Can the Oilers squeeze in a UFA?

Looking at what the Oilers currently have on their roster, I see the need for three additions this summer: a top-six winger, a solid offensive defenseman, and a depth centre.

The offensive d-man would likely have to be acquired via trade (unless it’s Mike Green), while the depth centre can likely be a low-end free agent signing, but what about the top-six winger? That could be interesting.

The reason I think they need to find a winger is simple, Todd McLellan is a coach who likes to establish pairs. Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are a legitimate top line duo, but the team really doesn’t have a proven option to run with Leon Draisaitl.

Dustin Nielson covered that topic earlier in the week, and in my opinion, there isn’t a bonafide in hour option to put next to #29. Sure, they could use Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujarvi, or one of the other names Dustin laid out, but I think they need to add another proven option to their top six.

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The team also doesn’t have a lot of assets to make a trade and if they do use assets to swing a deal for a defenseman this summer, the only way they could probably get a top-six winger is to take a dip into the free agent pool.

The idea of signing a higher end free agent scares a lot of Oilers’ fans, and it should. Milan Lucic, Andrej Sekera, and Kris Russell are the last three big free agents the organization signed, and now those are three of their worst contracts.

Even if their past is ugly, the team shouldn’t ignore the chance to sign a free agent winger if the right opportunity arises.

Here are some UFA winger options:

David Perron: Coming off a 66 point season with Vegas, but not sure if he would be open to another stint in Edmonton.

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Thomas Vanek: Had a decent run with Columbus, is a proven scorer and will be a cheaper option.

James van Riemsdyk: With Kane signed, he might be the most sought after FA option, will likely be too rich for the Oilers blood.

Paul Stastny: Could take faceoffs and help Draisaitl, has playoff experience. Might stick in Winnipeg though.

James Neal:  Six straight 20 goal seasons. Unsure of cost, but I think he would be a perfect fit.

Patrick Maroon: No doubt he would be interested in coming back. He can score, but I wouldn’t mind the Oilers opting for someone with more speed.

Rick Nash:  Is a proven scorer, has great touch around the net, but his foot speed worries me as well. Unsure of how much he’ll ask for.

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Michael Grabner: Very speedy, think he would be a great addition and shouldn’t cost too much.

The price range of the above options really ranges. I think Thomas Vanek would be on the lower end of the above list at around $2.5 million a season, while the high-end would James Van Riemsdyk who should easily top $6 million a season. The rest likely fall in between those numbers.

Right now, the Oilers have approximately $11 million in cap space (assuming Montoya is dealt or sent down to Bakersfield) with 15 players under contract, so if Peter Chiarelli decides to grab a UFA winger, how much money could he spend? That depends on a few factors:

  • Darnell Nurse: If the Oilers decide to bridge Darnell Nurse, he might cost between $2.5 and $3 million on a short-term deal. If they go long-term, it could cost anywhere from $4.0 to $5.0 million. That extra cash will make a big difference.
  • Moving out money:  I covered this earlier in the week, but if the Oilers can find a way to dump a big contract, they can likely bring one right back in.
  • Cap moving up: Like I said, the Oilers have about $11 million in space right now. The cap will be going up, it’s just a matter of how much. I’ve heard anywhere from $3 to $7 million, which is obviously a huge difference.
  • Other moves: How much do Strome/Benning get? Do they move Kassian? Do they land a big name d-man? All of those will affect their strategy in free agency.

My rough estimate is the Oilers could realistically sign all of their RFA’s and again, depending on how much the cap increases, have anywhere from $2.5-6.5 million to sign a free agent winger. They’ll need to have some money available to sign some depth as well.

Out of the eight names I listed above, I believe that James Van Riemsdyk and Paul Stastny will be out of their price range. That leaves six possible targets that I believe the Oilers could fit into their complex cap situation.

Let’s say the Oilers go ahead and add a $4-5.5 million winger on a 3-4 year deal this July. Here are the pros and cons I have thought of:

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  • The team has a chance to add a top-six winger without giving up any picks, prospects, or roster players. They could also save the few assets they do have for a potential trade for a defenseman.
  • The window for this team to win is now and they need a winger in my opinion. Bringing in someone to contribute immediately is important and there are free agent options that could no doubt come in and score 20-25 goals.


  • They already have some bad signings that have handcuffed them, they can’t afford another one.
  • Most free agents will be looking for more than a two-year deal, and if the Oilers give that, it could hinder their ability to sign Jesse Puljujarvi or Kailer Yamamoto once their ELC’s are done.

This will be a polarizing topic. Some will say that the team should air on the side of caution and maybe sign a player like Thomas Vanek, while others will see the appeal to players like James Neal or David Perron and be okay with the team handing out another big dollar free agent deal.

