Draft Day and Dead Cap Space

The 2018 NHL draft “starts” 30 minutes later this year, at 5:30 MST, but don’t expect the Buffalo Sabres to call Rasmus Dahlin’s name until 5:45 p.m. There will be a video honouring the Humboldt Broncos and a speech, and then the proceedings will begin.

Peter Chiarelli reiterated yesterday he is open to acquiring a defencemen, but he isn’t locked in on right-shooting defender. He would acquire a left-shooting defender if the deal made sense. If they can land a defender who excels at EV, not just on the PP, then I’d make a deal, but I don’t feel the Oilers have to overpay for a powerplay defender.

Thoughts from Dallas…

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1. It isn’t exciting, but I expect the Oilers will use their 10th overall pick. In order to land a bonafide NHL defender, they will have to offer more than just the 10th overall pick, and with their organizational depth still thin, I don’t think it would be wise to trade the pick and one of their young, top-end prospects, Jesse Puljujarvi or Kailer Yamamoto, to get a D-man. They will be better off long-term to do nothing and simply make a smart choice at #10.

2. If Ty Smith, Adam Boqvist and Barrett Hayton are available at ten, I would take Hayton. This pick has to become a solid NHL player. It would be great if he became spectacular, but I think Hayton is more of a safe pick. That doesn’t mean he isn’t talented, I just view him as more of a sure thing to be a steady NHL player. The Oilers don’t have much centre depth in the organization and I see Hayton as an excellent third line centre behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

3. We haven’t seen many “trade ups” from the draft recently, but if there is one tonight I could see Detroit moving up from #6 to #3 in a trade with Montreal. The Wings have the most picks in the draft with eleven including two firsts, two seconds and three thirds. Yesterday Wings GM Ken Holland and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin had a lengthy conversation prior to the GM meetings at the Dallas Fairmont. I saw them move away from the crowd and talk. Maybe they were discussing Max Pacioretty, but the Habs really like draft prospect Jesperi Kotkaniemi and if they believe they could still get him at #6 I wonder if Bergevin trades down. The Habs already have ten picks in this draft, so moving down three spots just to get a 2nd or 3rd round pick might not entice them, especially when they already have four 2nd rounders, but I think Detroit will try to move up.

4. Is today the day Pierre Dorian trades Erik Karlsson? Dorian will want at least three quality pieces for Karlsson. I know we have heard a lot about Vegas being interested, but don’t rule out Tampa Bay. Bolts GM Steve Yzerman is loaded with really good young prospects and a lot of NHL depth. Would Tyler Johnson, Jake Dotchin and Boris Katchouk along with a draft pick be enough? I think Tampa Bay can offer a better overall package than Vegas. Tampa Bay wants to win, and I think Yzerman is still in the mix to land Karlsson.

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5. I keep hearing the St.Louis Blues are shopping Colton Parayko and I don’t understand why. I’ve heard they’d like him to be more aggressive, but that isn’t in his nature. He skates very well, is a really good passer, has an absolute bomb of a shot and he shoots right. He is also a good defender and at 6’6″, 230 pounds he is hard to get around. He has scored 33, 35 and 35 points in his three NHL seasons, and he has scored the 26th most EV points, 76, among D-men over that span. He is a legit top-pairing right shot defender, and the Blues have two of them with him and Alex Pietrangelo. Parayko has a $5.5 million cap hit for the next four seasons. If the Blues trade him, they will have sellers remorse in the future.

6. Bruce Garrioch reported the Senators would like to trade Craig Anderson. He is 37 years old and has two years at $4.75 million remaining on his contract. The Buffalo Sabres elected not to qualify  goalie Robin Lehner so he will be a free agent. Would teams who are looking for a goalie, mainly the Islanders, rather sign Lehner, and give up no assets, or acquire Anderson? I’d go with the former. Anderson’s age, contract and fact he had a .898sv% in 58 games last season make him a difficult asset to move.

7. I know it is only a $300,000 cap hit, but I see some concern with the Eric Gryba buyout. “We just figured he wouldn’t be in our lineup next year, it would clear up a contract and it would give Eric a chance to pursue his career elsewhere,” said Peter Chiarelli when I asked him why they made the move.

