38-Year-Old Defenseman – Edmonton Oilers
Andrew Ference Contract Information:
Signed a four-year, $13 million contract with Edmonton in July 2013.
Ference (hip) was designated for long-term injured reserve Friday.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
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When Ference was signed away from the Bruins as a free agent after the 2012-13 season, he was seen as a veteran leader who could stabilize an iffy Edmonton defense. In Boston, however, Ference was rarely asked to go up against an opponent's top line, but rather the second or third line. With the Oilers needing him to lock down the likes of Ryan Getzlaf and other top offensive players in the Western Conference, Ference has been able to rise up to the task, as his combined minus-35 rating over the last two seasons illustrates. Ference may end up with a better plus/minus rating this season due to the addition of goaltender Cam Talbot, but his limited offensive ability won’t put him on the fantasy radar.
You have to wonder if Ference ever regrets leaving the Bruins. He will be turning 35 this season and his best days are already behind him. And while the Oilers can't be much worse than they were last season, they aren't likely to be world beaters in the next couple years, either. At this point in his career, his upside would seem to be as that of an average fith or sixth defenseman who doesn't get power-play time. But he'll crack the century mark in hits and blocked shots ... if you even count those categories.
Ference was the Oilers' top free-agent addition this offseason and he gives the team something they desperately need -- a solid and steady veteran presence along the blue line. Is he going to light it up offensively? Not a chance. But six to eight goals is not out of the question. His value, though, is more toward being a mentor for the Oilers young defensemen than helping your fantasy squad.
With 24 points and 46 PIMs in 72 games last season, Ference's fantasy utility was limited to deeper leagues, but he is an experienced and sound puck-mover, who is reliable in the transition game. That's a valuable skill for the Bruins.
With just 15 points in 70 games this past season, Ference's fantasy upside was limited to leagues where his plus-22 rating helped. From the Bruins' perspective, however, his solid positional play and ability in the transition game continue to be valued assets.
The steady blueliner, who finished up the season with eight assists in 51 games, will return to Boston this coming season after having signed a three-year, $6.75 million extension with the B's this past March. Though he is a reliable vet who is steady in the transition game, Ference's lack of upside on offense limits his fantasy value.
Ference, who finished up an injury-plagued 2008-09 campaign with 16 points in 47 games, returns as a player who can give much more to the B's with his ability in the transition game, than he does to fantasy owners. There's not much upside to be had here unless he sees power play time, but the emergence of Matt Hunwick and the addition of Derek Morris would appear to limit that possibility.
A knee injury slowed Ference at the end of last season, but he will be 100 percent to start the 2008-09 season. He's a valuable player for the B's, but his limited upside on offense (plus the fact that he does not rack up many PIMs) makes him a marginal fantasy option.
Ference is a bit undersized but he can move the puck well, and should continue to be a top-four guy in Boston this year. He's a decent late-round pick in deeper leagues.
Ference is definitely a top-line defenseman, but offense is not necessarily his best asset. He did set career highs with 27 assists and 31 points in 2005-06, but linemate Dion Phaneuf is the more impressive scorer. Ference could make a good late pick in fantasy drafts, but it's unlikely he will top the 30-40 point mark.
Ference is your prototypical stay at home defenseman which every team needs, he is probably number six or seven on the Flames depth chart. Please do not select him for his offensive prowess unless you are in a very deep pool.