Last season the Edmonton Oilers traded for defenseman Mark Fistric from the Dallas Stars to help shore up their defensive core. An imposing figure on the blue line who hits hard and can change the feel of a game, Fistric lived up to the hype with some thundering checks to opposing players. Now he’s set to become an unrestricted free-agent and the question is – should the Oilers re-sign Fistric and bring him back to Edmonton next season?
At 27-years of age, Fistric has been in the league for six seasons, the previous five with the Dallas Stars. Given he has yet to play in a full season, it remains unclear where he would fit in the Oilers blue line if they choose to re-sign him.
Likely a number six or seven defenseman, the argument could be made that for the price they’d pay Fistric, the Oilers could have a prospect play every other game and slowly develop their NHL game.
Of course Fistric does throw the body like no other player the Oilers currently have, something this club needs more of.
He won’t provide a pile of points having only scored 29 throughout his 282 career games and he hasn’t scored a goal in the past two seasons (85 games combined). But that’s not where his value lies.
As mentioned, he’s a physical presence on the ice that can help remind a team like the free-wheeling Detroit Red Wings that when they come into the Oilers zone they will get hit repeatedly. Making the opposing team’s night a miserable one when they have the puck is a great tactic to deploy if you have the players to do so. Providing Fistric can stay healthy he can help impose that type of mentality when teams come to Rexall Place.
He doesn’t play big minutes, averaging just over fifteen minutes a game last season, but he was a nice plus-6 in the 25 games he played.
His one-year deal worth $1.475 million is up on July 5th and according to Jim Matheson in a report from back in May the two sides started negotiating but have since stalled. The Oilers were said to offer him a 3-year deal at $1.5 annually while Fistric countered with $2 million per season. According to Matheson the two sides have not talked since meaning if Fistric wants $2 million per year he may have to look elsewhere to get it.
When looking at the Oilers needs on the blue line and considering a legitimate number four d-man could be had via the free-agent market, it’s difficult to say the Oilers need to re-sign Fistric.
Considering prospect Oscar Klefbom and new comer Anton Belov are expected to be in the fold when camp breaks next fall, the Oilers needs for Fistric could change dramatically. From needing a player like Fistric, to “he’s suddenly expendable” the Oilers can solve their problems by landing a more NHL proven and reliable defenseman from the open market. Meaning Fistric may not fit in Edmonton any longer.
For more news and analysis on the Edmonton Oilers, follow us on Twitter @OilonWhyte.