Anton Belov goes back to Russia

77-Belov-4

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

84-Klefbom-5

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

  • CMG30

    I have to 2nd this idea: put Frasier in the 7th position. He makes the fans happy with the ‘growl’ but he’ll spend most nights in the press box so he won’t be playing enough to tank the defense. Bring him out when clowns like Kassian wander into town.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Suggested titles for new JW pieces ….

    1. 10 Reasons for a rebound season for the Canucks

    2. Why Montreal will never accept a trade involving Gagner and Petry for PK Subban

    3. Kevin Lowe: an Oiler for life

    4. Zack Kassian is on top of the world

    5. Bucky, Smith and Chabot to ink new 5 year deals with Oilers

    6. NHL Report: John Tortorella and Bob Hartley will NOT be seated beside each other at the NHL awards

    7. Soup Fascist: why he will never, ever win the Lotto Max Grand prize

    P.S. Full Disclosure: I liked Belov as the 7D as well.

  • vetinari

    Wasn’t a bad prediction yesterday JW, but “stuff” happens… I would like to see an older, veteran Russian on the team to make Yak feel more at home but who knows what the summer will bring?

  • paul wodehouse

    What is happening with Simpson?

    He is not signed yet, I thought he would be signed and on his way to the AHL for some pro experience.

    Is this a bad “sign” he is not signed?

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    You can always replace Myers in the trade scenario with defensemen like:

    Wideman, Phaneuf, Byfuglien

    or Ufas targets like:

    Orpiks, Robidas, Zidlicky, Niskanen, Nikitin

    5.5 Million is a lot of money for a defenseman, MacT should have some options this os.

  • nuge2drai

    Oilers Domination To Follow

    Im hoping Buffalo unloads Myers contract the way the Blues unloaded Perrons.

    Gagner + Petry + 2015 second rounder for Myers.

    After Trading Gagner,and Joensuu the Oilers will have 34 Million In Cap Space.

    Statsny – 6.0 (x 6)

    Markhov – 6.0 (x3)

    Myers – 5.5 (x5)

    Downie – 2.5 (x3)

    Shultz – 3.5 (x2)

    Bennett – 2.5 (x3)

    Moss – 2.0 (x3)

    Klefbom – 1.0 (x2)

    TOTAL – 29.0 Million

    CAP SPACE – 34 Million

    Remaining Cap Space – 5 Million

    Like I said this would be an epic offseason if MacT were to pull this off.

    Not sure we want Myers for 5 years at that tag though, maybe trade Gagner for a lower risk dman and sign a guy like Nikitin. Not even sure Myers is an upgrade on Petry.

    • why would you suggest acquiring Myers for 5.5MM for 5 years, then at the end of your post say you’re not sure if you’d want him for that money!? Furthermore…why is everyone so hung up on the guy anyway. What has he ever accomplished in his career other than regressing every season since he was a rookie. He’s basically Sam Gagner’s equivalent on defense..over-hyped, underachieving, overpaid, and has generally been more influential in causing his team to bottom out, than he has been in preventing it. Any trade where the Oilers can get rid of Gagner is one worth making, unless the return is Tyler Myers.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    This is a playoff team, aka a wet dream roster for next year.

    Perron Statsny Yakupov

    Hall Hopkins Eberle

    Moss Bennett Downie

    Hendricks Gordan Gazdic

    Markhov Myers

    Shultz Marincin

    Klefbom Ference

    Nurse

    Scrivens Fasth

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        Would you rather the Oilers not spend the 29+ mil in cap space they have?

        I don’t understand fans who don’t want their team to spend to max.

        Its not your money, I don’t care who the Oilers spend their cash on as long as all 29+ of it is spent this off season.

        • Tikkanese

          It is our money through season ticket sales, TV revenue, merchandise, etc. but I agree that we should demand that they spend to the max.

          Katz is running this as business so if he can sell out every game, sell lots of merchandise, etc, and not spend to cap max he will

          We the fans, seem to be worried that the Oilers should not spend a lot of money to attract players.

    • Spydyr

      Stasny will resign with Colorado unless for some reason they try to screw him on price. He was drafted there, he has not played anywhere else, and even though they have some crazy high end centres now with McKinnon, they also have a lot of cap space and only Stasny and O’Reiley to sign. Not to mention, if they don;t resign him, then they let him walk for nothing.

      Bennet and Ekblad are basically sharing the number 1 consensus and last I checked we draft 3rd, so unless that changes to either Reihnheart or the german kid, I would not hold my breath.

      I could see Buffalo trading for Myers, but I don’t see it being for Gagner, unless a first round pick is also involved.

      Markov has started talks with Montreal, I can imagine he would want to finish out his career there, especially because I’m sure like us Montreal is looking at the market and sees no better option to replace Markov with.

