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Grade This Trade: Justin Fontaine

Okay, maybe not the blockbuster that everyone wanted. But can Justin Fontaine contribute?

Fontaine has spent 2016-17 with Hartford (AHL)
Fontaine has spent 2016-17 with Hartford (AHL)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images




I think we saw Taylor Beck for a hot minute this season.  We did.  For about three games, actually.  One of those games saw him hit eight minutes of ice time.

It may have been clear that Taylor Beck wasn't going to make a significant impact on this year's Oilers club, but there's no doubt that he's done pretty well in Bakersfield.  He led the team with 50 points (13-37-50) in 40 games.

Right wing Justin Fontaine spent three full seasons with the Minnesota Wild before spending this season entirely in Hartford.  I reached out to Hockey Wilderness for some assistance.

Justin Fontaine isn't someone who has been beloved by scouts, fans, or even his own coaching staff, but all he does is produce.  He's not blisteringly fast, he's not big, and he doesn't have jaw dropping sills.  But what he is  is smart.  He's always in passing lanes on defense, and he's got great awareness on offense.  Give him 12 minutes a game on a skilled fourth line and be surprised with how much he produces.


Skilled fourth line.  We've got Letestu, does that count?


Fontaine's two most common linemates during 2015-16 were Minnesota's Charlie Coyle and Thomas Vanek. None of Vanek's time in Minnesota was banner-worthy, especially a season that saw him amass just 41 points that year. There's not a whole lot happening on the score sheet for Fontaine.

Fontaine's numbers suggest that he's a depth winger, but in saying that, he looks to be more of a serviceable NHL player than Taylor Beck is.  That's good.  But how serviceable is Fontaine?  Like, "Matt Hendricks is injured, we need a winger" serviceable?  Can you put him on the third line with Desharnais?

Prior to this season, Fontaine has averaged 23 points in the last three NHL seasons, which screams 'fourth line player' to me.  And while I'm glad there's insurance if a guy like Hendricks or Pakarinen goes down, this trade doesn't help to address the lack of secondary scoring that the team is famously slogging through at this point.

Is he an upgrade on Taylor Beck?  I think so.

By how much?  I think the chances of Fontaine seeing NHL time are much greater than Beck's.  I'll call it a notch better..