Three From The Field: Prospective Free Agent Defencemen

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Gervais should come cheaply. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Let’s start off with…

BRUNO GERVAIS

2011-12 Team:  Tampa Bay Lightning, will be UFA on July 1st

Age:  27

Salary:  $525,000, will be UFA on July 1st

Numbers:  44 GP, 4-5-9, 8 PIM, -3 +/-

WHY GERVAIS?

Gervais is an ideal 5-6 kind of guy. Before you say that this team doesn’t need any more 5/6 kinds of guys, please recall not long ago how Cam Barker was being touted as a top four defenceman, and how Taylor Chorney and Colten Teubert were on a pair together.

You can never, ever have too many defencemen.

He comes at the right price (he’s making 525K this year in Tampa), he’ll be 28 when the 2012-13 season begins, and he’s playing about 16 minutes a night as of this sentence.  Gervais isn’t going to light it up on the score sheet, but I’m going to go ahead and say that when this team dealt Tom Gilbert last week that offence from the defence really wasn’t on their mind.  The Lightning are on the outside of the playoff race looking in, and Gervais is second in +/- on the regulars.  Plus minus is a funny stat, but when you consider that Gervais has nine points this year (and his plus minus isn’t a disaster on Tampa), I think it’s worth pointing out.  If he’s available come July 1st, I’d see what 8-900K for two years would do to his spirits.

Then again, he might see what Andy Sutton is making and demand twice that.

Coveted. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

SCOTT HANNAN

2011-12 Team:  Calgary Flames, will be UFA on July 1st

Age:  33

Salary:  $1M

Numbers:  62 GP, 2-9-11, 24 PIM, -6 +/-

WHY HANNAN?

Yes, please.  Just grab your things, and move up a few hundred kilometres.  I’ll be outside with a cake.  You can’t miss it.

Hannan is a rarity in the land of Feaster, and that is his no-movement clause is only for this year.  He’ll become an unrestricted free agent if he makes it to July 1st, to which the Oilers should be on the phone with his agent throwing numbers his way. Hannan is well capable of playing over twenty minutes per game (he played almost 23 in Calgary’s loss to the Stars).  Ideally he’d be a middle pairing guy, but I don’t think I’d have a heart attack if he found himself on the top line now and again.  He’s the sixth highest paid defenceman on the Flames roster (Chris Butler is making more) and he’s pulling twenty minutes plus per night.  I keep finding myself coming back to the Andy Sutton deal, and now I’m thinking that Hannan would be a nice fit.  Would $2M be out of the question for two years?  On a team that sees Nikolai Khabibulin make nearly $4M over the past three seasons, it’s easy to slam your hands on a desk and shout to the sky.  I wanted him on the Oilers last year, and this year is no different.  $2M a year for two years, come play.

Finally, a name some of you had expressed interest in acquiring via trade route this year…

NO PARKING. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

MARK FISTRIC

2011-12 Team:  Dallas Stars, will be RFA on July 1st

Age:  26

Salary:  $1M

Numbers:  50 GP, 0-1-1, 35 PIM, -2 (+/-)

WHY FISTRIC?

Fistric is another 5/6 guy that I’d love to see on the Oilers for the right price.  He’s Edmonton born, and can skate faster than Cam Barker for less money.  Fistric is an RFA, which requires a little bit more thought other than running up to a guy’s agent and handing him a suitcase full of money seeing if he bites.  If July 1st comes and the Stars make an offer, there’s always a chance that Fistric goes to arbitration.  This tends to get a little bit messy, and if it ends up like the Clarke MacArthur fiasco did a few years back, it could make Fistric end up a UFA.  This could bode well for the Oilers, so a ‘wait-and-see’ methodology could work the best.

Fistric is a guy I would be willing to make a three year offer on.  You know what you’re getting, and scoring isn’t it.  Fistric has only 35 penalty minutes in 50 games played this year.  He was suspended three games earlier this year for a head hit to the Islanders’ Nino Neiderreiter, but if I can get 60 games of this a year, I’d like it…

That’s Bobby Ryan who is gleefully being placed into the boards from an excitable Mark Fistric.  Fistric plays ball hockey in Edmonton.  Would he like to play ice hockey as well?

Would be happy to trade a player or a pick in order to acquire the rights of Fistric from Dallas.  1M isn’t bad for a 5/6 guy, but again, Sutton.  Would $4M over 3 years be enough to bring Fistric home full time?

SO…

There you have it.  Three guys that will be either UFA or RFA come July 1st.  If the Oilers could land Fistric and Hannan, I’d be absolutely thrilled.  Fistric and Gervais would be OK too.  Heck, guys that can play on the defence and be dependable for 60-70 games a season would be a great start.  If this team could pull two of these three guys and maintain the roster they have now, playoffs are a lot, lot closer than anyone dares think. Winning is important.  Even if ‘the rebuild’ hasn’t ended yet, showing your young guns that you’d like to win is before their entry level contracts are over might be something you’d be interested in doing.

Have your say:  What prospective free agent defenceman (UFA or RFA) do you think the Oilers have a legit chance at acquiring this summer?  How much would you be willing to spend?

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