Free agency is right around the corner and the Oilers won’t be able to spend much considering what’s happening with their current cap situation. So who could we see coming in to bolster the roster? Word is that it could be a couple of veterans with one of them seemingly open for a second tour of duty. Let’s break it down.
With the Oilers not having much room to add given their current cap situation, we won’t see any big ticket guys being added to the roster. That doesn’t mean they won’t be doing anything though. The latest rumours du jours involve the team bringing in a couple of veteran guys in Blake Comeau and Kyle Brodziak to bolster the bottom six and provide some leadership. They may not be the sexiest pickups that could ever happen, but these are the kind of guys that will be available for the Oilers given their need to dive into the bargain bin. And since guys like Gregor and Spector are talking about these two players specifically, I figured that we should take a look at why the Oilers would be interested.
Comeau, a 32-year-old winger, is a veteran of more than 700 NHL games and has been a reasonably consistent performer over his 14-year career. Last season, Comeau played third minutes for the Avalanche and averaged just under 16 minutes per night (15:52) with his time being split mostly between a checking type of role at even strength and the penalty kill.
So why Comeau? The Oilers need to replace guys like Anton Slepyshev, Mark Letestu, and Iiro Pakarinen from their bottom six and Comeau would be a decent, short-term stopgap solution that can also provide some experience to an otherwise inexperienced bottom half of the roster. If he can do that while also chipping in a little bit of offence then this is a move that could be a nice upgrade from what was moved out.
In 79 regular season games played last season, Comeau scored 13 goals and added 21 assists for 34 points, his highest total since the 2015-16 season. Not impressed? Comeau’s 34 points would have tied him for fourth in team scoring last year.
COMEAU’S CAREER SO FAR
Oilers fans will remember Kyle Brodziak from his first tour of duty with the franchise after being their seventh-round pick (214th overall) back in 2003. Brodziak played in 175 games with the Oilers before being traded for picks and was generally known as a guy that people thought would be easily replaced, but his absence as a reliable centre and penalty killer was certainly felt after he was moved to Minnesota in June of 2009.
Why Brodziak? Considering how bad the Oilers were on the penalty kill last year, it’s not exactly surprising that they would be looking at some experienced penalty killers that could come on the cheap and Brodziak would certainly fit that bill. Brodziak was also 52.1% in the faceoff circle last season, and the Oilers desperately need a guy that can win some draws consistently.
Last season, in 81 games played, Brodziak put up 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points, his highest total since 2011-12 when he was still with Minnesota. Don’t like it? His 33 points would have put him in fifth place in team scoring despite only playing an average of 13:28 minutes a night with the Blues.
BRODZIAK’S CAREER SO FAR
Both Comeau and Brodziak’s names have popped up as players the Oilers could be looking at as we head into free agency on Sunday, and it’s more or less what I expected. At the time of posting, the Oilers have a little less than $11 million in cap space for next season and they still have to sign Darnell Nurse and Ryan Strome to new deals and deal with performance bonuses, which doesn’t exactly leave a lot of space for UFA shopping. Bringing in vets like Comeau and Brodziak on cheap, short-term deals makes sense because they fill spots that need tending to and should also help with the penalty kill. Even though they may not be the sexiest pickups that could ever come our way, these guys are more likely to contribute in a positive way that Iiro Pakarinen would have. Then again, maybe I’m just trying to make the best out of a tough cap situation. What do you guys think?