For years now, the best battle in Edmonton has been the one between the Oilers front office and their blogosphere -- a bunch of old-school hockey guys making moves based on ideals like character, heart, and "toolsiness" versus a bunch of new-school guys crying out in the online wilderness for moves based on possession metrics and other quantifiable, non-magical elements. It's been fun.
But on the first day of free agency, the Oilers reached across the gap, signing advanced stats darlings Benoit Pouliot ( at $20 million over five years) and Mark Fayne (at $14.5 million over 4 years).
Pouliot spent last season with the New York Rangers, skating on their third line and doing what he does best: driving possession, chipping in timely goals, and generally being an effective forward.
He's a "bust who can play", as Tyler Dellow put it. Pouliot was drafted fourth overall in 2005 by the Minnesota Wild, and never really materialized into the sort of player that you expect to get with such a high draft pick. But he's remained in the league because, while he's not a superstar, he tilts the ice in his team's favour, and does a lot of little things well.
He does take a lot of o-zone penalties, mind you. Hopefully the Oilers' defense will be better-equipped to deal with that than last year. And that's where Mark Fayne comes in.
Fayne, too, is a possession wizard. He played for the seemingly not very good New Jersey Devils last season, and he didn't provide much in the way of offense at 4 goals and 7 assists, but he put up an even-strength corsi percentage of 55.3%.
It's like the Oilers just discovered Behind the Net and Extra Skater.
The money and term on both of these deals is a bit steep, but the Oilers gonna Oiler, and it's free agency day. Plus these signings demonstrate that the Oilers are starting to get it, and you can't put a price on hope.