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Photo Credit: Twitter.com/EdmontonOilers

The Oilers and their UFAs

As we head into the offseason, most of the talk will be centered around trade rumours and the Oilers important RFA’s. While the three players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on July 1st won’t get much attention, they could all provide cheap roster depth. The decisions that Peter Chiarelli makes with them are still very important ones and will impact the organizations’ offseason plans.

While all three could be good depth players, all three could just as easily be allowed to walk come July 1st. Here are my cases for and against bringing back the likes of Ty Rattie, Mike Cammalleri, and Yohann Auvitu.

TY RATTIE

FOR: All you need to do is look at how Ty Rattie is clicking with Connor McDavid. They’ve played five games together, a total of 67 minutes, and during that time they’ve outscored their opposition 9-2.

Over that span, Rattie has six points and has used his speed and natural offensive instincts to fit right in with the team’s top unit.

The fact that he’d likely cost less than $1million makes it very likely that the team would want to bring him back.

AGAINST: How likely is it that Rattie is a long-term fit on Connor McDavid’s wing? He’s on his third NHL organization and has never played more than 15 games in an NHL season.

There’s a chance that the Oilers look at him as more of a bottom-six or call up level player and in that case, they already have Zack Kassian, Pontus Aberg, Jujhar Khaira and Brad Malone signed for next year. RFA’s Drake Caggiula, Iiro Pakarinen and Anton Slepyshev could also be brought back.

If the organization thinks the recent success with Connor McDavid is an anomaly, then they could let the 25-year-old walk.

MIKE CAMMALLERI

FOR: Cammalleri is a smart veteran winger who can slide up and down the Oilers lineup. I can see every NHL team seeing value in that. He’s the type of guy who can go from being a healthy scratch to adequately playing minutes in a teams middle six.

If you count the time he spent with the LA Kings, he’s produced 1.82 points/60, which puts him 5th amongst Oilers who have played over 500 minutes. He’s been a fairly efficient offensive player.

On top of that, he would come cheap. If the team doesn’t think Ty Rattie is a consistent NHL player, they could look at bringing back the 35-year-old Cammalleri as a reliable 13th forward.

AGAINST: He’s only scored twice in 47 games this year, that stat alone would be enough to convince some that he’s no longer a productive NHL player.

For a role player, he doesn’t kill penalties well and he doesn’t do much to help a teams powerplay. He’s really just a 5v5 player and I could see the Oilers deciding to bring back a guy like Iiro Pakarinen over him.

Last summer we saw Cammalleri take a one year deal with the LA Kings presumably because he thought it would be a fit and he wanted to go back to living in Los Angeles. Things didn’t really work out.

I wonder if he would rather go to a team that would offer him a bigger role than the Oilers could. A team that would give him a better chance of being an everyday offensive weapon.

YOHANN AUVITU

FOR: I think Auvitu has been a fine seventh defenseman for the Oilers. When he’s on the ice, good things happen. Matt Henderson did a great job in explaining it earlier in the week.

Like the other two players I mentioned, he’d be dirt cheap. He’s also versatile with his ability to jump up and play forward if needed. Having Auvitu as the last man on your roster is actually smart given how he can fill in wherever needed.

There could be a lot of movement on the Oilers back-end this offseason but bringing back Auvitu as a cheap insurance plan could be a smart play.

AGAINST: The Oilers have six NHL calibre d-men with Nurse, Klefbom, Larson, Sekera, Russell, and Benning. That last spot could be occupied by Eric Gryba next year or it could be given to Ethan Bear who has been impressive in his first stint in the NHL.

The Oilers will likely be close to the NHL’s contract limit once again, so does it make sense for the team to bring back a player like Auvitu when there are two potential better options already signed? That could be enough for the Oilers to pass on Auvitu.

D-men like Auvitu aren’t tough to replace either. He doesn’t do well in his own end and if the team wanted to dip into the UFA market they could get a similar or better player for cheap.