No matter what Peter Chiarelli decides, there will be a risk involved. Either he signs an impact winger and risks handcuffing the team down the road, or he makes a smaller bet and leaves the chance that the Oilers get another less than impressive year from their current group of wingers.

Either choice could lead to Chiarelli either saving his job, or driving the final nail into his own coffin.

  • SailorD81

    Grabner or Vanek could be solid additions. Rumors out of Pittsburg that Kessel is available. What would the cost be? Proven goal scorer with tons of experience. Kessel on the PP with McJesus would be amazing.

      • toprightcorner

        Because 90 pt players can be traded for over paid anchors and a 10% chance of an NHL regular??? That trade will me a min of Nurse or Klefbom plus the 10th pick and a prospect. Oilers should not be sniffing in that direction.

        • Rock11

          they can be if you are trying to save cap dollars to make a play for Tavares. Also Kessel seems to wear out his welcome wherever he plays. Looks to have about a 3 year shelf life before teams want to move him out.

        • SailorD81

          Not saying they should/will go after Phil the Thrill. Just saying, if a 90pts proven goal scorer gets put on the trade block carrying what is now considered a reasonable contract at 6.8 for 4 more years PC has to at least make the call and see what’s being asked for in return. From what I’ve read it seems as though PK has fallen out of favour with the coaching staff in Pits.

          • tealyn

            Pretty sure it wouldn’t take long for him to fall out of favour here also, actually, I wonder if there is a team in the league that Kessel would drop his ego for, none probably. He would be a cancer on the team.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Is Pouliots buyout part of that almost 11mil in cap space? As much as I didn’t like Pouliot, I hated his buyout more.

    Id take a flyer on either Grabner or Vanek, if they’d even want to sign here for the short term, either one push’s Yamomoto down the depth chart. The kid needs to develop for at least one more year before playing full time with the Oilers.

    I like Russell but hopefully he waves his NM and Pete can trade him, even with a mil retained.

    It’s going to be an interesting summer.

      • toprightcorner

        Next year Sekera and Russel each have to give 10 – 15 teams they can be traded to. If they wave this year, they could probably give a choice of about 5 teams they woould wave for and that gives them more control over where they would end up. Being moved 1 year early and having a lot more control of the destination is a viable option.

      • oilerjed

        Its not just Chia. NMC are almost automatic for veteran contracts. Gives them a sense of security and control over where they move. If they are offered a desirable outcome they will waive their NMC’s. none of them have been here long enough to be very attached to Etown

  • Carbonrod

    I didn’t see anything about the Oilers play last year to make me think that the window for us to win is open now so I don’t think signing a big money UFA would help us as much as we would hope. Our prospect system is still weak and our depth on forward needs to improve and our D is still a big question mark, we just aren’t set up to be Stanley Cup contenders for another couple years. I would be all for Vanek or Grabner on short term deals without nmc to push guys like Yamamoto and Benning down the depth charts and keep them in the AHL where they can focus on developing. I could see Grabner having another 25+ goal season playing by Mcdavid or Drai. Then we could move Rattie down to the bottom 6 where he would be a better fit.

    Our system is just starting to get prospects coming in. We’ve had too many players on the Oilers that should have spent time in the AHL (Slep, Cag, Benning) and the free agents we sign should be targeted to allow us to develop the young players at a sane pace.

    • Rock11

      Rattie is not a better fit in the bottom 6. His skill set is top 6 scorer or AHL. not sure he’s good enough to play top 6 but I know he doesn’t have the speed or physicality or D acumen for a bottom 6 role.

      • Carbonrod

        True, I just don’t think Rattie is good enough to be pencilled in on the first or second line like I see in all these projections. I saw a guy who was riding the McNuge to a solid showing over a very short time but I could see him fizzling out. Just wish we had a better option for the top lines.

  • IceMan11

    If Kessel is so good, why is a perennial Cup contender letting him go??
    Would rather see us go after a speedy Grabner. I know he’s streaky, but still, isn’t it speed AND Goals that we’re looking for?
    Also, a definite NO to Perron!

  • Cambridge

    You say “the window for this team to win is now”. This expression is usually used to describe a team with an aging core of players that has one more shot at winning. The key seven or eight Oilers are all in their mid-twenties or younger. As a group they are liable to have a few shots at winning over the next decade, depending on the quality of the supporting cast. What is needed is long term thinking, not save-the-GM’s-job thinking.

    • Leichs

      Yeahh not sure why so many people throw that around so much. “Our window is now”. Connor is like 21. Jesse isn’t even 20 lol. I see Crosby throwing the cup over his head at almost 30. As long as we have Connor, every year is our window.

    • oilerjed

      The window to win is just opening. We have Dmen that are ready for the bigtime, just need an addition. Or forward core is a bit young but add in a veteran scoring winger and let the younger guys simmer. Oh yeah, there is also McDavid. For me, long term thinking is adding the few pieces needed to make this team competitive NOW, while the prospects mature down in Bakersville and are ready to reload the team two years from now. This would be the makings of longterm success not a GM saving his job.

