Four Free Agent Defencemen The Edmonton Oilers Could Pursue Next Summer
Next summer’s crop looks even weaker, with few candidates available who can reasonably step in and play top-four minutes. The best of the bunch from a long-term Oilers perspective is likely this group of four:
Alexander Edler. The offensive defenceman hit career highs last year in goals (11) assists (38) points (49) and shots (228). The Canucks leaned on Edler heavily in an offensive role to make up for the departure of Christian Ehrhoff – he got power play time, tons of offensive starts and typically managed to duck the toughest assignments (which went to the Hamhuis/Bieksa pairing). Despitep laying those sorts of minutes for the powerhouse Canucks, Edler finished with a disappointing plus/minus (even) and struggled mightily in the post-season. Still, as a 6’3”, 27-year old offensive defenceman playing top-four minutes on a contender, he’s going to get paid.
Rob Scuderi. The no-nonsense defensive defender was overshadowed by regular partner Drew Doughty’s transcendent play en route to Los Angeles’ Stanley cup victory, but even so he logged heavy minutes on the Kings’ blue line and offers major value to any team as a shutdown defender. At 34, he’s in the tail end of his career yet is still young compared to much of 2013’s free agent class.
Ian White. Last summer, the Detroit Red Wings paid him less than $3 million/season on a two-year deal. He’s likely to get both more money and term this time around. The 29-year old White found success in a top-pairing role in Detroit (he actually led the Red Wings blue line in time on ice at even-strength last year). Now, he’ll need to prove he can be successful without Lidstrom – a partner who seemed to help him significantly last year.
Jordan Leopold. A regular member of the Buffalo Sabres’ top four last season, Leopold’s the sort of cheaper option some team will be forced to settle for next summer. The 32-year old isn’t a high-end offensive option but is capable in both zones and with or without the puck.