MY OPINION

After trying to look at both sides of the coin for each of the Oilers three UFA’s, I really only believe the team will bring back one

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Ty Rattie get a two-year, one-way deal and be given a chance to crack the lineup out of camp next season. Even if he regresses, he would likely clear waivers and could help out Bakersfield in the AHL.

As for Cammalleri, I don’t know if he’ll even be in the NHL next season. I have no problems with him and I do believe he’s a consistent veteran forward. If the Oilers brought him back, I wouldn’t be upset. But looking at a team that could bring back the likes of Drake Caggiula, Iiro Pakarinen, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev, Ty Rattie and Brad Malone, I just don’t think there’s room for Cammalleri and I don’t think he’ll come back to a team that won’t promise him a roster spot.

Then there’s Auvitu, he produces well and I like watching him play. His versatility is certainly an asset as well. In the end, I think he’s the type of d-man that scares coaches. He takes too many chances and just doesn’t play with a lot of structure. Considering that, I think the Oilers could look for a more reliable and steady option on the free agent market to fill out their roster.



  • GreasyOilChef

    “That last spot could be occupied by Eric Gryba next year or it could be given to Ethan Bear who has been impressive in his first stint in the NHL.”

    Gryba doesn’t even need to be mentioned here…The NHL is only getting faster and Gryba is only getting slower…NO…..

    Ethan Bear needs to play a full season at Bakersfield to further his development. I’d like to see him play top pairing minutes, run the powerplay, and score 50+pts while improving his play without the puck in the defensive zone. Cammalleri is past it and the only thing he’s accomplishing is taking ice time away from players that figure into our future plans. Rattie and Auvitu I would resign given how cheap they are but I wouldn’t expect too much next year.

    • Natejax97

      Agreed on all accounts. Rattie just might give Yamamoto a year in Bakersfield as well.

      Whatever they do I hope this merry go round of line combinations ends and they get lines set and roll them for a long duration.

      I really like McDavid-Nuge, and Aberg’s speed seems to work well with Draisaitl, and that third line with Lucic Strome and Puljijarvi is nice to watch and IMHO is worth a 20 game look for sure to start the year. So a 1R and a 2L and maybe we have the pieces with Rattie, Sleppy, Caggulia, et al to make it work. This would be great as we could then spend to find that RH D-man we seem to need.

      What if Bear was a third pairing, Power Play D-man next year? Would that work? Justin Shultz 2.0 but done right.

    • crabman

      I agree Bear would probably benifit from a year with the Condors playing big minutes and working on the defensive side of his game. But I think a 50+ point season is pretty lofty expectations. There isn’t a 50 point guy in Barkersfield this year, let alone a defensman. And there are only 23 players in the entire AHL.with 50 points and 1 is a defensman.
      I would think he had a great season if he got 12-15 goals and 35-40 points. But as long as he gets lots of minutes and improves defensively I will be happy. He has great offensive instincts and as long as he improves in his own end he should be an NHL regular in the near future.

    • Leo Tard

      I take exception to bringin* back Matt Benning. Most nights this player is an average AHLer. Some nights he is good enough to fill a 6th or 7th role. He is an RFA and if his ask is more than 1.5 M per year I let him walk. Not sure where the money will come from if we sign any (other than Rattie. He has earned a chance to see more of him next season)
      of the players mentioned in this article.

      • crabman

        @Leo Tard, I’d be more than happy to have Benning back in a 6-7 spot but I agree more than $1.5M would be more than I would like to pay. The Oilers need a top 4 RHD and I don’t want that player to be Benning. But I don’t get the Benning hate. 19 points and plus 8 on a team that is well in the minus is a quality bottom pair defender.

      • Big Nuggets

        I think we keep him and sign another cheap option like Seidenberg or someone, so Benning has to earn his playing time and we can try to develop his game without too much pressurr. He is young enough that he should have room to improve.

