With the window to qualify restricted free agents now over, a whole batch of new and interesting unrestricted free agents have been dumped in the bargain bin. Given Edmonton’s ugly cap situation, it makes a lot of sense for Peter Chiarelli to take a dive to find some under-the-radar bargains to add to the roster next season.
The Oilers are looking good down the middle and on the left side of the blueline, but the two biggest needs the team has are righty defencemen and scoring wingers. They currently have about $11 million in free cap room but need to give new deals to Ryan Strome and Darnell Nurse. After that, the team should have about $3-4 million to work with in free agency.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. Which, if any, bargain bin free agents should the Oilers be interested in to fill these holes?
Who’s out there?
Tobias Rieder: Originally drafted by the Oilers in 2011 and dealt to the Coyotes, Rieder is a good skater who plays an effective two-way game. He can chip in a little offensively and kill penalties. He shoots left and has played all three forward positions in the past.
Riley Sheahan: The Oilers don’t have a true fourth-line centre now that Mark Letestu is gone so Riley Sheahan could fill in that role. Save for a miserable two-goal season in 2016-17, Sheahan has consistently been good for around 10 goals since he broke into the league. His calling card, though, is a guy who can win draws and kill penalties.
Anthony Duclair: A key piece heading back to the Coyotes in the Keith Yandle to New York deal, Anthony Duclair broke out for 20 goals and 44 points as a rookie in 2015-16. He’s come nowhere close to replicating that since then though, scoring 16 goals over his last two seasons. Still, Duclair is a left-shooting winger who turns 23 years old in August.
Devante Smith-Pelly: Despite playing a key role in Washington’s Stanley Cup victory, Devante Smith-Pelly finds himself on the open market yet again this summer. Smith-Pelly scored just seven goals during the regular season, but he matched that in the playoffs with seven goals in 24 games. Smith-Pelly can play up and down the lineup but seems to thrive best in a checking role as he’s never consistently been able to find offence at the NHL level. Welp… Smith-Pelly just signed a one-year deal with the Caps. Moving on.
Daniel Carr: A former undrafted free agent signing by the Montreal Canadiens out of Union, Daniel Carr has yet to carve out a consistent role at the NHL level. Despite some solid AHL success, Carr never played in more than 40 games in a season with the Habs. He’s scored 14 goals in 94 games isn’t flashy, but his AHL and NCAA scoring numbers make him an intriguing risk option.
Nail Yakupov: Edmonton’s former first-overall pick from the 2012 draft is back on the open market. Yakupov scored nine goals in 58 games with the Colorado Avalanche last season and ended up being a healthy scratch for the team during the playoffs. I have a really difficult time imagining Yakupov returning to Edmonton, but he does sort of fit the team’s current need.
Brandon Davidson: Could we see Brandon Davidson round three? He was drafted by the team in 2010, traded for David Desharnais prior to the playoff run in 2017, re-acquired off waivers last season, and then dealt for a third-round pick at the trade deadline in 2018. He’s a hard-working lefty defenceman who’s familiar with the team so he could be ideal for the seventh defenseman role.
Dylan DeMelo: If the Oilers are looking for a righty defenceman instead, they could sign former Sharks blueliners Dylan DeMelo. He’s played 133 games over three NHL seasons, and while he doesn’t produce any offence, he plays a calm and consistent game. He’s sort of like the right-handed version of Davidson in that regard.
Jordan Subban: This would be a gamble. Jordan Subban was dealt by the Canucks to the Kings for Nic Dowd mid-way through the 2017-18 season and Los Angeles decided to let him go. Subban had back-to-back 36-point seasons with Utica in the AHL but imploded for only 13 points in 52games this year. He’s got a lot of skill, but, at 23, is quickly losing his status as a prospect.
Anyone else? These are just the names I found interesting. There’s a full list of unqualified players here.
What say you, Nation? Should the Oilers be in on any of these unqualified free agents?