  • TruthHurts98

    There is no cap space. None. So no UFA’s because PC would grossly overpay anyways. Nurse and Benning will eat up the rest of the space since PC is still here.

  • oilfan4ever

    Tyler,you seem to imply that it is Peter’s fault that we are now stuck with Sekera’s contract. Until his injury he was probably our best d man and judging by his play in the worlds, I believe this will be a comeback season for him. Fingers crossed.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Unlike many, I don’t believe Looch has fallen off the career cliff and expect him to be better next season. However, a cup contending team might be open to bringing him aboard at the trade deadline with 2mil retained by the Oilers. Contingent of course on him waiving his NMC. For now the Oilers are stuck with hoping Looch returns to form: 40-50pts and a menace to opponents physical and psychological well-being. I’m not sure half a season, albeit a tremendously bad one, is what fans should expect going forward.

      • crabman

        I am skeptical Lucic will ever be a 50 point player again. He has had 2 poor 5×5 scoring seasons in a row and historically isn’t a good pp player. Lucic normally only gets 17.5% of his points on the pp. 2 years ago he had a career high of 50% pp points with 25 and only 25 5×5 points. last year he only had 27 5×5 points and closer to his career average pp points with 7 (career ave pp points before Oilers 7.44). I think at this point it is more likely Lucic is a 35-45 point player than 50+. I personally would be very happy if he could put up a 45pt season next year. Still not worth $6M but much better than 34 points this year.

        • Big Nuggets

          If Lucic can put up 45 point on the 3rd line that is fine. Not worth 6 million but what can you do. I just hope they don’t gift him all the prime icetime in hopes he will find his game.

        • Kneedroptalbot

          Folks, he can’t keep up with the speed of todays NHL and isn’t getting any faster.
          He does his best work in front of the net on the PP. Power play specialist.

          • crabman


            go check out his career starts. He is a bellow average pp player. In his 9 years before coming to the Oilers he averaged 7.44pp points/year. What kind of pp specialist is that. He scored 17% of his points on the pp. top pp players score around 30% and pp specialists score even more. Before Lucic came to the Oilers he had 67 pp points over 9 seasons and 330 5×5 points averaging just under 37/year. The only season he was a big pp scorer was last year where he scored 25 pp points which was 50% of his total points. He was back to just 7 pp points again this year but only scored 27 points 5×5 hence his very poor season.
            before last years 25 OP points he only scored more than 10 pp points 3 times out of 9 seasons. 14, 11, 11 and those years he scored 62, 61, 59 point seasons. Lucic isn’t a pp specialist and never was save for last years anomaly.

    • toprightcorner

      Chiarelli isn’t going to give up on Lucic after 1 bad year. Also, if you retain $2 mill, a $4 mill replacement is basically costing the team $6 mill anyway. Lucic will bounce back enough next season to more than cover a $4 mill replacement.

  • Rusty Patenaude

    The problem with most fans (and too many GMs as well) is that their eyes are fixed on the past instead of the future in terms of player evaluation and procurement. If you want to overpay for an asset trade players after their worst year and acquire them coming off a career year. You don’t win by seeking strictly “a bonafide in hour option” for which you will pay top dollar. Las Vegas had almost no “a bonafide in hour options” and they did alright. They found players with the requisite skills who had not been placed in the right situation to shine. Instead of assuming that a Jesse Puljujarvi must always be what he has been at 19 years old, perhaps changing the opportunities he is provided in order to give him a boost. It is quite likely that Puljujarvi’s problems are communication problems and better English skills might be the key to better play. He looked better this season than he did as a rookie…maybe we have a player ready to step up. Instead of committing to a player on his way down who will likely demand more money and term than he is worth, I would focus on developing the young players we already have. (Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Benson, Bear, Jones)

    • oilerjed

      While I agree with you that JP might be on the verge of a breakout year, I’m not so sure it will be this season though. As for Vegas, they had the fortune of expansion draft rules so skewed in their favour it would be hard to mess it up. That being said, many of the players they acquired were really good players that teams didn’t want to lose but had no choice or forego a ton of draft picks or prospects.
      Your idea of focusing on developing the young players is solid, but they need to do it with the Condors.
      Using the Oilers as a development tool is a losing proposition that we proved will never work. Buffalo and Phoenix are proving it as well. They need to use the Chicago model of win and retool on the fly. Rinse and repeat

    • Moneyball

      Lol, how many excuses do we have to make for puljujarvi? Laine had the same English skills as puljujarvi but has seem to have found a way to play hockey in North America. Jessie’s problem is that he is highly overrated and we should take advantage of that by trading him now to get maximum value before he crashes and burns, like yakupov, Paajarvi,

      • crabman

        to be fair Puljujarvi’s English wasn’t nearly at Laine’s level. Laine was fully fluent when he was drafted and Puljujarvi needed a translator. The language is/was definitely a problem for Puljujarvi but that is only one problem. He doesn’t have the skill of Laine either. But to say trying to learn what a coach is teaching you while not understanding what he is saying isn’t an issue is wrong.

