With the draft and free agency soon approaching, Peter Chiarelli has made it clear that the team is looking to improve its back end. More specifically the team is looking for a right shot defenceman. Should Eric Gryba or Mark Fayne be the top 6 guy on the right side next season?
Eric Gryba (28) was acquired from the Ottawa Senators at last years entry level draft in exchange for former Oil King Travis Ewanyk and a 2015 4th round pick. The big 6’4” 228 lbs farm strong Saskatchewan boy only played 53 games for the Oilers last season due to injury. He put up 1G, 5A and 75 PIM. Gryba is a hard hitting, mean defenceman that fits in well with Chiarelli’s big physical team style. Gryba also had an impressive 0 +/- for being on a struggling team. He is coming off a deal that paid him $1.25M over the last few seasons. He was a special teams player this past season spending plenty of time on the penalty kill and being one of Edmonton's best stay at home defenceman. Contract wise I would personally be willing to give him a raise to around $1.5M - $1.75 annually for a 2 year deal.
Going into free agency the Oilers currently only have one right handed shot defenceman under contract, his name is Mark Fayne. Fayne (29) has 2 years remaining on his contract making $3.625M annually after signing with the team in the 2014 free agency. The 6’3” 212 lbs defenceman played 69 games for the Oilers last season recording 2 goals, 7 points and was a -6. Fayne was also waived by the Oilers in December and played 4 games with the AHL affiliate Bakersfield Condors in which he had no points. He was shortly recalled to Edmonton after a rash of injuries to the defence. Fayne played the top 2 role over Justin Schultz for lots of last season on the Oilers weak defensive core. Gryba plays much more of a physical game than Fayne, is also a smarter defenceman and a better penalty killer. Gryba would also be on a better contract going into the 2016-17 season.
What should the Oilers do with Mark Fayne? Personally I really don't see a spot for Fayne on next year's roster. If the Oilers only acquire one right handed defenceman this off-season, I see the defence looking like this at the start of the 2016-17 season.
Klefbom - (Acquired Right Shot)
Sekera - Nurse
Davidson - Gryba
7th- Pardy or another free agent.
If this is the top 7 for next season what happens to Fayne? He would either be buried in Bakersfield, he could be bought out, be a 7th defenceman or by some miracle Chiarelli could trade him likely retaining a chunk of his cap and getting a very minimal return. According to www.generalfanager.com
Fayne’s buyout would last until 2019-20 season at $1.29M for the first 2 seasons and $1.66M for the final 2 years. Reinhart could benefit from more time in the AHL instead of being a healthy scratch playing in the NHL. Fayne would take minutes away from younger prospect defencemen in Bakersfield but is also an expensive guy to have in the NHL as your 7th defenseman. In a perfect world, obviously I'd like to see him be traded but it's probably a long shot. The Oilers are not in a huge need to free up salary right away so I'm guessing we likely see Fayne in Bakersfield next season, possibly getting a call up if an injury occurs.
In conclusion Eric Gryba is the right guy for the top 6 right defenceman next season. We will soon see if the Oilers do choose to resign him. Thanks for reading! Thought I would give a shot at writing a blog. Leave your comments on what you think the Oilers should do with Gryba and Fayne.
Twitter - @seantrevy