During meetings with season tickets holders this week Bob Nicholson discussed a few of the major needs the team will have heading into the off-season. In addition to trying to find a top pairing defenseman he mentioned the team would like to sign one or two wingers.
As Tyler Yaremchuk pointed out earlier this week the Oilers will likely have anywhere from four to five million dollars to find help on the wing. The projection from Yaremchuk is assuming the new General Manager can’t clear up any cap space via trade or buyout.
If the Oilers are actually going to find a legit scoring winger, they will likely need to spend all of the available cap space on one player. Based on a $5 million max, here are the options they may have this offseason.
There are a number of players I think the Oilers would like to get their hands on but won’t be able to afford unless they somehow miraculously move a significant amount of salary elsewhere. This list would include the likes of Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner and Anders Lee.
ON THE EDGE
There is another group of players that may end up being in the Oilers range depending on the level of creativity brought to the table by the new management team.
Michael Ferland – In a perfect world, the Oilers should be looking to sign a winger whose two biggest assets are speed and skill and I’m not sure Ferland actually fits the bill. There were rumours prior to the deadline that his asking price will be close to $6,000,000 per year but I have a feeling that will come down before anything is signed.
Jordan Eberle – Yes, Jordan Eberle. The former Oiler has scored 39 goals in 150 games since being traded for Ryan Strome. With just 14 goals through 69 (nice) games this year Eberle won’t be getting anywhere near $6,000,000. Do you think Eberle would want to come back to Edmonton?
Gustav Nyquist – I really like Nyquist, always have. Here’s the issue; he’s already making $4,750,000 and is on pace to set a career high for points in a season. I think he would be a perfect fit in the Oilers top six but they may have to move a little bit salary to fit him in.
Wayne Simmonds – Simmonds should fall within the Oilers price range but I don’t think he would be a good fit. I mentioned earlier the team needs to focus on speed and skill, he doesn’t check those boxes.
Ryan Dzingel – I like Dzingel because he’s one of the younger UFA’s available and is capable of playing all three positions up front if needed. He’s now put together back-to-back 23-goal seasons and for the first time in his career, he’ll be looking to cash in on a big deal.
Mats Zuccarello – Zuccarello was having a nice season offensively before suffering an injury shortly after being dealt to the Stars. He’s at .83 points per game this season and would likely end up costing the Oilers almost all of the cap space they have to work with.
IN THE RANGE
These are players the Oilers wouldn’t have any problem fitting into their cap structure even without freeing up additional space via trade.
Alex Chiasson – I’m very intrigued to see what the market for Chiasson will be like this off-season. He scored about 85 percent of his goals in the first half of the season but any time a player can hit the 20-goal mark they will be looking for at least a couple of million bucks.
Brett Connolly – Connolly can put the puck in the back of the net. He has already hit the 20-goal mark this season and had 15 in each of the previous two campaigns. He’s being paid $1,500,000 this season and I could see him landing in the $3,000,000-$4,000,000 range next year.
Thomas Vanek – I know a lot of people would be a fan of a Vanek signing if the price is right. He could help on the second power play unit but in a perfect world, Vanek would be the second addition on the wing, not the primary acquisition.
Marcus Johansson – I’ve always thought Johansson was capable of more offensively. Prior to last year, he had four consecutive seasons with at least 40 points. He would provide the new coach with some versatility being able to play both on the wing and down the middle.
Richard Panik – He scored 22 goals and 44 points with the Hawks in 2016-17. I would like to see what he would be capable of playing alongside Draisaitl or McDavid for a full season. I think the results would be considered a good bang for your buck.
THE IDEAL SCENARIO
I think it would be considered a solid off-season if the Oilers can somehow to add one player from my “On The Edge” group and one player from my “In The Range” group.
If they are going to get their hands on a pair of these players, they will need to find some additional cap space. Adding Gustav Nyquist and one of the more affordable players into the top nine would be a major success.
In the end they will probably have to end up settling for just one of these players, who do you want it to be?