He also said they considered the cap penalty, but in the end decided to buy him out. I dislike it because now the Oilers have $1.633m in dead cap space due from the Gryba and Benoit Pouliot buyouts. Pouliot carries most of it at $1.333m, but adding Gryba’s means while the rest of the NHL, at least teams without buyouts on their cap, will be able to spend $79.5m on player salaries this year, the Oilers will only have $77.87m to spend on this year’s roster.

8. His buyout just enhanced the bad decision to sign him to a two-year deal last summer. He played 21 NHL games, and it cost them $1.5million in cash, and now a wasted $600,000 in cap space over two seasons. That is simply bad asset management, not to mention it makes you wonder if Chiarelli and his staff can accurately assess NHL defenders. Did they learn from this mistake? We won’t know until we see what trades or signings they make this summer, but after grossly overvaluing Griffen Reinhart’s ability in 2015 their decision to sign Gryba to two-years last summer suggests they are still struggling with assessing which type of D-men can play in today’s NHL. The buyout of Gryba is much more than the small wasted cap space, it is another example of the Oilers incorrectly evaluating the skills needed to be an NHL defender. These types of mistakes need to stop if the organization expects to improve.

9. The Oilers have Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, William Lagesson, Ryan Mantha, Ryan Stanton, Keegan Lowe and Joel Persson (likely staying in Sweden) poised to play in the Bakersfield this year, so there wasn’t room for Gryba, and it makes sense to have more ice time for their young defenders, but had they correctly assessed Gryba last summer they only would have signed him for one year, not two. The Gryba signing and subsequent buyout less than one year after signing him reminds me of Chiarelli description of last season “death by a thousand cuts,” as the Oilers have had too many self-inflicted cuts recently.

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10. My curiosity created a make-work project for myself after looking at the Oilers buyouts. Here is list of other teams who have dead cap space, either through buyouts, retained salary, recapture penalties or vets buried in the minors. ** The Rangers and Sabres dead space could lower if Smith or Moulson play for them.***

New York Rangers: $6.936m on Dan Girardi buyout ($3.61m for two years, then $1.1m for final three years) and $3.325m on Brendan Smith buried in minors.
Columbus: $4.448m on Scott Hartnell buyout (three years with $3m this year and $1.25m next two years) and Fedor Tyutin buyout ($1.458m for two years).
Buffalo: $3.975m buried in minors for Matt Moulson. Cody Hodgson buyout is odd one, with -$458,000 this year, but next four years it is at $791,677.
Boston: $3.93m on Matt Beleskey retained ( two years, $1.9m), Dennis Seidenberg buyout ( two years, $1.166) and Jimmy Hayes buyout (one year $866,667).
Arizona: $3.361m on Mike Ribeiro buyout (two years, $1.94m) and Mike Smith retained salary ($1.416m for one year).
Carolina: $2.641m on Alex Semin buyout ($2.33m for three years) and Marcus Kruger retained salary ($308,333 for one year).
Los Angeles: $2.403m on Matt Greene buyout ($833,333 for one year), Mike Richard recapture penalty ($1.32m for two years) and Richards terminated contract ($250,000 for two years, then $700,000 for three and $900,000 for two more).
New Jersey: $2.141m on Mike Cammalleri buyout ($1.667m for three years), Devante Smith-Pelley buyout ($225,000 for one year) and recapture penalty on Ilya Kovalchuk ($250,000 for six years).
San Jose: $2.016m on Paul Martin buyout. *His buyout cap hit will be $1.416 next year.*
Vegas: $2.0m on retained salary for Derick Brassard.
Florida: $1.895m on Jussi Jokinen buyout ($1.33m for one year) and Jason Demers retained salary ($562,500 for three years,)
Tampa Bay: $1.83m on Matt Carle buyout for two years.
Ottawa: $1.75m retained on Dion Phaneuf for three years.
Detroit: $1.66m for Stephen Weiss buyout for three years.
Edmonton: $1.633m on Pouliot and Gryba buyouts for two years.
Dallas: $1.5m on Antti Niemi buyout for one year.
Toronto: $1.2m retained on Phil Kessel for four years.
Nashville: $1.66m on Viktor Stalberg buyout for one year.
Calgary: $904,167 on Lance Bouma buyout ($766,667, one year) and Ryan Murphy buyout ($137,500, one year).
Vancouver: $800,000 on retained salary for Roberto Luongo for four years.
Winnipeg: $583,333 on Mark Stuart buyout for one year.
Anaheim: $450,000 on Mark Fistric buyout for one year.

