Oilers & Persson: Where Does He Fit In?

Yesterday we touched on the recent rumors about the Edmonton Oilers closing in on Swedish defenseman Joel Persson. This deal is said to be a sure thing, but we’ve still yet to hear an official announcement from the Oilers themselves.

There’s been plenty of discussion about Persson’s upside, but one thing everyone can agree on is that this is a low-risk, high reward type signing for the Oilers. Edmonton needs productive players on cost-effective deals, and Persson’s will likely be one of those.

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Persson’s a right shot puck-moving defenseman that could end up quarterbacking the Oilers second power play unit next season if all goes according to plan. From the outset, and the competition ahead of him, it’s easy to suggest Persson might be in the No. 7 spot on Edmonton’s blueline.

Related: Oilers Reportedly Close to Signing SHL’s Vaxjo Lakers Defenseman

Some comparables that come to mind are Yohann Auvitu, Anton Belov, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Denis Grebeshkov, and Philip Larsen. There’s also another comparable that came up during a discussion with two Swedish play-by-play members that cover Persson and the Vaxjo Lakers – John Klingberg.

Projecting Edmonton Oilers Defense for 2018-19

Left Defense

Right Defense
Oscar Klefbom Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse

Kris Russell

Andrej Sekera

Matt Benning

X – Joel Persson

Jonatan Bergman and Mike Zanier broadcast Vaxjo over in Sweden as part of their SHL coverage. Bergman works for Sveriges Radio, and Zanier is an analyst. During a Twitter discussion with the two, they had nothing but praise for Persson.

They believe there’s more upside than fans might be led to think and Persson might exceed expectations. Can he break the trend of poor power play specialists that have fizzled out with the Oilers? Here’s our Twitter discussion in full.

Finding a Fair Comparable for Joel Persson

Bergman believes, like everyone else, that this is a low-risk, high reward type signing. He also threw in one critique that it’s unclear how much of Persson’s success this year was due to Vaxjo’s overall dominance of the league. Remember, they finished 21 points ahead of the next best team in the SHL (Djurgardens).

Zanier goes on to add that Persson has a higher offensive upside than those comparables of Auvitu, Belov, Bergeron, Grebeshkov, and Larsen. On the downside, maybe Persson ends up as a No. 6/7 offensive defenseman (similar to how Auvitu was used in 2017-18).

JOEL PERSSON SHL STATS FOR 2017-18 SEASON

STATS GP G A TP +/- PIM SOG TOI / GP
Regular Season 51 6 28 34 17 8 94 17:06
Playoffs 13 1 4 5 6 0 31 17:02

Zanier however adds he could be similar to what the Dallas Stars have in Klingberg. That’s a lofty comparison, and if true, the Oilers (more so Peter Chiarelli) knocked it out of the park with this signing. Klingberg, 25, is a No. 1 defenseman that put up eight goals and 67 points in 82 games this season.

He also logs about 24:04 per night with the Dallas Stars. That comparison is a bit of a stretch considering Persson’s had just one season in Sweden’s top league. If he can be Klingberg-lite, that would be welcomed. The Stars defenseman can contribute offensively in all situations and dictates the pace while he’s on the ice.

If Persson can grow into a Klingberg-lite, this is a homerun signing for the Oilers. Persson’s NHL-Equivalent (NHLE) from this year projects to 32 over a full 82-game NHL schedule. That’s if everything goes according to plan. Klingberg’s NHLE was 28 in his final SHL year.

Related: Oilers Continue Makeover of AHL Affiliate in Bakersfield

So even if Persson ends up being half the defenseman Klingberg is, this could work out in Edmonton’s benefit. Persson’s NHLE was better than what Auvitu (11), Grebeshkov (24), Klingberg (28), and Larsen (13) had in their final years in Europe.

Surprisingly Belov (37) exceeded those totals, yet only potted seven points in 51 games with the Oilers in 2013-14. The comparables are there, and this will make Persson one of the more intriguing players in training camp this fall. Maybe he can wrestle the No. 6 spot away from Matt Benning.

What a Joel Persson Oilers Contract Could Look Like

As mentioned, there are no details yet on what his contract could look like. When looking at CapFriendly’s CBA frequently asked questions there are some indications of what that deal might be. Keep in mind, Persson is a 24-year-old with no previous NHL rights.

Players younger than 25 prior to September 15 of their first NHL contract have to sign entry-level contracts (ELC). Because of his age, the deal would be a one-year ELC. Would it be fair to suggest Persson’s rumored deal might be a one-year deal worth the rookie maximum of $925,000?

That would make Persson a restricted free agent (RFA) next summer. Looking at what happened around the league this week, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed several other players at that same price point.

We’ll move on to other topics in the next few days, but it’s clear there’s a favorable opinion on this signing. Persson might end up being better than anyone’s expecting and that’s good for the low expectations folks have to begin with.

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