        • Moneyball

          If you had a job that paid you 2.5 million per year and do some reason English skills were holding you back would you get off your ass and learn? What does it tell you when a player can’t do that? Seems like a lack of motivation on the players part and it shows on the ice too.

          • Big Nuggets

            Or it sounds like a 19 year old that got here because of hockey skills and expects to be judged by his hockey performance, not by his ability to conjugate a verb. I don’t think his English skills are the issue. I think he is still young and has unrefined talent. Should have been in the AHL the past 2 seasons.

          • crabman


            I don’t disagree that his lack of English is a problem for him that he is responsible for. I was simply stating that it is a problem and I’m sure it has effected his development since coming to North America.
            If I were a talented hockey player with a dream to someday play in the NHL and didn’t speak English I would have made it a priority to be fluent well before my draft day. Hell I made sure to learn a little Spanish before I ever traveled to Mexico on vacation to make things a bit easier on myself off the resort.
            My point was his problems with English is also a problem with his hockey development and not just an excuse fans are making for him.

        • Big Nuggets

          and how much Spanish did you learn before you went to Mexico? Did you learn to ask ‘where is the bathroom?’ and ‘dos cervezas, por favor’. Learning a language is not that simple. It typically takes years. You expect a player thay is focused on being a better hockey player to give up all the rest of his free time in order to study English. It’s not as realistic as you make it out to be.

          • Big Nuggets

            I don’t mean to disagree completely with your point however. There is an arguement to be made that if Jesse’s English was more advanced he could better communicate with the coaches and therefore develop faster. I just take exception to people expecting this 18 year old kid to manage his hockey career better than most people can manage their own lives. He is a teenager that has spent hours of his youth refining his hockey skills. Not to mention emersion is the fastest way to learn a language so why wouldn’t he just learn English when he is surrounded by English speakers.

          • crabman

            @Big Nuggets,

            How many top draft picks from Europe can’t speak English? Part of playing in North America is speaking English and learning a new language is much easier as a child than an adult. If his goal was to play in the NHL him and his family and his agent, any teenager expected to be drafted early has an agent, should have had the foresight to get the kid an English tutor long before draft day. CHL major midget players go to school fulltime and then Junior players do as well. Your telling me as a kid/teenager he had no time for education around his hockey training? It seems like most every other European draftee made the time.

          • crabman

            @Big Nuggets,

            I didn’t do to well learning Spanish. I learned no writen but enough conversational that I knew what was going on around me. I could ask basic questions and if I didn’t get the entire answer I got the gist. I spent 6 months with a Rosetta Stone program. But I was a 30 year old man who never did well with languages other than English or the financial means to have private tutors or professional classes. But then again my professional livelihood also didn’t depend on me being able to speak Spanish.

          • Big Nuggets

            Fair enough. Its probably an oversight not to improve his English beforehand. I’m not raising any kids in hockey but it seems like hockey takes up a lot of time. Between school and hockey practice and games there isn’t a lot of extra time. English tutors also take more money and the million dollar cheques only arrive after making the NHL. I think it is not so unreasonable that a kid playing hockey in Finland didn’t do all he could to learn English. The Oilers on the otherhand could have done much better in handling him.

  • Bills Bills

    Okay I can see what optics would make people think that we have a need for more scoring. And when it comes to the PP there is no argument. But 5×5 scoring was not an issue. The biggest issue was keeping the puck out of the net. So a top six scoring winger is not the priority unless he is as solid at both ends of the ice. Points from the back end needs to be a priority as does locking down their own end. So if they can’t take care of that this summer, they better hope who they have rebound.

    • toprightcorner

      I disagree. Tyler Dellow has a fantastic article at The Athletic that breaks down where the points come from on a successful PP and the least important is a goal from a Dman. an assist from a Dman is very important, so having a bomber is not the answer, you need a good passer. I think the Oilers have a good passer in Klefbom, the problem is the system and how they utilize the dman up high. The Oiler always put the dman in the middle of the ice, but that actually puts the defending team closer together, making it impossible to make a cross seam pass. Put that dman closer to one side, it opens up the cross angle pass to i high half board winger and the defending team has to move a lot to make that coverage, which means they are spread out and it opens up more space for cross seam passes. Last year, Klefbom played closer to the left boards and when he passed to McDavid, who was on the right boards, it opend up the seam pass to Letestu. With Klefbom 15 feet further towards the middle of the ice, the defending team could stay tight and the cross seam pass was never open, meaning.

