We're now approaching the fifth week after the start of the NHL's free agency period. On defence, the Oilers acquired a Real Live NHL Defenceman™ in Adam Larsson, although it came at a hefty price tag in Taylor Hall. The Oilers need one more right-handed defenseman who is capable of playing top four minutes at the NHL level. Are there any more of those still available out there in free agent land?
Not many are left. There's one or two that might be worth taking a shot on.
James Wisniewski (UFA) - The 32 year old Wisniewski played less than a minute last year with the Hurricanes before suffering a season ending ACL injury in his left knee. The Hurricanes bought out Wisniewski's last year of his contract with a 5.5MM AAV. If the Oilers were to go this route, it'd have to be for no more than a one-year deal. I couldn't imagine James Wisniewski coming in very expensive. It'd be a low risk, moderate reward scenario. The best case? Wisniewski fills in admirably on the middle pair. The worst case scenario? You're an Oilers fan already, right? Throw a dart.
Wisniewski is probably the most cost-effective, safe play. And that's a heckuva gamble.
Dan Boyle (UFA) - Dan Boyle just finished up two years with the New York Rangers, and if you were to read anything that MSM wrote about Dan Boyle, you would run from this idea as soon as possible. At age 40, Dan Boyle would no doubt be a short term attempt to help shore up the Oilers defence. Paired up most often with Marc Staal, Boyle finished last among Ranger regulars in time on ice. Boyle scored ten goals in 2015-16, which isn't anything to sneeze at when you're sixth in ice time among D. The drop to that is that you're getting 40 year old Dan Boyle who has no doubt lost a step or two in the last ten years, and his deployment would have to be heavily monitored.
Marek Zidlicky (UFA) - Zidlicky's 2015-16 campaign with the Islanders was limited to just 53 games. A handful of those games were lost due to an upper body injury, and another (bigger) handful of those games were due to being scratched. The 39 year old Zidlicky was also in and out of the lineup for the Islanders' playoff run as the seventh defenceman. Sixteen points (4-12-16) in 53 games, most often alongside defence partner Thomas Hickey doesn't sound like he's about to set the world on fire. With Mark Fayne in the lineup, Zidlicky might be a capable bottom pair defender if The Price Is Right.
Eric Gryba (UFA) - Although it's not my first (or fifth) choice, if I'm a betting man, the Oilers re-sign Gryba (and his six points) and open camp. Though, if they re-sign Gryba, he's got to be the bottom pair guy, which would put Mark Fayne in the top four. I'm not sure how wild the club is about this. Gryba paired most often with Brandon Davidson last year, and Davidson did most of the heavy lifting between the two. Gryba doesn't really fall into the 'offensive defenceman' role, which the Oilers so desperately need. This must mean that the Oilers are in on him.
Literally Anybody Else (UFA) - Pick one. Anyone. Raphael Diaz, David Rundblad, Todd Rundgren, Dr. Randy Gregg, The Dude From The "Make Some Noise" Sound Effect, Gravel, A Reverse Hologram Of Cam Barker (not really). None of these guys are solid bets to crack an NHL roster, which only puts them at a slight chance to crack Edmonton's top four. It's August 8th and while I don't want to make too much ado about nothing, the Oilers defence is once again in pretty deep right now. With the exception of one or two options, there aren't any top four RHD kicking around in UFA.
The Oilers have got to solidify the top 4, though my gut tells me they're going to ink Gryba and call it a day.