The great thing about Oiler fans is that we all have ideas about how to solve the team’s problems. Take the defense—please! The online endorsements for various NHL defensemen to come in and save the day is long and varied, and I wondered how many could reasonably be considered a viable option. Here we go.

I like to use the Vollman Sledgehammer. It takes quality of competition, zone start, TOI and shot differential and puts it into one nice graph. As an adult learner, pictures are always better.


phaneuf sledge

Phaneuf is in the ‘Shawshank Laundry Room’ portion of the graph, getting severe zone starts and toughest available competition. I think Phaneuf could improve the color of that bubble if he played for a team that gave him a little better support (and Gunnarsson didn’t look right all year, either). Double Dion certainly played enough to cover the No. 1 role and he’s not 35 years old. That said, I know this isn’t a wildly popular choice so will move on to the next.


stralman sledge

Anton Stralman gets mentioned a lot, and there are some nice things. He plays second pairing competition and has a nice blue (good) bubble going on. However, Stralman gets a zone start push and I don’t think his 19:24 a night suggests he’s ready to step in and play 25 a night like Phaneuf can.


markov sledge

I really like Markov. He plays severe zone starts and the quality of competition is 2nd pairing (and they aren’t miles from the top pair). His bubble color is almost blue, and for me he’s a guy who could help next season. The problem? The years after that, and you KNOW Edmonton would have to offer many years on the contract.


coburn sledge

I like this player a lot, and we know for a fact that Edmonton had an interest in him at last year’s draft. Blue bubble, tough competition and zone starts are no picnic. He played 22:26 a night this season, so he may not be ideal (that’s pretty much Petry minutes) but I’d take him.


byfuglien sledge

Oh hell I know they have him on the wing now, but Buff is a helluva player, he really is. He’s a bomber on the power play and loves to engage in the battle. Dustin Byfuglien gets overlooked imo because of his unusual name and the fact he doesn’t look like Chris Pronger out there, but man I’d take him.


fayne sledge

Gets mentioned a lot, but he plays 18:18 a night, and like Stralman I think an added 6 or 7 minutes a night probably impacts the blueness of the bubble.


crazy cat

For me, it’s down to Coburn, Markov, Byfuglien and Phaneuf. I know they’re expensive and I know some of them are older than dirt, but the Oilers have all the youth in captivity and that doesn’t count for a tinker’s damn.

Get Stralman and Fayne if you can, sure. But these 24+ minute a night studs are the difference makers. I’d like to see Coburn in Oiler silks. 

  • HallDown

    As draft day draws closer–and we have nit-picked the top 4-7 ranked players to death. It would serve the Oilers well to concentrate on getting character and experience into the line-up. They “should” know by now what they will do if Both Ekblad and Draisaitl are gone by the third pick.

    If that is the case they get on the phones and make a deal for pick #3 -with Philadelphia (Coburn) or Toronto (Phaneuf) or Ottawa (Spezza) If they need to dump salary then that can be accomplished with a Gagner for draft picks.

    I agree that Mr. Katz should be able to sign one top free agent in the offseason-to sweeten the pot. What you say nation-ites?

    • Word to the Bird

      Are you kidding? If Ekblad and Draisatl are gone by then, pick Bennett!

      But okay, lets assume that they want Draisatl and Ekblad, and they’re both picked. I would say no to Spezza because even if he wanted to come here, he’d probably leave via UFA the next summer. Phaneuf has red flags all over him, number one reason because of his shiny new contract. That leaves Coburn. He’s good enough where he’d improve Edmonton’s defense, he could play top pairing minutes, and he’d be a great stop gap for Nurse/Schultz/Klefbom/whoever to develop into legit defensemen. I think maybe a trade of Coburn and their first round pick for the Oilers’ 3rd is a fair trade.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Agreed Taylor Gang on Coburn but Philadelphia will want to make an even bigger splash since they are hosting the NHL draft this year. This would be “plan B” for them–but they could use our #3 pick to do something huge with another team. Let’s see how it plays out-should be fun.

  • HallDown

    The Oilers need a top Vet LD who can lead the way for 2 seasons and get out of the way, and 1 long-term RD with size and grit to complement Petry/Schultz. Of the FA available and maybe willing to come here, I would target these three:

    Mark Fayne: Played 1st pairing on NJ. Big, mobile puckmover. Just entering his prime yrs. Lots of teams will bid for him. MacT will have to overpay big to steal him away.
    Likely NHL contract: $3MM/4yrs
    For MacT to get him: $4.5MM/6rs.

    Andrej Meszaros: Has bad moments, but he loves to hit,can play both sides and run a PP. Only 28 so has room to improve his D-Zone game. Shunned in Philly & Boston, Oilers can offer him a bigger role than most teams dare.
    NHL contract: $3MM/3yrs. MacT cost: $4MM/5yrs.

    Henrik Tallinder: Big shutdown defender.No offense, but we don’t need offense. We need a closer who can hold leads and win us games.
    NHL contract: $3MM/2yrs would probably do it.
    MacT cost: $3.5MM/3yrs.