      Downie for RW on our 3rd line is a great pick up.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        Avs are offering Statsny 5 mil per year, unless he has an unbelievable playoffs – he won’t be getting the kind of money he wants from the Avs.

        6 x 6 is a overpay- but Oilers need him so Hopkins can play #2C.

        Teams would have a tough time matching up with Nuge as the #2C.

        • Benny Botts

          I want to start by saying I dont think Gagner is the answer for the 2nd line centre, he is to small for the division we play in and his commitment to the dzone is lacking. However I do not think Statny is the answer either, has he out scored gagner on average in his career? Absolutely, but he was also surround by a ton of vets when he was putting up his better numbers, he also is not any bigger then Sam is. I agree 100% they need a different dimension in their #2 centre slot, but I think they need to be looking elsewhere. IMO of course..

          • Lofty

            David Perron is listed as 1″ taller and 3 pounds lighter than Gagner. Its not the size, its the way they play the game.

            This is the same reason that I think Draisaitl or Ekbald should not be the automatic default draft pick. Bennett should be considered since his stats show he plays with “jam.” I fully admit that I watch no amateur hockey and other than a handful of world junior games have never seen any of the potential picks play.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        Avs are offering Statsny 5 mil per year, unless he has an unbelievable playoffs – he won’t be getting the kind of money he wants from the Avs.

        6 x 6 is a overpay- but Oilers need him so Hopkins can play #2C.

        Teams would have a tough time matching up with Nuge as the #2C.

      • Spydyr

        Because he’s not looking that great since his rookie season? They are throwing the word bust around with his name. Although its likely because he was expected to be a stud 1st pair guy and is looking like the ceiling on him is average 2nd pair D man.

    • Spydyr

      So your going to keep a junior age defencman in Nurse around taking a year off his development and a year off his entry level contract away to be the seventh defencman.

      Just say no.You get a veteran player with some truculence in his game for the seventh defencman.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        I would not have Nurse as #7 I just put his name in the lineup because he might be in the top 6.

        He was the best dman at camp last year, he will be bigger and stronger this year.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Who cares about our #7 D.

    Unless we get a #1C and a #1D this team is screwed.

    Doesn’t matter who coaches and who plays in our bottom pairing.

    Hopkins is the perfect #2C- he’s too small and young to be the #1 guy in this division.

    I’m hoping for Statsny- than sign some complimentary players like Glass, Moss, Winnik, Downie, etc…

    Signing Markhov and trading for Myers would also be ideal.

    It all seems unrealistic to me though, unless the silver fox pulls off an epic offseason.

    More realistic: Bennett becomes the #2C and Nurse the #1D long term

    • ubermiguel

      The Nuge can be that #1 C. He just needs some more time in the weight room. Besides lots of the big centres you’re thinking about (Thornton, Sedin, Kesler) are on the tail-end of their career, they’ll be gone soon enough.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        I imagine the Nuge would be much more productive playing against 2nd pairing dman and not matched up against guys like getzlaf and kopitar each game.

    • Spydyr

      “Who cares about our #7 D”.

      Well the article is about Anton Belov that might explain why people are talking about #7 D here.

      The “Oiler Domination To Follow” thing is a few years away.

  • nuge2drai

    JW,

    If you are looking for an idea for an article, here’s one:

    Who were the top 2 dmen in the NHL this year?

    When we are discussing top 2 dmen on this and other blogs as UFA or trade targets, I feel we’re really talking about the best 15-20 defensemen, not the best 60.

    What defines a top 2 dman? Success against top competition? Time on ice? Points? Advanced statistics?

    Here’s a can opener, there’s the tin of worms. I wish you good luck!

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Yak will be perennial 30+ goal scorer when he has a non smurf center.

    Perron Bennett Yakupov

    Hemsky was horrible without a high end center to play with, now he’s attached to spezzas hip and he isn’t letting go.

    The difference a proven high end center makes for a winger is unbelievable.

    • nuge2drai

      The key word there is “proven” If it ends up being Drasaitl or Bennett. You can’t depend on a brand new player to suddenly fix things. You look at some of Yak’s problems last year. Cheating offense, looking lost in the neutral and our side of the blue line. You can`t expect a rookie to walk in and fix/cover those mistakes.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        Puck possession is huge, and Gagner can’t win any battles on the boards, hes slow so he cant dump and chase, hes small so hes unable to cycle.

        How would you expect Yakupov to create offense playing with a center like that?

        I understand the key word is proven, Bennett won’t fix the issues of this team next year, but he surely will not handicap Yaks the way Gagner has.

        Look at what Monahan and McKinnon have done this year, there’s no saying Bennett or Reinhert can’t do the same for the Oilers next year.

        Worst case we draft our future #2C and he makes his linemates much better over the years.