        • crabman

          @Big Nuggets, Seidenberg is a soon to be 37 year old LHD that has only played 24 games this year. He isn’t going to push Benning, or any other Oiler. Signing him would be like standing pat with our top 6 D. I wouldn’t even sign him as a depth player at this point in his career.

          • Big Nuggets

            I thought he was a righty. and I heard he played well with the Islanders when he was in the line-up. who cares if he is 37, thats why he would sign a one year contract. Also Seidenberg was an example of a depth guy to sign for 1 season to buy time for Bear and Benning. I basically am saying stand pat on our defense because trading Klef is dumb. You’re not going to get an equal player or equal contract that plays on the roght side for klefbom so stop with the wishful thinking. The players I would trade from the defense have NTC’s, so for now I say we wait. Not saying we have the ideal defense but forcing a trade has not worked. Even with standing pat we should be better, assuming Klef and Sek can heal up.

  • OilersBro

    If I’m Rattie I’m signing with the Oilers for pretty much anything at this point. He’s been trying to crack a roster for years and now he’s being gifted minutes with 2 of the best passers in the world. His options are either try to become a 4th line player on another team and stay in the league by scoring 25 points or become a 1st liner with expectations to score 55 points.It’s a no brainer as to what the best option for his career is

  • toprightcorner

    Rattie is a no brainer, I would sign him to a 3 year, one way deal, for $650k. Its more than he has ever made in a season, It gives him security and if he doesn’t pan out, he is still a good AHL player where you can hide his salary. If he turns out his last few games are legit and he can hang with McDavid or even Draisaitl, you hit a home run with one of the best signings in the NHL. No risk and loads of reward for signing longer term.

    No to Cammalleri

    I absolutely resign Auvitu to the same contract. You cannot replace his skillset for the same price. He really knows what to do with the puck and that is something the Oilers need. He can play 3rd pairing and he has improved the more games he has played. I would take a 7th dman that was a good skater with good transition over a big slow defensive minded player any day of the week.

  • bwar

    I’d sign Rattie, give him a shot. He’s been good so far with McDavid and should be a cheap contract.

    Cammalleri, I’d wait and see what is available in free agency. Would be nice to have a veteran winger somewhere on the 2nd or 3rd line but doesn’t have ot be Cammalleri.

    I think Auvitu is a no. We do have Defensive prospects and Bear has been getting a long look to end the year. I expect him to be on the first unit powerplay at the start of next season. That leaves us with Sekera, Russell, Klefbom, Larsson, Nurse and Benning as the other six defensemen. Does that mean possible competition for roster spots on the back end?

    • Leo Tard

      Big mistake to put Bear in the NHL next year. This player needs minimum 50 more AHL games. He has too much to learn. Stop pushing guys straight into the bigs. He’s not ready. Period. Sheesh, can you let a player develop for more than a minute? It serves zero purpose to put this guy in the bigs.

      • Snoop Scottie Dogg

        100% correct. Bears offensive instincts are good but his defending needs a lot of work. Watching him and KR pinned in their own end every second shift is proof enough. Resist the urge Chia; a full season in the Bake is a minimum.

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    I mentioned this in another thread.
    Ty Rattie: The guy was a 1st line producer at every sub-NHL level of hockey (~2pts/game in junior and good AHL numbers with the Wolves). Then the Blues got hold of him. They gave him <10mins a night on the 4th line the few games he did play… My point is you don't get a guy with proven offensive skills and instincts and deploy him as a plumber/grinder. If the Oilers sign Rattie, which I believe should happen, he must be used appropriately. Effective player usage can be as important as the player himself. In Rattie's case, an offensive role with offensive-minded, skilled players. If he doesn't fit long-term he can be demoted, waived, traded, etc. Starting Rattie in a bottom 6 role will likely yield similar results as the Blues observed. The only exception is if Rattie could find chemistry with mid-skilled bottom 6 guys and help elevate a 3rd/4th line to be a legitimate scoring threat. At this point, TM has tried just about everyone on McDavid's RW. Rattie is the best since Eberle (not including Leon), albeit in a very small sample size. My gut feeling is that the Oilers found a top-6 RW for next to nothing. I also like Rattie's compete level.

