We’ll probably see general manager Ken Holland open up the Edmonton Oilers’ wallet a little wider in coming days as he looks for a goaltender and a defenceman. He’s made that possible while staring a flat cap in the face by signing value contracts through the first day of the free agent season.
Before the starting gun went off on the UFA market, Holland got Jesse Puljujarvi inked to a two-year deal with an AAV of $1.175 million. He followed that up today by landing UFA Kyle Turris to a two-year pact with a $1.65 million AAV and then re-signed Tyler Ennis to one year at $1 million.
With three players who could end up being coach Dave Tippet’s third line inked for a $3.825 million cap hit, that looks like a solid sweep of the bargain bin from where I sit. The most important part of Holland’s frugality to this point is it leaves him with some room to move in pursuit of a goaltender and a blueliner.
While that won’t allow Holland to go big name hunting in the crease or on the blue line in the high-rent district occupied by the likes of Jacob Markstrom, who got $36 million over six years from Calgary, or Alex Pietrangelo, spending wisely on Puljujarvi, Ennis and Turris leaves him more dollars, thus more options, to work with. In this town, where former GM Peter Chiarelli made over-paying the rule rather than the exception, it’s a welcome change.
MAKING IT WORK
I said earlier this week and I’ll say it again — the Puljujarvi contract is fair money for both sides and wiping the slate clean and creating a fresh start for both the player and the team is the way to go. There is nothing to gain for anybody in having Puljujarvi fail. It sounds to me like Puljujarvi is serious about competing for a job and doing whatever it takes. Let’s get on with it.
I suggested early today on Twitter I wouldn’t mind seeing the Oilers take a run at Finnish countryman Mikko Koivu because he would come at a reasonable price and could help bring Puljujarvi along, but the Turris signing makes even more sense to me. Turris, 31, can still play despite having a tough time with Nashville and being bought out. He is a good fit as 3C at this point in his career. As a bonus, he’s a super-solid guy.
Turris never found a fit in Nashville with Peter Laviolette, but he comes to Edmonton with some history with Tippett – he played for him in 2010-11 with Arizona. “He knows how to bring out the best in players,” Turris said of Tippett. Turris is a different player now than he was then, but he won’t be starting at square one with his former coach, plus, he’s got enough skill that playing him at 3C won’t be like tying a boat anchor to Puljujarvi.
As for Ennis, who is coming back from a broken leg suffered against Chicago in the play-in round, I liked what I saw from him before he was injured. He’s quick and he’s got enough offensive chops to provide some pop in the top nine alongside Puljujarvi and Turris. One year at a million bucks is a no-risk deal for Holland.
What remains now is too see what comes next for Holland. Word today was he was in on bidding for Markstrom before Calgary got the ink done – I’m guessing $6 million a season was a bit too rich for Holland. We heard today from TSN’s Darren Dreger Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver are on Tyson Barrie.
The question is whether the Oilers can afford Barrie and still have enough cap room to find an upgrade in goal, a proven crease-mate for Mikko Koskinen. I don’t think the Oilers need to spend as much money to get somebody to play with Koskinen as they do to plug the hole they have on defence with Oscar Klefbom gone long term, but that’s just me. I’d rather find a way to land Barrie than throw a ton of dough at the blue paint.
We’ll find out soon enough what Holland thinks about all that, but at the very least he has set the stage for getting something done by spending very wisely on Puljujarvi, Turris and Ennis.