        • vetinari

          For sure, he would be an incredibly talented asset to have. He could have a 60 point season next year. He could get take a long time to adjust and have 20 and be a liability.

          All I’m saying is we’ve spent too many years putting a rookie into an important position too soon and we’re still drafting lottery

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            Yakupov can learn to back check. He’s going to be a star. Media picks on Russians, tons of second year players struggled this year. Yak needs a premier center to play with, plain and simple.

          • nuge2drai

            We’re getting off the original topic. I agree yak is a great player and not what some msm tried to make him out to be. But you can’t depend on an 18 year old to come in as that premier centre. In a few years sure but who do we have in the mean time. Vet players need to be brought into these roles and challenged by the younger guys. Plain and simple.

          • Harry2

            I agree. All the young centres over the past few years with the exceptions of Couture, McKinnon, Nuge, and Seguin, have not put up big numbers for their teams when thrown into prominent roles: Granlund, Monahan, Barkov, Huberdue, Lindholm, Filip Forsburg, Gregorenko, Galchenyuk, Scheiflie, Zibenijad, and Coturier.

            These guys need time and mentorship.

            Having said that I really don’t think Ekblad, especially since we have no good vet leaders to help him along – like Jones has with Weber, or like how Brodin has with Suter – is the answer to our troubles either.

            I’d rather us get Marincin some help with a veteran Right shot D, then knock Petry down to the second line with Klefbomb, and put Shcultz down on the third line with Ferrence (those are all L and R match ups).

            That way Marincin and Klefbomb can develop while having some solid partners to help secure the blue. The pressure is off of Petry, Shultz, and Ferrence who are all playing way over their heads, and it adds some size to the top two pairs with Marincin, Klefbomb, and question mark.

            The only problem with this, is that of all the veteran right handed shots in free agency this year, sadly Tom Gilbert looks like the best of the bunch.

            Although maybe Dan Boyle doesn’t resign and would be happy in a mentorship role. Otherwise I’d see what it would take to get Dennis Wideman out of Calgary.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            Thats exactly my point, Oilers need to spend the 29+ mil in cap space they have and bring in a proven top two center.

            Horcoff, Hemsky, Smid, Dubnyk, N Shultz are all the books, time yo spend to the cap and break the 8 year run.

            As long as MacT spends to the cap limit, Oilers will have 3-4 key new players come in next year.

            Statsny, Markhov, Myers, Downie and Moss were just examples.

            34+ Million in space when Gagner is traded should buy us a ton of veteran players.

            As long as MacT doesn’t try to save Katz money and goes bargain shopping -please no more grebeshkovs.

            Caps going up every year- no reason no to spend to max next yyear. Overpay and give extra term- who cares end the streak!

          • who do you think is available in free agency or trades that will allow MacT to spend to the cap? Or are you suggesting the Oilers simply overpay for whomever is available in free agency this summer?
            Do you expect them to offer Stastny $7.0MM + per year? Maybe an aging Markhov..what do you reckon they should offer him? $8 – $9MM/yr? David Moss? What..do we make him a $6.0MM player?
            there’s absolutely no logic in what you’re saying. No team is going to trade a legitimate first pairing Defenseman or a big solid 2-way second line center for anything the oilers can offer in return, unless it’s Hall.
            I realize, when I read some of these postings that some people live in the most abstract alternate reality!

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            Like I said, it doesnt matter who the money is spent on as long as the cap space is all used.

            Just spend it on players who will make the team better, simple.

            So yes give Statsny 7, give Markhov 7, Downie 4, Moss 3, still fits under the cap.

            As long as the players brought in make the team better – spend!

            Legwand, Orpiks, Niskanen, etc

            Just do what it takes to turn the team around and end the 8 year streak. How can Oiler fans possibly disagree with this?

          • Spydyr

            Every dollar you spend foolishly paying way above market value is one dollar you do not have to spend wisely.

            Not to mention throwing off your salary structure.

            There is no quick fix for this debacle “the braintrust” has created.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            Fans like you are the reason we haven’t made he playoffs for the last 8 years- not management.

            You think fans in Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto would be OK with 8 years out of the playoffs, and wouldnt be looking for a quick fix? You think they woukd be ok with the team not spending to cap? You think they would care if money was spent foolishly?

            Hell No. Bring in the players and improve the team..

            There is no excuse not to bring in Statsny or Legwand, and one of the premier defenseman-Markhov, Orpiks, Niskanen, etc.

            Of course there are quick fixes, look at where the Avs and Canadians were last year, teams rebuild overnight all the time.

            Sign some vets, overpay, give extra term and become competitive. If the player acquired makes the team better, make the signing.

            No more excuses for being crappy, it doesn’t have to be this way and it should not be accepted.

