We are just days away from the official beginning of NHL Free Agency and while teams are free to talk to players right now, the Oilers haven’t really been linked to very many players.
Now, I suppose that’s not exactly shocking considering the Oilers cap situation but I do think that we’ll see them shave some money off and find a way to add two or three free agents.
They won’t be big names but the players that Ken Holland decides to add on July 1st, or afterwards, will be crucial to the teams’ success next season. Obviously, the backup goalie will be crucial, but so will the wingers that they add. If this team doesn’t get more scoring from the forwards on the team that aren’t Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, then they have no hope in hell of making the playoffs.
Given their cap situation, I doubt that the Oilers will be able to just pluck whoever they want from this year’s crop of free agents. They’ll to have multiple backup plans ready to go in order to fill out their roster.
With all of that in mind, here are my top ten free agents that I think the Oilers should be considering:
10 – DERICK BRASSARD – ($5.0 million – 31 years-old)
The Oilers need a third line centre who can generate some offence. Brassard could do that. He had just 14 goals in 70 games last season, but he was traded twice, so it’s easy to see why his offence may have dipped. In 2017/18, he had 21 goals, so I think he’s still a capable offensive player. He would be a really good option for the Oilers, but I’m worried he might be too expensive. If we’re in the middle of July and the Oilers could snag him for around $2 million a year, they should be all over it. I’m not sure if he’ll come that cheap though.
9 – MIKE SMITH – ($5.66 million – 37 years-old)
The positives to this signing would be that Smith is capable of going on hot streaks and being a very good goaltender, he has experience in a Canadian market, and his best years were with Dave Tippett behind the bench. Smith at $2 million would not be a horrible signing, it just isn’t a great signing and the ceiling for him in Edmonton isn’t very high.
He’s getting towards the end of his career, so my big concern would be that we don’t know when his play will completely fall off a cliff. Nobody can beat father time. Still, he’s a decent ‘Plan C’ if they can’t get Mrazek or make a trade.
8 – VALTTERI FILPPULA – (2.75 million – 35 years-old)
As a one year stop gap, Filppula is a perfect fit for the Oilers. He had 17 goals last season and even though he’s a little older, I don’t think his production will fall off a clip. He can be relied on at even strength, kill penalties, and contribute on their second powerplay unit.
The cost might be out of their range, especially if they’re more keen on adding a winger, but if they buyout someone like Sam Gagner, they might have $2.5 million to throw at a good third line centre like Filppula.
7 – GUSTAV NYQUIST – ($4.75 million – 29 years-old)
Pierre LeBrun has linked the Oilers to Nyquist and it makes sense considering Holland drafted him when he was in Detroit. If the Oilers could add a player who consistently scored between 20-30 goals and can play both wings, they should, but Nyquist might be a little out of their price range. Would love to see him here, but cap space would need to be cleared for it to happen.
6 – DANIEL CARR (750k – 27 years-old)
Carr won himself the AHL’s MVP award after posting 71 points in 52 games with Vegas’ farm team, the Chicago Wolves. In the NHL, he has 15 goals and 20 assists in his 100 career games. He can move pretty well, he’s a local guy as well so I think there’s a fit here. I really want to see the Oilers take a flyer on a pair of guys that make under $1 million a season to see if they can get another Alex Chiasson like season from a value contract.
5 – BRANDON PIRRI – (650k – 28 years-old)
Pirri played in just 31 games with the Vegas Golden Knights last season but still managed to put up 12 goals. In 259 career NHL games, he’s scored 72 goals. That’s an average of 23 goals every 82 games. He’s always been able to score. His 1.4 goals/60 this past season would have put him third on the Oilers.
Now, consistency and foot speed have been his issues, but he would get a chance at some very meaningful minutes on the Oilers. I would love Pirri on a one year deal at $1 million.
4 – JOONAS DONSKOI – ($1.9 million – 27 years-old)
The interest in Donskoi has been described as “tremendous” and that will make it difficult for the Oilers to sign him. I really don’t think they should be paying a player like Donskoi more than $2.25 million and I can see another team paying closer to $3 million for him, and for good reason. While he only scored 14 goals last season, 13 of them were at even strength. His goals/60 was 0.76, which would have ranked him seventh among Oilers forwards last season.
3 – BRANDON TANEV – ($1.15 million – 27 years-old)
In the right situation, I think Brandon Tanev could be just as effective as Donskoi and he might cost $1 million less. Like Donskoi, he scored 14 goals last season, 12 at even strength, and he can kill penalties. His 0.76 goals/60 is also identical to Donskoi’s. On top of that, he’s comfortable playing both wings, which the Oilers should value. I would love to see Tanev here on a two-year deal with an AAV around $1.9 million.
2 – PETR MRAZEK – ($1.5 million – 27 years-old)
Mrazek is clearly the best option for the Oilers. He should be less than $3 million, he’s under 30 years old, and he has experience with a big workload, having started at least 40 games three times. His relationship with Ken Holland should help as well.
Last season, he had a 2.39 GAA and a 0.914 SV% with the Carolina Hurricanes. In 233 career NHL games, he has a 2.61 GAA and a 0.911 SV%. Those are the numbers of a very solid 1B goaltender.
1 – BRETT CONNOLLY ($1.5 million – 27 years-old)
Connolly had the 9th most points among UFA forwards this past season (22-24-46) and that’s despite the fact he played a full minute less per game than any of the top ten point producers available on this year’s free agent market. On average, he played 13:19 a game last season with the Capitals and less than a minute of that was powerplay time. His most common linemate over the last three years was Lars Eller and while Eller is a fine player, I can imagine a scenario where Connolly clicks with one of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Connor McDavid and becomes a consistent 25 goal scorer. He doesn’t shy away from physical play either, which should make him a fan favourite in Edmonton.
If the cost is between $3.3-3.75 million, I’d be thrilled with the addition of Connolly.
After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.
- When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday)
- Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
- How much – $1000/team or get in on the $900 Early Bird price until July 10th
- Teams – Groups of Four (4)
- How – Book your team here
As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.