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10 righty defenders under 4 million

It's no secret! The Oilers have a lot of problems with the right side of their defence. As pointed out by our analysts, the right side was a problem from the preseason. Thankfully it's so bad it's not too difficult improve!

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers management team has a barrage of challenges facing them over the next few months. On their to-do list includes the search for a first-pairing right-shooting defender to pair with Sekera. They've been on that particular quest for a while, pursuing Brent Seabrook and Dougie Hamilton in the off-season, and they are likely to pursue 2016 UFA Dustin Byfuglien. But beyond a big fish there's a lot of house cleaning, renovation and development that needs to happen.

Question marks on defence

The Oilers need to clean-house by buying-out Andrew Ference. Probably the best thing for the player and the team at this point is that he just stop playing. If he gets hurt this season and suffers a major injury, he will be sent to LTIR, and the remaining year of his contract (with $3.25 million cap-hit) will not be eligible for buyout.

On the topic of renovation, the Oilers should be looking to deal Justin Schultz at this point and replace him with a more responsible defender. Schultz has served to increase the Oilers offence since coming to the team but these assets have come with big defensive liabilities, precisely the kind of liabilities that Oilers should be looking to minimize. What to do with Justin Schultz is a topic that will not be leaving the Oilers blogosphere soon. Odds are that Schultz will become a serviceable NHL defender, just not with Edmonton it seems.

Also on the right side, there are serious question marks with Mark Fayne. Fayne is able to do some heavy lifting, ideally as a second-pairing defender. He has seen quite a bit of time with Sekera early in the season, a pairing that committed some large defensive errors. Fayne as first-pairing will not work for the remainder of his contract. Fayne to the right of Klefbom had a decent look to it on Sunday night against Chicago, even though he was minus two on the night and looked pretty bad on both of Panarin's goals; big mistakes against an NHL rookie who will likely coast his way to the Calder trophy at 24 years of age. The loss to Chicago looked especially bad on Fayne who had spent the previous three games in the press box.

Darnell Nurse is another big question for this team. The question facing coaching and management has to do with how continued NHL play will affect both his development and his contract situation. I'm not certain of the details but there may be a deadline approaching where the Oilers will be pushed into a situation similar to the one they faced with Leon Draisaitl last season (CBA experts, please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). Nurse has played very well for Edmonton this season. The primary question for this blue-chip prospect is whether it's best for him to stay in the majors or not at this point. Similar questions of development still surround fourth-overall draft-pick Griffin Reinhart.

Clearly Peter Chiarelli loves Eric Gryba. But it's also clear that Gryba should be our seventh defender and nothing more until (if ever) he shows ability to read the play in his own zone. I've been surprised by Gryba's skill to be honest. Skating backwards he's slow. But he actually seems to have a bit of speed going in the opposite direction and his physical ability with the puck is not atrocious. Gryba just doesn't know what to do with the puck. At 180 games into his career he should probably be further along in his development. Mind you, he probably spent most of that time on the bench. The Gryba-Chiarelli relationship is a curious one. Following the timeline, Ottawa drafted Gryba right after Chiarelli left the Senators for Boston. Immediately after being drafted by the Senators Gryba went to play for Boston University. Chiarelli and Gryba both moved to the Boston area at the same time. Perhaps Peter followed his Senators' prospect a bit while putting together the Stanley Cup winning Bruins - one of the most exciting and physical teams of the past decade.

Brandon Davidson (or as some call him, that young amazing prospect "McDavidson") has been a shining light on the Oilers' blue. Watching Davidson along with Klefbom has been a delight.

The hot mess: the righties

In our preseason roundtable there were some pretty specific predictions about the quality of our defence. Alan Hull wrote:

The Oilers blueline, specifically the right side is not NHL calibre and nothing short of a near-Vezina season from Talbot (or Nilsson) and a supernova rookie season from hockey Jesus will get them to the post season. They lack the ability to move the puck effectively on the back-end and transition it to the forwards in a manner that enables the offence.

Twelve games into the season the defenders without question marks associated with their names are Andrej Sekera, Brandon Davidson, and Oscar Klefbom. Most of us Oilers fans are expecting some moves from Chiarelli on the blue line, perhaps before Christmas. All of the question marks are on the right side, in fact, we don't seem to have a right-shooting defender without them. Boy, do I miss Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert.

