Former Edmonton Oilers forward Eric Belanger has agreed to a one-year contract to play for Yekaterinburg, a team in the KHL according to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal.
The move comes after the Oilers bought out the final year remaining on Belanger’s contract, using one of the team’s two compliance buyouts that will save Edmonton $1.75 million towards their salary cap next season.
Technically a free-agent, Belanger could have signed with any other NHL club had their been interest. But the veterans that are looking for new homes this summer are finding it difficult to attract many teams looking to add some experienced players; just ask Ryan Whitney and Tom Gilbert, two former Oilers defenseman who are on the open market.
Matheson writes that both Whitney and Gilbert remain unsigned and looking for work. And there don’t appear to be many teams calling for either of the blue liners.
Matheson recaps that only a handful of clubs may still be looking to add defenseman in Carolina, Calgary, Colorado and the New York Islanders. He also highlights that of the veteran defenseman that have signed this summer, their pay checks aren’t exactly topping the list of the highest paid.
Both Whitney and Gilbert would be classified as two of the best d-men that remain unsigned, joining Ron Hainsey and Douglas Murray. Plenty of talent remains, but so to does their hefty contract demands which is enough to scare away most teams when considering all four players are 30-years of age or older.
It’s likely all four defenseman will sign new contracts between now and the start of the regular season. There is the possibility that one or more could join Belanger and head overseas to play in the KHL but for now they enjoy the offerings that summer brings while waiting for the offerings of a new contract.