Earlier this month news broke that the Edmonton Oilers were interested in signing former NHL defenseman Paul Ranger. According to Josh Rimer, a Toronto sports insider, the Oilers are considered to be the front runner in landing Ranger, providing he chooses to make a return to the show.
You might be thinking that this is just another speculative long shot given there is nothing to write about until the NHL Entry Draft. David Staples of the Edmonton Journal reminds us that it was Rimer who first broke the news when Ralph Krueger was about to be fired meaning this could have some merit to it.
Ranger spent last season playing for the Toronto Marlies under head coach Dallas Eakins, who as you may recall is now the bench boss in Edmonton. Making it a reunion of sorts.
Staples asked Rimer if having Eakins behind the Oilers bench has anything to do with the possibility of Ranger returning to the game’s grandest stage and not surprisingly, it does (courtesy of the Journal).
“Yes,” he said. “I know Eakins helped Ranger love the game again.”
But there is more to Ranger than just convincing him to sign in Edmonton and play for Eakins. He hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2009-10 season and while part of his absence was injury related, the majority of it was due to personal reasons. He hasn’t been one to discuss why he chose to return to the AHL and not the NHL last season and it’s something that may never be revealed. However, this much is known. If Paul Ranger can return to NHL form, he would be a great addition to the Oilers blue line.
Last season with the Marlies he scored 8 goals and put up 25 points in 51 games to go along with an impressive plus-16. During his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ranger had productive seasons from an offensive standpoint during 2006-08 where he put up 31 and 28 points respectively.
As mentioned, injuries have hit Ranger during his short NHL career but Staples had the privilege of watching him last season and noted that his game was enjoyable to watch.
He moved well on the ice, playing a flow kind of game, moving up quickly and effectively into the play. His passing was strong. He got off a few wonderful passes in the offensive end. His shot didn’t appear to be anything special. In his own end, he played a sound enough positional game, though he went for the puck on one Taylor Hall rushed and got turned inside out.
Considering the Oilers needs for a defenseman that can move the puck out of their own end, Ranger could fill that role. Granted the report that Staples had on him was from one game in the AHL and it’s far different level in the big leagues, Ranger would be worth taking a gamble on. He wouldn’t play top-four d-man minutes in Edmonton, but could slide in as a sound, fifth defenseman, at least until he gets his feet under him.
It sounds as though the decision will be up to Ranger and whether or not he wants to return to the NHL next season. With Eakins there to guide him through the set-up process during his first few weeks in Edmonton, the setting should be comfortable for Ranger.
As the story unfolds we’ll keep you posted right here at Oil on Whyte.
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