It’s Raining RFA’s

Liam Reddox entered this season right where he always does: on the fringe of an NHL roster spot. All that hard work and the miles and miles of miles and miles may pay off this summer: he’s restricted, in need of a contract and there’s nowhere to hide him.  

Steve Tambellini will have a busy summer again, and mixed in with the buyouts and salary flushes will be a welcome item: restricted free agents who have earned another contract. Here’s a look at the rfa’s in the organization this summer, all numbers are cap hit totoals:

  1. Andrew Cogliano: Making $1M this season which in my opinion makes him a bargain. Cogliano in 2nd among forwards in SH TOI/game and is doing a solid job. He may not be "Marchant with hands" or even "Marchant" but there’s always been the makings of a player there. Credit to Tom Renney, whatever he’s doing Cogliano is having his best season in the NHL (imo). The offense might not be there, but he’s also not being used in an offensive role. Definitely worth another contract and a nice raise despite the FO struggles and -11.
  2. Liam Reddox: Making $550,000 this season and he leads the team in SH TOI/game. Reddox is a good fit for this team because (despite lacking size) he’s a demon on the forecheck and offers his coach all out effort. He may never be more than a 4th line energy guy who can penalty kill, but that’s a useful player. Earned another contract.
  3. JF Jacques: Making $615,000 a year and playing 7 minutes a night. I’ve always argued Jacques was a player, but his injuries eroded the skill set. I don’t think he’s earned another contract, but we shouldn’t be too surprised if the club brings him back for 11-12. Big guys with plus speed hold high value.
  4. Ladislav Smid: Making $1.3M this season and ranks in the top 4D in ES TOI/game and PK TOI/game. For the kind of money he’s making, Smid is worth the money and the organization might want to sign him to a long term reasonable number. Has delivered value this season.
  5. Theo Peckham: Making $550,000 this season and he’d be welcomed back on grit alone. Ranks top 4D among the club’s regulars in EV TOI/game and SH TOI/game, plus he’s lapping the field in PIMS (153) on the team. Peckham’s 7 majors are more than double the number of his closest teammate. May have earned a multi-year contract, he’s definitely coming back for 11-12.
  6. Taylor Chorney: Making $942,000 this season and ranked in the top 4D in PP TOI/game when healthy and in Edmonton. The organization has a tremendous number of options in terms of puck moving D on the way (most notably Jeff Petry) so he might be in tough to make the big club next fall. I expect Chorney might be feeling the trade winds before October, but based on a strong AHL season he’s worthy of another conttact.
  7. Zack Stortini: $700,000 for his contract, he’s in the AHL now. 12gp, 1-1-2 +1 in OKC after going 32gp, 0-4-4 -2 with the Oilers earlier in the year. I don’t know that he’ll get an NHL contract from the Oilers, coach Renney values footspeed and Stortini brings a lot of things but that isn’t one of them. Heart and soul guy, hope he lands somewhere.
  8. Ryan O’Marra: $700,000 for the big league portion of his contract. O’Marra did some nice things when he played at the NHL level (9gp, 1-2-3 E) and has played well in OKC (48gp, 2-19-21 +11). I suspect it will be enough to warrant another 2-way offer.

Among minor league pro’s, the Oilers have F Matt Marquardt (51gp, 3-6-9 -7); D Kevin Montgomery (54gp, 3-18-21 E); D Jordan Bendfeld (16gp, 0-0-0 -1) and G Bryan Pitton (5gp, 2.53 .918). The club just acquired Montgomery at the deadline (for Shawn Belle) so he would seem to be a lock for re-signng; after that it’s anyone’s guess. 

One of the things that the organization has to consider is the list of "pro-eligible" players who may sign this summer. That impressive list includes (but is not limited to) Martin Marincin, Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale, Brandon Davidson. Also possibly turning pro will be Anton Lander, Cameron Abney, Toni Rajala. The Oilers have also signed NCAA grad D Taylor Fedun who will factor in somewhere.  

Bottom line: that group of players who become rfa’s this summer have for the most part earned continued employment, especially those who are playing currently at the NHL level. I don’t think the Oilers will walk away from most of them, as they have in the past with Marc Pouliot, Colin McDonald, Ryan Potulny and Brad Winchester.

  • John Chambers

    LT, what does it cost to qualify a player? How much of a raise does the player have to be offered on top of their previous salary? Do you risk the player becoming a UFA if they’re not offered a 1-way contract?

  • misfit

    I’m going to be very upset when Jacques gets another deal and Reddox doesn’t.

    I can’t see Stortini coming back, but at least Petry will get to wear the number he wanted after Zorg finds employement elsewhere.

  • John Chambers

    Admittedly not a fan of Jacques. But if this organization is to be considered competitive in the future, can there really be space on the roster for Jacques?

  • Seriously....Gord?