    Imagine this, the Oilers could have 10+ players (cheap ones) vying for 4 RW and 2 LW spots next preseason.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Double faux pas… Replying to my own post (faux pas #2) because I accidentally cheers’ed my own post (faux pas #1) instead of Coldbeer’s right above mine. Typical Monday ineptitude.

    • fasteddy

      This reminds me of story from a player I won’t name; gets a few callups over a few year period, the team he’s with puts him out with two heavyweights for 6 min a night, then send him down for not producing! Eventually gets moved, is given a great opportunity, and becomes a border line hof’er…..opportunity/usage goes a long way toward players being able to show their wares

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Ty Rattie has great hockey smarts and puck presence. He know where to go to find open spots. Adds skill to the lineup.
    Results, look how well the team has played since Kassian has been out and the Big L has been on the 3rd line.

    • Kepler62c

      Disagree with the Kassian part, he’s good on the PK, knows his role, and personally I think they should give him an extended look on McDavid’s wing (Leave Rattie there right now!) because he is stupid fast for a big guy and is also decently skilled. Nuge – McDavid – Kassian, could be a real nice mix!

  • Kepler62c

    Rattie for sure – Worth noting, your companion “NHL Numbers” site has Rattie listed as RFA.

    Auvitu, I like what he brings but wouldn’t be upset if they move on.

    Cammaleri has been ok, but for the reasons you mentioned, I don’t see a fit for next season.

  • Mr.Snrub

    You forgot about Keegan Lowe, seems like a solid AHL depth defenseman so watch for the Oil to gift him a 3 year $1million per deal before they handle any of these other UFA’s.

  • Arfguy

    I’d sign Rattie to the kind of contract that Jonathan Marchessault signed with Florida before he blew up. 3 years for about $2.8 million, for an AAV of about $900K. I like what he’s doing, but if he wants more than that, I’d let him walk.

    I am really surprised that they haven’t been using Auvitu more. There was absolutely no reason to re-activate Sekera, given he looks like he’s hobbled. Auvitu plays a risky game, but this team is so starved for a defenceman that can skate that it would have been smarter to play him more.

    • Leo Tard

      Sekera is only barely a small shadow of the player he was before the injury. Shades of Ryan Whitney. I hope he has a good summer, but if not Chiarelli had better find some form of cover in case he does not recover. If the teams defence looks the same in the fall, we do not make the playoffs. There needs to be cover for several players on the defence. In my mind, this team only has 4 NHL ready dmen for next season. Nurse, Larsson, Russel and Klefbom (assuming Klefbom recovers completely). That leaves 3 holes. If you pencil in Benning as 5, Sekera at 6, this team will not make the playoffs. Somethin* needs to be added. ETHAN BEAR IS NOT READY YET.

  • Big Nuggets

    I would sign Rattie, maybe cheap 2 year contract and let him fight for a spot in the line-up. Don’t trade Klef and hope Sekera rebounds, because I don’t think it will be possible to win trades with the seasons they just had. Perhaps add a depth defensman, Seidenberg is a RHD (I think) and is German so he and Drai can swap stories of their homeland. Or another cheap depth option, this will keep Bear in the AHL and make Benning earn his ice time.
    The rest of the cap space I would spend on a scoring winger, maybe Grabner if he isn’t too expensive, or Kovalchuk if he will sign short term. Otherwise I don’t like the idea of making too many changes. Our only trading chips are players I want to keep, and the players I would trade have NTC’s. Maybe I’m just scared of Chia making the decisions but this offseason I think we need to keep the roster moves to a minimum.

