WWYDW: The ideal UFA target

It was announced this week that the NHL’s salary cap ceiling for 2018-19 will fall between $78 and $82 million. That’s good news for the Oilers as Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million extension is set to kick in on top of the team’s already-crowded salary cap picture.

The Oilers have nine forwards, four defencemen, three goalies, and one buyout commitment equating to roughly $65 million against the cap for next season. If the Oilers bury or trade Al Montoya and add Kailer Yamamoto to the roster they’ll have 10 forwards, four defenders, two goalies, and a buyout costing them just about $65 million.

Some holes will be filled when restricted free agents Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Ryan Strome, and Drake Caggiula are signed to new contracts. I expect all four to be back next season and it should cost the Oilers about $10 million combined. It could be slightly less, it could be slightly more, but I estimate $4 million for Nurse, $3 million for Strome, $2 million for Benning, and $1 million for Caggiula. If that’s the case, Edmonton will have between $3 and $7 million to upgrade the roster depending on where the cap ends up.

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That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. How should the team attack free agency? Which player out there makes the most sense for the cap-strapped Oilers to add?

Raise the floor

Like I said, the four restricted free agents will eat up a good chunk of Edmonton’s available cap room. When signed, the Oilers will have 12 forwards (or 11 depending on what happens with Yamamoto), six defencemen, and two goalies. It essentially leaves room for depth additions on the wing and blueline.

The most sensible option for Peter Chiarelli this summer is to raise the floor. An issue for Edmonton last year was a lack of scoring depth as players like Caggiula, Zack Kassian, and Anton Slepyshev who looked good during the playoff run in 2017 failed to translate their success into the following regular season. The blueline also struggled in the wake of Andrej Sekera’s injury.

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Raising the floor means adding cheap-but-effective players to up the depth of the roster. The Oilers have two obvious needs: wingers who can score goals and a defender who can produce some offence. This summer’s bargain bin features wingers like Thomas Vanek, Lee Stempniak, Kris Versteeg, Radim Vrbata, and Drew Stafford who, while not flashy or spectacular, are veterans who can put the puck in the back of the net. The list of blueliners who can produce offence that will be available for cheap is virtually non-existent. Still, guys like John Moore, Thomas Hickey, and Ian Cole could help Edmonton’s blueline depth.

Given the team’s cap situation, taking flyers on some of the aforementioned names above seems to make the most sense. But as we saw last year with Jussi Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri, there’s no guarantee that these players will be effective. While these signings would be low-risk, there’s a very good chance they’re also low-reward.

Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Find a way to make a splash

The Oilers didn’t make a big addition last summer. They dealt Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome, bought out Benoit Pouliot, re-signed Kris Russell, and made a minor addition in Jussi Jokinen. The thought was internal options would step up and flesh out the roster. It was a reasonable gamble given what we saw during the playoff run, but it failed miserably.

Would navigating the 2018 off-season, in the same way, be a mistake? There are some free agents on the open market who would be perfect fits on this Oilers team. Unfortunately, they would be great fits on most teams and, as a result, are going to get paid. John Carlson would give the Oilers a huge boost on the power play, but he’ll command at least $7 million. James van Riemsdyk and James Neal would look great next to Connor McDavid, but both will command at least $6 million.

If the Oilers are going to add a player like this, they would have to clear cap room. That isn’t going to be easy. Milan Lucic and Andrej Sekera’s deals are going to be impossible to move without taking significant money back, dealing Oscar Klefbom or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opens up cap room but creates another hole.

What say you, Nation? What path should Chiarelli take this summer in free agency? Should he clear cap room and make a big splash? Or should he try to raise the floor of the roster with depth additions? How would you navigate free agency? Who are your ideal targets? 

