Free agents who could help the Oilers

This year’s crop of free agents isn’t great, but there a few players that would help the Oilers.

The best option on a long-term deal is defenceman Cody Franson.

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He is 27 years old.

He is 6’5″ and 215 pounds.

He shoots right.

He has a hard shot and can play on the powerplay.

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He has played 400 games.

He produces points and he has very strong possession numbers.

There are very few UFAs that I would sign to a five-year deal or longer, but Franson is one of them. He will be highly sought after, especially in a weak class, but the Oilers have the money and he’d replace Jeff Petry.

I see Franson commanding between $5.4 and $6 mill AAV.


The Oilers currently have eight D-men: Oscar Klefbom, Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz, Darnell Nurse, Eric Gryba, Griffin Reinhart and Nikita Nikitin, and while signing another one will give them nine, if it is a proven NHL defender who can play in the top-four then I’d do it.

Mike Green, Andrej Sekera, Paul Martin, Francois Beauchemin, Christian Ehrhoff and Zybnek Michalek are some of the better options.

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Green and Sekera are 29 and both will want long-term deals. Green is outstanding on the PP and if he plays on your 3rd pairing at ES you have a pretty good D corps. The Oilers can’t have Green and Schultz on the right side, so if they add Green, they’d have to move Schultz. Sekera is steady. The Kings are trying hard to re-sign him and offered him $4.75 over five years. He will get more on the open market, so the Kings might have to up their price, but with them terminating Mike Richards’ contract, they do have some money to sign Sekera at $5 mill or more.

None of the rest are great options, but a one-year deal would be a smart move if you could land Ehrhoff or Martin. Ehrhoff has had a few concussions, but when healthy he is a solid player. Martin is 34 and likely looking for a longer deal, but he is very smart positionally and a solid puck distributor.


Michael Frolik would be an solid third line left winger. He is 27, has scored 40+ points four times, is an excellent possession player and can kill penalties. He was a $3.3 million cap hit last year and will cost closer to $4 million now, but I’d be very interested in him on a four-year deal. He could also moonlight in your top-six when injuries occur.

Shawn Matthias scored 18 goals last season, 17 of them at ES. He had a 13.6 sh%, so a slight dip to 12 wouldn’t result in a major drop off. He is a big body, 6’4″ and 223 pounds, and he plays hard. He is also 27, which fits with the Oilers time line. In two years, when they should be a legit playoff contender he won’t be old. Last season he found some consistency, and he is looking like he’ll be a consistent 15-20 goal scorer. He is listed as a centre, but he mostly played the wing last season in Vancouver. His ability to play centre is a plus.

Scottie Upshall struggled last season and missed 20 games with an injury, but he can skate, plays with an edge and has scored 14+ goals four times. He’ll be cheaper than Frolik, and you could sign him to a shorter term. He is not an elite penalty killer, but has averaged 1:14/game on the PK for the past three seasons, so he can help out when down a man.

The ultimate risk might be Chris Stewart on a one-year deal. He turns 28 in October and he constantly teases you with his ability. He is 6’2″ and 230 pounds. When he is on his game he is a handful down low and he has pretty soft hands for a big man. He’s scored 28 goals twice, had 18 in the 48-game lockout season (prorates to 30 in full season) and scored 14 last year and 15 the previous year. If the Oilers want a bigger body on the wing with some skill, and can handle himself in tough situations if he is inclined, then a one-year deal could be a low risk. One year at $3 million.

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The Oilers don’t have much experience down the middle in their top-nine. Connor McDavid will be a rookie, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has played 258 games while Anton Lander has played 132. Chiarelli might look at adding some experience.

Kyle Brodziak, Mike Santorelli, Mark Letestu and Jarret Stoll are some of the centre options. The Oilers really like Lander’s competitiveness and hockey sense. I feel they believe he is ready to be a consistent third line centre, so if they add a centre it might be late in the summer when veterans will sign a one-year deal for cheap.

Who would you like the Oilers to sign?


