Edmonton Oilers Favourites to Land An Elite Defensemen

Published May 19, 2023 at 0:01
BY SKY
     
It may be premature to dive into free-agent discussions for the Edmonton Oilers, but here we are, already contemplating the team's offseason plans following a disappointing end to their 2022-23 season. The Oilers, once favored to make a deep playoff run, are now seeking ways to strengthen their roster, particularly on the blue line. Naturally, the name of Damon Severson, a highly sought-after pending unrestricted free agent defenseman, has emerged as a potential target for Oilers' GM Ken Holland.

Renowned hockey analyst Dennis King has sparked discussions by suggesting that Severson could be paired with Darnell Nurse, emphasizing Severson's prowess in zone entry denials and effective first passes out of the defensive zone. However, concerns have been raised regarding his failed exits and retrieval struggles, leaving some uncertainty about his defensive impact.

Interestingly, this isn't the first time Severson's name has been associated with the Oilers. In fact, as far back as 2016, rumors circulated about a potential interest from Edmonton during Nail Yakupov trade talks. Oilers Nation contributor Jesse Courville-Lynch also identified Severson as a potential fit for the team in an article back in April, highlighting the need for defensive upgrades.

Looking ahead, GM Ken Holland has expressed his determination to make necessary roster adjustments in pursuit of a playoff return and ultimately, another championship. As he enters the final years of his contract, speculation suggests that he may adopt an aggressive approach during the upcoming season. One potential move involves upgrading the position currently occupied by Cody Ceci.


At 28 years old, Severson aligns well with the Oilers' current trajectory. The team's core players have stressed the importance of returning and competing in their prime years, with Connor McDavid emphasizing the need for a roster that can contend over the next few seasons. Severson's addition could solidify the Oilers' defensive group during this window of opportunity. Meanwhile, Ceci, at 29, may not be viewed in the same light.

In the 2022-23 season, Severson recorded seven goals and 33 points in 81 games for the New Jersey Devils, along with three points in 12 playoff appearances. Despite averaging 19 minutes and 57 seconds of ice time per game, he was considered the third-highest-ranking right-shot defenseman on the Devils' depth chart, trailing Dougie Hamilton and John Marino. While Ceci made a positive impact in his first year with the Oilers, his performance took a step back during the recent campaign.


Severson's previous contract earned him an annual salary of $4.2 million. Frank Servalli ranked him as the second most sought-after free agent on the market, behind forward Michael Bunting, in a March assessment. While opinions on the order may vary, there is no doubt that teams will be eyeing Severson, and the Oilers could be among his suitors. Although he may complement Nurse better than Ceci did, the potential cost and the likelihood of a salary increase compared to his previous deal could pose a challenge.

As the offseason progresses, the Oilers will carefully evaluate their options and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing Severson. Ultimately, their aim is to construct a roster capable of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Edmonton.
SHOULD THE OILERS ACQUIRE THIS DEFENSEMEN?
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