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  • What-a-Mike

    IMO, right now, I would go for Derek Ryan as 4th line centre at about 1.75 mil for 2 yrs, and, the Oilers should get Grabner at about 2 mil to 2.5 mil at 2 yrs. Move J.J Khaira to wing (with centre options), and put Grabner with Draisaitl. I would see Rattie and J.P duke it out for #1 RW for now. If the Oilers can finally put Lucic on 3rd line duty (he wont be bought out now with new baby/kid just born) and get the defence of Klefbom and Sekera to stay healthy all season, then they also must keep the 10th pick this year, and then use the limited NMC trades of Sekera and Russell for next year. With Ryan and Grabner, and Nurse at 4 mil maximum for say 6 seasons kind of like Klefbom and Larsson, then I would be happy with expecting at least another 2 round playoff run to conference final at the least. No playoffs next season then I say let heads roll with Bobby and Peter and Todd for sure. Once Sekera and Russell are gone, with almost 10 million a yr then available for that extra other top notch defender and/or forward, that is the exact time then when the Oilers should go all in for a trial Cup Final run

    • supra steve

      I’m not saying that CGY will get (or will even necessarily try to get either one of these guys), but the exact same names come up on FN often as UFA targets. These two may just cash in, in term and in dollars, come July 1. If they do, then the team that gets them may be worse off in the long term.

  • StarvinBuffalo

    Just saying, in all honesty, I know this will never happen because it will make Peter look terrible however, we should honestly just let Strome walk…. I mean honestly, 2.5 – 3 mil per season for what he brings, no way. His position can easy be replaced for MUCH cheaper and we can use the extra money to sign better wingers. Strome can’t play the wing, he is better at center. He’s just not a good enough center for 3 mil per season. I like Strome to, but every penny counts now and he is expendable. Also Zack Kassian better not go anywhere, come playoffs, he’s exactly what we need.

    • Oiler GM

      The key to this is they’d need to replace him with someone who can produce. I’m not a Strome fan, but he did finish 4th on the team in scoring…. For a team that lacked scoring depth (basically seemed like McDavid needed to cause a goal or it wouldn’t happen), they need to ensure that slack is picked up somewhere! I’d be fine with losing Strome, but last year losing Ebs, Pouliot, Hendo, Pitlick etc, and expecting Cagguilla and Slep to pick up the slack, didn’t work. This year add Maroon and Letestu to that list. Basically, the Oilers need actual NHL players who can provide scoring depth behind McDavid, Drai, and Nuge….. Hopefully JP takes a step forward this year, but I’m worried about the depth of the forwards….

      • russ99a

        That’s true but he put up less points at center with our poor wingers than at wing with Nuge. He’s got a great shot, but it’s rarely on net.

        If the only option is the QO at $3M it doesn’t make sense to keep him. We can sign a FA for a little over half to give us the same production.

  • crabman

    Like most people I would like to see Grabner or Vanek in a short term deal to help the top6. I would love Stempniak of 3 years ago but at this point I don’t know how much tread is left on those tires. He would be a good PTO come training camp if we are looking to add a veteran.
    I like Pirri as a cheap bottom of the roster 13th, 14th forward add. He has offence and can play all 3 forward positions. Czarnik out of the Bruins system is undersized but has tons of skill and is young enough to still have a shot. He might just be a case of needing an opportunity. Adding a veteran who could play 4C or 4W and kill penalties would be an asset as well. Beagle, Winnik or Brodziak on a 1 year deal would fill this roll nicely.
    On D I really like Gregor’s option yesterday of Sproul on a cheap deal as the 7th D. RHD offensive instincts low risk with the chance of upside.
    After signing the RFAs and leaving Yamamotto in the AHL I would try and add, Sproul, Pirri, Czarnik, Vanek and either Beagle(1st choice), Bridziak(2nd), or Winnik(3rd) to round out the FA adds. This leaves me 1 player over the 23 man roster with either, Rattie, Aberg, Pirri, or Czarnik in the AHL after camp and 2 as 13th and 14th forwards.

