According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, the Edmonton Oilers may have added another defenceman to their stable in the form of Joel Persson. Most recently, the right-handed Swede played for the Vaxjo Lakers of the SHL where he put up some pretty decent numbers from the back end and was known as a power play specialist.
Two of the bigger items on Peter Chiarelli’s to-do list for this offseason are bolstering the roster with value contracts and adding skill to a depth chart that desperately needs it, and he may have done both with this signing. Joel Persson, a 24-year-old offensive defenceman coming out of the SHL, first showed up on the radar back in January when Elliotte Friedman mentioned him in his 31 Thoughts column as a defenceman of interest. Friedman listed Persson as one of a few defenceman playing in the SHL that NHL teams had been paying attention to, but the Oilers weren’t even mentioned on that list of those that were interested but, clearly, the tables have turned.
Judging by what I can find on the Internet, Persson is a defenceman with the kind of skillset that the Oilers desperately need, and it will be interesting to see how this move shakes out in the months ahead. According to the bios I’ve been reading, Persson is an offensive-minded defenceman that has the ability to produce points from the back end as well as quarterback a power play, two major areas of need to say the least. In 51 games played with Vaxjo last season, Persson put up six goals and 28 assists for 34 points and was said to be the catalyst for a very good power play. Seems like a good thing, right?
Who is Joel Persson?
So who is Joel Perrson and what can he do for us? Those are good questions. Admittedly, I didn’t really know anything about him and I’m guessing that you’re probably in the same boat, so that meant it was up to me to put on my investigative journalism hat and get to work. With that in mind, I took a deep dive into the Google machine to find out a little bit more about our new d-man and what kind of player he is.
Persson is an offensive defenseman with a great shot from the point. With high-end puck skills and vision, he excels on the power play. Not a speedster, but owns decent mobility and can walk the blueline very well. On the downside, he is smallish and not much of a force in his own end.
Over at Lowetide’s site, he spoke to former Oilers goalie Mike Zanier about Persson:
“He came to camp a number 7 D. Was the QB of the PP by October. Started out more as an offensive player but has developed into a solid D & still QB to the best PP in the SHL. Though Elias Pettersson might have something to do with that, he’s definitely worth looking at (for an NHL team).”
Back in February, Dobber Prospects spoke about Persson as a free agent of interest heading into the summer:
One interesting free agent on the Växjö team is 23-year-old defenseman Joel Persson (UFA) who has an impressive 30 points in 44 games but there are reasons to be concerned because 21 of those 30 points have come on the power play, and he has 13 secondary assists. Persson is a purely offensive defenseman who is playing a bit of a sheltered role – he’s playing just 16:42 per game which is fifth highest among defensemen on his team, with 2:46 of that on the power play, and he isn’t used on the penalty kill at all. Persson was playing third tier hockey in Sweden last season, so what he’s doing now is impressive but it’s unlikely he can make another jump to the NHL unless someone needs a power play specialist.
A power play specialist? Offence from the blue line? Whyever would they need that!?
At face value, this is a low-risk move for Chiarelli that has the potential for some big upside. According to the scouting reports, Persson may not be the most polished guy in his own end and you’d hope that’s something he can still improve on, but he’s had some success running a power play and that in itself would be a huge add if it works out. The Oilers’ depth chart is incredibly shallow on the right side and this Persson signing could go a long way in fixing that. Not to mention, the Oilers didn’t get much scoring from their defenceman last year and they are gagging for guys that can put up some points. If Persson can come in and find a way to contribute then this deal could easily go from a smart bet to a great move.
From where I blog, I would much rather see the Oilers take a chance on a guy like this that only costs them money and a contract rather than see them moving assets to try and plug a hole. While we still don’t have any concrete details about the deal looks like, and it’s still way too early to pencil him in anywhere on the roster, this move, at the very least, looks like a low risk add that will strengthen the defensive depth along a very shallow right side. What does it mean for guys like Matt Benning that could potentially have Persson take his spot on the roster? It’s too early to tell, but it would definitely be nice to add a little bit of competition in regards to who makes the cut. Personally, I’m interested to see how this plays out.
What do you guys think?
JOEL PERSSON’S RECENT STATS
|2015-16||Tyringe SoSS||Division 1||31||6||10||16||10||1|
|2016-17||Kristianstads IK||Division 1||38||10||30||40||6||23||14||2||11||13||4||2|
|2017-18||Växjö Lakers HC||SHL||51||6||28||34||8||17||13||1||4||5||0||6|
Source: Ryan Rishaug, Verified Twitter Account, 5/16/2018 – 3:48 am MST