          • Randaman

            What year did you graduate from the Jay Feaster school of Management or should I say mismanagement!
            You talk of domination but do you want to make the play-offs just to end the streak or do you actually want to win a round or two?
            What’s the big difference between 8, 9 or even 10 years? Stay the course!

            Oh, and get rid of Gagner and draft Bennett or Leon

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            Feaster won a cup.

            I want to make the playoffs and compete for the cup. Kings won as an 8th seed, get in anything can happen.

            Stay the course… Lol is that a joke?

          • Spydyr

            “Fans like you are the reason we haven’t made he playoffs for the last 7 years- not management.”

            Fans myself included do not make any decisions and have absolutely no bearing on the direction the team takes.To blame fans over management is almost as delusional as starting every post with “Oiler Domination To Follow”

            Empty seats would work and that is why I have not purchased anything Oiler or attended a game in almost three years.It was very tough not going to the Smytty game.

            The team has spent to the cap.How is that working for them?

            Good teams keep cap space till the end of the summer and pick up a bargain or two.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            Fans like you who accept losing.

            If we don’t overspend and sign some big ufas was an honest effort to end the streak given?

            Is your position not to spend money on ufas and keep the same 27th place roster?

            I don’t understand… Let’s keep 34 million in cap space and look for bargains at camp…is that you Steve?

          • Spydyr

            Unlike you I was around when the Oilers actually did dominate.I was on Jasper Avenue for all five Cups.

            I will never accept losing nor will I accept lack of effort both things in ready supply in these parts the last few years.

            Katz has spent to the cap every year.Spending to the cap alone will not fix this mess.Only time and letting the draft picks mature will bring about Oiler domination.

            I fully expect the team to spend to the cap again this season.

            Since as you said you don’t understand.I will try to explain it in economic terms you might understand.

            First off you can not overpay free agents.There is a salary structure in place.Hall makes six million. You cannot bring in a player of lesser talent and pay him more.That will not fly.

            Now think of the salary cap this way.You get paid so you go to the night club you spend all of your money the first night buying overpriced drinks for pretty girls.You go home broke.The next two weeks you are eating kraft dinner.Or you could go to the pub have a good time not spending money on overpriced drinks you go home with some scratch in your pocket.The next week steaks are on sale and since you did not spend all your money the first night you pick up a nice juicy t-bone on the cheap.
            You have still spent all your money but you did not pi$$ it away.

            Now do you understand?

  • mesa

    With the departure of Belov, the picture becomes somewhat clearer relative to the Oilers blueline. MacT still has to upgrade the D but at least he won’t be wasting time thinking that he has Belov as an option.

    Once the UFA season opens up there should be some very viable options open and this may work out for the best for next season.

    • mesa

      I doubt it. Fraser is UFA they can just walk away. Sure we’ll see a new ufa signing there. I’m starting to warm up to the idea of a Nurse-Ference combo next year as a 5/6 don’t play Ference over his head and let Nurse learn from a vet.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    I saw potential in him. Alas, today’s NHL is a different beast for Europeans & Russians. I suppose good on them for exercising competition in their favor. Perhaps the draw of winning a Stanley Cup isn’t in their blood the way it is in ours.

    Hope he does well in the KHL.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Poor Yak. Looses Bryz now Belov. Someone pass the Vodka please!

    Somewhere Don Cherry is pointing his finger at the camera lense saying…Ya See!

  • Spydyr

    No big deal it frees up a contract spot and a little cap space.Mac-t should be able to find a number seven defencman.Maybe one with a little more truculence.

    • nuge2drai

      He has one with tons of truculence – MARK FRASER!!!!! Google hockeyfights.com and tell me this is not a NICE and NASTY option to have for a seventh D-MAN!!!! Especially when you play Calgary and Vancouver multiple times each season!!! SIGN MARK FRASER NOW!!!!

        • nuge2drai

          We have great skill and leadership (Ference et al) on D but need a BIG BEAST on D to counter the McGrattan, Westgarth, Sestito and Kassian’s of our division – CARKNER, FRASER, ENGELLAND ERSKINE!!!????

  • Rob...

    I look forward to Belov anchoring the defensive core for Russia’s 2018 Olympic Team. I hope his team values the participation ribbon they’ll get for coming in 6th.

  • Not a huge loss. Hopefully, Fraser and Larsen are not part of the regular rotation of dmen next year either, as neither of them are good enough to be NHL regulars. The make-up of this group needs to change but I’m not convinced the Oilers are going to do much OF significance here. They seem to think the kida will eventually just mature, which is the wrong approach. We all know that but 6Rings and MacT seem to think otherwise.

  • Rob...

    Let’s see: A million bucks for a one year deal to be the the 6/7 defenceman on a perennial loser, income tax to take 40 percent of your salary…

    OR

    2 million bucks per year on a four year contract. Play closer to home. 15 percent tax.

    I wonder which deal I would take.