Kris Versteeg expected to sign in Bern, further reducing the UFA winger pool

Kris Versteeg is a 30-year-old right shooting winger with
two Stanley Cup rings who might have been a useful bargain signing for several
NHL teams. It appears that won’t happen, as he’s expected to sign in
Switzerland this weekend.

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Switzerland’s a solid choice for NHL’ers who strike out in
free agency.

The quality of the league itself is really rather good, good
enough to force NHL teams to keep an eye on it even in years where Auston
Matthews doesn’t play there. 500-game NHL veteran Pierre-Marc Bouchard led the
league in scoring last season, and Cory Conacher was able to use it as a
springboard to secure a one-way deal with Tampa Bay this summer.

Off the ice, it’s not only a beautiful, historic,
first-world country, but it’s also one in which a monolingual English speaker
can get around reasonably well.

Likely, Versteeg won’t be the last of this summer’s
unemployed free agents to look overseas for work. NHL signings have been
reduced to a trickle, and many teams seem to be waiting for arbitration cases
and/or the salary cap compliance deadline in the fall to trigger additional
deals. History shows some players, like Lee Stempniak last year, will stick
around and perhaps even accept a pro tryout.

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Versteeg was one of the more attractive options on the list
of possibilities, particularly since he was coming off a 15-goal, 38-point
season and can clearly still play at a major-league level.

Still, there are other players left, including people like
Radim Vrbata, Sam Gagner, Brad Boyes and Mike Santorelli. If Edmonton’s
comfortable acquiring a left shot and bumping him over to right wing, Brandon
Pirri would be a good option. Jiri Hudler’s probably the best of the lot, but
given his KHL history and recent NHL success it’s hard to imagine him signing
at a steep discount.

Adding a right wing is important for the Oilers not only
because of the uncertainty on the right side of the roster but also because of
the power play. The man advantage lacked right shots last year and it showed.
Right now the Oilers top options on that side are Jordan Eberle, Jesse
Puljujarvi and Mark Letestu.

Ideally the coaching staff would have at least one more
option. Additionally, none of those players are primary shooters, though Eberle’s
evidently working on it:

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This will be a situation worth watching over the summer.
Edmonton has the contract room, the cap space and the roster hole to be a good
fit for a bargain-bin free agent or two. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the
Oilers looked at signing one of the remaining players still on the market. 


  • Explicit

    Guess I’m in the minority, but I’m absolutely fine with Eberle, Yakupov, Pjarvi, Kassian and Pakarinen on the right side. I wouldn’t mind a right shot 3rd line centre, but another RHD would still be my priority if I was Chiarelli. I’m actually starting to like the look of the lineup for the F!ST time in a long time

      • Bonvie

        I also agree, I will admit Gagner was a bit soft on the defensive side of the game, but he is not even close to as bad as Letetsu away from the puck, and his offense trumps anything Letetsu has ever had to offer. So if he can be signed to 3rd line money I will be so thrilled to welcome back everyone’s loveable hobbit.

    • Explicit

      I liked Gagner, the guy battles hard, not sure if he’s a good fit for a third line role tho. Havnt watched him much since he was an oiler but I remember him being pretty bad defensively and not able to win draws. He’s a righty tho, I wouldn’t be completely against it

  • JimmyV1965

    Hey JW. What would be the implications of signing someone like Hudler to a 1.25 mill deal for seven years? He would make nearly $10 million guaranteed, which I doubt he gets elsewhere. You could even add in some bonuses. When it comes to the salary cap, if we send him to the minors I think we’re on the hook for only 300 K. Am I correct about that? If it doesn’t work with Hudler, it might work as an advantage when signing some other marginal guys.

      • JimmyV1965

        Guess I didn’t explain myself clearly. If we offer someone $1.25 mill a year we can send them to the minors anytime. If we send them to the minors I believe the first 975K is cap exempt. That leaves us on the hook for less than $300K in cap hit. That works out to 0.05% of our cap space. We can easily eat the cap space and it might give us an advantage when competing for marginal free agents like Hudler. You offer someone like Hudler $1.25 mill for 7 years. He’s happy to get nearly $10 mill in real money and you can dump him in the minors anytime for a $300k cap hit. Seems like win win to me. Not sure. I may be wrong about the $975K cap exemption.

        • Seanaconda

          You’re right about the cap exemption.

          But it’s probably cap circumvention plus he would have to fake an injury/get injured if he doesn’t feel like wasting a bunch of years playing in the ahl to actually get the money.

          Plus he could probably get a couple decent short term deals still either here or in Europe if he feels like it.

