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Photo Credit: Lisa Gansky

Should the Oilers be interested in Dan Girardi?

Earlier today, the New York Rangers announced that they are going to buy out defenceman Dan Girardi’s contract. The rugged defensive defenceman had three more years left on a contract that was set to pay him $5.5 million annually. In buying out Girardi, the Rangers have saved some cap room over the next three years, and they won’t be forced to use a protection slot on him in the expansion draft.

But that’s enough about New York. What about Edmonton? Should Peter Chiarelli and Co. be interested in signing Girardi, a right-handed defenceman with loads of experience, to his blueline?

Heading into next season, the Oilers have Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera, Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, and Mark Fayne under contract. Larsson, Benning, and Fayne are the right-handed shots out of that group. Based on the fact that he was stashed in the AHL for all but four games, it seems unlikely Fayne will play a role on the Oilers next season.

Another wrinkle for the Oilers is Andrej Sekera, who is expected to be injured until December after tearing his ACL in the playoffs. That’s obviously a huge blow to the Oilers, as Sekera emerged into an incredibly reliable presence who was capable of shutting down top competition last season.

So that leaves the Oilers with two pretty obvious holes, one on the left side and one on the right. Klefbom and Larsson will form a solid top pair, while Nurse and Benning enter the season as a formidable third pair that could see their minutes elevated if things go well. It seems as though Russell will be brought back if the Oilers can get him signed to a reasonable contract, but that isn’t a certainty.

Back to Girardi. Can he fill that role on the right side for Edmonton? Coming off of a buyout, Girardi likely won’t be commanding anything more than a one-year-show-me-you-can-play contract, which could bode well for an Oilers team that’s likely looking to avoid long-term deals to veteran players.

A few years ago, Girardi was regarded as one of the league’s best shut down defencemen. In 2012, he finished sixth in Norris Trophy voting, and managed to endear himself enough to the Rangers front office to sign a lucrative six-year, $33 million contract in 2014.

Over the past couple years, though, Girardi’s game has deteriorated quite a bit. Between 2015-17, no defenceman in the NHL (with a minimum of 1000 minutes played) has been on the ice for more shot attempts against at even strength per 60 minutes of play. To be fair, as we know with Kris Russell, it’s better to analyze this type of defencemen through unblocked shot attempts to fully understand whether they are, in fact, shutting their opponents down. In that context, Girardi fares somewhat better, though he’s still well below average in suppressing unblocked shots.

He’s 33 years old, has seen his minutes decrease over the past three seasons, and has very poor underlying numbers. That said, he’s a battle tested veteran and the Oilers could badly use somebody like that on their blueline. What do you think, Nation? Is Dan Girardi a worthwhile reclamation project? Can he make the Oilers a better team?

  • fisherprice

    No no no no no no no no no no. Girardi is really bad now. The NYR are willing to pay this guy for 6 years not to play. His best days are long long gone and I can’t think of a single defenceman who came back at 33 and was somehow better.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    If Matt Benning = Ryan Ellis (or another established RHD) today I could see some logic in this pickup. Oilers should be looking for an RHD who keeps Benning low so he isn’t rushed along through the next step of his development. And if they want an RHD as a 7th I’d keep Gryba. He already gels with this team.

  • Derian Hatcher

    NO! I watched and listened to a lot of Ranger games this season and in about 70% of those the broadcasters commented on how much Girardi was struggling.

  • I am Batman

    Yes. One year deal so that second pairing is Russell- girardi and once sekera is back you have depth to choose from. It’s not a bad problem to have.
    Beyond one year…. nope.

  • 0W-20

    Wrong NYR for EDM to be intrigued with acquiring. Move Eberle for Stepan, a RHD 2C that can offer McLellan all sorts of flexibility to match up down the middle.

    • fisherprice

      I mean, sure I’d love that deal if it was remotely possible. The Rangers are buying out Girardi and trying to deal Stepan likely to clear salary cap space for the inevitable Shattenkirk FA signing. Trading Stepan for Eberle makes no sense from NY’s standpoint – they’d be getting a lesser player and saving only $500K in salary cap space.

      • gr8haluschak

        Well thank god neither of you are gms tell me how is a guy who has scored 20 plus goals 3 times, and never cracked 60 points better than a guy who has scored 20 goals in all but 1 year and scored 60 plus points twice and 70 plus points once the better player

          • gr8haluschak

            Oh yes that magical defense, I guess you watch with a fair eye every Ranger game to be able to back that claim up, I know you will point to the plus minus right. At the end of the day the job is to score goals, which Eberle does a hell of a lot better than Stepan, not to mention the fact that Stepan’s contract is what another 4 years. As I type this out I am truly amazed at some people’s thought process – complain about Eberle and his contract yet they are ok trading for a worse player that makes the same amount for longer.

        • I am Batman

          @ gr8whatevs – yes…. I watched all Oiler games last year and I believe we lost twice to the rangers and both times …. there was a bad Eberle giveaway.

          So yeah

  • JimmyV1965

    I think I would rather play Fayne than Girardi. It just doesn’t make sense. And I agree it serves as a cautionary tale about players falling off a cliff rather than slowly eroding.

    • btrain

      Agree, why bring in a Giardi when you are already paying Fayne. Fayne is an NHL defensemen who can hold his own on a second pair. Not ideal but why pay for another equivalent player. Doesn’t make much sense to me. Now of you can upgrade with a decent contract like Hamonic, different story.

    • Kepler62c

      I’m not sure the buyout says Girardi is not an NHL Dman… it says he’s an overpaid one. On a 1M x 1y deal what do you have to lose? A million bucks of Katz’s money. If it works out you’ve got a 2nd pairing RHD you can keep for a playoff run or flip for picks at the deadline when Sekera returns.

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    I was intrigued until I read all the comments. I would be ok with a one year deal, then flip him at the deadline for a pick and a prospect if it doesn’t work out.

  • gr8haluschak

    Is it a Ron Hainsey type of situation, if it is a million bucks one year deal there is no risk especially come playoff time when having extra d men is never a bad thing

  • camdog

    As to Girardi, I’d rather take Gryba back for another season or two. Don’t really need both of them.

    I’m somewhat disappointed by the scenario. It wasn’t long ago and the system was full of LD. Now they are apparently all gone. Reinhart to Vegas I guess has already happened and I’m assuming Osterle is moving on?

  • Kepler62c

    Given that he had those poor underlying numbers playing mostly on the top pair with Ryan McDonagh, I’d be comfortable giving him a 1-yr deal where you know he’ll be put in a better position to succeed. If he’s 2nd fiddle on the 2nd pair, I think he could be a valuable player next season – and on a 1-yr deal if it doesn’t work out then you move on.