In July, the Oilers made a splash of sorts in the free agent market, signing Brad Malone to a two year deal worth $650K AAV. The 6’2″, 208lb 28 year old left wing has been part of both the Hurricanes and Avalanche organizations at the NHL level, and with both the Capitals and Blues organizations in the AHL. Drafted 105th overall in the 2007 Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche after a solid NCAA career at North Dakota, Malone has played 176 NHL games, scoring 13-17-30, with 188 PIM and a minus-29 rating. With numbers like that, it’s not hard to see why he was signed, right?
Well…. Malone isn’t really a player who’s going to make much of a mark at training camp and isn’t really going to push anyone out of a roster spot. His skill set puts him somewhere between “Bakersfield regular” and “press box sitter”, so it’s hard to see what kind of impact he could make on the team. Because he isn’t necessarily offensively gifted, Malone’s utility for the NHL club will be to shore up the 4th line when needed.
He does have a history of playing both left wing and at centre, so there is at least some versatility in his game. Malone’s biggest strength will likely be in the faceoff circle; in 2015-16 he posted a win percentage of 64.5%. The Oilers’ system relies on faceoff wins, so Malone might be able to help in that arena.
When Malone was signed in early July, neither Connor McDavid nor Leon Draisaitl had been extended; management was obviously looking for someone with a veteran presence who could potentially slide into the lineup without costing too much money. The Oilers are thin on the left side, so it’s not all that unreasonable to assume that Malone sees moderately consistent playing time, especially down the stretch or in the case of injury.
Author’s Note: This signing slid completely by me, and at first I thought that it was Ryan Malone. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write this, and it wasn’t.