Assuming the Edmonton Oilers can come to terms with free agent Riley Sheahan and slot him in at the fourth-line center spot, the Oilers may still be on the lookout for a third-line center. Jonathan Willis of The Athletic writes that Carl Soderberg is a name the Edmonton Oilers shouldn’t ignore.
A team that is extremely loaded down the middle with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers have flexibility when it comes to where to slot those centers. Draisaitl has often played wing (as has Nugent-Hopkins) and that leaves openings in the bottom-six where GM Ken Holland did a good this past season filling the gaps with one-year veterans who brought a lot to the squad. Someone like Soderberg might offer more of the same.
Willis calls Soderberg an “intriguing free-agent possibility” and explains there are more than a few reasons he makes sense, especially if Holland is looking to add depth without going broke in the process.
Willis writes (subscription required):
Edmonton, famously, is in need of a third-line centre. The best possible fit is probably via trade, but it’s always a challenge to talk another team into surrendering that kind of player, to say nothing of giving up the return. There aren’t a lot of good fits on the open market. Soderberg is one player who might work as a stopgap.
Touting his dependability at five-on-five, his power-play experience, and his ability to kill penalties, Willis adds that, outside of all those pluses, the benefit for the Oilers is that he’ll be an inexpensive option.
Soderberg’s production dipped this past season with the Arizona Coyotes. Enough to potentially create uncertainty around him getting signed immediately in an uncertain NHL salary cap situation, but not enough that the Oilers should be concerned.
Knowing he’ll likely need to take a pay cut, Willis suggests he’s a bet worth making. “Soderberg’s age makes him a risk but Ken Holland has shown in the past he doesn’t mind taking chances on veterans.”
What do you think? Is Soderberg exactly the type of player the Oilers could use? Or, are they better to spend money in other places? He’ll be coming off a deal that paid him $4.75 million. So, even at half his salary, he’s not the least expensive option out there.