My candidate for biggest overpay will be Matt Beleskey. He had career-high 32 points last season, with 22 goals. He already turned down $16 million over four years from the Ducks. Good on him for getting the money, but a GM and his fanbase will be regretting it.

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  • TX Flame

    I don’t know what UFA or RFA can help the Oilers. But I know who can’t. Hamilton is locked up for 6 years at 5.75 avg per.
    So yeah you can sheepishly put that offer sheet back in the desk now Chia. Sorry Oil fans. .oh and it didn’t cost 7 or 8 mill a year either. Sorry.
    Have a McHamilton Day

  • vetinari

    Defence needs the most work and I’m fine with having 9 to 10 legitimate options on the roster come training camp and then waiving or trading guys if necessary.

    Would target Franson and either Beauchemin or Martin on defence and Matthias, Frolik and Brodziak for forwards.

    Would not expect to get all of them but at least one more defenceman and one more forward would give you trade options to try and fill other holes.

    • Jason Gregor

      Who do the Oilers have to offer to bring top-four D to town, and which teams are willing to move one?

      Unless the Dman coming here is 24-27 and has at least two years on his contract, I don’t see many trades that make sense for the Oilers.

      You can hope Chiarelli could swindle a GM as badly as the Flames did Sweeney/Neely, but I don’t see that happening.

      He would like to improve his blueline, but I think a major move occurs during the season or next summer when he has a better feel of his lineup and who he likes and dislikes.

    • McSaviour

      Shattenkirk seems to be a name floating around. Although unlikely, I would like to see a move for maybe Adam Larsson or Damon severson, what the acquisition cost is is beyond me, but if we could grab one of the devils young right shot dmen I would not be mad at all

      • McSaviour

        I don’t really share the opinions of most of Phaneuf. I think he walks onto our team the best D man we have if we trade for him. I wouldn’t mind it at all.

        • Ready to Win

          Here’s the problems.

          – Yes he would be our #1 D for the next couple of years, but we’ve already seen how well he handles being the #1 D, and he’s not good at it.

          – Phaneuf’s contract runs another 6 years; even if the Leaf’s retain 2 million (I can’t imagine them retaining more), do we really want to be paying him 5 million in 2020-21?

          – If the Oilers bring in a veteran to fill that #1 D role he should be a role model for the young D that we have. Phaneuf is a very different player than what we should hope Klefbom, Nurse and Reinhart grow into.

  • Jaxon

    Franson at 5yrs x $5.5M on 1-2RD, Ehrhoff at 2yrs @ $3.5M (+ games played bonus?) on 1-2LD, Comeau at 3 or 4yrs x $1.0M on 3-4LW, Brodziak at 3 or 4yrs x $1.5M on 3-4RW/C.

    I would grab Brodziak as a RW who provides insurance at C.

  • It would be great to bring Brodziak home, and likely not a wallet-crusher. As far as defenseman – Martin, Erhoff, Franson, and Sekera would all be upgrades.

    But the biggest addition we could make to the blueline would be the disappearance of Nikitin, in any way, shape, or form.

  • Jaxon

    I’m surprised we aren’t hearing any free agent names visiting edmonton. Is Chai that good at keeping secrets? Or are they really not focused on players like franson and sekera. I would take frolic, Roy or Matthias , and at least one of sekera or franson. Beauchemin maybe.

  • vetinari

    I would not mind Green. For a 3rd pairing guy under Trotz, he had a plus 15 and 45 pts, I would take a chance on him. I would add either Sekera or Franson as well. Ference and Nikitin will be the 7a and 7b guy. I would hang on to Justin Schultz and see how he plays under the new coaches. Unless Seabrook is available, I would trade Schultz and Yakupov for him.

  • M22

    Chris Stewart use to be a poor mans Lucic. He was so mean and skilled a few years ago. I find him very tempting, but the risk is huge. If you can get a “Luic” type player, nail finds his scoring touch, Nuge elevates to the next level, Connor meets expectations, Taylor and Jordan have great years, grab anothe real good D. The oilers will be so fun to watch.

