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Oilers sign Yohann Auvitu to one-year contract

According to multiple sources, the Edmonton Oilers have inked left-handed defenceman Yohann Auvitu to a one-year contract. It’ll be a one-way deal worth $700k.

Auvitu, a soon-to-be 28-year-old from France, played his first season in North America in 2016-17 with the New Jersey Devils organization. He played 25 games with the big club, registering two goals and two assists, and 29 games with Albany in the AHL, producing 13 points. Otherwise, Auvitu has played his entire career in Europe, playing five seasons professionally in the Finnish Elite League and representing France internationally at pretty much every possible opportunity.

In his 25-game stint in the NHL, Auvitu produced very impressive underlying numbers. He logged just over 15 minutes per game, and the Devils had 50.9 per cent of the shot attempts when he was on the ice. At a glance, that doesn’t seem very impressive, but the Devils were one of the league’s worst teams in terms of shot attempt differential last season. Auvitu had the third-best shot attempt differential on the team (+7.0) relative to his teammates behind only Beau Bennett and Taylor Hall.

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Digging a little bit further into these numbers, Auvitu played most of his minutes with veteran Ben Lovejoy. When together, Auvitu and Lovejoy posted a 53.4 per cent shot attempt differential. When apart, Lovejoy had a much, much worse 43.6 per cent figure. It’s obviously a very small sample size, but that bodes quite well for Auvitu.

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There isn’t much literature out there on Auvitu, but Travis Yost listed him as one of this summer’s best low-key bargain additions in an article that came out earlier today:

If anything, this is precisely the guy you do want to bet on – surely on a no-term, risk-free contract – to try to begin to test whether last year’s results were legitimate. If they were, Auvitu could really come into his own as a second-pairing/third-pairing tweener and just about two-thirds of the teams in the league are looking for exactly that type of player.

Lowetide also wrote about Auvitu recently for Oilersnation:

I noticed him a few times during his 25 games as a rookie in 2016-17 (2-2-4) and wonder if there’s a player there. His bio at The Hockey News tells us he’s an impressive puck mover and passer, with size and defensive coverage areas to improve. He battled injuries and also played in the AHL (29gp, 5-8-13) during the year.

With Sekera injured, Auvitu is likely Edmonton’s fourth option on the left side of the blueline behind Oscar Klefbom, Kris Russell, and Darnell Nurse, which gives them some nice added depth until the aforementioned Sekera returns. This isn’t a sexy signing by any stretch, but as Auvitu’s numbers suggest, there could be something interesting here. And on a one-year deal, why not?

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