Montreal, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota and St.Louis have no “dead” cap space.


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  • Shane

    Sorry but I don’t get Hayton. If you just want a 3rd line center just trade the pick for one. Why gamble and develop him for 3-5 yrs just to be a bottom 6 forward? Your 1st round pick should get you a difference maker. If your scouts don’t see one imo trade it.

    • Die Hard Oiler Fan

      Agree 100%. It is widely speculated that Kotkaniemi will now go in the top 10. As such, almost all draft ranking lists from the most respected sources include the following (order may vary)….

      1. Dahlin
      2. Svechnikov
      3. Zadina
      4. Tkachuk
      5. Hughes
      6. Dobson
      7. Bouchard
      8. Wahlstrom
      9. Boqvist
      10. Kotkaniemi

      A few, of the above are certainly beyond our reach, but guaranteed at least one of the above will be available. No matter who it is, I see no reason reason to pass them over and pick Hayton…quite simply it would be ignoring the BPA principle. Some have suggested Boqvist may fall out of the top 10 because of either size, concussions and/or play in his own end of the rink. Remember Boqvist is one of the youngest players in the draft, and as such will get bigger and stronger. Anyway, if the choice comes down to one of these two, to me it isn’t close ….gotta go with Boqvist….his upside is huge. Ultimately hoping we get either our RHD of the future (Dobson, Bouchard or Boqvist) or Wahlstrom.

    • Jason Gregor

      That was realistic expectation. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t be a top-six forward. Ty Smith is projected as a #4 Dman who is good on PP. Boqvist similar. They all might become more, but at #10 you aren’t getting a player who is projected as a lock to be a top-six forward or top-two defender.

      • Shane

        #3 centers in the NHL are usaully junior superstars. Strome, Moreau, Cogliano, Gagnier, Perreault, were all amazing juniors with #1 center upside and accomplished way more than Hayton. If Hayton even makes it he’s more comparable to Nate Thompson, Brandon Sutter, Mark McNeil mold. You’re homerun 1 in 20 comparable is maybe Bo Horvat. I would use a late 1st or early 2nd on him but not top 10. Not when you have the choice of a dman who has outscored Seth Jones, Pietrengelo, Subban, or the top dman in a stacked swedish under 18 team.

      • RemendalovesSalt

        Why is it that all summer you’ve been so negative on the 10th overall pick? You have stated that you don’t get anybody or that nobody has ever went on to greatness at that spot. Its just luck of the draw. Look at all the greats that were picked after the number 10 spot. Duds can be picked at any spot.

  • Bmutha

    No thanks to Hayton. I don’t think you draft guy at #10 that you hope could one day be a 3rd line centre…I think they should aim a little higher with the pick.

  • Jon123

    Has Parayko ever actually played top pairing though? He looks great when I watch him play, but do we really know if he can handle top pairing? Some guys look great when they’re further down the lineup but then look awful when they’re asked to move up. Not saying that’s Parayko or not but I’m just asking has pietrangelo been injured or has there been some games where we saw Parayko handle top pairing?

    • crabman

      I think the fact Parayko looks like he could be a top pair defenceman rather than him already being one is what would make the pricetag of aquiring him more reasonable. If the Oilers, or any other team, traded for him he would still cost alot but not as much as a true, already established #1D. Even if he just played on the second pair and Larsson stayed playing the toughs, Parayko would be a great addition to the team.
      I think it would be like Seth Jones being moved as a player that looked like he was a top pair guy. I think if he were to be moved today after establishing himself as one he would cost more to aquire than Johansen. Don’t get me wrong Ryan Johansen is a very good player but not good enough to get Seth Jones in a trade made today.

  • JayTee

    I don’t get why Gregor, Button, and Stauffer in particular are so high on Hayton. If you consider him a 3rd line C, that is a terrible pick to waste at 10th overall. I’d rather take Veleno, Farabee, or Kravtsov at 10 in terms of forwards.

    • Jason Gregor

      You might want to look at history of 10th overall picks. I think you might be overestimating what the pick will become. Sure, it might become an elite player, but no guarantee. And Veleno, Farabee and Kravtsov are no more guarantees than Hayton at this point. It is rare to get an Anze Kopitar type (11th in 2005) at the 10th pick.