    I would move Kassian and save $1M if I needed the money to sign Nurse longer term if he would take $4.5M×6-8, I have him at $3.5×2, or to possibly add Ryan as a bottom 6C or W for less than Kassian’s $1.95M.

    If we go outside of FA I wonder is Dallas would be willing to package the 13th pick with a player like Faksa for the 10th? Faksa plays center but I’m sure could be used on the wing. at $2.2M×2 he works with the cap. is young enough at 24, had 17g and 16a for 33 points while getting almost no pp time. Is +50% in face offs and kills penalties. I doubt it would be a trade straight up but possibly the building blocks. Would be great if a package could be put together to get Honka as well but I think now I’m dreaming.

    Any way you cut it there isn’t a ton of cap space for big adds but with the teams best players signed longterm already the Oilers shouldn’t need to add big name FA. Add the right depth players, a healthy D and a league average year from Talbot and next year’s team will be much better than this year’s team was. I also believe the new coaching staff will lead our special teams back to respectability.

    • “Any way you cut it there isn’t a ton of cap space for big adds but with the teams best players signed longterm already the Oilers shouldn’t need to add big name FA”
      That’s logical. I think it’s safe to say that the core of this team is McDavid and Draisaitl down the middle with Nurse, Larsson, and Klefbom(arguably) on the backend. Should we really give Neal or JVR a 7yr/$7M to compliment McDavid? Three guys who can score 15 goals would help us alot more then one guy who can score 30. A well-balanced team has a decently size core to build around and a handful of complimentary guys who can be moved and replaced when you need to lock up your core guys, as we’ve seen from Lucic if you give them a boat anchor contract then it’s impossible to move them and it throws the entire team’s make up off. It’s important to make moves in order to make sure this type of dissapointment doesn’t happen again but smart moves beat big moves 9/10 times.

  • Oiler GM

    How many more years is Pouliot on the books? I didn’t like Pouliot…. but the timing did not make any sense. He was still better than the worst forwards on the Oilers last year.

      • Jaxon

        I’m not so sure Russell will be tradeable even after he loses his full NMC. His is still a NMC, while Sekera’s becomes a NTC, meaning Russell will have to be protected in the summer of 2020 expansion draft. What GM will want that contract. If he wants to stay and not get traded he can easily find 10 teams with 3 better D that need to be protected already on their roster and those GMs will avoid him. Russell will need to be bought out if they don’t want to lose one of Klefbom, Nurse, Larsson, Nugent-Hopkins or Puljujarvi to expansion. And if you have to buy him out anyway, maybe this summer is the summer to do it as they need cap space and his buyout would save them $3.4M this season (2018-2019). They should have kept Pouliot for the remainder and bought out Russell this summer.

    • Bills Bills

      Buying out Pouliot was a stupid move. At least he could kill penalties. Buy outs in general are dumb. You kill cap space so whoever you replace him with had better be worth his cap hit plus the dead cap space.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Free agent wise,… meh… We have the coaches now that can develop and guide our existing players. If we can get Vanek for cheap 1 or 2 year, then yeah.
    But really, I think the coaching will help immensely. Those guys they let go from year, “lost the room” early. These new guys, I’m convinced, will get it back.
    The change from the season before to last year was just so darnn sudden & dramatic, it had to do with systems & people. NOT lack of skill level. That’s my take.

  • Kepler62c

    Sign Brandon Davidson. Then sign Derek Ryan or Riley Nash. Finally, convince as many bargain bin UFAs as you can to take $1-1.25M or PTO’s with the enticing prospect of playing on McDavid’s or Draisaitl’s wing.

    • TKB2677

      I have nothing against the guy but exactly what does Davidson bring to the Oilers that makes you think they should resign him? IF they are going to bring in another dman, they could use a puck moving, fast skating, offensive, right shot damn. Davidson is a good guy, plays hard, is an OK defender. But he isn’t a great puck mover, he’s an OK skater, not a great one, he brings zero offense and he’s a left shot. Can he be a 6-7 dman on a lot of teams? Yup. But what value does he bring to the Oilers given who they have?

