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NHL Free Agency Live Blog: Happy Canada Day!

Happy free agency day, Nation! Here we are on another Canada Day, ready to sit around and drink beer in the name of patriotism while also following along with the ridiculous decisions that NHL general managers get to make with their owner’s money. It’s a timeless tradition really, and one that we’ll jump in on regardless of how busy the Oilers actually end up being. My friends, it’s time for the free agency live blog.

Coming into the NHL’s official shopping season, our beloved Oilers have about $12.4 million worth of cap room to work with (minus the impending Smith contract) and that will be a challenge for Ken Holland to navigate as he works to upgrade the roster. As we saw on far too many occasions in 2018-19, a lack of overall team depth can really sewer a season quickly, and that’s a big problem that needs to be solved without having much freedom to go whale hunting. Needless to say, Holland and co are going to have to get creative in both finding players that can contribute on value deals while also looking to shed salary without having to give up too many assets to make it happen. That’s a hefty to-do list regardless of how you slice it.

To put it another way, if the Oilers are going to improve the roster, new daddy doesn’t have much space to do much other than tinker around the edges unless he can wheel and deal to free up some cap space, and I’ll be very interested to see how he approaches the half-built house that is this team as its current constructed. I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that Ken Holland has a whole lot of pressure on him to turn this ship around, way more so than most new GMs when they get hired, and while that may not be his fault, it certainly is his problem. At this point in the infinibuild, Holland needs to make moves that actually help this team move forward and I’ll be drinking and waiting to see how many such things happen today. Yesterday, we saw Holland pull the trigger on a Sekera buyout as a means to free up $3 million in cap space, and I’m curious to see what else he has up his sleeve.

Feel free to join in on the conversation, talk a little puck, and see if you can match up to how day drunk I get. Deal? Deal. Happy Canada Day shopping to the NHL teams and happy Canada Day drinking to the rest of us!

THE SUSPECTS

Last week, Dusty Nielson put together a wish list with some realistic options that the Oilers could be fishing for and, admittedly, it’s not the sexiest list of UFA targets that I’ve ever seen but there are still some useful players there. Without much cap room, the Oilers’ options are limited but this is still our free agency list and for that reason, we’ll treat it like it’s a beautiful princess. Listed below, I’ve put together a some of the names that have been mentioned here at the Nation and by varying media members as potential fits for the Oilers, and we’ll have to see how many, if any, get crossed off the list.

The Potentials

Alex Chiasson (2018/19: 73GP: 22G, 16A for 38 points) – After rolling into town on a PTO last summer, Alex Chiasson went out and smashed his career high for goals scored despite missing nine games. Needless to say, the guy is in line for a pay bump on the $650K he made last year and I wonder if that raise will come from the Oilers. With Brett Connolly reportedly heading elsewhere, Chiasson could be a fallback name for Ken Holland and it wouldn’t be overly surprising to see him back in an Oilers uniform come October.

Marcus Johansson (2018/19: 58GP – 13G, 17A for 30 points) – To me, Marcus Johansson would be a solid option for the Oilers to add to their bottom-six but I seriously doubt it happens based on the $4.56 million he was paid last year. The nice thing about Johansson is that he can play all three forward positions and that’s the kind of versatility that I love to see on the roster.

Brandon Tanev (2018/19: 80GP – 14G, 15A for 29 points) – If there’s one thing the Oilers desperately need to add to their roster, it’s capable wingers that can score in their bottom six. Earlier in his career, folks expected Tanev to turn into a top-six winger but that never really happened and, at this point, I don’t think anyone is expecting that anymore, which makes him an excellent choice for the Oilers’ third line.

Daniel Carr (2018/19: 6GP – 1G, 0A for 1 point, AHL: 52GP: 30G, 41A = 71 points) – Daniel Carr, an undrafted left-winger that has spent four years in Montreal’s system before moving onto Vegas, is a name that’s floated around Twitter a little bit as a potential fit for the Oilers’ bottom six. The 27-year-old Sherwood Park native would definitely come cheap, but I don’t really know much else about him other than he can certainly score at the AHL level. Good idea? Bad idea? Seems like he’d be an upgrade on the 4th line, no?