    Just if all those things can line up….It could be something very special to wat.

    PS- sorry for the rambling. IM JUST SO EXCITIED AND I CANT HIDE IT

  • JG………I would opt for Mike Green only on the basis that a shorter term deal would not have serious consequences on the cap three years out……..when we have to sign our younger prospects to longer term deals.

    I like Cody Franson but all the reports out there suggest he is looking for a longer term deal.

    Things are finally starting to come around and the success of the UFA should move this team in the right direction!!

    Good times ahead!

    • McSaviour

      I wouldn’t mind giving him a longer term deal though. He’s a right shot Dman that can play the PP with a cannon shot, 6’5″ and only 27 years old.

        • YFC Prez

          I like franson. Oilers went the whole season last year without really much of a shooter from the point on the pp. That was susposed to be Nikitin but we all know how that worked out.

          Right now how many d-men do we have that are better than fanson? None. That may change in the next couple seasons but if he were signed tomorrow the defence would be better than it currently is. Oduya Sekera and Franson are my targets for FA. Hope we get at least one of these guys.

    • Jason Gregor

      Of course Franson wants a long-term deal. He is 27. It makes sense for him and a team to sign him for six years.

      I have no qualms with Green, but if they sign him they have to move Schultz, which means giving him away, because his value is very low right now.

      • Joy S. Lee

        Landing Green and giving Schultz away, honestly, would be win-win right now. I honestly don’t think they could give him away though. Maybe to a team needing to get to the cap floor?

        • Double Dees

          And u can’t sit there and tell me u weren’t excited when the oilers were the team to land him? Give up on him so easily. He’s still developing and with the right coaching he can improve.

          I jus don’t get why ppl are trying to overhaul the whole backend in ONE offseason. … Jus boggles my mind. U can’t do it. It’s a business not NHL 15 on Xbox.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I for one am glad the Oilers didn’t get Dougie Hamilton to an offer sheet. Not that a few Flamers fans trolling on this site have me upset, but let Brian Burke do what Brian Burke does….screw up an organization.

    Hamilton is talented, somewhat, but also played behind Chara most of his career. For some sad Flamers fans thinking he is their version of Connor McDavid…sorry…he isn’t generational. I say in 2-3 years it’s a toss up between Hamilton and Reinhardt. McDavid on the other hand will have Hamilton turned inside out for years to come. Can’t wait to see Draisaitl and McDavid together at some point down the road.

    Oh, and also, Calgary will have 14.5+million per season tied up in Giordano and Hilton after next year….have fun getting some scoring cause Gaudreau isn’t going to be a saviour.

    • oilerjed

      Not here to troll, but your out to lunch if you think Reinhardt is that good…

      The Oilers should really only look at Sekera or Green.

      Franson will be over paid, and he’s not that good.

      Chris Stewart is horrible as well.

    • BigMcD

      Our future top pairing (Brodie & Hamilton) is locked up for around 1 million more than PK Subban. Dougie’s also locked up for less than the previous Oilers saviours Halls, Ebs and RNH. Reinhart will be good for you guys, but his ceiling is 2nd pairing, which isn’t bad. Nothing wrong with a good solid defensive defenseman, he’ll just never be that #1 stud on the back end. Hamilton also played without Chara when he was injured and thrived.

      Good luck keeping Hall, Ebs, RNH, Yak, Draisaitl and McDavid all together too. You’re looking at a minimum of 40 million between 6 players, without any defensemen.

      • BigMcD

        The reason Hamilton is making less then the Oilers Hall, Ebs ,Nuge , is that he just isn’t as good. The Oilers would have liked to have him but like I said , he just isn’t as good. So enjoy McDavid running that slow D in Calgary right into the ice.
        As soon as McDavid laces them up you will see why Bobby Orr says he may be one of the best skaters of all time.