    I can see some of these guys getting AHL contracts only. There is no need to burn an NHL contract on a player who may end up being pushed into the ECHL due to the depth chart.

    How many contracts do we have now? How many will be available this summer?

  • YES

    Cogs, Reddox, Peckman, Chorney (he can take Strudwick’s spot), Smid, O’Marra (for the Barons who will need vets if there is going to be a new bunch ready for AHL action) and Montgomery.


    JFJ, Stortini (it just wont happen even if he’s a good guy), Bendfield, Pitton.

    • Peterborough

      But only if they sign some UFA bigs. Rupp and Eager would be nice. Brooks Laich to replace Penner. I think you could get them two sign two year contracts and let the kids develope.

  • Dan the Man

    Let’s not forget SMac – unless they get a veteran UFA with a some size who can be aggressive – GlenX would be nice – does he come back for 1 more year until there’s more than just Peckham and Vand ($5 says he resigns) to keep the folks in Anaheim honest

    • Westcoastoil

      Just dawned on me he’s a UFA. Among the UFAs: Struds is out (maybe OKC as an asst. coach?), Giroux will likely try and catch on where he’ll get a shot leaving SMac and VanD. I think VanD makes a great bottom pair guy who can fill in top 4 for spells when needed. For what he is he’s been good. Obviously does not come back at a Sutter price tag. That leaves Jones. I’d much rather see GlenX and Jones come back and let JFJ and SMac walk

  • Wax Man Riley

    I hate, it. I’m sorry, but JFJ has been growing on me. DON’T JUDGE ME! HE has been playing a lot bigger. More like the 6’3″ 230lbs his is.

    As a fourth line guy, I could see if Tambellini signed him. SMac would have to go to make room as well as someone else. Who would Tambo have to lose? Either Reddox or Jones? Hmmmm… Jacques would have to have a hell of a last 14 games to convince me to part with Jones.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach


        Just wondering what you think Cogliano brings that can’t be replaced by a bigger more physical 3C?

        When I watch the games, I see a guy that is far too often caught staring at the puck or on the wrong side of the puck.

        I guess my real concern is that, the team is smallish at the top end of the roster and should look to atleast add some size in the 3rd and 4th lines.

        Therefore, wouldn’t Cogliano be an obvious choice to cut loose in order for the team to get bigger?

  • Wax Man Riley

    I witnessed the exact moment the Oilers hit rock bottom last night. When Ovi sttipped teh puck from Foster like he was child and then played give and go twice, almost tauntingly, before putting another one past the Bulin wall. I was embarrased for them.

    Oh and did anyone happen to see St. Louis’ disgraceful spinorama move in the shootout last night?

  • K-UGER Industrial Smoothing

    the question is how do you get the players so that the team isnt undermanned. Everyone talks about adding depth veterans and sure that may have helped a bit but how much can you expect 3rd and 4th line guys or a couple 3rd pairing defenceman to add to a team?

    • Lowetide

      I would have given up on him by now, but Renney seems to have uncovered a few things. He’s still dreadful in the FO circle and can’t put the puck in the ocean sometimes, but there is skill and speed there.

      Renney is using him effectively on the PK and Cogliano is on the right side of the puck often enough to suggest the light bulb went on during this season.

      I’d use him in a 4th line C/W role next season. Excellent depth, I don`t think we`re looking at a 40 point center though.

  • Peckham, Smid, Cogliano and Reddox have earned contracts for the big club.

    (Cogs/Reddox realistically should both be on the 4th line if Tambo can sign the right UFA’s this summer)

    Chorney, JFJ and Omarra have earned tweener 2 way deals.

    Stortini will be looking elsewhere.

  • book¡e

    Re-sign the Red Ox, Smid, & Peckham. Everyone else has to go. If Cog’s gets one more puck in the face it’ll be carreer ending, JFJ is a bench warmer and no one else has come close to the projected potental. There is way too much talent on its way over and the space will be required in both OKC and Edmonton.

    Lander would fill Cog’s spot in a second just on faceoff’s and could prob keep up in a foot race, as well as softer hands.(imo)

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        It goes to show the toughness of draws at diffent levels. Sure he whipped kids at the WJC, but against men he isn’t exactly anything special at this point.

        • OttawaOilFan

          Don’t post often so forgive me if this was supposed to be a sarcastic post but according to, 49% would sit Lander tied for 2nd on the team in FO% with Horcoff (Brule is in 1st but he obviously hasn’t taken as many FO as Horcoff). The next best FO guy is O’Mara & Eberle @ 44% … Just sayin.

          • OttawaOilFan

            It’s def logical that his % may drop, however, if he’s already @ 49% facing off against men (as you mentioned earlier) could it also be said that he may not drop off?

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            It may not, but it’s not to often that players from lessor leagues join the NHL and keep up their stats.

