Fixing the bottom-six forwards is arguably the top priority for new Oilers GM Ken Holland. He’s mentioned this many times publicly and the smoke surrounding the team backs that up.
Those who cover the Oilers, from Bob Stauffer to Jim Matheson, have suggested numerous role players and AHL’ers who could make the jump as targets this off-season for Edmonton. One name that Matheson mentioned that caught my eye was Brandon Tanev.
Tanev, 27, is a pending RFA coming off of a career-high 14 goals. He’s quick, he’s tough, he chips in on offense and can penalty kill. This is a very good role player that could hit the market in the coming days.
Why Is He Out There?:
The Jets currently have $62,480,833 committed to their 2019-20 roster. They shipped out RFA Jacob Trouba on Monday night, acquiring the 20th overall pick in Friday’s draft and RFA Neal Pionk. Their cap situation is better, but still tough.
The Jets are trying to re-sign pending UFA D Tyler Myers, who could earn up to $6,000,000 on his next deal. Another UFA, Ben Chiarot, has the attention of the Jets as well right now.
Up front, they’ll need to re-sign RFA’s Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp and Par Lindholm in addition to Tanev. We’ve even heard Nikolaj Ehlers’ name thrown out in rumors because of cap issues.
What Does He Do Well?:
Tanev isn’t a top-six forward and won’t come to Edmonton and magically fix all of the depth issues with the team. He’d be a significant improvement on Tobias Rieder, however, and represents a solid bottom-six option for a club in desperate need of at least two.
There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Tanev would be a fan favorite in Edmonton. He works extremely hard, plays a physical game, kills penalties, chips in on offense and has a strong two-way acumen. Tanev is a throwback player that would have fit in perfectly on the Craig MacTavish led Oilers of the early 2000’s.
Offensively, the native of Toronto broke out in 2018-19. He posted career-highs in goals (14), assists (15), points (29), games played (81) and ice time (14:07 per game). Tanev was effectively a third liner on a playoff team in 2018-19. He brought value to Winnipeg.
He fell in line with the rest of the Jets when it came to possession, posting a Corsi For percentage of 48.4% at five-on-five (-.1% Rel). His PDO was slightly above average (101.1) while his shooting percentage was a career best 11%. There is a case to be made that there was some luck involved in his numbers.
Tanev popped home two of his 14 goals shorthanded, the second straight season he has scored multiple shorthanded goals (three in 2017-18). His other 12 goals came at even strength.
All numbers via hockey-reference.
Here’s a look at Tanev’s scouting report via The Sports Forecaster.
Where Should He Play / Where Will He Play?:
Tanev performed at a third-line level during the 2018-19 season. It was also a breakout season aided by an above-average PDO and career-high shooting percentage. Those need to be taken into account. Tanev is without doubt an NHL forward and can competently fill out a bottom-six role on a playoff team.
He’d likely start on Edmonton’s third-line, handling the left wing duties that belonged to Milan Lucic at times during the 2018-19 season. Tanev would also get a featured role on Dave Tippett’s penalty killing unit.
What Will He Cost?:
Tanev carried an AAV of $1,150,000 this past season and will be a restricted free agent on July 1st. Edmonton could offer-sheet him or trade for his rights before the market opens a week from Monday.
In terms of a new contract, I think Tanev will land a deal for three years at roughly $2,250,000 per season. He’s earned a raise and will likely get it. Teams value what he brings to the table.
Ken Holland needs to retool his bottom-six, this much he has admitted. Tanev isn’t a perfect option, luck appears to have been involved in his stellar 2018-19, but he’s a competent role player. Tanev has a positive impact on the game, something that couldn’t be said for Edmonton’s depth players a season ago.
If there is a chance to acquire the gritty forward, Holland should pull the trigger. I believe that chance will be there.