After Tambolini practically destroyed the team and MacTavish didn't help to make it better at, Edmonton's defense sucks. If I were the GM, these would be the moves I would make that in my opinion, would make the Edmonton Oilers better.
The previous blog I wrote about potential forward signings the Edmonton Oilers could have this offseason and free agents that I would target if I were the GM. Previously, I had just signed Derek Roy to a 1.5 million dollar contract to center the second line with Nail Yakupov on his right and Taylor Hall on his left. I also attempted to sign three right wingers - Joel Ward, Justin Williams and Kyle Broadziak - unfortunately this affects the cap, leaving three different scenarios. For sake of argument, I was able to sign Williams to a 4.25x3 (4,250,000 million for three years) thus leaving Edmonton's annual salary cap to 11,500,000 million remaining. Let the blog commence.
Since the amazing run to the Stanley Cup playoffs in the 2005-2006 season, Edmonton's defense has been subpar. So much so that the teams goal's against per game this season was dead last with 3.37. The Buffalo Sabres, who let in the second most amount of goals per game finished with 3.28. A 0.09% difference. In contrast, Edmonton finished 26th in goals per game with 2.35. The difference between those two stats is 1.02%, meaning Edmonton loses generally loses by a goal a game. This is a major problem and this years defense was the biggest contributor to that. Plenty of games were lost by one goal this previous season and this needs to stop. Throughout the season, the regular defensive pairings (without Jeff Petry) looked line:
There was no top pairing defenseman for the Oilers last season and basically these pairings will never get Edmonton into the playoffs. Something has to change, but let's talk about who above stays with Edmonton next season.
Currently, Oscar Klefbom, Andrew Ference, Nikita Nikitin and Mark Fayne are signed for next season. Nikitin is being paid the most with 4.5 million through next year. This is too much for a player that missed about half of the season due to injury. Nikitin has to go. So I pickup the phone and call Arizona. Now, why Arizona, you may be asking? Next to Oilver Ekman Larsson, Arizona has little to no defense. Especially defensemen with experience. Arizona also has over 40 million in cap space and they're still below the cap floor. Taking on Nikitin's huge cap hit of 4.5 million could help them reach the cap floor.. Nikitin wouldn't fetch much, his value isn't great. I'd be making the call for a pick.
2015 5th (123)
With Nikitin gone Edmonton's salary cap would be at 16 million. Also this trade would free a lot of cap room, giving us the ability to sign other defensemen. Ference would be bought out with an ordinary buyout which would free up another $1,083,334 in cap space.
Schultz and Marincin are both currently RFA's. I'd want both of them in my system. Schultz would obviously want a big contract, does he deserve it? It's debatable. Schultz did make impressive strides this season. His all around game really did improve. He made some nice defensive plays and made better passes than the previous season. I'd offer him 4.75x2. We'll see where he is after after the contract is up.
Marincin isn't know for his scoring touch, but he has been a very defensive minded defenseman, rarely making a mistake. I think he needs another split year between the AHL and the NHL. I'd sign Marincin to bridge contract to 2x1. After Schultz and Marincin are signed, I am left with $10,083,334 in cap room.
Edmonton's last top pairing defenseman was Chris Pronger. Let's not talk about how that went. I think it is that last step to get into the playoffs. The hardest thing about actually acquiring a top pairing defenseman is the fact that they do not just appear. When they do though, they are either drafted and developed well, or you have to trade a crap ton for them. Nurse will be able to fill this role in 2-3 years from now. But we need someone who can be injected into this role and excel at it. I have three players in mind.
Dustin Byfuglien out of the three players I'm going to list would be the cheapest to trade for. He has won a cup with Chicago giving Edmonton experience. Monstrous at the blue line, he can absolutely deck opposing players. He has that type of fire that Edmonton doesn't have on the backend, but he also is a very smart offensive player. The reason he'd be number one on my list is because he could also play on the right wing if someone goes down with an injury.
Kevin Shattenkirk is one of the most underrated defenseman in the game. It's criminal. Playing behind Pietranglo, he doesn't get recognized for the player that he is. For starters, he is probably the best all around player listed. He can penalty kill, he can be on the power play, and the most important thing he can do is play when the game is on the line.
Brent Seabrook would be the most expensive to acquire on this list. He plays a more defensive role in Chicago. What he would bring to Edmonton is a winning culture and leadership. Seabrook also does have a scoring touch to him putting up 31 points this season.
So out of these three players, Byfuglien was the player I traded for. I think paired with the right player, say Marincin, he could be able to do amazing stuff. His value isn't as great at Seabrook or Shattenkirk's as well, which really made me want him the most. Now it's hard to gauge exactly what he is worth, but a trade that would be beneficial for both teams is:
Byfuglien's contract is worth 5.2 million for a year more and Lander's was worth $950,000. This leaves Edmonton with about $5,233,334 million in cap space. I will be able to sign one more defenseman. I have 2 defensemen in mind.
Christian Ehrhoff used to be one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, but after being bought out by Buffalo in the 2013-14 season, he has slowed down. He may not be able to do what he used to do, but he would still bring leadership to my team. It would be easier to sign him because he may not have a ton of confidence in his game. Maybe Edmonton would be a place where he could get it back? I would sign him at 3.2x2 years.
Johnny Oduya brings winning culture to the Oilers. He could also play heavy minutes next to Byfuglien and be the more defensive player on that pairing. The thing that really draws Oduya to me and why I'd sign Odyua over Ehrhoff is because he can play top minutes and be effective with it. I'd sign Oduya to a4.75x3.
Oduya would excel here in Edmonton. He can mentor the younger players while also playing top minutes. The mix between young players with a little bit of experience to older players who have been in the league for awhile.
Now here are the defense pairings:
I think this is the team that could make it to the playoffs and perhaps go far in them as well. Stay tuned for goalies. The goalie blog will feature more trades. Stay tuned! And please, constructive criticism.
I'd also like to thank Dangles13 for proof reading this and helping me with grammatical errors. He's been helping me since day one. Pretty cool guy!