  • Oliveoiler

    I think the chance of Gagner coming back is slim, he was literally run out of town and Kassian is an Oiler – I’d like to see him settled somewhere, but I doubt Edmonton is the destination. Pirri might be better. Off subject but Wisniewski would be an awesome fit on RD

  • BlueHairedApe

    Gagne centering a line with Kassian? Or even on the same team would be a real stretch. Gagne doesn’t fit into Chia’s mold especially on the bottom six. Not that Letestu does either necessarily but all I remember about Gagne was while he definitely had some heart he was also too easy to bump off the puck, sucked defensively, and couldn’t win a draw to save his life. He has some skating and stick handling that showed up sporadically as well as a scoring touch but in my mind was way too inconsistent to be relied upon. At the very least Letestu can win some draws and if everything goes right injury wise he will be on the 4th line anyways.

  • IRONman

    Bring back Stoll.

    Why? Face offs. And 2 cups ??

    He should not have been traded

    Ebs is 30 goals with McDavid

    Puljujarvi is WOW!!!!!

    Can’t wait till preseason.

    New area looks Sweet

  • Hockeyfan

    hey everyone! Got some jokes for you. Hope you like them.

    Q: What do the Edmonton Oilers and the Titanic have in common? A: They both look good until they hit the ice!

    Q: What’s the difference between Frequent Flyer Miles and the Edmonton Oilers? A: Frequent Flyer Miles earn points.

    Q: Why did the Oilers enforcer retire early? A: He was ice fishing and got run over by the zamboni!

    Q: Why are the Oilers like grizzly bears? A: Every fall they go into hibernation.

    Q: What do college students and the Oilers have in common? A: They’ve both finished their year by April.

    Q: What’s blue and orange and goes down the toilet faster than Liquid Plumber? A: The Edmonton Oilers

    I hope you enjoyed those. All in fun, have a nice weekend.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Jiri Hudler is a very underrated player. The guy has a lot of offense. I highly doubt he would take small $$ to play with the Oilers, but he would instantly make our PP better and add another veteran presence in the locker room.

    Still had one of my favourite acceptance speeches at the NHL awards a few years back with no shoes on.

    However, the problem still lies on the offensive 2nd pair Right shot Dman position. God I hope we can acquire Tyson Barrie.

    James Wisniewski is not the answer.

  • madjam

    Why bring any ex Oiler back ? Consider this : the problem has always been management over last 10 years and coaching along side of it , and no players have advanced as they might have elsewhere . You get tired of blaming the players . Chia and Todd managed to take a phenom in McDavid and bring team to 29th spot despite all the other young talent we had . Think about it – that is disgusting . New management and coaching is same as old when it comes to results . You don’t stay in bottom of league with decent players all these years . The only thing becoming more unpredictable is when they will ever get a team to perform at a respectful level again , as it does not appear so again this year . Oilers should rename our franchise Status Quo .

    Ticked today , seeing as I can get excited each year with new players coming in , but management and coaching always failing to make them a decent club . We have a new generational talent ( yes, another one) in Puljujarvi with speed ,IQ, size and skill to match McDavid . The two of them bring a speed and skill game unequalled in the NHL ( as per D.Staples) , and I wonder how they are going to mishandle/bungle that .

    Still can get excited about the players , but not sold on management or coaching making a positive difference , as they have been the ones keeping us in the cellar all these years . Poor management poor results go hand in hand .

      • madjam

        Well lets look at how Pitt. has done before and after Crosby arrived and how their team faired over last 25 years or specifically over last ten in comparison to Oilers .

        Pitt. 1991-92 – two Stanley cups . 1993- 2002 – 9 years in playoffs . 2002-06 – only 4 years out of playoffs compared to our 10 . 2006 till now , two more Stanley cups and 10 years in playoffs . Now do you realize how bad management and coaching have been here beyond the players ? Fans don’t have say in players they bring in . If they don’t reach their potentials then that is on management and coaching . Rediculous to always blame the players for ten years of futility . Just how did we fair with all our top draft choices over last 10 seasons and specifically last season ? The players are reason for optimism , not management or coaching so far , and a lot are still in the management fold in one form or another .

        • Seanaconda

          Only 4 years out of the playoffs but they got malkin letang fleury crosby and staal in those 4 years.

          We didn’t really go full tank till hall got some weaker drafts didn’t have an elite dman fall to us from the second round.

          But specifically last season is pretty comparable to the crosby first season even tho we have sucked for longer. Hopefully next year we see some improvement tho