    • toprightcorner

      I am an Oilers fan as well, but Hamilton is significantly better than Reinhart. There is no comparison between the two now and there will not be one in the future. Hamilton is a top pairing d-man that had good numbers without Chara, while Reinhart has the potential to become a solid #4 d-man on a playoff team if he reaches his full potential.

      Like others have said, the Reinhart deal was a bad overpay by the Oilers. Calgary stole Hamilton from Boston.

      • Deported to Ottawa

        Fans simply aren’t in a position to judge over payment because they aren’t aware of all the possible trades and asking prices. You’re making an assumption in a vacuum.

        You may be right about GR but again you’re trying to predict the future which as we see all to often the GM’s and scout don’t have it mastered so I think being a fan you should be a little less absolute in your statements.

        Hamilton appears to be a fine young defenceman and hopefully he works out for the Flames but one thing bothers me. Chara will be retiring soon and they just gave up on the heir apparent. The offer they accepted was less than was speculated they would receive if an offer sheet was extended and signed so once again I would suggest you temper your statements a bit.

        Given the trade value and the contract he just signed it seems like fans are much higher on Hamiltons performance than GM’s and scouts.

        Lastly in another post you claimed Stewart is a bum so I hope you retain that sentiment if he signs with the Flames tomorrow.

  • Beauchiman and Oduya averaged the most ice time of the bunch on 1st place teams who went deep in the playoffs …either of to can play on a shut down role with Fayne on a two year deal …

    Then we NEED Chris Stewart playing body guard to McDavid and Hall, I’m sure with the skill on that line he would find his 25-30 goal scoring touch to also help him earn one last big contract (possibly somewhere else)

  • 916oiler

    Franson or Sekera.

    Our defense is not better than last year. That is a major problem.

    Nurse and Reinhart are both extrememly young and have barely had a cup of coffee in the NHL, so if you’re going to argue our D is better because of them…no, stop, don’t. We need more experience in the form of NHL games played to anchor the back-end.

    We’ve got cap room and Katz money to burn – so wave the McDavid lure in their UFA faces and land one Chia!!

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I’m sorry? What was “Chia” suppose to do with Hamilton? He offered more then Calgary, and refused to over pay and give away a better dman ( Nurse in 2 years). What would all you EA NHL15 GM’s have done different? I think this has been a solid week for the Oilers new regime.

  • M22

    Why would you say the Oilers couldn’t bring in Green without moving Schultz, but they could bring in Franson? I think if you bring in either one you’re looking at moving Schultz.

    Which I would have no problem with. But I wonder at the long term value of adding a guy like Franson. Just because he’d play on your top pairing now and is the best option this season, is it really worth tying yourself to him for top pairing money for the next 6 or 7 years?

    I would steer well clear of any bidding war for Green. I actually don’t really mind a right side depth chart of Fayne, Schultz and Gryba, but only if you add a guy who is mobile and can handle tough minutes to the top of your left side chart. I’d target Sekera, put him with Fayne, Klefbom with Schultz, and have Ference, Reinhart or Nikitin with Gryba. If Sekera goes for too much I’d go bargain shopping for a guy like Matt Irwin or even John Moore, then see who shakes out during the upcoming season and off-season that can solve the future hole on the right side.

    I hate the idea of adding Chris Stewart. Somebody will give him a multi-year deal and will be trying to deal him by the middle of year two. Frolik will likely cost too much. Matthias would be ok. I would sign a forward, but I wouldn’t worry about it on the first day of free agency. By the weekend if you dangle a two year deal for $1.5-$2 million a season you’ll have your pick of depth guys, and that’s all they need.

    • toprightcorner

      Franson is a RD that can play on your top pair, is physical and a big body.

      Green is a RD that would play 3rd pairing, good on the PP, average defensively, has minimal physicality in his game.

      Schultz is a RD that would play 3rd pairing, average on the PP, below average defensively, no physicality.

      You can’t have both 3rd pairing dmen with basically the same skill set when they are both PP specialists and not strong defensively. They are redundant but Green is better than Schultz in every area.