      • crabman


        I am, always was, a big Davidson fan. He plays hard and doesn’t take games or even shifts off. He has a great shot but doesn’t use it enough. He is a good positional player and does well on the PK. He would be at the top of my list as an inexpensive 3LHD. Unfortunately that position isn’t available on this team and will more than likely be filled by a player making at least $4M next year.
        If the 3LHD was a position we needed to fill I would want Davidson as an option. But we are in need of a 7th D would will be bargin bin cheap or a RH puck mover like you suggest.

        Long story long I agree Davidson isn’t a fit on this current Oiler team no matter how big I am on him.

        • TKB2677

          I agree with that you say. I got no problem with Davidson. He’s an Oiler draft pick that actually developed into something. He works hard, loves being and Oilers and tries his best. I have said it a few times that I think part of the Oilers problem this past season was not enough guys giving it their best effort on a lot of nights. So I have time for guys like Davidson. That being said, I am wondering if the league is moving away from the Davidson types. Meaning, the defensive dman. Not that long ago, most teams had a Davidson. An OK defending guy who could fit into your bottom pair, maybe play on your PK and if you didn’t hear his name during the game, that’s a good thing. But with the league moving more and more towards puck moving and speed, I see the role of the defensive dman disappearing. If you are a defensive dman, you can’t just be OK at defending and you need to have an identity. Like a Larsson. He’s a big, tough, nasty dman who’s really good at defending. If you are just an OK defending dman, you better do something else like move the puck really well or skate really well. 2 things Davidson doesn’t do unfortunately.

          • crabman


            All very good points.
            I think players like Davidson will always have a role in the league unlike the big enforcer who can’t do anything else or the big, slow, clutch and grab defender. I see Davidson as an okay at everything kind of player. I think in the future that player gets time on a bottom pair but at an even lower salary than now. Match that type of player with an up and coming puckmover or a more defensive liability veteran with pp skills to form a bottom pairing. Not every defender is going to be above average speed and offensive. I think Davidson gets around good enough that his speed isn’t a liability and makes a good 1st pass out of the zone. Davidson or his player type at $1M or less on a bottom pair will have value in the league going forward but I agree there will be less of them as the league gets faster. And the Oilers aren’t in the right position, roster makeup, to add that type of player this offseason.

  • Oil9744

    Benning is not getting 2 million, especially with the season he had, he should get 1 year 1 mill and be our 7th dman. That opens up more cap for a UFA as well. 7 year 7 mill for Carlson would be a home run. If they can’t get Carlson then use that cap room for a winger.

    • oilerjed

      Benning is exactly the type of guy they need to lowball and make some cap savings. He has zero leverage and in reality should have been in the AHL last year anyway.

    • Gravis82

      I have noticed that anyone suggesting moving kassian is mercilessly trashed. I don’t get it, he’s not that great of a player.

      Has some scoring ability, but not enough to play in top 6 or make up for his defensive liabilities.

      • ROILYDoGG$

        I agree with you however he’s a depth player that should be able to chip in especially at playoffs. 2nd we shouldn’t be over reacting and judging players on a crap year … it was the whole team that sucked, injuries and a dressing room issue. Once it got back on track we were winning however too far back in points to catch up. And if kassian is the reason why we can’t make the post season or sign and ufa we are in a deeper mess than that. Lol Just saying

      • Fire Woodcroft!

        Kass, and guys like Matt Hendricks, are players that add heart and soul to the team. More often than not it’s those guys finding ways to win key playoff games when the checkers are grinding the all-stars into paste. That Heart is what the stats guys have so much difficulty quantifying.

        There should always be a spot on the roster for a guy like Kassian. Just my humble opinion.