            Omark was a PPG player in the SEL, the only other league he put those numbers up was the AHL. Couldn’t do it in the KHL or the NHL.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Like jr said, Omarra seen a substantial drop off from AHL to NHL.

            Just a guess, but I’d think Landers 49% overseas would equate to roughly a 45% here.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I would be okay with Pitlick, Davidson, Blain, Roy, Bunz and Abney all staying in Jrs for a final year. Marincin and Hamilton and Martindale should make the move to the A. Rajala too, although there’s no rush for him. Bigos I think could be convinced to leave Merrimack and probably should be placed in the A over NCAA for his development. Surely one of Bigos, Plante and Teubert will pan.

    • Spydyr

      Pitlick hasn’t proven capable of dominating WHL competition yet. He stays in Medicine Hat. Davidson and Blain (and Marincin) are defensemen, and as such should never be promoted before they reach the end of their junior eligibility. Roy has no junior eligibility after this year so he’s got to be AHL’d but Bunz has another year left on a good team. Abney doesn’t get a contract if I’m GM.

      In Martindale’s case I’d keep him in the OHL for his overage at this point. If his team goes deep into the playoffs I reserve the right to change this decision.

      Hamilton will be 20 next year, the same scanario as Peckham was once in. He’s earned the promotion based on his offense and two-way play.

      I’m wary of adding so many young prospects to the AHL at the same time. It doesn’t work well at the NHL level from a win/loss perspective and the same’ll happen for an AHL team.

      • Lowetide

        Martindale is interesting. I’d generally prefer to move players to the AHL as soon as they can handle it, though there are other things that can be factors.

        With Martindale though, I think it’s fair to wonder how beneficial another year of junior would be IF he continues to play with Toffoli and Prince, neither of whom are AHL eligible and both of whom will probably be sent back to junior. If motivation is an issue for that player, I don’t know how helpful it would be to send him back to a situation where he can get very good results without striving to improve.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Cog’s is avg 35-40% this year, Lander’s 49% looks alot more convincing. Granted he was a monster in the WJC. I just don’t see the value in a small fast skatter with lead weights for hands. We have way to many small fast forwards as it is.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      O’Marra was apparently 60%+ in the AHL, how were his numbers in the NHL?

      Also explain the logic that cogs is avg 35-40% when his average is 41.4%.

  • Spydyr

    I think Brule, cogs, JFJ, BigMac, Strud, Foster, VanD, Fraser, Storts should all go. Simple fact of the matter is they haven’t panned out they way the team wanted. The team would be better served in Cogs’ case to search for a center that is bigger and can win faceoffs whether it be within the organization, free agency or trades. I know he has a lot of speed but that doesn’t translate into offense for him so it limits the teams ability. VanD and Foster can go because I think Petry might find himself in the bigs next season and if the team drafts Larrson its likely he will be on the team as well. Chorney isn’t far off either. They may still try to land a GOOD vet D man in the off season to compliment the young guys. I don’t think they need to find someone to take Penners place, there is enough talent on this team and they may not be as good as penner but they will be young and trying to get to that level. I guess the key thing here is they need to make more room to allow themselves to explore options if they come along. They don’t want to miss something because their hands were tied with contracts that didn’t really fit into the future of the team.

  • After we played the role of the Washington Generals last night, I’m stunned anyone here is still contemplating ditching proven NHL players like Cogliano (who whether you like it or not has shown a whack of improvement this season) for prospects who haven’t played a minute on NHL ice.

  • Good rundown of RFA’s….I would agree with most of the assessment. The big thing that the Oil need to is to analyze exactly what mixture they want is the 7-13 forward spots. If footspeed is an absolute prereq (minus Big Mac) then make it so for everyone.

    There certainly will be some good sized RFA’s that can fill the needs these RFA’s cannot. If that is the case, then swap them out and continue to draft size as much as possible…..especially up the middle.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I’m prepared for the lambasting I may take for saying so, especially since my last post said that Jacques has been looking better lately.

    I see this team with a lot of cap room, a lot of good young players, a lot of good looking prospects, and it looks to me like players are going to competing for jobs, not only at the NHL level, but at the AHL level.

    With the promising crop of forwards, large, mobile defensemen, and Dubnyk (and who knows how Roy or Bunz will turn out, admittedly)…….

    ….Does it almost look like a PLAN is in place for a long-term, competitive team that is trying to establish itself as a contender for more than just one run to the cup?

  • Ducey


    Toffoli was drafted by LA last year. He is eligible for the AHL next season.

    I would keep Martindale in junior though. Hamilton and Lander would get contracts for sure. I guess Rajala should come over.

    Everyone else should stay in junior.

    • Ducey

      Toffoli was a 92 born so AFAIK he’s not AHL eligible next season. Martindale was a late 91 birthday, so he’ll be 20 before the cutoff and therefore is AHL eligible.