his rights, and if he destroys the KHL it’s just possible that the organization might see him again. Either that, or maybe they ship him off to Toronto for Mark Fraser next spring.
As for the Lander signing, it strikes me as a good move. I don’t worry about sunk costs – if a guy can’t play, it doesn’t matter how much time a team has sunk into him, it’s time to move on – but in Lander’s case there’s a dominant two-way centre in the AHL who insists on playing a ‘dump-and-chase/pass to the NHL guys’ game in the majors. The coaches have to convince him to play the way he does in the minors, because if he does there’s a very real player there.
The Oilers don’t currently have a defenceman like Phaneuf.
I know the ex-Flame and current Maple Leaf isn’t popular in Edmonton, but I don’t really care. The 29-year-old would not only add a tough-minutes workhorse to the blue line (something the club desperately needs) but brings the size and physical dimension that the Oilers simply don’t have in their top-four currently. He’s not only a good fit for need; his style also complements what the Oilers already have.
Is the contract a little worrisome? Yeah, sure. But these guys don’t come available very often, and when they do the teams that desperately need them have to be willing to take on some risk.
The Oilers are in a position to make the money work, too, with some big-dollar contracts (Sam Gagner and Andrew Ference in particular; Matt Hendricks too looks like a good fit for Randy Carlyle) that could form part of the return package.
If he’s available, the Oilers should make a significant push.
- I know there’s a Matt Greene fanclub in Edmonton, and I understand why – he’s big and mean and has been quite a good third-pair defender for some time now. But folks hoping the Oilers should make a run for him in the offseason should be watching his ugly work for Los Angeles in these playoffs. Things have gotten so bad that minor-league call-up (and waiver wire fodder) Jeff Schultz is logging significantly more minutes than Greene. Greene’s a better version of Mark Fraser at this point, and if Edmonton pitches for him they should be looking at him as nothing more than their No. 7 defender.
- Edmonton makes sense to me as a landing place for Dion Phaneuf, but not so much for Jason Spezza. It’s not that the Senators pivot wouldn’t be a great fit on the Oilers’ roster, it’s just that he only has one year left on his deal and he’s going to cost major assets to acquire.
- Also, is it just me or would Tom Gilbert be an awfully nice fit on a pairing with Phaneuf? Gilbert excelled next to Brian Campbell in Florida this year and his skill-set would be a nice fit for a big, tough defender who can hammer the puck.
- This year’s draft is in Philadelphia. The Flyers’ have lots of interesting pieces on their roster, and I can’t help wondering if they might not make a big push to grab a higher pick (right now it looks like they’ll slot in at 17th overall).