      McDavid was on the ice for over 50% of the Oilers 5×5 goals, they need more goals when he is not on the ice, hence the need to add middle 6 wingers.

  • Craig1981

    I don’t agree that they are in a win now situation. McDavid, Draisaitl, and Klefbom would be considered their 3 best players and they are all 3-5 years away from their prime, but are all signed for the next 5-7 years.

    The cap will minimize the percentage of the the cap their contracts take and in 3 years 9.5 Million comes off the books with Sekera and Russel (though I don’t think their signings were as terrible as you think).

    • crabman

      I agree the team isn’t in the window of competing for a cup right now but not because their best players aren’t there yet. Klefbom and Larsson will be 25 to start next season and should be entering their prime. Nuge is 25. McDavid and Draisaitl may only be 21 and 23 to start next year but elite forwards often enter their prime at a younger age and I would argue they are already there. They may not have had their best offensive seasons they ever will but a players prime is a number of years and I think they are already in theirs.
      The reason the Oilers aren’t in the cup contending window is because of bad moves by Chiarelli. Now I think we are at least a couple more development years before becoming cup contenders. They should be a playoff team next year with the right moves though.

    • Oilman99

      Totally agree, they cannot sell the farm to try and win now. It is important to build a strong farm system so that there is not another ten year playoff drought in the future.The core of the team has not reached it’s potential.

  • crabman

    Whether or not there is room to add a UFA has too many variables at this point. Once the league announces next years salary cap we will have a better idea where we stand. But as it stands today if Chiarelli decides not to trade out a big contract to bring in a big contract there won’t be a lot of cap space to add a big ticket UFA.
    tiday’s roster;
    McDavid 12.5
    Draisaitl 8.5
    Lucic 6
    Nuge 6
    Kassian 1.95
    Puljujarvi .925
    Rattie .800
    Khaira .675
    Aberg .650
    forward total $38M for 9 forwards

    Sekera 5.5
    Klefbom 4.17
    Larsson 4.17
    Russell 4
    defence total $17.84

    Talbot 4.17
    Koskinen 2.5
    goalie total $6.67

    est. Puljujarvi bonus $1M
    Pouliot but out $1.33M

    Salary for 2018-19 $64.84

    Assuming an $80M cap, the middle of the reported $78-82M cap next year, that leaves $15.16M. sounds like a lot until we sign our 4 remaining NHL RFAs Nurse, Benning, Strome and Caggiula. I think a conservative est. for signing those 4 would be $9-9.5M leaving $5.66-6.16m lest to sign 1D and 3F. Most are depth players. Assuming there is no improving our top 6 D the depth/7th D could be signed st a low 750K. the 13th and 14th forwards could come in at say a combined $1.65M (est. 750K & 900K), leaving approximately $3.25-3.75M to find a top6 winger in FA. That doesn’t leave a lot of options. Grabner was rumored to be heading back to New York the second he was traded and will probably not be an option. Leaving just Vanek out of the options you suggested that would still be in our price range. If he doesn’t sign we are sol.
    If the Oilers want to upgrade in the top6 a trade will probably be need to happen. At the very least they would need to trade Kassian and his $1.95M and try to save $1M on his replacement. That could possibly put them in the range to sign Neal at $4.75M but I think someone will pay him at least $5-5.5M on a longer deal.
    Unless a major deal is made, ie Sekera waives his NMC, I don’t see where the money for a big ticket UFA would come from this year. I think it is a year to sign low$ depth UFAs, draft well and let the prospects mature in the AHL. Adding Vanek to a 1-2 year deal is probably the best we could ask for in FA this year.

  • toprightcorner

    – Sign both Grabner and Vanek. Vanek can also play LW, which means he and JP can play with Draisaitl. Grabner scores goals and is great on the PK. He is the insurance if/when Rattie doesn’t repeat last years audition. Between the 2 of them, they can capably fill in on McDavids, Draisaitl or Strome’s line and provide right shots on the PP.

    Both could probably be had for around $5 mill combined, that is more value to the team than $5-$6 mill for Neal or JVR.

    • crabman


      I think adding both Grabner and Vanek would be an excellent July 1st. It would take a lot of things going right for it to work IMO. IF the Oilers can get all of Nurse, Benning, Strome and Caggiula signed for under $9.5M, a 7th D for 750K, a 14th F st 800K or less and trade away Kassian and replace him with a player saving the team $1M. As well as the cap rising to $80M. That would leave them about $5.3M to sign both players. That might not be quite enough for both. An $82M cap and they could be signed or a less than ideal plan could be not allowing for any Puljujarvi bonus. The team is allowed to go over the cap slightly with ELC bonuses and pay the penalty the next season. If he doesn’t hit any bonuses mo harm. If he does hit some bonuses it will more than likely be in the $1M or less range and with Pouliot’s buyout penalty over after next season that $1.33M would more than cover any Puljujarvi bonus penalty. Of course the final thing that would need to go right would be the players actually wanting to come here.