  • Bills Bills

    What say me??? Well to start this whole perception that the Oilers have a goal scoring issue is tiring. It is total BS perpetrated by butt hurt Hall and Eberle fans. The Oilers were TOP TEN in even strength goals. They have a defence issue and a special teams issue. Contrary to the continuously negative opinions of the “bloggers” on this site. Lucic, Russell and Sekera are not total boat anchors me neither are their contracts.

    Changes have to be made but this idea that we need scoring wingers is the opinion of who? You? WTF do you really know? Keep the puck out of the net. The Oilers scoring will be fine.

    • Jon123

      Bills Bills, I’m not sure if there’s a more current look, but if you look at this link (https://www.tsn.ca/oilers-hampered-by-weakness-on-the-wing-1.963104), Oilers wingers were LAST in goals for. I don’t think it will matter if there’s a more current look, because Lucic, JP only got worse as the season went on. You’re looking at goal scoring by our entire offence…no one’s saying that’s bad (we have friggin McDavid on our team), we’re saying our centers are some of the best in the league, give them competent wingers and we’re top three in goals for….that’s how this team wins, top ten in even strength goals might sound good, but when you have McDavid, Draisaitl as your top two centres, it should be better than that.

      • Bills Bills

        You’re mistaken in thinking that who on the ice scored the goals actually matters. It doesn’t. Aside from that, with the impotent power play, there were almost zero goals from the wings. That post you reference is talking about total goals. It didn’t actually adjust the numbers if they had a top ten PP, the goals from the wings would have increased. Again, butt hurt Hall and Eberle fans. Go buy an Islanders jersey and get over it.

  • Bills Bills

    Lastly if Carlson would sign 7×7 with the Oilers, I would trade Klefbom for draft picks and prospects to clear up cap space. I love Klefbom but Carlson is money and we have enough coming up the left side to fill the gap.

        • ROILYDoGG$

          And I quote Bill Bill ” Lastly if Carlson would sign 7×7 with the Oilers(leaving Washington) , I would trade Klefbom for draft picks and prospects to clear up cap space. (GOING TO THE OILERS )”
          Clearly I can read, but in case you didn’t understand what you wrote was that Washinton was gonna let a top dman ( the best they have mind you) in the Stanley cup playoffs leave as a UFA for 7 million ?
          And John Carlson was willing to leave the team that drafted him to another for only 7 million when they would almost certainly match that ? So yes you did imply that then call me illiterate when you wrote it … beat it you tool

  • OilersGM

    Even if the cap goes to 82M I wouldn’t sign JVR or Neal. This two guys are the Lucic of 2018, the minute they get signed is the minute the team regrets it. Both are slow and on the back end of their career.
    Now Kovalchuk on a 2 year 4-5M per I would definitely do it, I know his older then the other 2 but this guy is at a different level when it comes to skill and he would check off lots of boxes, Play the top line with McNuge I could see him netting 30 and oh yeh the PP would improve in a blink of the eye.

    • OilersGM

      Now with that said he has to be convinced to play with Connor as earlier this month Friedman reported Chiarelli had a conversation with his agent but Ilya turned down what was on the table.

    • Oilman99

      Signing a 35 year old Kovalchuk for what he wants makes no sense,especially if it is a multi year deal. There is no guarantee that he can still be effective at the NHL level, plus the guy has demonstrated that he is not a team player. We need VGK type players that are willing to put it all on the table for the team.


    Colin Larkin, Cooper Marody, Tyler Vesel, Cameron Hebig, are in the system and I think 1 of them will make the team out of camp. The rest bound for the ahl for seasoning and to gain experience we have put more skill and youth in the farm to grow. One less pro UFA to sign and Benning, Cajdulia with more experience and hopefully all the bugs worked out entering the 200 game Mark by December. Plus all the other players are older and hopefully continuing to develop we need Sekera to have healed up and possibly a small addition of Grabner and a RH dman with no subtractions, additions only. I think Chia targets a lower cheaper option like Greg Pateryn from Dallas. This pushes Bear down and keeps him in the Farm.

