As the Edmonton Oilers move forward, it’s becoming more and more evident who is a part of this offensive core that they’re establishing. No doubt, having so many top five draft picks in a row has helped them establish that, with the likes of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle, along with Sam Gagner, making up that group right now.
Not among this supposed core right now, however, is the captain Shawn Horcoff. He’ll turn 35 and has two more years at $5.5 million remaining. Many will wonder if he’s a buyout candidate this summer, with the compliance buyouts available. It’s a fair question, but he still has enough value to this team to make him worth keeping around.
Horcoff only managed to play in 31 games for the Oilers in 2013. When he was in the lineup in March, after missing pretty much all of February, this team was actually faring pretty well, to the point where playoff talk was being thrown around. But after recording points in six of 10 March tilts, the results in April weren’t as pretty, for Horcoff or the Oilers.
He posted just four points in the month of April, while the Oilers only managed to win five games. His final totals on the season included 12 points, including seven goals, and a plus-8 rating. Perhaps the most important part of what he did this year was in the faceoff circle.
Horcoff saw a 49 percent success rate at the dot. While that isn’t a figure that’s going to blow anyone away, it’s certainly better than anyone the Oilers currently employ in the middle. And a team that is thin at center to begin with needs a guy like that, who can win draws and contribute on offense.
If he can turn in a completely healthy season next year, just as he did in 2011-2012, there’s no reason to consider Horcoff anything other than an important part of this team. He wears the ‘C’ for a reason. He’s a valuable leader on a young team. He’s a steady player at a position of need. His cap hit is ugly, yes, but it’s harder to make an argument in favor of getting rid of him, than simply keeping him around for these next two years.