According to Darren Dreger from TSN (via Twitter), the Edmonton Oilers are highly interested in defenseman Paul Ranger.
The connection is simple. Dallas Eakins, the new head coach of the Oilers was the bench boss for the Toronto Marlies for the past four seasons and it’s also the same team that Ranger played for this past year. Dreger notes that Eakins is fond of Ranger and the former NHL blue liner thinks highly of his former coach, making Edmonton a perfect marriage for Ranger.
Still only 28-years old, Ranger is said to be of interest to at least 20 NHL clubs should he look at making a return to the big leagues. Last season with the Marlies he played in 52 games, scoring 7 goals and adding 17 assists to go with an impressive plus-16. So far so good.
Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal captures the fact that he did play almost twenty-five minutes a game that year for the Lightning, meaning he could suit up for the Oilers and log some reasonable minutes on the back end.
But the problem with Ranger is his history of injuries that have plagued him as a regular in the NHL. His last full season in the show was back in the 2008-09 campaign and even then he only played in 42 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The following year he only played in eight games before shutting it down for the remainder of the year.
There is no insight as to why Ranger didn’t play out the 09-10 season with Tampa Bay but Willis notes that the injuries started to pile up. Willis also states that it’s unclear if Ranger will want to make the jump back to the NHL where the attention and media is not even comparable to that of the minor leagues.
One has to wonder if Ranger has the mental toughness to endure the media and a full 82-game, rigorous schedule that the NHL brings. It’s clear he has the game to contribute at a high level and Oilers fans would surely welcome the site of having him on the blue line. A heavy shot with a profound ability to read the ice and identify an outlet is the report from McKeen’s Hockey.
It’s difficult to say that Ranger could come to Edmonton and even be a top four defenseman, likely slotting in at number five or six. But if he could stay healthy and return to form that saw him put up steady numbers while playing in Tampa Bay, the Oilers could surely use his assistance.
Sounds like he would be a nice addition to the Oilers, should they be able to sign him. Having Dallas Eakins as the coach is surely a leg up on the rest of the teams that will be interested. Now it just sounds like it’s up to Paul Ranger to decide if he wants to return to the grandest stage of them all, the NHL.
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