KLowe: Point and Shoot

With the all the impending decisions to be made on the back end this summer I have a feeling our defence will not be the same as it was when we started the 06-07 season (at least better not be). I figure the Oiler will have 2 open positions to fill this season. Players on our blueline from this year to next: Smith, Staios, Smid, Hejda. That leaves 2 spots for a UFA, trade, or rookie to fill. Personally I don't see a top pairing Dman in that group, but getting 2 top pairing Dman in one summer would be ridiculously beyond Edmonton's capabilities, and the lack of availability makes this even harder.

So I'll start it off with my top 5 choices for unrestricted free agent defenceman the Oilers should go after this summer. With age and 06/07 salary(not cap hit) in parenthesis.

  1. Timonen, Kimmo (age 31) (2.28mil) - A consistent offensive player who has put up at least 50 pts the last 2 season and 40 pts the 3 seasons prior to that. Half of his pts this season have come on the PP. A steady +18 this year (though a minus player over his career) shows his ability to play defence as well. Currently Nashvilles #1 defenceman. Will be looking for ridiculously big money as the top free agent defender, like Ryan Smyth money.

  2. Phillips, Chris (age 28) (2.2mil) - About a 20 pt/season player over his career. Has a heavy shot from the point but that's not his game. Is a consistent plus player over his career that logs heavy minutes. Has 0 of his 22 pts this season on the PP. As probably the second biggest name on the market, he'll be looking for approx 4-4.5mil per.

  3. Markov, Andre (age 27) (2.0mil) - Has avg 45 pts over his last two seasons. Logs top 2 minutes on MTL's blueline and has a "rocket" for a shot. Will make blunders in his own zone. Not as well known as the previous two, hes younger than the rest and is just hitting his prime. Will probably command in the 3-3.5mil per range.

  4. Salo, Sami (age 31) (1.5mil) - Avg's approx 30 pts a season while playing top 2 minutes on Vancouver's blueline this season. Owns "one of the hardest shots in the NHL" while about half of his pts come on the PP. Is a consistent plus player who can handle himself in his own zone. A big player (6'3") who doesn't play overly physical. A decent pick-up but no #1 guy, he'll probably get in the 4 mil per range.

  5. Preissing, Tom (age 27) (600k) - An offensive defenceman who can quarterback the PP. Has avg'd 30 pts in his last 2 seasons in the NHL. Half of his pts this season have come on the PP. Currently sits 3rd in the NHL in +/-. To be honest he is not a top pairing defenceman, but at 600k this year hes probably looking towards the 2.5mill per contract, which is affordable and would give us our puck moving defenceman while still allowing 4 million to get a big minute logger like Phillips or Salo.

As you can see, there is no bonafide #1 defender available. With the slim pickings of UFA's this year there will be some tough decisions to make.


Joe Reynolds said...

Ok, we are in desperate need of a 20+ minute guy on the Blueline. I would have to say that we have a bright future on the blueline with the players that we have. We may be closer to having a solid blueline than many give credit for. Smith and Staios are guys that we just can't move. We need them to help bring up our young guys and help them out. Smid had played most of the year with Staios and they were probably the best pairing we had. They were a little suspect in our own end an neither is a punishing guy that will knock you off the puck. We don't seem to have that guy. I like what i have seen from the young dmen that we have. I think Syvret will be ready to make the step the the NHL next year and quarterback the PP. He has great vision and with more playing time will gain the confidence he needs. Smid is also very good with the puck. I would liken Smid to a defensemen like Lidstrom. Very intellegent with and without the puck but almost no physical play. With Heijda being a good guy in his own end and being able to get the puck to the forwards coming out of our own end, could be very valuable. Roy and Greene being at the bottom end are only going to be good if they can play with an edge without taking penalties to hurt the team. If we could pick up a more physical guy such as Stuart in Calgary we could be solid in our own end and still have enough to mount some offence from the back end.

Josh Coates said...

Ya we have a lot of guys who can get the job done in their respective roles. But you listed a bunch of 3-4-5 Dman, and you can't have more than 3 of those, and all of of dmen are that. There is not a single puck moving defenceman on our roster (don't tell me Smid until he PROVES he can do it), and many traditionalists prefer and 3 offensive dmen and 3 defensive defenceman system, but i think if we go 2 and 4 we should be okay. We have no #1 guy, and no PP guy, and few players are both (Pronger, Lidstrom) and those guys arent available to us. So you gonna have to get a guy for each. I was in support have having a deep top 6 instead of great top 2 and nothing beyond that but it didnt work for us, mostly cause we had neither. If we want to go with a deep top six we need to get at least 2 guys better than our top guy now (speaking of which...who would that be?)....You can't play 4 guys on your D with under 100 games (Smid, Greene, Hejda, Rookie). Thats not gonna win you the cup.

Joe Reynolds said...

I think if we had a deep top 6. With our 5 and 6 guys playing about 15 minutes a night would be the only thing the oilers can do. The aren't going to pick up 2 guys that are top two defencemen. I also don't think that puck movment from the dmen is the issue. I think that our team is just soft or doesn't care. Raffi can't get the puck out of the zone if his life depended on it. Our forwards are too weak and small on the half boards and cough the puck up or just get it out to center. I think we could use someone on the back end who is big and can skate and be a physical pressence. I don't know how much of it is coaching. The problem all year has been that our breakout. We can't back the oppositions' D off the line. They wait for the puck to come around the boards to a forward that is standing still and pinch up on him and take the puck away. I think our D will be fine if we can get the puck from the other team in our own end. We do need another guy with some more experience and skill though.

Rory said...

It is a no brainer that they need to go for Timonen, we need a defenseman like that to fill that massive void Pronger and Spacek left, and he will provide a lot of leadership for the team, probably wear an A if he came here. After that I say Preissing.

Rory said...

Josh I say start a topic about who the Oilers should draft, we will be getting a high pick for once and not those middle of the pack losers. I say we should go for Kyle Turris.

Josh Coates said...

Rory: I agree we need a #1 guy who can wear the A but I think for that a trade is in order. If we signed a guy like Preissing who could qb the pp then our #1 guy could be a solid defenceman with above average offence like....say Wade Redden (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). And ya a Draft blog is in order, but i started a monstrosity of a blog last night and it has consumed me, and i'm sick. I think we should wait till seasons start ending and I can piggy back off of scout rankings etc....

P.S. I'm with you on Turris