Here's ten right-shooting defenders under $4 million who might be able to help our team. I am by no means suggesting these names as trade rumours, simply suggesting that these players may be available. I've tried to select targets from the east or from teams that we have a trading history with. None of the players have no-trade no-movement contracts. All charts are from tableau genuis Dominic Galamini at dCorsi and salary information is from war-on-ice. I've done due diligence on contracts and advanced stats, but may be missing some other information about injuries or abilities of these players. I'd appreciate any feedback from our readers or the SBN community!

Jason Demers

Current team: Dallas Stars
Cap Hit: 2.2 million
Age: 27
NHL GP: 374
Weight: 200 lbs
Height: 6.02
2014-15 dCorsi60: 11.25

Demers is a decent candidate to take-over first-pairing minutes to the right side of Sekera. Although not yet exposed to first-pairing minutes, he appears to have the ability to move the puck like a first-pairing defender while maintaining a balance of defensive and offensive attributes. The defensive balance is something that Sekera needs to his game. Demers is probably worth a major asset

Jason Demers - HERO

Ryan Ellis

Current team: Nashville Predators
Cap Hit: 2.5 million
Age: 25
NHL GP: 214
Weight: 180 lbs
Height: 5.10
2014-15 dCorsi60: 4.43

Ellis is another defender with first-pairing potential, but yet untested minutes. He has similar attributes to Demers, although is smaller in size.

Robert Bortuzzo

Current team: St. Louis Blues
Cap Hit: 1.05 million
Age: 26
NHL GP: 136
Weight: 215 lbs
Height: 6.04
2014-15 dCorsi60: 13.39

Bortuzzo has been playing third-pairing minutes on average over the past three seasons, but his advanced stats show second-pairing abilities.

Kevin Klein

Current team: New York Rangers
Cap Hit: 2.9 million
Age: 30
NHL GP: 525
Weight: 202 lbs
Height: 6.01
2014-15 dCorsi60: 1.96

Klein is a well-tested bottom pairing/second pairing defender. He could add some stability to the right side of Klefbom or Davidson. His possession stats are not massively impressive, but he has scoring ability and experience that could be valuable.

Michael Stone

Current team: Arizona Coyotes
Cap Hit: 1.15 million
Age: 25
NHL GP: 218
Weight: 210 lbs
Height: 6.03
2014-15 dCorsi60: -1.41

Stone is an affordable second pairing defender with more than 200 games experience. He should be able to help Klefbom out on the second pair.

Ben Lovejoy

Current team: Pittsburg Penguins
Cap Hit: 2.1 million
Age: 31
NHL GP: 282
Weight: 205 lbs
Height: 6.02
2014-15 dCorsi60: 1.97

Lovejoy is a solid second-paring defender with a reasonable cap-hit and a balanced game. He'd also probably look great next to Kelfbom.

David Savard

Current team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Cap Hit: 1.3 million
Age: 25
NHL GP: 202
Weight: 219 lbs
Height: 6.02
2014-15 dCorsi60: -0.32

Savard is a good option for a solid third-pairing defender to play with Davidson. Currently he appears to be playing too high in the lineup in Colorado Columbus, but still has managed to maintain a reasonable dCorsi. Perhaps overtime he could grow into a second pairing role with solidity.

Andrej Sustr

Current team: Tampa Bay Lightning
Cap Hit: 1.45 million
Age: 24
NHL GP: 131
Weight: 220 lbs
Height: 6.07
2014-15 dCorsi60: 2.57

Sustr is an up and coming defender third-pairing prospect. He's a giant at 6-foot 7-inches. He appears to excel at "stay at home" type play, and with his huge reach he's able to reduce the amount of attempted shots against. If Chiarelli likes big defenders, maybe Sustr is his guy.

David Rundblad

Current team: Chicago Blackhawks
Cap Hit: 1.05 million
Age: 25
NHL GP: 109
Weight: 187 lbs
Height: 6.02
2014-15 dCorsi60: 5.96

HERO chart not available. Runblad is a Swedish prospect half-way into the 200 game mark with a decent delta-Corsi score, reasonable cap-hit for a third-pairing defender who could possibly rise higher.

Greg Pateryn

Current team: Montreal Canadiens
Cap Hit: .562 million
Age: 25
NHL GP: 20
Weight: 223 lbs
Height: 6.02
2014-15 dCorsi60: 7.87

HERO chart not available. Pateryn is Montreal's #4 right-pairing defender after Subban, Petry and Gilbert. Montreal has one of the best defensive line-ups in the league. I'd say trade for Petry or Gilbert, but that just doesn't seem likely. But maybe we can trade for Pateryn, and probably he's a better bottom-pairing defender than Gryba. For the amount of his cap-hit, it's probably worth the gamble.