106

A look at what’s left for the Oilers

Ken Holland stayed quiet on day one of NHL free agency while certain role players went for way more than I thought they would. I thought players like Joonas Donskoi and Brandon Tanev would have been signed for around $2 million, instead they each got more than $3.5 million.

Brett Connolly coming in at just $3.25 million surprised me, I thought he’d get closer to $4 million. I wish the Oilers would have brought him in at that price but the term likely scared them off and I really don’t blame Holland for not wanting to go longer than three years.

The Oilers did take care of the bottom part of their roster, signing Alex Chiasson, Jujhar Khaira, Markus Granlund, and Tomas Jurco. What those moves do if give the Oilers a bit of certainty with their salary cap situation. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Ken Holland currently has $5.75 million in open cap space according to PuckPedia (if we assume that the Oilers will bury Brandon Manning in the AHL before the start of next season) and has 12 forwards, six defenseman, and two goaltenders under contract for next season. Assuming that the 7th defensemen will be someone like Caleb Jones, Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear, or someone on an entry-level deal, Holland has about $4.75 million left to spend this summer.

Now, he could go to the trade market to find the top six forward that the Oilers desperately need, but he could also look around at some unrestricted free agents who are still kicking around. 

HIGH-END OPTIONS

Ther one big fish still swimming in the UFA pond is Marcus Johansson. Simply put: he’s well out of Edmonton’s price range. Even if the Oilers moved out someone like Sam Gagner or Kris Russell, I don’t see them wanting to throw over $6 million at someone like Johansson. Aside from him, there are a few other good looking options available elsewhere.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Ryan Dzingel will likely come in between $5-6 million and even if it’s on the lower end of that projection, it is still out of the Oilers price range.

One name that would be a great fit in the Oiler’s top six is Michael Ferland. A few months ago, there was talk that Ferland was asking for close to $6 million a season in free agency but I think he’ll be looking at something closer to the $4 million range.

It would put the Oilers right up to the salary cap ceiling so this would really only be possible if they moved on from Russell or Gagner, which will be very tough to do. It’s also worth noting that there is a small handful of teams who have the money and need for a player like Ferland. Right now, I would say it’s very unlikely, but if his price drops in a week or so, the Oilers should be all over Ferland. 

THE NEXT TIER

There is a significant drop off in talent from the four players I listed above to the next wave of free agents. However, that also means the next group of unrestricted free agents will be much cheaper. 

None of the guys I’m about to go through are bonafide top six wingers, but they could increase the competition for those minutes in Edmonton.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

They’re being connected to Pat Maroon once again and that makes sense for a few reasons. Maroon has proven that he can score on Connor McDavid’s wing and this past season with St. Louis, he showed that he’s a very good bottom six winger. If Maroon ends up here, I’d really hope it’s for no more than the $2.15 million the team paid Alex Chiasson. I like what ‘The Big Rig’ brings to the lineup, but the Oilers have lots of slow players in their lineup already. I wouldn’t mind a player with a little bit more speed.

The rest of the names that would likely interest Edmonton are mainly centremen. Brian Boyle is still unsigned after scoring 18 goals in 73 games last season. He’s a solid veteran player who can contribute at even strength and on the powerplay while helping out on the powerplay. He made $2 million last season I would doubt he will cost more than that this season.

Derick Brassard is coming off a rough year that saw him bounce between three different organizations. He’s 31-years-old and while I would be a little concerned that his performance will continue to decline, he’s just one year removed from a 20 goal season. He might spark the Oilers bottom six and give them some offensive production away from their big three players. It’s tough to gauge what he would cost though. He might command close to what Valtteri Filppula got and that likely puts him out of the Oilers price range.

Looking at that group, I would love to see the Oilers shave out a little bit of money and go after someone like Michael Ferland. If that doesn’t happen, and I doubt it will, I could see the Oilers going after a winger on the trade market to fill out their top six.

As much as a Pat Maroon return would be a great story, they have so many bottom six wingers that I’m not sure it would be smart to throw $2 million at someone who could end up being just another big, bottom six body. If the trade market doesn’t offer a solution and Holland feels pressed to bring in another free agent, I would prefer that it’s a player who can provide them with some help down the middle of the ice.


  • Joy S. Lee

    Personally, I hope they go after younger cheap options with higher ceilings – with something to prove – to round out the roster. I’d target Kerby Rychel and Marko Dano, for example. If one catches lightning they would also become a longer term option, since they are young enough to continue improving while filling out the prospect development currently in the system. If you’re going to develop from within, you need a large and youthful pool of prospects in what is fast becoming a younger man’s game. Unproven prospects come cheaper but it is a risk-reward game with a bigger potential return on the cheap, something that fits the Oilers present situation.

  • TrueOrangeBlue

    so im a die hard oil fan living in calgary and obviously pay attention to what our rival in the city i live in does. Its like anything you can do i can do better. I draft a french canadian skilled forward so will we. you sign our ex goalie so will we. you sign an ex player of ours (davidson) almost maroon. well sign an ex player in granlund. i find it super odd and also competitive. i think it may just reignite even more fire in the battle of alberta. well wait and see….

  • TrueOrangeBlue

    but i know forsure talbot is never going to be 16-17 talbot again. after the twins were born he was never as focused. personal life plays a huge part of on ice product

  • blobbo

    Face it, this year’s roster was always going to be Team Kijiji. Holland has been good so far at finding low cost spare parts to glue together short term. Finding a nice, shiny forward isn’t going to make the rest of the roster nice and shiny, though.

    Next year represents more cap relief and another year of development for the kids on the farm. Yeah, I know people are tired of “next year” talk but it’s reality. Baby steps. I don’t know, low expectations are better than no expectations. I had zero faith in Chiarelli. At least Holland is herding these cats in the right direction.

    If you want some comic relief, go to Flamesnation. Those guys are yelling at each other and are ready to put Treliving’s head on a stick for signing Talbot.

    • Yeah, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but this is the right way. I think Holland probably told the team as much when the two sides first started talking. No quick fixes. Holland also strikes me as a shrewd evaluator of talent: drafting Datsyuk in the sixth round, for example. I’d be willing to bet he has studied the Oilers’ farm system in great detail and already has a plan in motion, and is scouting Europe for those hidden gems. Will the team make the playoffs this season? Maybe. This league is such a crapshoot right now. Will the team contend for a cup in the next five years? I think absolutely.

    • camdog

      This season Holland we’ll be judged based on how the goaltending performs. With the Sekera buy out the money was there. I’ll wait until a few weeks into the season before I proclaim it a success or not.

  • hags437

    Toronto will have 3 players making 32-33 million. Remember in the Draisaitl negotiations everyone was moaning that you can never win with 2 guys making 22?? Now all of a sudden Dubas is a genius according to some.

  • OilFarmer

    What was the point of the Spooner and Sekera buyouts if they didn’t use the cap space anyway. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to leave them on the roster for this year which is going to be a transition year anyway. Now we have 4 years of dead cap space for Reggie instead.