The Golden Years Guild:

Mike Smith (2018/10: 42GP – 23W – 16L – 2OTL, 2.73 GAA, .898 save%) – Before Frank Seravalli broke the news that Mike Smith will be coming to Edmonton, I was getting annoyed and thinking that the rumour was really getting out of hand and I’ll readily admit that I was not a very big fan of the possibility. With Cam Talbot already reportedly landing in Calgary and Mike Smith coming to Edmonton, it seemed like the two Alberta teams are swapping wives in some weird NH

Valtteri Filppula (2018/19: 72GP – 17G, 14A for 31 points) – Last week, Rishaug mentioned Valtteri Filppula as a potential 3C option for the Oilers that may not break the bank while also being able to chip in with a little bit of offence. To further the rumour, the 35-year-old spent eight seasons with Holland in Detroit so there is definitely a familiarity there that could lead him into E-town.

The ‘I Hoped So’ collection:

Brett Connolly (2018/19: 81GP – 22G, 24A for 46 points) – A few days ago, would anyone have been surprised if Brett Connolly signed a contract with the Oilers and had it announced first thing this morning? I wouldn’t have been. That was until Ryan Rishaug reported last night that Connolly would be taking his talents to Florida rather than the 7-8-0.

Petr Mrazek (2018/19: 40GP – 23W – 14L – 3OTL, 2.39 GAA, .914 save%) – Everybody knows that the Oilers need a capable backup goalie to push Mikko Koskinen and Mrazek would have certainly fit the bill. Last year in Carolina, Mrazek grabbed hold of the net, provided the Hurricanes with solid goaltending on a nightly basis, and led them on an unlikely playoff run that wouldn’t have happened without him. Before hearing the Mike Smith news, I thought that Petr Mrazek was the perfect fit for the Oilers in this spot but it seems like it was not meant to be.

Brandon Davidson (2018/19: 10GP – 0G, 1A for 1 point) – Okay, so maybe I don’t really think Brandon Davidson is a guy that the Oilers would have interest in at this point, but I am sincerely hoping to see him land somewhere today or in the coming days.

THE RUMOURS…

In this section, I’ll be dropping in rumours that I find on Twitter to try and spice things up a little bit. If I see a media member talking about a player, I’ll toss their tweet in here to give us something else to argue about in the comments section.

THE UPDATES…

  • 8:00 am MST – Rise and shine, mother truckers! Here we are one another Canada Day morning, waiting for our beloved Oilers to get some work done. At this point, we know Mike Smith is coming to town with the official announcement coming in a couple of hours or so, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Also, Gregor is reporting this morning that the Oilers have signed Markus Granlund to a one-year contract as well.
  • 9:05 am MST – Andrej Sekera is off to Dallas on a $1.5 million dollar deal. Seems like a steal for the Stars provided that he can stay healthy. So long, Reggie, thanks for the memories.
  • 9:45 am MST – Stauffer just tweeted about the Oilers keeping cap space for in-season trading… In case you forgot, he tweeted the exact same thing when Chiarelli was here sooooooo that’s not exactly encouraging.
  • 10:05 am MST – Brandon Tanev signed a six-year deal with Pittsburgh worth $3.5 million/per. *whistles* Starting to get weird in these streets.
  • 10:25 am MST – Panarin off to NYR for $11.6 million per *whistles*
  • 10:39 am MST – Mike Smith deal is official, complete with a breakdown on his bonus structure.
  • 10:45 am MST – Oilers miss out on Valtteri Filppula too. Basically striking out on every single guy they were linked to.
  • 11:00 am MST – Alex Chiasson is back on a two-year, $2.15 million/per deal. A little bit rich but not as bad as it could be.
  • 12:00 pm MST – Looks like Jujhar Khaira is back in the mix with a fresh two-year, $1.2 million AAV deal
  • 12:02 pm MST – Oilers announce a deal with Tomas Jurco who spent 2018-19 with the Charlotte and Springfield of the AHL. Depth deal worth $750K.
  • 1:54 pm MST – Mark Spector is reporting that the Oilers are talking to Pat Maroon. I’d like that.