    Why not have a core of
    (rushed rookie)-Joensuu(moved to defense for size)
    After why not hire my next door neighbour as an executive. Don’t trash this because I know something about winning


    I love how that other cat just sits up there looking down and thinking to himself,

    “Whats that idiot doing now? Already got 2 broken legs! Hmm nice form on that one. Idiot.”

  • Zarny

    When looking at your lovely chart the blue buble needs to b looked at.
    you break that bubble down.
    What really maters is shots from inside 25ft.
    the % a dman gives up.
    a the success rate.

    Chara gives up below 255 of his shots in the better than league average area.
    75% of the shots are on the perimeter.
    competitors success rate is in the 13.5% range rather tag the average of 18%
    So for shots Chara gives up. gives up 41.5% less success inside the chances area.

    So while you try to convince people like me that a Corsi variance of 10% is a major problem.

    i would like the Dmen who affect the real scoring areas by 40%

    Colburn is 30% inside and 19% he is below average when protecting the chances area.

    Marincin? was 3rd best last year % inside 20 ft.
    Healthy Ference was the boston standard until mid Jan.

    Dmen in this protect the box Crowd:
    Coburn 30% inside 20 19% success No chance
    Niskanen 28% inside 20 18% success to much$ ?????
    Byfuglien 30.5% inside 20 19.5% success No chance
    Fayne 23% inside 20 17% success
    Stralman 31% inside 20 15.4% success
    Phanuef 27.5% inside 20 13.5% success
    D. Englland 27% inside 20 16.5% success
    M. greene 28.5% inside 20 15.5% success
    Diaz 28% inside 13.5% success
    Petry 28% inside 13% success
    Schultz 27.5% inside 20 17% success
    ference 24% inside 20 14% success

    I hope for bellimore


    Love the Sledge graphs, but we’re looking at all Eastern teams.

    I think it’s fair to say that playing defense on an Eastern conference team is likely easier than lining up against the monsters in the West.

    Not that these aren’t useful – they are.. but if the Devils were in the Pacific division I doubt their bubbles would be so blue.

    LT, I know it’s harder to deal with teams in and around our own division, but are there some players out West who would be worth the cost?

      • Word to the Bird

        True, but he has been under Holmgren for the past few years and stated that he always wanted to be in it. The draft ins in Philadelphia this year so there could be a splash.

    • camdog

      I think it was the title 😉

      Curious what’s the basis for the Coburn rumours? It wasn’t long ago that Hextall was taking shots at the Oilers. Disrespecting us like he did, I can’t see him trading one of his top 4 d man, for anything less than a ransom. That is unless there is something wrong with him…

      • Zarny

        The basis is money.

        Giroux is due for $4.525M raise starting next year. Mason is due for a $2.6M raise and Andrew MacDonald goes from making $550K to $5M. Matt Read goes from $900K to $3.625M and Couturier gets a small bump on his bridge contract plus they have to resign B. Schenn and S. Downie.

  • camdog

    I doubt there is a defenceman out there that Eakins covets out there……..if there is maybe he can learn his system………I doubt any of the players mentioned by your article meet with Eakins approval.

    BTW is Chris Pronger still available, maybe as a asst. coach?

  • 15w40

    Byfuglien – would be a good option. Although I can’t see him and Coach Tony Little necessarily agreeing on the definition of “game shape”.

    He would definitely add some mass to the back end and that would free up Justin Schultz for a trade.

    Byfuglien has stated he prefers defense to forward so he may be looking for a change of scenery from Winterpeg.

  • John Chambers

    Agreed about not over-hyping players whose success has been won adjacent limited minutes and soft comp.

    Heavy-hitters (that’s plural) needed. In my dreams we acquire Letang in a deal that sends Gagner the other way, and get Markov for free! Petry and Narincin play the second-toughs while Ference and Schultz lounge by the barbecue. The kids ELC’s on D counter-balance the big salaries at the top of the order.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      NJD are a really weird team.

      excellent possession percentage metrics.

      BUT… they are piss poor at generating shots.

      So, they basically limit all shots for and against.

      And, they have really poor true talent shooting. This came out in their losing an absurd number of shoot outs.

      Oh and they relied on Brodeur way too long.

  • Spoils

    just to make my regular post – we should not use any assets other than Katz’ cash on players older 27.

    Look at LA- we need A LOT of players and the best move is to try and have it all come together at the same time – best bet there is when our current crop of D matures – 4-5 years from now.

    if we can sign someone with cold hard cash I think Katz should feel very good buying something for us hard luck fans. if we have to use a Gags to include in a trade for someone that will be useless when our D is ready we are making a mistake.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      You might be onto something there. Most goals in todays NHL are scored in the bottom 12″ of the net. That floozie (cat) could top out at around 14″, so size isn’t an issue.

      If we could only get Bettman to allow ribbons to be attached to the puck, Oilers would be onto something.

      Back to Fayne….why Edmonton again? Larsson for Gagner+ maybe, if we’re going to do this whole pilfering thing. Take a gamble that Adam is a late bloomer.