    • Jaxon

      I think only Marody has a chance to make it out of camp out of those players. I think Benson and Yamamoto have a better chance than the rest and that chance is slim for Yamamoto and very slim for Benson. I do like the Grabner addition, though.

      • ROILYDoGG$

        I hope Benson and yamamoto are playing in the Farm all year together and lots of minutes . Let them get as much time to develop now that we are slowly addimg depth iwth college players, if Marody makes it then i hope hes the only one. Bear should too unless we need him in the playoffs and he takes a big step during the season. Does anyone know how Hebig is , inside information? Seen him play a few times ? Could he actually challenge for a spot or is he Oklahoma bound ?

    • toprightcorner

      If any of those players make the team out of camp, the Oilers are in bigger trouble than we thought. None have showed any type of success in the pros

      • OriginalPouzar

        None of them have played pro (except for tiny samples at the end of last season) when their club team’s were eliminated.

        In his 5 games, Marody showed VERY well in Bakersfield.

        I agree that Marody is the only one of those players with any chance to make the team out of camp. Larkin isn’t a “real prospect”, Vessel has an outside chance of getting some NHL games at some point but is a ways away. Hebig is similar to Vessel.

        I watched Marody play three games at Michigan post-trade and he pleasantly surprised me with his skill and hockey IQ. He is an “all-tools” type of guy and I do have a good feeling about him.

        Very likely bound for the AHL this year but we could see some time as an injury call-up in the bottom 6.

  • toprightcorner

    First thing is trading away Kassian for picks of some sort. Getting the $2 mill salary off the 4th line will dictate what the Oilers can do. If they don’t, PC isn’t adding anything in the $3-$4 mill range for a top 6 winger

  • Big Nuggets

    Anyone know.anything about this Folin from LA. He’s a UFA this year, RHD, Swede, last season he played the most NHL games of his career. Looks like he could be a decent 7th defenseman but I don’t know anything other than the basic stats on him.

  • thenoble1

    Don’t even consider Kris Versteeg. beside the fact he’s always hurt the guy stabbed the Oilers in the back coming here to try out and then given us the bird and then heads to Calgary. Don’t want him here.


    Signing john Carlson is a pipe dream, why would Washington not sign him now that that cap goes up and they can afford him , this is a dead issue I believe. 2nd it is very unlikely that we trade Sekera, Lucic or Russel so coming up with trade scenarios over and over and how to move the NMC is the definition of insanity … it’s not gonna happen. Chalk it up to a bad year and let’s move on.
    How willing Would Ottawa be do dump Bobby Ryans
    Contract ? Could we get him for free or if they throw in a 3rd round pic ? Maybe a prospect or swap us for one of our 15 LH ahl dmen ? Take Bobby Ryan, sign grabner and a combo of Perri, RILEY NASH and a Possible RH dman not named Carlson or Karlson. Folin? Never heard of him Nuggets … is he any good ? What’s the chance of Skinner and j Faulk for next year’s 1st round pic and a LD prospect ? I wouldn’t trade any pics this year as it sounds like it is super deep, the 2nd round could be a steal as we pic 40th I believe

    • The Whispererer

      The 1st half of your post sounds seriously angry, so i’m going to assume you are not joking in the 2nd half, simply uninformed. The Oilers are not in any way capable of taking on the contracts you suggest, especially without trading any of the NMCs. If the Cap increases to $80 million, the Oilers will have roughly $14 million in Cap space for next season; that is before new deals for Nurse, Benning, Strome and Cagguila which will amount to at least $8.5 and quite possibly in excess of $10 if Nurse is signed long term. In addition to that they are also short 2 other forwards and a 7th Dman.

