Free Agent Frenzy is heating up! While a few role players like Marek Zidlicky in New Jersey and Mike Brown in San Jose found new contracts, no big moves are being made quite yet. Andrei Markov remains free as a bird, as does David Legwand and David Moss. Today, however, we profile three veteran players the Oilers should try to sign.
Devin Setoguchi—Should Oilers GM Craig MacTavish make him an Oiler? Yes. If they can pry him away from the Winnipeg Jets, a team sure to be making moves of their own, he would be an ideal fit on the third line. If MacT’s comments in the media as of late have been hinting at anything it’s that he isn’t looking to stock the cupboard with young talent either through trades for prospects or the draft. He wants to add veteran support for his young players that the fans and team have suffered so much to acquire so they can start WINNING.
It could be said that Setoguchi has begun a regression in his play. He has produced less offensively as time as has gone on. At the same time, he brings enough tools to the ice and contributes more than enough points to exist as a third line forward. At six feet and 200 lbs he is big enough to create some open space, and would likely do well with an experienced centerman and another creative, defensively minded veteran.
Let’s not forget that he is only 30 years old, and may yet have a second wind in him. I have suggested in the past, it would be wise to flank a player like this with a veteran NHL winger who can help him along while providing leadership for the entire team. Why not fellow Jet Olli Jokinen, also a UFA this year or Brendan Morrow, a player the Oilers ought to have enlisted years ago?
The argument of course will be that they are both 35 years old and the cliff they are going to drop off of is near. Fair enough, but if a solid third line with experience can stabilize the bottom six, I say do it. The Oilers have spent eight years bypassing NHL talent that has ripened and might be past due only to see that peach in another team’s mouth. Mark Recchi, Ray Whitney and Ryan Smyth are prime examples of this.
The Oilers have over $30 million in cap space. If they don’t acquire a big center through trades that breaks the bank, like Jordan Staal, they should have enough room to sign fellows such as this, and could limit term to minimize risk, especially with Jokinen and Morrow.
OIL ON WHYTE OUTLOOK: Will Setoguchi, Jokinen and Morrow ask too much? They might. It is their last kick at greatness for the latter two and they may go to a contender with cap space and deep pockets. However, a mix of players like this may serve the Oilers well. Jokinen and Morrow would need to move on in a year or two, but the Oilers would likely be more successful if they had a third line as talented as this. If MacT can do his best Willy Loman, they might buy in.