On Wednesday, the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson wrote that the Oilers “are almost certainly looking at” Pittsburgh defenceman Deryk Engelland.
Because if there’s one thing history has taught us, signing a 32-year-old fringe NHL defenceman with terrible underlying numbers never backfires.
It’s interesting to note the Corsi percentage of the defencemen who have played at least an hour on a pairing with Engelland since he first broke into the NHL in 2009:
The key point here: Every single one of them posted a worse number with Engelland.
It’s not like there are extenuating circumstances here, either. Engelland typically plays depth opponents, and prior to this past season has been seen his shifts start far more frequently in the offensive zone than the defensive zone.
Fraser vs. Fistric
The Oilers always seem to be looking for a big, physical third-pairing defenceman.
They’ve had some decent ones in recent years. Matt Greene shouldn’t have been playing in 2006 but he eventually rounded into form. Andy Sutton did some nice things. Mark Fistric was solid in the role, though he eventually wanted too much money. Theo Peckham even had some moments.
Then there are the other guys. The most recent example is Mark Fraser – a player who brings size and toughness and a willing attitude but not much else.
Engelland seems more likely to fall into the Fraser camp than the Fistric camp. His teammates consistently perform better without him than with him, in his prime he was a limited player, and given his age he’s a long way from being in his prime.
It’s understandable why the Oilers want this kind of guy, but there are better options. Brett Bellemore of the Carolina Hurricanes is a favourite in this corner. Clayton Stoner is younger than Engelland, better than Engelland and a free agent after five years in Minnesota.
There is no reason to settle on Engelland.