      1 last point adding Grabner and Vanek would actually only add I right shot as Grabner is a lefty but still an upgrade in our top6.

  • toprightcorner

    The Oilers really have to try to move Kassian, they cannot afford $1.9 mill on the 4th line. I see car as a destination as they really want to add size to their. Trade him for anything, 5th rd pick is fine, just need to clear the salary and replace him with someone under $1 mill.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      I want to see how Kass does next season with the new assistant coaches. I’m not sure we know the limits of what the guy is capable of. Part of me agrees with you, 2mil is a lot for a 4th liner, but part wants to see if he can handle an expanded role. He has speed, he’s imposing, and his hands are pretty good. Sounds like a decent 3rd line RW. I’m not sure whether his limited usage last year was player-performance related, or coaching, or both.

      • oilerjed

        I felt that he was frustrated a lot of last year with the way the refs were calling and controlling the games. In at least two interviews Kass mentioned that this was bugging him anyway

      • crabman

        I don’t think Kassian has a lot of untapped offense. He has great speed and a forechecking ability but isn’t much of a finisher And at 27 I don’t expect any significant development. When in Vancouver he had many opportunities to play with the Sedin’s and his career high 8s 29 points. He could be a fine option as a 3rd line winger but with our cap issues if the team wants to improve the top6 it will need a cheap option in both the 3rd and 4th line RW spots.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Nuge ($6M) / McDavid ($12.5M) / Rattie ($800K)

    Khaira ($675K) / Drai ($8.5M) / Puljijarvi ($925K)

    Lucic ($6M) / Strome ($3M) / Aberg ($650K)

    Caggulia ($1.35M) / Brodziak ($950K) / Kassian ($1.95K)

    Magnus ($950K) / Marody ($925K)


    Klefbom ($4.167M) / Larsson ($4.167M
    Nurse ($4M) / Russell ($4M)
    Sekera ($5.5M) / Benning (1.65M)

    Gryba ($900K)

    Talbot ($4.167M)
    Koskinen ($2.5M)

    The above lineup has two outside acquisition, 12th/13th forwards for less than $1M each.

    The cap hit for the 23 man roster (which includes Marody, Rattie) is $77.5M

    That doesn’t account for the Pouliot buyout of $1.33M which will take it to $78.8M.

    It doesn’t take in to account any of Jesse’s bonuses which are maxed at apx. $2.5M so lets give a cushion of $1.25M which essentially takes us to $80M.

    So, we are at $80M without any material acquisition.

    So, any acquisition will need cap going out.

    • toprightcorner

      That does not give Draisaitl any proven wingers.

      Kassian has to be moved out, for a pick, no matter how late it is. Replace him for a player under $1 mill

      Nurse will be signed to a bridge of about $2.2-$2.5 mill. If Russel or Sekera cannot be traded, PC can’t even consider a long term contract with Nurse.

      Only 1 of Magnus or Marody (in your example) will count against the cap, both will be on 2 way contracts and they won’t have 2 forwards in the pressbox.

      Those together give you an extra $3.5 mill to work with and with the cap projected to me a min of $82 mill, that is $5.5 mill to work with. If you add a Vanek or a Grabner (replacing Kassians roster spot) in the $2.5 range, leaving $3 mill to spend. You could add both Vanek ($2.5)and Grabner ($2.5) (take out Magnus spot as per your example) that is a net $1.5 mill addition. Those additions still leave you $1.5 mill. Any other addition also has roster spot salary moving out, If Yamamoto makes the team, Marody comes out that is actually $150k saved.

      The Oiles would be better off adding a couple mid to lower level players to fill out the depth than spend it all on 1 player.

    • crabman


      I think your lineup above is filled with over pays. And they all add up. Nurse at $4M, Gryba at 900K instead of a 7th D at 750K, running 3 pressbox players instead of 2, Strome at $3M and even Caggiula at$1.35 and Puljujarvi bonuses at $1.25M. All slight over pays but together they add up. There is a little room to add just not much.

    • Oilman99

      Forget Magnus and Brodziak, your team cannot win with the top two lines you have drawn up. Sign Nurse to a bridge deal and save a couple mil, possibly have to dump Kassian ,and sign atleast one real top six forward to try to give Drai somebody to play with, and give some balance to the top two lines.

      • Big Nuggets

        I would like if we could add a couple lower key young players. Such as Joel Armia from Winnipeg and Steven Santini from NJ. One is a RW and one is a RD. NJ had RD depth so might be convinced to trade Santini and Winnipeg has a bunch of decisiobs to.make this offseason and will probably trade away a couple players. The problem is the cost to acquire these players might be too high. That said, it would be great if we could acquire a couple young players in positions of need.