      Franson plays completely different than Schultz so that is why you would not HAVE to trade Schultz if the Oilers signed Franson.

      • iamSean


        I’m skeptical about Franson over a full season at ES (although you can probably attribute his drop in points, +/- and overall play to Horacek’s terrible coaching) but he has shown to be more capable playing ES than Green, who is basically a disaster in the defensive zone.

      • Tikkanese

        But historically Franson’s just as good on the power play as Green on a points-per-minute basis, and he’s certainly better than Schultz. If you’re not playing Franson on your top power play, why are you signing him at all? Especially if you’re looking at $6 million per for 6 or 7 years? If you guys think that just because he’s a big body that he’s going to come in and play tough minutes 5×5 while Schultz plays soft minutes on the third pair then he’s quite simply not the player you think he is.

        Mind you, I’m not saying that signing Franson is a bad idea. Franson is a good passer with a big shot. He’s also not that fast and isn’t great at reads in his own zone. He’s basically a better, right-handed version of Nikitin.

        If you bring in Franson to play right side, don’t move Schultz, and don’t sign another defenseman you’re looking at Franson on your top pair, presumably with Klefbom, Reinhart with Schultz in a soft minutes pair, Gryba as your #7 (he’s a RHD too, don’t forget), and either Ference or Nikitin on your shutdown pair with Fayne, which didn’t go too well last year. What have you really solved?

        You’d be better off signing a guy like Sekera or a young veteran like Irwin who can actually shelter your young left side D for a couple of years on a pairing with Fayne, give Gryba and Reinhart/Ference/Nikitin d-zone starts, and play Schultz with Klefbom next season with o-zone starts to see if Schultz can rebound and improve his trade value, or even show he’s worth keeping around for a while.

          • SSB1963

            Leaving you paying your third pairing RHD almost $4 million a year to play 2nd power play and limited ES minutes.

            I like Franson. He’s the closest thing to a #1 D on the market. But I don’t see how he’s the best use of resources for the Oilers. He’s young for a UFA, but that still doesn’t mean he’ll be worth the deal he’s going to get when the Oilers are contenders. If you’re trading Schultz for value, maybe, but that’s another matter. To me it’s more important to get an actual tough minutes pair in place. I think Fayne can be one half of that pair. I don’t think Franson makes a lot of sense, unless you’re adding that player too and moving Schultz.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I know before PC was brought in there was a bit of talk of bringing in a vet center to potentially be that 12th/13th forward. Any chance we go with former captain Shawn Horcoff or underrated Scott Gomez?

  • positivebrontefan

    Franson on and Matthias please.
    Big bodies with some skill.
    Win battles in the corner and get the puck to the really skilled guys.
    And then shut the trolls up with their McHamilton talk.

    I can’t wait to see Hall and McDavid blow past everyone on the ice. Hall finally has someone who can play at his speed so he can dish it off instead of trying to do everything by himself. He’ll finally have someone that makes it to the other end of the ice at the same time as him.

    Hamilton will get lit up by Hall and McDavid for years to come, I wonder how he feels about that.

  • YakCity1039

    Sign Sekera to a 4 – 5 year deal between $4 – $5 million and sign Beauchemin to a 1 – 2 year deal at $3 million. Trade Nikitin for a 5th – 7th round pick.

    • toprightcorner

      You need to be realistic on your demands.

      Sekera turned down $4.75 over 5 years, why would he sign in Edmonton for $4-$5 mill??

      If Beauchemin will sign for $3 mill, ANA will resign him in a heart beat. He is likely looking for $5 mill on a 2 year contract, he was ANA #1 dman last year.

      Nobody will take Nikitin at $4.75 when he plays like a guy worth $1.75. only way he is traded is if Arizona needs to make it to the cap floor or the Oilers take an equally bad contract in return.

  • Young Oil

    Players who are being bought out (Hodgson, Semin etc)may also be worth mentioning, lots may take a one year deal for cheap in an attempt to re-establish themselves in the league, and if they do well they can be re-signed or flipped for a pick at the deadline.