      • McDavid_POTUS_2018

        If I recall correctly, a Mr. Magnus Paajarvi was drafted 10th overall. Speaks to your comment here Jason, far more uncertainty at No. 10 than there is right at the top of the draft (and exponentially more uncertainty as you go into later rounds). I agree that most people don’t realize that the value of draft picks drops substantially within the first round, in addition to dropping substantially round to round.

  • E-Mac

    Would rather take Veleno over Hayton if that what it’s coming too. Serron Noel would be a better pick than Hayton. May as well trade down if we are actually considering not taking BPA at #10.

  • E-Mac

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading more on this draft but it is reminding me of the 2003 Draft depth wise. Let us pray we don’t pick a MAP and it works out.

    • Rick

      Actually the Detroit free press reported that the Wings are looking to move down a few spots and add an additional pick. Who knows. I thought it interesting as this could be an opportunity for the Oilers to move up for a specific D-man.


    If they make a trade for a defenseman, it will probably have to include Klefbom. I think a healthy Klefbom can be the offensive, powerplay defenseman that Chiarelli is looking for. And they don’t have to give up anything for him.

    As much as being patient can suck, I think it’s worth it with Klefbom. Draft and develop is the proven way to win.

  • bazmagoo

    The Gryba buyout reaks of the old guard philosophy. Let’s be nice to Eric, because he’s a good guy. Sorry, but you need to be more savvy in business. Gryba wasn’t fulfilling his contract, and should have been made to ride the pine in the minors during the next season.

  • crabman

    2) maybe I’m just looking for something to get really excited about but I think Rangers go off board leaving the Oilers the choice of not only Boqvist, Smith and Hayton but also 1 of Dobson or Wahlstrom. I take whomever is available of those 2, then Boqvist, Smith and a few other options before I land on Hayton. I think Smith is as safe a bet with a higher ceiling and Boqvist my bust but if he turns out he could be the steal of the draft. The Oilers could address center with the 40th pick drafting Olofsson if available or maybe Dudas in the 3rd. Both provide good offense in their respective leagues. At 10 I think you go BPA and that osn’t going to be Hayton.

    3) If Montreal really wan’t Kotkaniemi they nees to take him at 3 If they really want to make a splash and add 2 centers I wonder if Pacioretty gets them into the top 15 to get Veleno? Pacioretty and 1 or 2 of their 2nds?

    4) TB with Karlsson? Congratulations to the 2019 Stanley Cup champion Tanpa Bay Lightning.

    5) Parayko as an Oiler would look great Not sure the price though.

    7) Buy out made no sense. Better of telling Gryba not to bother coming in and just keep cashing his cheques. If you wanted to be nice find him a team that wants him on loan.

    9) Is Joel Persson coming over this year? I thought the plan was another year developing in the SHL.

  • ed from edmonton

    Doesn’t the Gryba buy out give the Oil an extra 300K cap space this year (300K buy out cost vs 600K cost for buried in AHL)? Is Pouliot off the books next year.

    • crabman

      as per cap friendly

      What is a Buried Contract?
      Teams do not receive full cap relief when a player on a one-way NHL contract is reassigned to the American Hockey League, or is loaned to a team in another professional league.
      The players salary cap hit, minus the sum of the minimum NHL salary for the respective season and $375,000, still counts towards the team’s salary cap total.
      The cap hit relief is therefore equal to the minimum salary of the respective season + $375,000:

      2018-19: $650,000 + $375,000 = $1,025,000

      Gryba had a salary of $900K so his entire salary could be buried in the AHL next year.

      And Pouliot has 3 more years at $1.33M left on his buyout

  • Oiler Al

    Parayko was rocking in Oilers back yard [StAlbert & Ft,Mac.,] and could have been had as a pick,but Stu McGregor taught only the BCHL and the Oil Kings produced NHL types.

  • Moneyball

    Point number 8 is debatable. The game this past year changed a lot from the previous year. The physical style of play that Gryba deployed decreased in value a lot. This could not be predicted. Bad bets on defencemen look like Nikita Nikitin and Mark Fayne. Gryba was a reasonable et for a #7 defencemen.