Handcuffed by a lack of cap space, it was a quiet start to the offseason by Oiler’s GM Peter Chiarelli. Quiet doesn’t mean bad, as he still managed to grab a pair of useful NHL forwards, which the team needed, but he didn’t go out and get the legitimate top-six winger that many hoped he would.
There’s still a chance that Chiarelli finds a way to offload one of Milan Lucic or Andrej Sekera this summer, but I’d say we’re suckers if we hold our breath waiting for that to happen.
So that means, the roster we see right now will almost certainly give us the lineup we see when the puck drops next season. That lineup will produce one of four outcomes:
- They make the playoffs and go on a run, winning one or more rounds.
- They make the playoffs, but exit early.
- They barely miss the playoffs but get close.
- They fail miserably and get another lottery pick.
Those are basic, but generally, that’s what could happen next year. Injuries and other factors could impact how the season will be perceived, but when I think about next offseason, I think there will be two likely approaches:
- The Oilers have a good year and will be looking to add one more piece to put them over the top.
- The Oilers have a bad year and they’ll look to completely revamp things.
Both those options would require the Oiler’s freeing up some cap space, which is actually a legitimate possibility. Let me explain.
There was plenty of talk that a Milan Lucic trade would be made after his signing bonus was paid on July 1st this year when in reality, the most ideal spot to trade him would be after July 1st, 2019.
If a team were to take Lucic next summer AFTER his $3 million bonus is paid. This would be the breakdown of his contract:
|Year||Cap Hit||Base Salary||Signing Bonus||Total Salary|
So in 2020, the Oilers could pay his $3 million bonus. So the team that gets him, would pay him $3 million. $4 million, $5 million, $4 million over the final four years, despite getting a $6 million cap hit.
It’s confusing as hell, but you can see why it would be easier to move Lucic next summer.
Similiar to Lucic, Sekera’s salary and cap hit are different starting next season. Any team that picks him up, will only be paying him $4.5 million despite getting a $5.5 million cap hit.
Andrej Sekera does not have any signing bonuses in his contract, but what he does have is a limited no-trade clause, which begins next summer.
Starting on July 1st, 2019 he must submit a list of 15 teams that he would agree to be dealt to, where as of right now, he could shoot down any deal he pleases.
The Russell situation is similar to Sekera’s. Starting next summer, his base salary and cap hit are the same, but he does have to submit a 10 team no-trade list.
2019-20 might not even be the easiest time to deal Russell, although it would be simpler than this summer. In 2020-21, he has a $1.0 million bonus that gets paid on July 1st, a salary of just $1.5 million, and he still carries the same $4.0 million cap hit.
On top of a “trade friendly” contract, his no-trade list increases to 15 teams this summer.
In summary, if Peter Chiarelli needs to clear out cap space next summer, he’ll have a much easier time doing it than this year. That’s another reason why I’m happy he didn’t sign any players to long-term deals this summer. There’s a chance for this team to actually create some cap flexibility next summer, the team just has to be patient.