Edmonton Oilers pass on buyout window


Tuesday was the last day to place players on unconditional waivers prior to a buyout, and the Oilers passed on the opportunity, meaning that the obvious candidates for severance will either have to be moved in some other manner or will be around next season.

And that’s just fine.

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Edmonton has some middling contracts, some poorer contracts and some flat-out bad deals. They didn’t dump any of them, and there are some good reasons for that.

The first is that the team has plenty of cap space. With every roster spot filled the Oilers are looking at roughly $7.5 million in spending money:

Left Wing Centre Right
Taylor Hall R.
$6,000,000 $6,000,000
$1,244,000 $3,675,000
Benoit Pouliot Connor
$4,000,000 $3,775,000
Leon Draisaitl Anton
Griffin Reinhart Eric Gryba
$925,000 $988,000
$833,000 $1,250,000
Matt Hendricks Boyd
$1,850,000 $3,000,000
Luke Gazdic Tyler
Cam Talbot Ben
$800,000 $798,000 $1,450,000 $2,300,000   

So there was no pressing financial argument to buyout players. Given the choice between taking a bad cap hit for one year and taking a slightly less-bad cap hit for two years, there’s no question as to the correct approach. It makes sense to take the hit this coming season and be clear of it in the future.

The second is that some of the potential buyouts might have some value at the trade deadline. It’s a cinch that somebody will be willing to take on Teddy Purcell come February, particularly if the Oilers are willing to retain salary (and why wouldn’t they?). There’s at least some chance that Nikita Nikitin will be tradeable too; if we ignore contract there’s no reason he can’t be a No. 6 defenceman and as Chicago demonstrated this past year there’s value in having one of those guys around.

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So there were good reasons not to go the buyout route. But that still leaves the Oilers with a crowded roster, particularly on defence, that was demonstrably not good enough last year.

There are ways around that.


The first, obviously, is trade. The Oilers were evidently in trade talks with the Los Angeles Kings about Mike Richards before the Richards’ contract was terminated, which suggests that Edmonton is willing to take on a bad deal under the right circumstances. Part of taking on a deal like that would probably be sending a shorter-term bad deal the other way, which might afford the opportunity to unload a contract.

Alternately, if Edmonton were to add a rearguard via trade rather than free agency, such a trade might include sending a defenceman the other way.

In the worst case scenario, there’s also the option of dumping somebody to the AHL, though it likely won’t come to that. Moving a player to the minors doesn’t bury his whole contract (in the case of a player like Nikitin, it would only be a fraction of the contract) but it does open up a roster spot and that’s the only real concern here.

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    • fran huckzky

      I am getting tired of the no brainers with nothing more to add than fire Lowe or fire McTavish. It takes a lot of insight to make those deep thoughtful ccomments

  • ubermiguel

    Willis. Why did you only include base salary for LD and Reinhart whilst you included all bonuses for McDavid. Also no Nurse who could be expensive if he makes the team and his bonuses.

    It seems the Oil cap room could be determined by how many bonuses LD, Nurse and Reinhart earn this year. As bonus payment can be moved to next year, for cap accounting, this may give the Oil some more flexibility.

  • 916oiler

    Yup. The right move is to hold these guys. Best case you move Purcell, Nikitin, Ference, Gordon, maybe even Gryba, Klink, Scrivens and Hendricks at the deadline for whatever assets you can get. Worst case is they all suck next year, none of them have deadline value, you walk away from Purcell, Nikitin, Gordon, Klink, Gryba and Scrivens, buy out Ference a year from now, and enjoy almost $20 million in cap space.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    They have $7.5M in space, but they need a top pairing defender or two. If buying out Nikitin allows them to get a top four defender along with a top pairing defender, they should have done it. I suppose the other option is trading Schultz, which isn’t so bad really.

    But if the Oilers go into next season without bringing in two quality defenders, its going to be a tire fire again, and that, my friend, is unacceptable.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Saad traded from Chicago to the Blue Jackets with Paliotta and Broadhurst. In return Chicago gets Anisimov, Morin, Tropp and Dano along with their 2016 4th round pick.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    I was worried they were going to over-react and break up the team. They just need to keep building on last year. How soon before we can extend Nikitin? This has to be his year.

  • Puck JammeR!


    Mike Green is available. Period.

    Why wouldn’t he want to come to Edmonton and play first pairing minutes and play on PP1?

    $5m x 4yr should do it with the promise of playing time.


    If the dude wants like $6.5m or 7.0m then we move on.

    I WONDER IF YAK CITY AND OUR 1st rounder next year would be enough to pry SHEA WEBER out of Nashville.

