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Photo Credit: vaxjolakers.se

Report: Oilers may have locked up defenceman Joel Persson

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.

From Erik K. Pirri at Elite Prospects:

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!?

THE WRAP…

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

SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PIM +/- PGP G A TP PIM +/-
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

      • Fire Woodcroft!

        Schultz didn’t show or demonstrate that skill set while he was in Edmonton – and if he had stayed put it’s doubtful he ever would have lived up to potential. It took a change of scenery and a couple years and of sheltered minutes on an offensively stacked Pittsburgh team before he was able to shine.

        Oilers Schultz was vastly different from Penguins Schultz. I’m happy he found success but anyone that thinks he would be playing at that level of he’d been kept in Edmonton is deluding themselves.

        • NZOF

          I don’t think he was vastly different as a player at all. The Penguins used him they way we should have: As a 3rd pairing D with sheltered minutes, with lots of PP time.

          In comparison, we gifted him 1st pairing minutes, playing 25 mins a night against the opposition’s top players.
          Add in Dallas Eakins and his ridiculous swarm D and it’s no wonder he struggled here.

        • crabman

          Shultz’s 1st 3 years as an Oilers he showed similar offence. He averaged .45pts/game or pro rated to 37 pts per 82 game season, which is better than any Oiler defender this year and only 2 pts behind Klefbom and his “big offensive breakout season” last year. Since joining Pittsburgh he has elevated his scoring to .54pts/g pro rated to 44pts per 82 game season.
          The biggest difference was Shultz was forced to play too many minutes and too far up the depth chart and his defence suffered on the Oilers. He also played on some very poor team defence Oilers teams. He averaged over 22 minutes a night.
          On Pittsburgh he was more sheltered, playing almost 4 minutes less a night on a better team and not on their top pair.
          The player still didn’t live up to expectations here but he also wasn’t put in the best situation for him to succeed. Recast in Pittsburgh and things got better for him.
          I suspect if he was just starting his Oilers career on this Oiler team where he would be playing in the 2nd pair against lesser competition and playing on the top pp with McDavid and Draisaitl out pp would be better and Shultz would look much better than he did during his time here.

      • oilerjed

        And what is wrong with that? Doesn’t cost a draft pick or much cash, only a contract. There are a ton of quality players out there who don’t find their way through the scouting system for many different reasons. Finding diamonds in the rough is a GMs job, hope one of them sticks.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Also this is the 2nd player that we’re signing with 0 NHL experience. Chiarelli is praying that Persson and Koskinen work out. Otherwise we’ve wasted 3M+

    • LAKID

      Chia and big game hunting? Chia’s trophey is Lucic and it looks like he stuffed him and hung him on the wall. Chia has to bring in top RHD or he will be fired and his trade pieces now more and more like Nurse and Klefbom.

      • Kneedroptalbot

        This new Persson……. is a “much better skater than Milan Lucic”.
        So you are saying …..”He can Skate”. Skating is important in todays NHL.

  • The Future Never Comes

    My bet is he would get scorched in his own by the sounds of it. If he is not able to handle the SHL offense, just wait until he has Ovechkin and Crosby ocming down his wing. So maybe have him play the full 2 minute PP’s each game and only that lol?

  • Billy Charlebois

    I would seriously consider signing a low cost defenceman like this guy (or a Brad Hunt type) and dress 7 defencemen regularly. The 7th guy can man the first PP unit and take the odd shift. McDavid, Daraisaitl and RNH can absorb the minutes that the 12th forward would have.

    • oilerjed

      Interesting idea, especially for a team that mostly runs three lines. I do wonder how effective a player would be when only getting on the ice during powerplay time. Legs and hands would be rather sluggish maybe

      • Billy Charlebois

        Yeah, my thought would be that he would play more minutes than just on the PP, but not regular 3rd pairing minutes. Maybe 10 minutes per night. Something like that.

    • JimmyV1965

      If I’m correct, and I believe I am, didn’t wevtrade Larsen for a 5th round pick. That’s a win in my book. Larsen played when the Oil defence was much worse than it is now.

      • NZOF

        You are indeed correct. We used the pick to draft Kirill Maksimov, who, so far at least, seems like a very promising prospect (80 pts in 62 games last season for Niagra)

  • JimmyV1965

    Give your head a shake if you’re poo pooing this move. The kid is a remarkable story. He just started playing full time hockey a year ago. He had a job prior to last year outside hockey. That’s why he got sheltered minutes. He started the season in the SHL as the seventh dman and was the PP QB within a month. The upside on this kid is amazing. Start him in the AHL. If he doesn’t make it, who cares?

  • C U Next Tuesday

    As terrible as Chia has been at trading players his amateur scouting and drafting has at least been average! When was the last time you could say hay about the Oilers. And honestly, I think that’s why he’s still employed.

      • OriginalPouzar

        Whether they have him pencilled in to the AHL or NHL to start next year, a one-way versus a two-way deal is meaningless to any Oiler fan. It only has meaning to the player and the owner.

        A one-way vs. a two-way has no effect on anything (not on waiver status, not on cap hit) except the salary the player receives if sent to the minors. If its a one-way deal, that has no effect on any of us as fans, on cap management, on roster management, etc.

  • Kepler62c

    #7D or AHL to start the season, seems like a good bet. Injuries happen and if this guy can then move onto the 3rd pair and put up some offence that’s great.

  • toprightcorner

    Persson contract will be cheap and likely a 2 way contract. At best this year, he is probably a 7D, allowing Bear the needed time to develop. As long as the Oilers don’t pull an Avitu a

    and never put him in a position to use his skillset. This could be a 14 min a night player that has 3 min on the PP each night.

    No downside to this signing.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    How did this guy sneak through undrafted? Solid add and so far I have been impressed with the effort shown by management and the pro and amateur scouting departments in trying to fix the mess Chia created. Just keep signing, trading for and drafting more and more prospects please. This effort is starting to show in our system if everyone is paying attention.

    • oilerjed

      On one hand you say the mess that Chia created while on the other you acknowledge that the system is starting to look decent. After next season, when the Oil make a 30pt turn around and our farm system is looking solid, can we finally then stop with the relentless bashing of Chia over trades/signings that some (but not all) people didn’t like? Chia has been a huge improvement over the previous GMs

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    He should be at best a number 7 or first call up from the AHL. He is behind Klefbom, Larsson, Benning, Nurse, Russell, Sekera. I like this signing, if it happens, more than the back up goalie at $2.5 million, at least we needed a right shot defenseman.

    • LAKID

      This is Chia swinging for the fences or stocking the farm. I hope it works out but is looking like an AHL signing. Chia still needs to bring in a RHD and scoring winger.

  • Arfguy

    If this signing turns out to be true, this is the kind of thing that the Oilers need. Potential for a good, low-key signing. If nothing else, the Persson is an AHL player and might bring some skill to a growing batch of prospects. If it works out, this will make it a lot easier for Bear to get one more year in the AHL to refine his play.

    I really like this move.