Free Agency Brings Changes to the Edmonton Oilers

Well, Edmonton Oilers fans – you were promised bold moves. After getting off to a good start with the Horcoff deal to Dallas, GM Craig MacTavish continued to put his stamp on this new Oilers team with six signings on Free Agency Friday.

Among the players signed wasAndrew Ference. The former Bruins defenseman signed a 4 year deal today, with an AAV of $3.25 million. Ference is from Edmonton, and actually grew up tagging along to Oilers practices with his neighbor Petr Klima.

The Oilers also added two former Coyotes – center Boyd Gordon (3 years, $3 million AAV) and goalie Jason LaBarbera (1 year, $1 million), filling a hole at center and providing goalie Devan Dubnyk with a reliable backup.

MacTavish wasn’t done, however. After adding free agent  F Jesse Joensuu, a former  New York Islander (2 years, $950,000 AAV), MacTavis went on to sign two former Toronto Marlies forwards – Ryan Hamilton and Will Acton. Acton is the son of new Oilers assistant coach Keith Acton, and Hamilton served as the Marlies’ captain for the past two seasons. Both played under Eakins during their time in Toronto.

The moves made today by the Oilers address a great many needs within the organization – experience and grit on defense, depth at center, a backup goalie, more size and grit at forward – but there are still many moves to make. MacTavish said today that he hasn’t yet done all that he wants to make the team “tougher”, so there is undoubtedly more action in the team’s future. For today, though, the job seems to be done.

Oilers Trade Captain Shawn Horcoff

In yet another trade made today by Dallas GM Jim Nill, the Oilers have sent their captain Shawn Horcoff to the Stars in exchange for D Philip Larsen and a 7th round pick in 2016.

New Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said shortly after taking the reins that he would like to move both Horcoff and veteran winger Ales Hemsky, preferring to give both of them a “fresh start”

elsewhere, rather than keep them in a situation potentially detrimental to both the players and the club. The trade appears to be a genuine “hockey trade”, fulfilling needs for both teams, giving the Oilers much-needed fresh blood on defense and the Stars depth at center.

Horcoff has two years left on his contract with a cap hit of $3.5m AAV. The Oilers managed to free up that space without having to eat any of the former captain’s cap hit, and got a 23-year-old right shot, puck-moving defenseman out of the deal, as well as a future draft pick. Time will tell if the trade is as good as it looks for the Oilers, but at the moment, it certainly seems MacTavish is making good on his promise to make “bold moves”.