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.
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.
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.
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.
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.