        Under the radar position of need is 4th line center. We have Khaira but with limited cap space to use it might be best to give Khaira a shot on the LW next to Drai or Strome. Brodziak would give a solid defensive anchor to the bottom 6. Neither Strome or Drai are going to be shutting the oppositions best players down. Which means we will have to give McNuge the toughest matchups. Brodziak, IMO, would help ease the defensive burden and he is an experienced PKer to boot.

  • Soccer Steve

    I think many commenters on here really, really overthink the NMC portion on player contracts. When has it really ever come up before of note? When have we heard of a big (or small) trade being nixed because of it? I can’t think of any.

    And honestly, we aren’t trading anyone to a Pacific team. In all likelihood they’d be sent East. Which Oiler with a NMC would refuse a trade to Florida, New York, Carolina, Montreal, etc etc, and possibly get anonymity, easier travel, warmer climate?

    Honestly, I think it’s being placed on waivers that these players actually want to avoid.

    • crabman

      @Soccer Steve,

      the most notable time that I can think of off the top of my head and also involving the Oilers was Heatley.


      That said Ottawa was stillable to move him elsewhere. I agree it isn’t impossible to move a NMC player and they very likely just wanted to avoid being sent to the AHL and also having more control over their trade destination. Although this can sometimes limit a potential return for that player and I don’t like counting on being able to move a player with a NMC because they can always refuse.
      All this being said you make a very good point and a NMC isn’t the end all just another wrinkle in the trading process.

    • Big Nuggets

      Kris Russell wants to stay in Alberta and could very well refuse to waive. Maybe if he offered the choice between buyout and trade he may accept a trade but who wants to add a bottom pairing defenseman just before the expqnsion draft.

  • LordRuggles

    I am alright with Grabner or Vanek, especially if we can get them on a one year deal. I would also be inclined to try to snatch someone like Burakovsky from the Caps, or Baertschi from the Canucks. I don’t think either would cost a lot in assets out…Green would be a good addition, I assume he would want a multi-year deal though.

  • macinmillwoods

    You say Oilers window to win is now but the top heavy salary structure created by PC and poor cap management has closed that window for the next few years. Don’t have any choice but to ride it out and wait until the cap is about $10 million higher to take on the pieces needed to challenge for the cup.

    • BobbyCanuck

      Agreed, lets just draft smart, and trade smarter, let it play out, stock the farm, and in a few years those brilliant picks/trades will be on the big team

    • crabman

      What UFAs would you target to replace Strome, Caggiula and Benning that are better players and cost less so the Oilers will have money to sign a top6 forward as well?

  • Serious Gord

    The Analytics guys will tell us that old veterans are expensive and in almost all cases underperform. I agree.

    And if the cap grows to the higher end of the estimates there will still be teams overpaying for that FA Group.

    The oil shouldn’t be a part of it. They should use what cap room they have to sweeten desks that bring back depth – lots if it. Turn rnh into mcds winger and cross your fingers that lucic regains some of his form. That’s best that can be hoped for at this point.

    But much of the oil fandom won’t settke for that and chia and the rest of the org seem impatient so I suspect they will blow their brains out.

  • JayTee

    Nuge – Connor – Vanek
    Looch – Drai – Pool Party
    Aberg – Strome – Rattie
    Cagguila – Khaira – Kassian

    Nurse – Larsson
    Klefbom – Green
    Sekera – Benning

  • Make Another Bad Trade or Signing!!

    No major UFA’s for the next couple years, maybe players not signed after the first few days of free-agency. I suspect that the next 2 to 3 years would be best spent doing some contract housekeeping when other teams get desperate. Then keep fingers crossed that at least 2 to 3 of the prospects develop well and 1 or 2 of the later picks over-performs and make the team. Then we can complete. Until then, be patient and clean up some contracts.

  • belair

    Sorry to be that guy, but the correct saying is to ‘err on the side of caution’. Which is what I’d prefer to do. The need to spend money on improving scoring from the wing is overblown IMO.

    As for the UFA market, we have the ability to sign several UFAs this summer. But I think guys like Vanek and Grabner are also likely looking at $3m+ on their own which in all likelihood is too expensive considering we’re looking at filling four roster spots with about $8m after our RFAs get re-signed. And in a perfect world, we’d like a bit of wiggle room between us and the cap.

    I think we’re better off looking at veteran players coming off of poor seasons and younger, emerging players who were buried in depth elsewhere to push some of the players on the roster currently in training camp. The way I see it our roster currently is…

    RNH – McDavid – xxxxx
    xxxxx – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
    Lucic – Strome – xxxxx
    Khaira – xxxxx – Kassian

    Caggiula, Rattie and Aberg fitting in wherever.

