We knew the Edmonton Oilers were going to be active on both the free agent and trade markets, and with the former opening up on Friday, it wasn’t expected to be long before new general manager Craig MacTavish made his first splash of the day. That splash came in the form of veteran defenseman Andrew Ference.
On a thin market, especially for d-men, Ference was expected to be a coveted name. It didn’t take long for the Oilers to snatch up the hometown kid, as Ference is an Edmonton native. Aside from that fact, this is a tremendous fit for the Oilers, and a great signing by MacTavish, on a couple of different levels.
The first thing you need to look at in a deal like this, for an aging d-man in a thin market, is the price. Ference is 34, with the Oilers giving him a four-year deal. Given his defensive style of play, though, his game should age pretty well, so this deal isn’t all that big of a gamble.
The actual price, in terms of dollars, isn’t terrible either. He’ll carry a cap hit of $3.25 million over the course of the deal, making it worth $13 million total. That’s not actually a bad price for Ference, as he may have been able to get even more by someone else out on the market.
As far as being an actual fit with the Oilers, Ference is just that. He’s as steady a defensive presence on the blue line as you’ll find throughout the league, which makes him an asset in the lineup. He won’t contribute a ton on offense, but can throw in a few points, in addition to his stay-at-home style.
On a young team, he’ll also be a leader in the locker room. He wore an ‘A’ in Boston and has plenty of playoff experience, appearing in three Stanley Cup Finals, including a title back in 2011. So he’s the type of guy that’s been there. That experience is invaluable for a team like the Oilers.
All in all, this is a terrific signing for Edmonton. Ference came at a decent price, and will immediately be a key factor on defense, both on and off the ice for the Oilers. The tenure of MacTavish as GM of the Oilers is off to a pretty strong start with this signing.