There’s no secret who the two biggest fish are in this 2012 UFA Class. Zach Parise & Ryan Suter are destined for raises over a long period of time. These guys have paid their dues as RFA’s & now, at 27yrs old will likely sign a deal that will pave their way to retirement. There are others though (as discussed in an earlier blog today by Jeff Chapman, aka @OilOnWhyte), on the blue-line in particular the Oilers should be targeting, 27yr old, Matt Carle
The Oilers will, like they’ve done every other year to highly touted UFA’s at this time of year, make a pitch for both Suter & Carle while most likely coming up empty handed. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone but more of a realization that even with all of these potential high end players & prospects the chances of winning a Cup could possibly, outlast all of these surefire contracts. Matt Carle’s numbers have been similar to that of Ryan Suter, both whom have benefited from playing with defensive studs Chris Pronger & Shea Weber respectively over several seasons past so in effect Matt Carle will end up becoming a teams “poor man’s” Ryan Suter this year.
Now, drafting Nail Yakupov & then a week later the signing of a highly touted, yet unproven defenceman UFA Justin Schultz (who was a major coup for the much criticized Oilers management group) could turn out to be key ingredients to the cake, but there’s still icing to be made. Matt Carle will most likely end up being a top pairing defenseman wherever he goes, so TOI won’t be an issue for this guy but there’s no doubt in my mind that he will want to play for a contender. With that being said, Carle’s destination will likely be determined by which one of the powerhouse teams Suter ends up signing with. There’s a high likelyhood that regardless of the money or term offered, Matt Carle could very well be added to a long list of UFA’s who declined becoming a part of the Oilers. That’s not to shun the UFA’s who did decide to sign here, that’s the one opportunity for any player to choose not only where they want to live as well as which team to play for. An example of players who did decide to wear Oilers colors in the past was prepared in a recent blog titled Top 10 UFA Oilers which was put together by one of Oil on Whyte’s own, Jonathan MacLeod, who by the way, deserves a follow @jonmcleod
Adding Carle to this existing mix, as much of a longshot as it is, would not only be a key building block for this process but instantly add respectability to the current blue-line. As fans, we have to get over the “he’s to expensive, he’ll never live up to the contract” because none of those questions run through the minds of 30 GM’s who are all trying to make improvements to his team. The Oilers need to step up to the plate now & outbid others because there’s no guarantee the next available option will even want to play here. Once all the UFA’s are signed & gone, we will once again be endeared to the common, negative word association with Steve Tambellini as we’ve heard in the past but those are words of the naïve. Tambellini, like his predecessors, has an unenviable job as GM in the NHL’s northern most hockey market to lure impact players to sign & play for his team. Money is no option here anymore but it seems the plan forward is to find these impact players will be via trade or draft because, as Mrs. Nylander reminded us in the caption below…