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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.