19

The Numbers Game

Ladies and gentlemen, another round of applause for Ken Holland, please. One of the best off-season bets for Holland has paid off and now Josh Archibald has two more years to work his ass off with the Oilers here in Edmonton.

Archibald signed a one year deal this past off-season for a million bucks flat. He’s become a huge part of an amazing penalty kill while at the same time scoring in double digits from a bottom-six role and Holland decided to reward him with a two-year extension and a 50% raise to $1.5 million per season.

I haven’t seen a single person who doesn’t like this deal, it’s perfect for everyone involved. We know exactly what Archibald is going to bring to the Oilers for the next two seasons, the real question is what will be next for Holland?

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THE BIG PICTURE

In the past seven weeks, the Oilers have signed Zack Kassian, Darnell Nurse, Caleb Jones, Joakim Nygard and Archibald to contract extensions. According to our partners at PuckPedia.com, the Oilers have 16 players under contract next season.

As you can see above the Oilers have some work to do on the RFA front with Athanasiou, Benning, Bear and Lagesson all needing new deals.

The following 10 forwards are under contract for next season or beyond:

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McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge, Yamamoto, Kassian, Neal, Archibald, Nygard, Khaira, Chiasson

They also have five d-men under contract next season

Klefbom, Nurse, Larsson, Jones and Russell.

As for the situation between the pipes, Mikko Koskinen has two full years left on his deal.
If you quickly do the math the team has 16 of their 23 roster spots already spoken for.

THE SPACE

The low-end projection for next season’s salary cap is $84,000,000. When you add up next season’s salaries plus buyout’s and retained salary the Oilers are sitting at $70,436,167 which leaves them about $13,563,833 in cap space for 20-21.

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At first glance, you see 13.5 million in cap space and think Ken Holland will have some room to work with but the space will disappear quickly.

I have no idea what the next deal for Athanasiou is going to look like but I’ll ballpark it around $3,500,000, Holland has driven a hard bargain with this player in the past, maybe it happens again $10,000,000 remaining, six roster spots open.

Ethan Bear is going to likely end up with a short-term bridge deal which I’m estimating comes in around $2,000,000 at the top end. He’s already worth much more but I’m not sure the team will be in a position to go long term and at this stage of his career Bear has little to no leverage. $8,000,000 remaining, five roster spots open.

Matt Benning is going to feel some upward pressure from Evan Bouchard and because I feel like other teams could very much use his services it wouldn’t be crazy to see him traded in the off-season. If he is here, he’s going to come in around $2,000,000. $6,000,000 remaining, four roster spots open.

Assuming Bear and Benning get done the Oilers blueline is set.

Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Bear
Jones – Benning (Bouchard)
Russell

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Mike Smith has a base of $2,000,000 this year and up to $1,750,000 in bonuses, part of which will carry over to next year. I’d expect Holland will be willing to spend close to $2,000,000 on the same position next year, maybe it’s Smith, maybe it’s not. $4,000,000 remaining, three roster spots open.

Unless the team wants to carry eight d-men, which they may, the final three roster spots will be spent on forwards and they’ll have four million to round out the roster.

If they are happy with what they have they could end up spending the remaining cap space on Riley Sheahan, Tyler Ennis and Gaetan Haas or a promotion for Tyler Benson.

WAIT AND SEE

Sheahan has done a pretty good job so far this season and I like what I’ve seen from Ennis in his short time with the club but I don’t think there needs to be a rush to sign either of them right now. If Holland does sign either of them, he would basically be surrendering what little roster flexibility he has left.

Once again it looks like if the Oilers are going to make any “significant” changes to their roster this off-season Holland will have to work some magic via trade but with that being said, as they sit second in the Pacific Division, how many changes may actually be needed?

Either way, Holland is likely dreaming of seeing the cap bumped all the way up to $88.2 million, a dream not likely to come true.

Previously by Dustin Nielson: