In Craig Mactavish‘s first year as General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers, he made some good moves. A few didn’t turn out, but the safe money was placed on center Boyd Gordon. Plucked from the Phoenix Coyotes, Gordon was a very skilled faceoff man and could handle the tough defensive minutes, an asset the Oilers needed. In the next season, fate may find Gordon on the fourth line, where Daryl Katz will pay the fourth line middle man three million dollars a year.
So what. The cap is going up and if the fourth line can put up some grit against more complete lines on better teams, wearing them down with pressure, then spend a few mil more. Matt Hendricks, acquired from Nasvhille in the Devan Dubnyk trade–which was a very good one for the Oilers–is likely to join him.
It wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see the third line get a major makeover. Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth found themselves on that line at different times with Gordon and they are both gone. Jesse Joensuu has very good chance of being buried in the minors or getting waived if the Oilers can shape a more veteran third line, one that could put up a solid two way game and give balance to the roster.
Imagine if the bottom six looked like this through free agency:
Right Wing-Devon Setoguchi
Left Wing-Daniel Winnik
Extra Forward: Mark Arcobello
Of course, I’m spitballing. Who really knows what acquisitions could be made, but to my eyes that is an experienced bottom six full of NHL veterans with playoff experience, save for Gazdic. Jokinen or a player like him may be older, but his experience would calm the younger players, while Gordon would continue to be deployed in important faceoffs and critical defensive zone draws.
Gordon is going to become a fixture in the bottom six, an anchor to what has to become a grittier, veteran foundation for the young, fast, skilled top six. Gordon’s signing was brilliant, and opens up options for the Oilers.
Additionally, he’s a guy who can put up 25 points on what would normally be an anemic fourth line. The remake on offense occurs around Boyd Gordon. If the Oilers choose to bring in the right veterans, the defensive play tightens up mightily, adding to the confidence of the whole team.
OIL ON WHYTE OUTLOOK: Boyd Gordon solidifies his place as the centerpiece of the bottom six, adding to stability down the line up.