Carson Soucy is a name recently connected in conversations to the Edmonton Oilers due to their past defensive deficiencies. Soucy being linked to Edmonton continuously over the past few seasons proposes reasonability behind the suggestion of him as a targeted asset for the Oilers.
The recent emergence of the Philip Broberg-Evan Bouchard pairing has mitigated the requirement for the Oilers to pursue a left-shot shutdown defenceman. However, especially during this season’s playoff push, depth is always required regarding injury possibilities and the potential faltering of the Oilers’ recent strong play. Additionally, due to the NHL’s evolution to defensive mitigation structuring in the playoffs, having a defenceman that is 210 lbs and 6’5” could drastically help break down the opposing team’s cycles with his physicality and range from his stick.
Soucy’s 2022–23 season 5v5 play
Soucy has the potential to fit seamlessly into Edmonton’s defensive roster. Not only is he a larger, better skating, and more offensively gifted defenceman than Vincent Desharnais, but Soucy possesses over 200 games more of experience, including 12 in the playoffs. Soucy also possesses an NHL-level shot, though the statistics do not mirror those results. For the season, Soucy is shooting 4% below his career average, shown in the 0.18 points per game, slightly off his 0.28 point per game pace.
Soucy also brings strong defensive qualities regarding takeaways, hits, and blocked shots. Compared to the current Oilers roster, Soucy would rank first in hits, fifth in blocked shots, and tied for fifth in takeaways. Acquiring the physicality asset Soucy provides would prove great foresight for playoffs. It was very apparent last year against the Colorado Avalanche that breaking the physicality was required as smaller defencemen such as Tyson Barrie could not dislodge Nathan MacKinnon from the puck.
The underlying metrics provide reasoning for acquisition, as Soucy’s intangibles are more valuable than what the Oilers currently holds. For his career and seasonal play, Soucy has possessed above-league averages in various categories, including controlling the shot quality (XGF%) and goals occurring on the ice (GF%). Additionally, Soucy has been above the norm this year at controlling total shots when on the ice (SF%) and puck possession (CF%). However, Soucy has been unable to control the chance and high-danger chance battle, a structural issue that has proven to be problematic for the Oilers in the past.
Soucy’s 5v5 line impact with a minimum of 50 minutes TOI together
|Carson Soucy-William Borgen||455||48.7%||50.3%||47.6%||55.8%||46.4%||41.0%|
|Justin Schultz-Carson Soucy||102||47.6%||53.3%||44.0%||100%||50.6%||53.9%|
|Carson Soucy-Cale Fleury||55||53.7%||54.4%||63.3%||60.0%||66.5%||76.9%|
When paired with a variety of Seattle Kraken defenders, Soucy’s play does showcase the potential for being a reliable defensive defenceman. Reviewing the potential partners required a benchmark, hence why only pairings with above 50 minutes Time-on-Ice (TOI) are highlighted in the above chart.
Puck possession is a quality the Oilers hold on the blueline but should still desire at the trade deadline, as similar to the time of the Joel Edmundson writing, The Oilers are only slightly above league average at even strength as a team. Compared to Edmundson, Soucy’s better puck possession ability only occurs with one defensive partner, as his metrics are subpar between the other pairings. The Oilers currently retains three defencemen who achieve the 50% benchmark indicating average puck possession, though the rest are only 1-2% below the league average. If acquired by Edmonton, Soucy would likely slot in with Barrie, pushing down Brett Kulak into the bottom six, making for a robust 11-7 lineup with length.
Reviewing the rest of the metrics, Soucy is capable of winning the shot battle, individually and as a defensive pairing, posting above 50% regardless of the partner. Additionally, Soucy produces borderline elite goals for rates at 5v5—rates comparable with either Broberg or Bouchard—especially when paired with offensively minded defenceman such as Justin Schultz, where the pairing has yet to be scored on by the opposition at even strength. Schultz pairs well with Soucy, as two-thirds of the pairings possess the ability to limit and control high-danger chances (HDCF%).
There are flaws in Soucy’s game that are highlighted in specific pairings. When paired with William Borgen and Schultz, both fail to win the scoring chance battle and the puck possession battle indicating they are giving up too many chances at 5v5. Although Schultz and Soucy control the HDCF%, the Borgen-Soucey pairing is badly outclassed, giving up six opportunities against every ten total high-danger chances occurring when the pairing is on the ice.
Is the trade for Soucy worthwhile?
I am partially biased in trading for Soucy, as he is from my hometown, Viking, and I would appreciate seeing him in Copper and Blue. However, it would be tough to acquire Soucy from a potentially playoff-bound Seattle team with the depth and toughness required for a lengthy playoff run, though the Kraken does not have the goaltending to win a playoff series.
To acquire such a defensive stalwart on a reasonable contract, approximately $2.75M, it would likely need to be a money-in money-out deal as Edmonton is hard-pressed against the cap. At last year’s trade deadline, it was rumored that it would cost a second. Depending on how this season is turning into a buyer’s market and with a division rival, it would likely be higher as Jesse Puljujarvi or Warren Foegele would be heading out as well. The question depends on how much the Oilers values the expiring contract of a physical, left-hand shot defenceman with the potential to break up opposition cycles and positively contribute offensively. It leads to the more significant question of whether Edmonton would dismantle the Broberg-Bouchard pairing, who have showcased top ten NHL level play as the Oilers’ third pairing.