Trade Deadline Value: Oilers Defencemen

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The exact nature of Edmonton’s transactions at this year’s trade deadline has yet to be determined; the Oilers could still be buyers, though it’s also possible that they will end up selling off players as the deadline approaches.

In the event that they take the latter approach, what will the team’s defencemen on expiring deals be worth?

Defencemen on Expiring Contracts

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For the sake of comparison, I looked back over the last two seasons at any defencemen on expiring contracts moved between January 1 and the trade deadline. That list, including the average ice time of each defenceman with his previous team, looks like this:

  • 2015: Andrej Sekera (22:46) for a 1st-round pick and Roland McKeown.
  • 2014: Andrew MacDonald (25:25) for a 2nd-round pick, 3rd-round pick and Matt Mangene.
  • 2015: Kimmo Timonen (inj., 20:19 previously) for a 2nd-round pick, plus a conditional pick (2nd-round pick).
  • 2015: Jeff Petry (20:57) for a 2nd-round pick, plus a conditional pick (4th-round pick).
  • 2015: Marek Zidlicky (21:55) for a 3rd-round pick, plus additional conditional selections (none).
  • 2014: Andrej Meszaros (17:22) for a 3rd-round pick.
  • 2015: Tim Gleason (16:39) for a 4th-round pick and Jack Hillen.
  • 2014: Stephane Robidas (19:54) for a 4th-round pick.
  • 2015: Jordan Leopold (17:14) for a 5th-round pick and Justin Falk.
  • 2014: Mike Weaver (18:47) for a 5th-round pick.
  • 2014: Nick Schultz (16:58) for a 5th-round pick.
  • 2014: Raphael Diaz (15:58) for a 5th-round pick.

I was leery about going back much further, because the deadline fluctuates every year, though if we do we naturally find defencemen moved for less than a fifth-round draft pick. Peter Chiarelli was involved in such a deal during his time with Boston, picking up Wade Redden for a conditional seventh-round selection.

Still, this gives us a template to consider when looking at Edmonton’s rental candidates.

Trade Options

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Justin Schultz. Schultz is a unique case in that he’s actually a restricted free agent, but given that he seems unlikely to be qualified at his current rate ($3.9 million) I’ve opted to treat him as an unrestricted free agent here. That’s not quite right, as it’s plausible that with a good team he suddenly emerges in the postseason, but it’s enough to give us a line in the sand.

Schultz has averaged 20:06 this season. It’s hard to know exactly how he’s valued around the league, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s seen as being in the same range as Petry was last year (and indeed, Petry’s performance in Montreal since the trade may be a factor that teams consider). I’d suggest a second-round pick as his deadline value, with some potential for the price to be higher. I expect the floor on his value to be no lower than a third-round draft choice.

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Eric Gryba. NHL teams aren’t quite as willing to stupidly overpay for grit as they once were (Douglas Murray fetched two second-round picks from Pittsburgh in 2013, with then-G.M. Ray Shero famously adding that “you can’t measure the heart” of a player like Murray) but there’s still a premium on big guys who can play a physical game and Gryba certainly qualifies.

Gryba has averaged 17:43 this season, which pegs him as being worth roughly a third-round pick. I’d set the floor for value at the fourth-round pick Edmonton gave up to bring Gryba in last summer, and I’d be surprised if his value was that low.

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Nikita Nikitin. Nikitin has averaged 14:46 this season, which puts his value below that of any of the players moved on this chart. That’s right around the time on ice total that Redden played in his final NHL season; he fetched a conditional pick that eventually ended up being a sixth-rounder after he hit certain games played thresholds. In Nikitin’s case, retained salary by the Oilers might allow Edmonton to fetch a similar conditional pick. On the other hand, Nikitin’s latest recall may have torpedoed his value entirely.

Buying. These averages also work the other way. If Edmonton ends up buying, it’s going to be extremely pricey to add a defenceman who can move the dial for the group. Dustin Byfuglien (if dealt) is likely to cost more than Sekera did at last year’s deadline; even someone like Luke Schenn will probably cost in the range of a third-round pick.

As of this writing, Edmonton owns all of its draft picks for next year, but no additional selections. In either 2016 or 2017 the Oilers will have to send a second-round pick to Boston as compensation for the hiring of Chiarelli; it’s a fair guess right now that the pick won’t move until 2017.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Serious Gord

    Sure get tired of all the sheep on this site carving up Schultz. Massive case of group think.

    You guys are just as bad as the MSM. The only problem is that you all think you are hockey geniuses.

    • Leaking5w-30

      When u watch the games does Shultz look good to you? He does a nice job carrying the puck and had a good first pass. But the of his game looks bad to me. I think he would be useful as a 2 million dollar 3rd pair guy. Not a 4 million top 4.

      • fran huckzky

        I get what you are saying. I just get tired of some of the ridiculous rants tearing into Schultz every time he does anything. It is almost as if people are obsessing over this guy. Either that or they are so frustrated with the Oilers that they have to take their anger out on someone and that someone is Schultz.

        Is he perfect? Not by a mile. But just give it a rest already.

        • Serious Gord

          The sites always been like this. Redox Peterson Penner ferance shultz nikitan hemsky petry. People always have to blame someone. Some are more deserved than othersbut it’s always someone. Shultz is getting more hate than usual I think but it’s not that suprising

          • Serious Gord

            Ohhh and dubnyk. And mctavish and lower took on lots of the people’s anger. Now it’s mostly on shultz other than the few people that think klowe is still running the show.

  • fran huckzky

    I have some interesting info for allyou Griffin haters. I just checked the active rosters of all the Canadian teams. There are three players younger than Griffin. Trouba,Reilly and Nurse. Yet some of you consider him a bust because he hasn’t made it yet/ Give your heads a shake.

    • Serious Gord

      There are plenty more than that in all of the league. Probably 30 to 60 or maybe more. And of course Reinhart isn’t in the NHL is he?

      The upshot is he is likely going to be at best a 5/6 Dman on any decent team. And that makes him a bust for the price that was paid for him.

  • fran huckzky

    If we can get a 2nd for Schultz, make that deal and never look back. I know Petry had his haters but I liked him for what that’s worth. Jultz, on the other hand, I don’t see him as a contributor going forward.

  • Serious Gord

    The logic here is shultz gone for nothing is an improvement . Well if we don’t get anything than the guy who we sent to the ahl this year is coming up so I really don’t think it’s addition by subtraction.nikitan would fill our goat role quite well again tho.