Coming into the off-season I identified the following as the key areas that Mact would need to improve the team:
- Top 6 LW: 20pts – Mactavish will need to sign a legit top 6 forward with NHL experience who has size, grit and skill to get full points.
- 3rd Line Center:15pts – To get full points here MacT will need to land a big 2-way center who can win faceoffs, kill penalties and provide secondary scoring
- Size in the bottom 6: 15pts – The Oilers need 2 or 3 bottom 6 wingers who can contribute secondary 5×5 scoring. Grit and size recommended.
- Top 4 D-man: 20pts – With NHL experience so Belov doesn’t count. Full points for a big D-man under the age of 30 with NHL experience who is a good skater and can move the puck.
- Top 6 D-man: 15pts – Top 6 D-man with size.
- Backup Goalie: 15pts – Full points for a goalie with NHL experience who can push Dubnyk
I hear a lot of fans being critical of some of the moves Mact has made but I’m actually very impressed so far. He’s obviously paying attention to advanced stats and has made some low risk/high reward type signings which I’m a huge fan of. Lets take a look at what he’s done.
I’m a big fan of this signing and talk about it here where I gave Mact 10 out of a possible 15 pts for add a top 6 defenceman.
Height: 5’11” – Weight: 189 – Age: 34 – Top 4 D-man
Ference is a great fit on the back end for the Oilers, he brings much needed experience and skill to the backend that the team has been in need of for a few seasons. The contract length is definitely a concern at 4yrs but the cap hit is a decent $3.25M. There is a real chance that Ference is named the next captain of the Oilers and fans need to see the value that Ference provides off the ice.
Mact definitely gets some points for the Ference signing. He’s a legit top 4 defenceman with NHL experience who has won the cup. While I’m happy with the signing I would have preferred a top pairing Defenceman and also have doubts the Ference will be able to be effective for the entire length of his contract.
Height: 6’0″ – Weight: 200 – Age: 29 – 3rd line C
Gordon will be the Horcoff replacement, you can expect him to take the majority of own zone draws and play the shut down role on the 3rd line. Gordon was much talked about before free agency as being a great fit for the Oilers and it didn’t take long for Mact to sign him. The deal is worth $3M for 3yrs which is a bit of an overpayment for a guy who has only had more than 20 points twice in his career.
Mact will lose points on this deal for 2 reasons, Gordon doesn’t provide enough secondary scoring and the contract is a substantial overpayment.
Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 230 – Age: 33 – Backup Goalie
I really like this signing. LaBarbera is a great backup and he already has a relationship with Dubnyk as they train together. The deal is 1yr for $1M so there are no issues with term or value here. I would have preferred a younger backup who could push Dubnyk but this is a definite upgrade over Khabibulin.
Height: 6’4″ – Weight: 209 – Age: 25 – Bottom 6 LW with size
This 6’4″ 209lbs the Oilers will finally have some size in the bottom 6 forwards but we’ll see if Joensuu brings enough skill to stick in the NHL. The contract is 2 years and comes with a $950k cap hit so is a pretty low risk deal for a player who could turn out to be a gem.
Height: 6’2″ – Weight: 230 – Age: 28 – AHL LW with size
I don’t think Hamilton has the chops to make an impact in the NHL but with the lack of depth in the bottom 6 he may get a shot at some point this season. He has a 2yr 2way contract that will pay him $600k in the NHL or $300k in the AHL.
Height: 6’1″ – Weight: 201 – Age: 29 – Bottom 6 RW
Jones is back with a 1yr $1.5M deal and by all accounts is very motivated to show that he belongs in the NHL. I’m not going to give MacT any points for this one because I think he really tried to get an upgrade on Jones but resigned him when he failed.
Height: 6’0″ – Weight: 209 – Age: 29 – Top 6 D-man
We’ll see if Grebeshkov still has the skill to play in the NHL but this is another low risk deal which could pay-off big time. The deal is for 1yr at $1.5M and really adds a lot of depth on the back end giving the Oilers 10 guys who could legitimately play in the NHL this season.