If the Edmonton Oilers can’t get a puck-moving defender at the NHL level, perhaps finding—and developing—this player-type is the wise route to take. There are some impressive talents bubbling under in the AHL, and one or more could be available in the next several months. Here is a quick look at the best offensive defensemen in the AHL during 2015-16. (Photo by Mark Williams)
The toughest scoring comes at 5×5, and defenders are not strong contributors in this area. Here are the top 10 even-strength primary points-per-game defensemen in 2016-17 (20 games or more):
- TJ Brennan Toronto Marlies .449 (now with the Philadelphia Flyers)
- Mark Barbeiro St. John’s Icecaps .423 (Montreal Canadiens)
- Colin Miller Providence Bruins .350 (Boston Bruins)
- Shea Theodore San Diego Gulls .280 (Anaheim Ducks)
- Connor Carrick Hershey Bears .269 (now with the Toronto Maple Leafs)
- Brandon Montour San Diego Gulls .265 (Anaheim Ducks)
- Esa Lindell, Texas Stars .247 (Dallas Stars)
- Anthony DeAngelo Syracuse Crunch .246 (now with Arizona Coyotes)
- Andrey Pedan Utica Comets .244 (Vancouver Canucks)
- Chris Bigras San Antonio Rampage .243 (Colorado Avalanche)
Jordan Oesterle ranks No. 16 (.233) so he could be considered in the range with Pedan and Bigras. I deleted minor league veterans in this look—the idea is to find someone who can help soon and then for a longer period. Now, let’s check on power-play production.
Here are the top 10 power-play primary points-per-game defensemen in 2016-17 (20 games or more):
- Brandon Montour .294
- Christian Folin Iowa Wild .286 (Minnesota Wild)
- Ryan Murphy Charlotte Checkers .281 (Carolina Hurricanes)
- TJ Brennan .232
- Stefan Elliott Milwaukee Admirals .229 (Nashville Predators)
- Derrick Pouliot Scranton-Wilkes Barre Penguins .216 (Pittsburgh Penguins)
- Morgan Ellis St. John’s Icecaps .215 (now with St. Louis Blues)
- Mike Reilly Iowa Wild .200 (Minnesota Wild)
- Anthony DeAngelo .188
- Trevor Carrick Charlotte Checkers .186 (Carolina Hurricanes)
Jordan Oesterle is the top Oilers prospect (.116) but with Brad Hunt exiting he should spike in this area (assuming he doesn’t make the Oilers).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
If the Oilers cannot find an NHL puck mover, they may have to grow their own—Jordan Oesterle shows promise—or trade for someone with the skill set who has not yet established themselves. Colin Miller, Esa Lindell, Anthony DeAngelo and Ryan Murphy are interesting options for the Edmonton Oilers.