The next month will give us some insight into Peter Chiarelli’s strategy on how he plans to build the Oilers organization into a contender.
Not just the NHL team, but the overall organizational depth. How will he fill out the 50-man roster?
The Oilers currently have 36 players signed for next season.
NHL forwards: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Benoit Pouliot, Nail Yakupov, Teddy Purcell, Anton Lander, Matt Hendricks, Boyd Gordon, Rob Klinkhammer and Luke Gazdic.
In the system: Leon Draisaitl, Iiro Pakarinen, Bogdan Yakimov, Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev, Greg Chase, Mitch Moroz, Ryan Hamilton, Kale Kessy, Travis Ewanyk and Kyle Platzer.
NHL: Oscar Klefbom, Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference and Nikita Nikitin.
In the system: Darnell Nurse, Jordan Oesterle, David Musil, Joey Laleggia, Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat and Ben Betker.
NHL: Ben Scrivens
In the system: Laurent Brossoit and Eetu Laurikainen
That leaves Chiarelli with room for 14 more contracts.
The Oilers have 12 RFAs they need to qualify before June 29th or lose them to unrestricted free agency.
Here are the rules for qualifying offers.
Players who earned less than $660,000 last season must be
offered a 10% increase on last season’s salary. Players making up to $1
million must be offered a 5% raise and players making over $1 million can be qualified at the same salary as last season.
Justin Schultz: D-man
2014/2015 salary: $3.675 million.
Walking away from Schultz doesn’t make sense. Ideally he wouldn’t have been overpaid last summer so Chiarelli could sign him to another one or two-year deal and hope he improves, but Schultz being overpaid last year is another reason MacTavish is on longer the GM. Chiarelli could play hard ball and take Schultz to “cut down arbitration” like the Canucks did with Mason Raymond in 2012. Cut down arbitration allows them to over Schultz 85% of last year’s salary, $3.06 million. The Oilers aren’t against the cap, so I doubt Chiarelli elects this option just to save $610,000. It would send a strong message, but I expect him to simply qualify Schultz at his existing salary and hope he improves.
Martin Marincin: D-man
2014/2015 salary: $810,000
Marincin will need to be qualified at a 5% increase, $850,500, and he will be. Marincin needs to prove he can be consistent. Todd Nelson and Gerry Fleming have said on record the challenge with Marincin is getting him to battle harder at key times in the game. He is still young and he has NHL ability, so he’ll be qualified.
Brandon Davidson: D-man
2014/2015 salary: $640,000
He needs a 10% raise, and needs to be qualified at $704,000. Davidson continues to improve and will contend for a 3rd pairing spot in training camp. To me, he is a lock to get a qualifying offer.
Keith Aulie: D-man
2014/2015 salary: $800,000.
Like Marincin he needs a 5% increase to be qualified, $840,000. He is a cheap option as a depth D-man, and he has experience. I could see this one going either way, but I’m leaning towards the Oilers not qualifying him.
Tyler Bunz: Goalie
2014/2015 salary: $645,000.
He won’t be qualified. He hasn’t been able to start anywhere other than the ECHL.
Kellan Lain: Forward
2014/2015 salary: $600,000.
He makes $200,000 in the minors and the Oilers have a lot of young forwards turning pro this year. I don’t expect him to receive an offer.
Frans Touhimaa: Goalie
2014/2015 salary: $595,000.
He played 33 games in the ECHL last year with a .876sv% and three games in the AHL with a .904sv%. The Oilers just signed Eetu Laurikainen, and Touhimma signed in Europe so he won’t be back.
Andrew Miller: Winger
2014/2015 salary: $675,000.
He needs a 5% increase. Miller led OKC in scoring and has NHL speed. I’d qualify him and I expect Chiarelli will.
The remaining four RFAs will cause the most debate.
Tyler Pitlick: Winger
2014/2015 salary: $725,000
He needs to be qualified at $761,250. Money will not be the issue, Pitlick’s ability to stay healthy will. Chiarelli has no connection to him. He didn’t draft him and that is a factor. Pitlick skates well, is good on the forecheck and has more skill than Rob Klinkhammer. I’d qualify him and I think Chiarelli will give him a one-year deal.
Matt Fraser: Winger
2014/2015 salary: $625,000
He needs be qualified at $687,500. He is a bit cheaper than Pitlick. Chiarelli knows him from Boston and that could help and hinder him at the same time. Fraser has an NHL caliber shot, but his skating is the main concern. I don’t see him fitting in a checking role or on an energy line. I’d walk away from him and let him try to catch on with another organization.
Curtis Hamilton: Winger
2014/2015 salary: $725,000
He is in the same boat at Pitlick. Injuries have slowed his development, and even though he his coming off his best pro season, I’m not sure it is enough to garner another contract in Edmonton. Chase, Platzer and Slepyshev will be in OKC next year, and Draisailt might be as well. I’d rather see how they can develop than give Hamilton another year.
Brad Hunt: D-man
2014/2015 salary: $550,000
He is an AHL player. His skating is not NHL caliber and combined with being undersized and his lack of defensive awareness, I only see him as an AHL player. He is a very good AHL defender, but will Laleggia make him expandable? The Oilers have a new AHL home in Bakersfield and they will want to ice a competitive team, so I think Hunt will be qualified.
- Connor McDavid will be signed very soon after he is drafted so they will have 37 contracts and 12 NHL forwards.
- I wonder if the Oilers and Gernat agree to void the last year of his contract. If he looks at the depth chart he must realize he has no future in Edmonton. He could make more money playing in Europe.
- Of the RFAs, who would you qualify and why?
- I had a one-on-one exclusive with Taylor Hall. He talks about playing with Crosby, learning from McLellan and more.
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