This season, the Oilers enter the season with just over $8 million in salary cap space, with $5.475 million of that being held as a bonus cushion thus leaving Peter Chiarelli and co. with $2.486 million to work with. What would you do with two and a half mil?
NHL Numbers says…
As the Oilers enter the 2016 season, the team currently has 14 forwards under contract at the NHL level with some tough decisions to make prior to the 2017 season. While key players like Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic and Benoit Pouliot are locked up for at least another three seasons, it is the bottom half of the list that beings to become interesting.
Looking forward, the big players that need to be signed in the next two years are Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Largely dependant on his performance this upcoming year, Leon Draisaitl is well due for a raise.
Is it possible the team signs him long term? It’s possible for sure. The Oilers have long needed a large center with the prowess he brings. Now that he will be away from Taylor Hall for the season, and the rest of his career, it will be interesting to see what kind of a player the Oilers have in Draisaitl. Come next offseason, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Draisaitl signing a bridge contract.
Connor McDavid on the other hand, will be due to get a huge, huge deal. If his career projects the way it looks like it could, he could very well be in 90-100 point territory by the time his entry level contract is up. Peter Chiarelli and co. will be tasked with putting their thinking caps on when it comes to his next deal. Would $8 million be enough to get him signed long term? One would hope so.
Both Nail Yakupov and Zack Kassian will be due for new deals when this season is up and as with Leon Draisaitl, their next contracts are largely dependant on this upcoming season.
Kassian seems to have found a rekindled love for the game and could be due for a breakout season this year however, Kassian is most likely to settle into a bottom-six role as long as he is an Edmonton Oiler.
Yakupov needs to set up and have a big season this year, or he could find himself playing for a new team as late as the NHL’s trade deadline.
When I say D, you say fence!
With work still to be done on the defensive corps, the Oilers are in an interesting position moving forward. Right now, Andrej Sejera ($5.5 cap) is the only Oilers defender making over $5 million a year. Let’s hope that the now 30-year old Sekera can find the fountain of youth and still be effective three or four years from now when he is reaching his last years of his contract.
Outside of that, the Oilers have great contracts in Swede’s Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson who both only account for $4.167 against the cap.
Next offseason, Griffin Reinhart is due for a refresher on his contract as he finished his entry level deal. Without much pedigree under his belt, he needs to have a big season at either the NHL, or the AHL.
Darnell Nurse and Brandon Davidson both are due for new deals two season from now. As with Reinhart, both still have lots to prove when it comes to their NHL value.
Of the three, Davidson has shown the most thus far when it comes to playing a strong 200-foot game. Nurse still has lots to work on, but both he and Davidson project to be top-four defenceman in the future.
In the net
Jonas Gustavsson was brought in simply as a backup, and Laurent Brossoit could very well challenge him for that spot this season. Despite his poor statistical performances, some were pleasantly surprised with Brossoit as a goaltender. He has the chance to take the reins as a future starting goaltender if he chooses to do so.
In the meantime, Cam Talbot is a rock for the Oilers in the crease and is our best goaltender since Dwayne Roloson 10 years ago.
BUT WHY WON’T CHIARELLI DO SOMETHING?
I know, I know. Chiarelli has seemed to have sat on his hands and opted to make a questionable deal moving Hall for Larsson. No matter how you try and boil it down, he removed a piece from a position of strength and added at a position of weakness. While I am still not sold on the deal, Larsson is going to be a fine defenceman for the Oilers moving forward.
When we look at the $2.5 million the Oilers truly have to play with, the options are limited for the team.
It is of a personal belief that the Oilers will likely sit on their hands before the season starts, but there is always the off-chance the team signs a player (or few) to Professional Try Outs. Maybe one of those guys to a one-year deal.
Are you concerned about the way the Oilers salary cap is lining up for the future?