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UFA Option: Mattias Norstrom

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14-year NHL veteran Mattias Norstrom (career stats) is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. I've talked previously about the need for a veteran defenseman, particularly at even strength, if the Oilers are serious about winning next season. In my ideal world, that defenseman takes Smid's spot on the second pairing, and Smid bumps Matt Greene out of the lineup (and into the Eastern Conference, to say Carolina or Philly).

Norstrom's TOI/60 of 19:30 somehow ranks 6th among Stars defensemen, with 15:52 at EV (4th), and 3:14 SH (1st). He also saw 24 minutes of total powerplay time, for an average of 0:22 per game.

According (again!) to Behind the Net, Norstrom faced the most difficult opposition at even strength, and did it with the third-best linemates. His GFON/60 wasn't terribly good, at 2.07, but it is balanced by an excellent GAON/60, which was also 2.07. Considering who he was playing against, this was an amazing number, especially when we realize that it would have led all Oilers blueliners (admittedly, Norstrom played for a better team).

Norstrom's short-handed numbers were only OK (5.25GAON/60), but given how good Edmonton's penalty kill has been, he could play a lesser role and still help the team improve (his number was superior to Greene, Smid and Grebeshkov).

More astonishing, Norstrom somehow managed to play the vast majority of his ice-time against the other teams' top players, and he only recorded 40PIM. According to the RTSS statistics, he averaged 1.2 hits per game, and 1.4 blocks. He's also been durable throughout his career; this season he played in 66 games, his lowest total since 1995-96.

Norstrom served as captain of the Los Angeles Kings prior to being dealt to Dallas, and his presence in the dressing room would only add to the veteran leadership of the Oilers. NHL.com did a nice feature about how he raised his game when Sergei Zubov was injured for the series against Anaheim.

The only question about Norstrom is what level of salary he would command. He earned 4.25 million last season, although it's hard to see him getting signed to that kind of money again. If the Oilers could get him signed to a 1 or 2-yr contract at 3-million, he could fill a needed role and then leave when it comes time to pay other players. In my opinion Matthias Norstrom is a player of interest.