The Edmonton Oilers poached Andrew Ference from the Boston Bruins during last year’s free agency season. Eventually named captain, Ference has become one of the team’s best defencemen, a kudo that should be accepted with a grain of salt.
Ference is in his mid-30′s. While he puts forth a good effort night in and night out, his skill level at this advanced age does not make him a top pairing D. Like most blue liners in Edmonton, they are asked to play out of their element. It leads to results that mislead. Ference may not be good enough to lead the defense with the controversial Jeff Petry, but as 2nd or 3rd pairing D he is satisfactory.
As many readers know, Ference is an Edmonton boy. Part of the reason he came to Edmonton was to finish his career at home, a noble gesture. However, he comes with a 3.5 million dollar price tag and a nasty no trade clause. Now, to be sure, the Stanley Cup winning defenceman has shown leadership and quickly became active in the local community. Coach Dallas Eakins loves the guy. They even work out together.
Regardless of how nice of a guy he is, he cannot be expected to lead a young defensive core that is up and coming in Edmonton. He needs a top two player to support him , especially with such a raw roster.
In an April 9th interview with Robert Tychkowski of The Edmonton Sun, Ference said:
It’s a huge difference. You start to take so many things for granted, an expectation that everybody knows X, Y and Z, but you forget that you might have to teach the start of the alphabet sometimes, too. That was an adjustment, going from an environment where you were focusing on very minute details of the game to one where you’re working on the building blocks.
Ference is a good choice for a transitional captain, a designation likely to go to Taylor Hall in a couple years. He sees the ice well and doesn’t let up. It’s clear though with players like Zdeno Chara flanking him in Boston that the flaws in his game are exposed due to such an untamed group in Alberta’s capital. He gets older this year, so moves will need to be made to reduce his role.
OIL ON WHYTE OUTLOOK: 2nd and 3rd pairing this year after a couple NHL veterans are secured. He will NOT be traded.