      Bobby Ryan has a Cap hit of $7.25 for 4 more years. Minimum expected contracts for Grabner ( $3.05 ) Pirri ( $2.5 ) and Nash ( $1.95 ). Skinner is under contract for 1 more year at $5.725 and Faulk for 2 more years at $4.833.
      The Oilers do not have 15 AHL LH dmen. LD currently under contract are C. Jones, W. Lagesson, and 28 year old career AHLer R. Stanton who has made it into 1 NHL game in the past 3 years. Also under team control is B.Betker whose ELC has expired and has disappointed to where he might not even be offered another contract. That’s it.

      • ROILYDoGG$

        I was coming off annoyed because every 3rd post is how we are gonna get rid of our NMC, or sign Carlson. Both is very unlikely . And why would Washington let Carlson go she the cap goes up ? They can afford him .
        We also have Lowe, Simpson plus few more. Yes I was being sarcastic on the number but we have a ton on the LH side. I didn’t crunch numbers but thought it would be tight, not that I want Bobby Ryan but what we might get to take on that contract could be a decent player or pic. Maybe we flip him after or they take on part of his deal. Phoenix and other teams have taken on contracts to get a 2nd player and it seemed like more of a viable option than some others suggested on here. Obviously if the dollars don’t work it’s a non starter.


    Christian Folin from La appears to be a late bloomer , with some big hits and an ass kicking by JJ Kairia highlight fight doesn’t look like more than a 3rd pair guy or a reach at 2nd pair . Maybe I’m wrong but he’s 26

    • Big Nuggets

      could be a 7th defensman option for next season. I don’t know much about him, I’ve just been scrolling through nhlnumbers looking for free agents for the Oilers to sign.

  • TKB2677

    I wouldn’t go big game hunting. Year after year, the huge majority of big name UFA’s sign for way too much term and money and never live up to the contract. This doesn’t just apply to the Oilers but all teams. The reason being is teams are paying these UFA’s not for what they will do in the future but what they did in the past. Plus usually, when you become a UFA, most of your best years are behind you.

    If I was the Oilers, I would be picking at the edges. Look for depth guys and guy who maybe have had a down year or 2 and are just looking for a contract to stay in the league in the hopes that you can get 1 good season out of them. Columbus did it with Gagner 2 years ago where they signed him for under 650K on a 1 yr deal. Gagner was just looking to stay in the NHL. He had a big year scoring a career high 50 pts. The Canucks sign him for 3 yrs at 3.15 mill. He went back to being Sam Gagner and had 31 pts in 74 games. The Oilers need to find that.

    • crabman


      I agree. There are times when a truly exceptional player hits FA and can still be an impact player for many more years. ie if Doughty makes it to FA next year or Tavares this year. If you have room to add one of those players, even at a high price point, they will give you years of good hockey barring a significant injury. Elite players tend to stay good longer. It’s that next tier of player that seem to really come back and bite the team in the ass. Lucic, Ladd, Erickson. All top6 players in their prime but all at the end of that prime at signing and now declining players on longterm deals being paid like the top6 players they were in their earlier career.
      CBJ did well with Gagner but that was the exception. They got him on the cheap and cast him properly as a bottom6 player that excelled at the pp. If the Oilers could find a bargin oile that I would be ecstatic. The other cheap option of a player just trying to stay in the league is the aging veteran and I have less hope in finding a gem out of that player type.

      I would still like to see them add a top6 winger for Draisaitl whether through FA, Vanek, or through a trade without giving up a roster player but I don’t think anyone would consider these moves to be big game hunting

    • ROILYDoGG$

      Vanek is too old in my option since better younger options avaible but for a dman any good options? If Mike Green is healthy do i offer him a PTO? That might be a big risk but if nothing else does Chia do it ..

