Edmonton Signs Andrew Ference In Order To Buy Him Out In Two Years

Get Grabbo, not Harpo. - USA TODAY Sports

Craig MacTavish does what Steve Tambellini is an expert at: overpaying old, mediocre players.

From the Oilers website:

10:25 AM - OILERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH ANDREW FERENCE

The Oilers have agreed to terms with defenceman Andrew Ference to a four-year deal.

Ference, 34, had four goals and nine assists for 13 points and 35 penalty minutes with the Boston Bruins last season. He had two assists in 14 playoff games. He ranked third among Bruins defencemen with 24:31 of ice time.

In 760 career NHL games with Boston, Calgary and Pittsburgh Ference has 37 goals, 156 assists for 193 points plus 645 penalty minutes.

Craig MacTavish signed the defenseman to a four year deal worth $13 million

My instant reaction is stolen from commenter ScottieA in the comments of the open thread:

Michael-scott-no_medium

Craig MacTavish pulled a Tambellini here. Ference is 34 years old and will be collecting mothballs at the end of this deal. He's extremely small, not an especially good skater, he possesses little offensive ability and he doesn't have any standout skill.

Last season, he was a 4/5 defenseman, playing even up zonestarts and had the worst relative corsi on the defensive corps. Two seasons ago, he was a 4/5 defenseman, playing even up zonestarts and had the worst relative corsi on the defensive corps. Three seasons ago, he was a 5/6 defenseman, playing even up zonestarts and was 4/6 in relative corsi on the defensive corps. Stop me if you've heard this before: four seasons ago he was a 5/6 defenseman, playing even up zonestarts and was 5/7 in relative corsi on the defensive corps.

Ference is an okay bottom-pairing defensemen in the Eastern Conference, and when he plays higher than that, he's not good. And the Oilers have him signed for the next four years. For $3.25 million per year. This is a miserable deal, one that, barring the level of pride involved in the Nikolai Khabibulin contract, will be bought out if Ference can't be traded.

The real eyebrow-raiser is the way that the entirety of the Edmonton sportswriting contingent immediately referred to Ference as a "Top 4 D" or a "Second-pairing defender" shortly after the deal was done. If MacTavish is headed into the season thinking Ference is going to take on heavy minutes in the Western Conference and thrive...

...let's not consider that possibility.

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