    So we’re probably looking for a 4C primarily, then a middle six RW and a third winger. I think Jannik Hansen is probably our most logical target. He’s a speedy RW who can PK. He’s coming off a $3m payday and a season where he put up two goals. He’s due for a significant pay cut.

    The 4C, I wouldn’t mind seeing multiple signings of some cheaper guys to fill out our organizational depth. Matthew Peca comes to mind. He’s put up some decent numbers in Tampa’s farm system the past several years. I would also take a gamble on Shawn Matthias who probably comes in at around $1m or less considering he was a regular in the press box this past season in Winnipeg. But he’s a player who Gulutzan is familiar with that is a reliable PKer and can play multiple positions.

    You could probably get all three of those players for the cost of one of Grabner or Vanek.

    • Big Nuggets

      I too think the way to go is to sign a few off the radar targets. There are numerous options so if the Oilers go this route the pro scouting staff will have a lot of work to do.

      But we differ on placing Puljujarvi on the 2nd line. To me he hasn’t shown he is ready for the big time and would be best served either on the 3rd line or in the AHL. Everyone seems to think that because he was a high draft pick he will show rapid progress. I would rather tap the brakes on his expectations and bring him up when he starts proving himself. It was obviously an error to pencil him onto a scoring line last season. Why make the same mistake 2 seasons in a row.

      Now I want to clarify that I am cheering for Jesse to do well. He might even play well this season, but I am not counting on it and I don’t think management should count on it either.

      • belair

        If he’s best suited with Strome on the third line, so be it. Our forward group this summer heading into training camp should be built on internal competition. Signings like Vanek and Grabner don’t promote that. They’re relatively expensive commitments to players that put a guy like Ty Rattie or Pontus Aberg completely out of work.

        In regards to Jesse, I think he’s paid his dues in the NHL enough to be called a full-time NHLer. Todd has done good work with him in regards to developing his puck pursuit that will make him a very effective player, even when he doesn’t have the puck. I’ve pencilled him into the 2RW slot because he showed some promise with Leon late last season and I do believe Jesse will be given some good opportunity to produce offensively and earn his next contract.

    • TKB2677

      So since every NHL team needs 12 forwards to field 4 lines you are saying the Oilers need to turn over 1/3 their top 12 forwards? Taking the cap out of the equation for a moment, how often does any team turn over 1/3 their top 12 in one offseason with I assume is outside players?

      • crabman


        Currently the Oilers only have 9 forwards under contract with 2 RFAs to sign. The team needs to sign or promote or trade for 3 more forwards if they plan to carry 14 forwards next year. the OP does mention Aberg, Rattie and Caggiula being mixed and matched in his projected lines as well as adding depth players to fill the rest of the roster. I don’t see the problem with adding 3 outside options whether through trade of FA.

  • Opi

    Hapless Oilers with $15,103,833.00 Cap space heading into the season … that’s IF the Cap goes up by the a generous five million I have included in that number …

    UFA’s to sign or replace …

    Cammaleri …
    Auvito …

    and RFA’s to sign or replace …

    Strome …
    Slepyshev …
    Pakarinen …
    Caggiula …
    Nurse …
    Benning …

    Eight guys sharing 15 million equates to 1.88 million per player … that should make Nurse happy, yes … 🙂

  • TKB2677

    I don’t get why blogger after blogger lists Vanek and thinks he will come cheap. Maybe he does but with as thin as the UFA market is, a guy coming off 24 goals and 56 pts is going to get PAID in my opinion. Maybe he isn’t huge money but Kane who I get is younger and on paper a better player but Kane in what people think had a good season had 29 goals and 54 pts. So if Kane gets 7, I don’t think there is a chance in hell Vanek gets a couple of million like some people think. Plus Vanek is 34 yrs old, going to be 35, he’s slow and in my opinion, he just had his big season. The Oilers need to be going out and finding the next Vanek, that NHL vet willing to sign a dirt cheap deal with the hopes he can hit a homerun with a really good season for one last decent contract. Vanek was that guy last year.

    I would definitely not touch Perron. Other than Neal who if you look at his numbers – 25 g- 44pts while missing 10+ games – pretty typical Neal numbers, just about every Vegas guy had a career year including Perron. Perron was 20 pts better than last year.

    On a different note, I would look to move out Kassian. I like Kassian but at 1.95 mill he’s too expensive for a 4th liner.

    • crabman

      I think you answered your own question when you said ” Plus Vanek is 34 yrs old, going to be 35, he’s slow and in my opinion, he just had his big season”. Vanek is a more 1 dimensional player than someone like Kane and with his age comes risk and a lower cap hit. It isn’t just Oilersnation writers expecting Vanek to come in less than $3M. It seems to be what most people think he will come in around. At this point any guess is just that and we will have to wait and see.