    Riley Nash also didn’t get qualified by Carolina, he may also be a good candidate, if he’s matured a bit and would consider coming back here.


    Hell, we are way better on the blueline already compared to last year. So take your pick Franson, Green, happy with either as it can only help us even more.If Nurse and Dr.Drai make the team even better.


    The reality of the whole Hamilton situation is that just a week ago we talked about how awesome it would be but also how unlikely it was. Then It almost happened but boston asked for nurse, dust in the wind. Chia would be been stupid to give up nurse in that deal or almost any deal. I agree with previous commentor that in 2 years nurse has a good chance of being just as good or better than Hamilton, maybe not from a pure offensive standpoint but from how he impacts a game.

  • Deported to Ottawa

    There’s a number of players that would be positive additions so we shall see what, if anything happens tomorrow.

    I read the positive and negative comments on every change PC has made. It’s far to early to weigh in because right now all that’s changed are faces and names.

    What is positive is the amount of change both on and off ice. PC isn’t promising change then sitting on his thumb. He’s making stuff happen!

  • Deported to Ottawa

    Our trolls are just as bad yours. Terrible. Stoked for Dougie but the article isn’t about Dougie or McDavid. It does show both teams are looking for similar players on the market: good possession wingers and a middle pairing defenseman. It will be an exciting free agent frenzy as always, hoping not to over spend on any of these guys though, outside of maybe Justin Williams.


    Honestly, if the only other thing that Chiarelli does this off season is get a good, veteran defenseman like Cody Franson,I would be happy. The only other thing we need is a solid season and improvement in the standings…if that happens we will have a much easier time attracting free agents at this time next year.

  • Jaxon

    I can only see more Griffin Reinhart type trades happening. They won’t help in the here and now but may progress to have an impact as McDavid matures. Guys like Madison Bowey from WSH, Pulock from NYI, Dalton Thrower from MTL, Stefan Elliott from COL, Parayko or Schmaltz from STL. Spurgeon looks like the only established D trade possibility as he is on the final year of his contract. Henricks & Pitlick for Spurgeon and Lucia?

  • Jaxon

    Would Purcell be able to lure a NJD RD? They have 3 young RD (A LArsson, D. Severson, S Santini) that look promising and they need scoring. Maybe after the UFAs are mostly snatched up?

    • Ready to Win

      No tears in Calgary!

      If we weren’t still enjoying the afterglow of blowing expectations out of the water and making the 2nd round, we just watched our GM steal a 22 year old top pairing defenseman for a few picks and then turn around and sign him to an amazing 6 year contract. Not only that but we also picked up 2 potential stud D prospects at the draft anyways.

      So yeah…no tears here at all.

      Congrats on McDavid, that’s an exciting development for ON and will mask the pain of your atrocious defense. It’ll make the BOA games much more interesting and all the Flames wins even more sweet.

  • toprightcorner

    Stewart will only want to sign a 1 year deal after a poor season on worse team. He actually played better as the Sabers started tanking. He will be a late summer add like a Roy or Ribero for $1-$1.5 mill. I would definitely take a chance on him for that.

    He will fight as much as Gazdic, put up offense and play more than 2 min a night.

    Stewart with 15+ goals, 10 fights, 12-14 min a night and can play in front of the net on the PP. He would have been tied for 2nd in PP goals for the Oilers last year.

    I would gamble on that for $1-$1.5 mill on a 1 year contract all day long.

    • oilerjed

      A career-ending hit is always possible, and we are seeing younger and younger players retiring early due to concussions. If he could get a 2/3 year deal, why would he pass that up for a one-year show me contract? I’m not saying he should be offered that, but someone probably will given his past scoring and size.

    • SSB1963

      Dude your dreaming…Stewart is off the market the 1st day for 3.5 or more! Everybody wants a big power forward who can score a bit and if he played with guys like McDavid and Hall he’d give you 25-30 goals and kick some ass to. I’d bring him in especially if we got rid of Percell.