There are some things that I really love about this picture. I like Ryan Whitney way up there, and I like seeing Ladislav Smid’s face in the mix. Tom Gilbert will also surely be there, and I think that Uncle Ted will see much ice on line 3 this year. This could also be a big year for young gun Jeff Petry. I liked seeing him a tonne last year.
Seeing the Oilers go after Cam Barker really freaked some people out. I’m not so much upset that the Oilers are giving Barker a shot (although his price tag makes it a bit tough to swallow), but it’s always good to have a contingency plan. Also noticed is new Oiler Andy Sutton seems more like a 7D.
Is there anybody else out there that could help plug the defence?
Let’s find out…
The signing of Taylor Chorney today doesn’t change the fact that the Oilers will at the very least need one more defenceman to remain competitive on most nights. Let’s see who’s left – and who might play in Oiler Land for the right price.
ANTON STRALMAN (CLB)
A 7th round pick of the Maple Leafs in 2005, the Swedish Stralman will be just 25 years of age in a couple of weeks. He’s one of the rare 25 year olds that will be a UFA due to him not receiving a qualifying offer from Columbus. I’m a bit surprised he hasn’t been picked up yet. If you take nothing else from this paragraph, take these two things:
- Stralman is an actual, real live breathing NFL defenceman, and
- Stralman shoots right. Have a look at the depth chart and tell me how many righties this team has. In other words, the Oilers might benefit from one or two more.
Stralman chalked up only 17 points (1G-16A) last season in 51 games with the Jackets, but he was able to hang 34 (6G-28A) in 2009-10. If the Oilers are going to pay Cam Barker over $2M this coming season, they can find a couple of bucks in their pockets to pay Stralman something. Stralman pulled $1.9M in his first contract last year that wasn’t part of an entry level deal. It’s been two weeks since free agency opened. He might be able to be picked up on the cheap.
PAUL MARA (MTL)
Remember in 2005-06 when this guy popped off for 47 points while a member of the Phoenix Coyotes? Turns out that the Oilers also went to the Stanley Cup Finals that year. Time really flies.
The former first round pick has had issues finding the scoresheet since that 47 point campaign. I’m not so much interested in him putting points on the scoreboard (although that does have a nice ring to it) as much as I’m concerned with him keeping points off the side of the opposition. After a somewhat garish -16 in the +/- column in 2009-10, Mara had a better campaign last season totalling +1.
Mara split time between the Ducks and a second go-round with the Habs in 2010-11, posting six points (1G-5A) in 53 games. He’s battled shoulder issues, which admittedly aren’t the kind of issues you’d like to have a defenceman battling. Mara has slid from a big ticket name to a $750K D man. Would $1M be too much to gamble on this guy?
Granted the fact that Mara doesn’t have that right-handedness thing going for him, he is another living, breathing NHL defenceman that the Oilers should be able to land if they used one of those new-fangled cellular style telephones that have become all the rage as of late. They could even use one of those wall mounted ones, or a rotary phone if needed.
How about one from the RFA chapters?
ANDREJ SEKERA (BUF)
I’m not going to say that Buffalo is in cap trouble (when’s the last time you could say that before July 1st), but they have roughly$ 350K kicking around until they hit the cap ceiling. RFA Andrej Sekera is scheduled to have his arbitration hearing in under two weeks. Add to the fact that Buffalo likely has sights on signing RFA goaltender Jhonas Enroth (and quite possibly defenceman Marc-Andre Gragnani) and you’re able to see why Buffalo may be interested in moving an arbitration name that might fetch an award between $1.5 and $2M.
Sekera is 25 years of age. He threw up 29 points (3G-26A) over 76 games in Buffalo this past season. He also finished with a clean +11. Not that the Oilers would entertain the idea, but because Sekera is scheduled for arbitration, he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet. There’s always the chance that Sekera is awarded something ungodly in arbitration, the Sabres walk from it, and he becomes an outright UFA. I’d rather nip that idea in the bud and see if Sekera would take Stralman type money to see him in Oiler threads next year. Think Buffalo would take a late pick for his rights?
See anything on the free agent front that you think would benefit the Oilers next year? Our ears are open. Lay it on me.
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