a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Friday, 6 July 2012

07/06/12 Corey Potter's Future

Corey Potter had a strong enough season in 2011-12 to earn himself a new two year contract with a $775,000 cap hit. It's a bargain if he lives up to expectations, but will he play for Edmonton?

The signing of Justin Schultz was not good news for the Potter camp. Schultz, it seems, is all but a lock to have a roster spot with the Oilers in the fall, and the newly re-signed Jeff Petry was always going to figure into the equation as well. That gives the Oilers two right-shooting defensemen who will more than likely fit into their top two pairings. Potter, then, is left to the third.

Unfortunately, Potter brings skills that are overlapped by Schultz, Petry and Whitney. Not only are they overlapped, but each of those are superior players, or have the potential to be in the case of Schultz. If Potter was a steady defensive-defenseman he might have a better chance of sticking around in Edmonton, but as it is he could be the odd man out. With Whitney, Petry, the two Schultzes, Smid and Sutton the Oilers will already be carrying six defensemen into next season. If management adds another body on the back end, things will be getting crowded.

Theo Peckham is still unsigned and may get the nod over Potter because of the amount of time, money and resources the Oilers have put into him. However, even Peckham will have a tough time cracking the lineup with the defense as it currently stands. Bring in another player and he may not fit either.

So what is to become of Corey Potter?

He's no longer exempt from waivers, but contrary to popular belief it isn't because of his contract. Potter's one-way deal simply means that he will be paid the same in the AHL and NHL. His new deal is a $550,000 raise over what he would have been paid in the AHL last year, which is partial incentive to keep him with the big club. $775,000 would be extremely rich for an AHL defender, as Potter's deal last year would already have made him one of the highest-paid AHL defensemen in that league.

But due to his experience and the number of years since signing his first contract the Oilers would have to expose Potter to waivers to get him to Oklahoma City. With the way defensemen have been coveted lately, Potter would likely be scooped up at just a $775,000 cap hit for a fairly capable bottom-pairing rearguard.

If the Oilers decide to add another body to the back end, one of these players is going to have to move out the door. Whitney, Smid, Petry, Justin Schultz, Nick Schultz, Sutton, Potter and Peckham already make eight. Teubert, Fedun and Plante are all call-up options when injuries strike. If there's an upgrade coming, at least one of these players will have to go. Potter is as good of a bet as any.

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