      • crabman


        I agree Vanek is getting pretty long in the tooth and I wouldn’t sign him on a long deal but I think he has at least 1 more year left in him. He has never relied on speed to score his goals. He has been a good pp guy for the majority of his career, scores 34% of his points on the pp, and would add a RH shooter to the pp. I think on a 1 year deal he is a good bet.
        Green will get signed in the offseason. He won’t be around for a PTO come training camp. I think barring a trade the Oilers go into next year with the same top 6 defencemen and add a low cost #7 like they did Auvitu last year. I really like Gregor’s suggestion from the other day, Ryan Sproul.

        • ROILYDoGG$

          Good point Crabman, So where do you think they put in Vanek 2nd or 3rd pair ? And PP? Depending on pulj and if he had made progress ? I believe the management has faith in the core and the fact that they will bounce back , however adding to fill the pieces . I never considered Ryan Sproul however I’m finding more and more affordable options by UFA and RFA popping up(Dmen) .
          I was aware of our LH RFa situation but i would assume we trade them or sign.
          Plus I heard Manta suffered a good clot in his eye ? Anyone have info on that ?

          • crabman


            I am a person that believes in pairs of forwards. And Vanek has a history of playing both wings which gives options. The Nuge and McDavid should be a lock on the top line. I see Vanek as Draisaitl’s winger on the second line. I would start Lucic as a 3rd line winger paired with Strome and depending on who else is brought in I would start Khaira as the 4th line center and unless Kassian is traded he would be Khaira’s linemate.
            As far as PP, Vanek would work in the one time position on the left side of either the 1st or 2nd PP with Puljujarvi hopefully on the other PP.

  • Arfguy

    I sincerely hope that the Oilers would not make a big splash in the UFA market this year…especially on guys like JvR or John Carlson. JvR is an excellent goal scorer and power play specialist, but does not add much else to the game. John Carlson is a great defenceman, but is also playing on a really good team. I have not seen him rush. Usually, he’ll defer to Kuznetsov, Backstrom or Oshie.

    I think they should aim low or if possible, work a trade. Someone proposed Kassian to be traded. Honestly, I loved the Kassian signing in the off-season, but he was basically a no-show the entire season. If possible, I would see if Oilers might be able to get Jake Gardiner away from Toronto. Gardiner is prone to making mistakes, but he is one of the better skating defencemen and generates a lot of offence. If a trade is possible, I would see if they can trade Sekera.

    Low-key signing would be someone like Vanek or Grabner. I would also contemplate letting go of Strome to bring in someone like a Derek Ryan or Riley Nash. I am ok with Strome, but if he’s going to command $3 million AAV, I think it’s better to cut ties and bring in someone cheaper.

    • Big Nuggets

      I would consider trading Strome for a winger or defenseman and using that 3 million to sign Filpula to center the 3rd line. Filpula is a smart center that can play 200 ft and it might do wonders for Puljujarvi’s development to have a good Finnish center to play with. I don’t dislike Strome but his defensive game is weak and we already have 2 centers that we want to give the offensive zone starts to. Filpula could be leaned on defensively and still chip in some offense. a 3rd line of Lucic Filpula and Puljujarvi would actually be pretty dope.

  • Arfguy

    Another few names I’d look at are: Matt Calvert and Christian Folin. A guy like Folin can give the Oilers a little more depth on defence, if they were looking for more. I think Folin can be a cheap get. Matt Calvert…I think he’s got more potential than a guy like Patrick Maroon, who everyone seems to love. I also think Calvert can be signed to far less than his $2.9 million previous contract, given he does not have the career numbers to back up that high an asking price.

    I honestly do not get why Benning gets so much flak. Carolina is paying Brett Pesce about $4 million a season and Matt Benning is like Brett Pesce in age and stats. If Benning can be had at about $1 million AAV for the next couple of seasons, I think that’s a bargain.

    • ROILYDoGG$

      I totally agree and I’ve said that about Benning, he’s a rookie with less than 170 games . Most dmen are garbage at that point. Let’s put it this way he’s only gonna improve and get better at the 200 point mark so I say keep him