    • crabman

      At this point I think Sekera is a much better bet than Seidenberg. Seidenberg is a LHD turning 37 this summer and only played 24 games this season. He is the exact player the Oilers need to avoid at all costs. Sekera was a steady top 4 before his injury. Amost all experts warned it would be 6-9 months before he could play but he wouldn’t be up to speed for a full year. To judge him for how he has played on a bad Oiler team after coming of major knee surgery and jumping in mid season is going to paint the picture of a bad defensman. I fully expect him to come back after a summer of training ready to play and able to fill a top 4 spot. If Nurse and Klefbom are both back and beat him out for the top 2 LHD spots Sekera will be an overpaid but fantastic #5.

      • Big Nuggets

        I was suggesting Seidenberg as a 7th defensman that can compete with Benning for ice time. But I thought Seidenberg was a RHD so my mistake.
        If we could find a grizzled vet that can still compete and would sign a 1 year deal, that is basically what I get. Is Beauchemin (?) a righty?

  • RJ

    I think if you were going to sign Auvitu (a mostly offensive defenceman), then they should use him in offensive situations, like the PP. But that’s too much common sense perhaps.

    Rattie, I’d see how he manages over the rest of the season, but I’m also keeping an eye on other RWs that could play beside McDavid. He’s an August signing at best.

    Cammellari I say thanks but no thanks. This is a young man’s league and it makes no sense to keep a player like him. If he’s putting up Vanek-like numbers 20+ goals, 50 points so far), then yeah you re-sign him. Not a 35 year old vet with 5 goals and 27 points and no elite PK/PP ability.

    • OilersBro

      Mike should only be resigned if its september, and we still have a gap on the 4LW. If you look at points per game, Cammellari is exactly where he should be at that age, is well liked in the locker room, and can play power play minutes. However, he is a short term solution. There’s no point to re signing mike if it’s early in the off-season and we haven’t tried to pursue several other options

      • Beer_League_Ringer

        I like the idea of having a true NHL veteran with a very good reputation for work ethic in the room, at practice, etc. Remember how much Hendricks meant to the young players? I know Cammy isn’t Hendricks or Smyth, but if he signs 1 year/cheap, earns a spot, and embraces his diminishing on-ice role and accepts a practice/gym/off-ice/mentoring-type role, I am all for it.

  • russ99a

    I’d also bring back Auvitu and Rattie, but dump some of the RFAs, keeping Nurse and Strome. It was a big mistake assuming many of those players could come in and handle larger roles, and it would be compounding that by signing them to higher than $1M contracts.

  • TKB2677

    Sign Rattie to a contract that was suggested above. I would go short term, not a lot of money. If it takes him having a one way, give him the one way. Given he hasn’t stuck with anyone before this and spent most of the year in the AHL, I don’t see how he has much leverage. Tell him if he can prove he can produce, the money is coming. If I was him, I would sign a 1 yr show me deal with the Oilers.

    Cammalleri can walk. Too old, doesn’t bring much. You can find a younger Cammalleri late in free agency if you want some depth. Since he has been hurt or just scratch the last 5 or 6 games, the team has been way better.

    Auvitu, I don’t see how they even have room to bring him back. When everyone is healthy, they have:
    Klefbom, Larsson, Russell, Sekera, Nurse, Benning all ahead of him. Then you have Bear who is turning heads and getting a long look so you have to think he will factor in next year. So there is 7 guys. Even if they swap out one of the first 6 I listed, I don’t see Auvitu climbing ahead of anyone and that still leaves Bear. He can do some things good but you have to hide your eyes in the defensive zone. Plus he’s left handed.

  • Greatgooglymoogly

    I think they need to sign Rattie, as a junior he was an elite scorer, and you don’t always just lose that. It is possible that teams other than the Oilers mismanaged players, and i believe Rattie is one. Besides, we need all the contract deals we can get.