    • Chet.

      havent we all learned with Ference and Schultz? Just because they would be a first pairing defender in Edmonton does not make them a first pairing defender. Green is a 3rd pairing defender. has been for quite some time.

    • I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that phone call.

      • CHIARELLI: Hello, is this Mike Green’s agent? This is Peter Chiarelli.
      • AGENT: Yes it is, hello Mr. Chiarelli.
      • CHIARELLI: I’ve got a wicked deal for your client! We’ll pay him $5 million per year!
      • AGENT: You realize that’s a pay cut, right?
      • CHIARELLI: Yeah, but we’ll also give him term! Four years!
      • AGENT: You realize my client is 29 and everyone we talk to is offering a minimum of five seasons?
      • CHIARELLI: …
      • AGENT: Wait a minute. You don’t really sound like Peter Chiarelli.
      • CHIARELLI: …
      • AGENT: Is this Josh again?
      • (sound of phone hanging up, followed by dial tone)
  • mithaman

    My biggest concern is our D is not much better off than it was last year. Even with Petry we were awful last year and we haven’t replaced him. While I like the Gryba signing, he’s a third pairing guy.

    By Green’s own admission Reinhart struggled in the AHL so at best he’s 3rd pairing and and we all know where Ference, Schultz and Nikitin sit on the depth chart.

    The only Top 4 guys next year are Klefbom and Fayne. Nurse is big question mark, we need to ease his development.

    If we have any plans of being competitive next year, we desperately need a Top Pairing D and another Top 4 veteran who can fill voids and mentor our young players. The UFA market is very weak, and people need to quit dreaming. Fransson does not want to come here, and in all likelihood Sekera is going to re-sign with the Kings. Erhoff publicly said he’ll take less money to go to a contender.

    That leaves Green and Martin as the most likely options. We’re going to be competing with multiple teams for their services and it’s going to take a big overpay and too much term to get either of those guys signed.

    ChiaPete has some tough work to do and it’s going to take more than one off-season. I suspect a blockbuster trade involving one of our core players or top prospects is the only answer. Rounding out the bottom 6 and adding more 3rd pairing D-Men like we’ve done the past 9 years isn’t going to get us anywhere.

    I’m just glad MacT is not in charge…

  • O.C.

    Look here people,

    At some point in every GM career, you’re going to have to overpay for talent. I know it hard for a lot of you novices to understand that, but that’s just the way it is.

    You guys think just like you do when you’re trading or signing players of PS3 NHL game.

    It doesn’t work that way in real life. Every single winning team has Overpayed at some point… PERIOD!

    LAWS OF : supply and demand

    Do we want a puck moving, minute munching top pairing defensemen??? Just go to Kevin lowes backyard. I heard they grow on trees there??? (Sarcasm)

  • Chet.

    If Toronto ate some of DP salary he could be a great fit for oil not sure what numbers are but sure he would love to be an oiler and why not. He’s coming off a poor year in Toronto like the rest of the team but easily their best all around defender. Brings everything oil need in #1 d man is still in the middle of his prime and sticks up for teammates. Is that not what we need

    • Alsker

      What’s with the Phaneuf love affair?? 6 more years @ 7M/per. He’s a year away from being Ference(no offense to the captain). So we finally see the light at the end of that contract so lets hurry and replace it quick!!! 5 years ago sure, today, uuugh. Sorry, not trying to rag at you but too many folks keep going on about him.

    • Cowbell_Feva

      Sounds like we wanna pay a 4th line centre what a 4th line center should be paid…. Perhaps we will be welcoming back Kyle Brodziak or using Draisitle 3rd Lander 4th…

  • Not buying out Nikita and French is a massive blunder.
    Do none of you remember how atrocious these men were last year
    It is another insult to the long suffering Oiler fan to have to see these two playing next year.
    flushing them now is a statement that this defence cannot get any more chamces.
    More and more Chiarelli looks as stupid as MacTavish. Holding on to defensive garbage and failing to fundamentally address the defence.
    Oilers fans can expect another season done before October is over.
    At this point given the loss of Hamilton and the non action on buy-outs, the only salvage of the season and maybe the entire MacDavid Era is to quickly trade Hall and/or Eberle for actual first pairing defense men. Focus on OEL.
    If Chiarelli doesn’t do this the season is doomed.
    We can all enjoy two washed up bums, a ringette player in Schultz and a collection of boots end defenseman fail night after night to perform, while forwards go on being wasted.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Wow. [email protected] is getting hired as GM and President of any NHL team by the time you read this, according to him that is.

    I’m not a novice, but by no means Mike Green the answer to all the Oilers woes on the blue line.

    I will agree however that a core piece may have to be moved in order to obtain a stud.

    Not a popular decision, but I say Hall for Seth Jones straight up.