Ken Holland appeared to have addressed all of the Edmonton Oiler’s major needs within the first few days of free agency. He got a third-line centre, a powerplay replacement for Klefbom, a left-winger, and a back-up goalie. You can argue about the quality of players he got, I’m personally happy with most of them, but it’s clear he checked off everything on his shopping list. So that now raises the question: is Ken Holland done making moves?
There are some intriguing names still on the free-agent market but the Oilers are very tight up against the cap. Right now, Puckpedia says the Oilers have $735k in cap space and they need to sign Ethan Bear to a new contract.
Now, Oscar Klefbom will be placed on LTIR to start the season, so the Oilers could send down Kailer Yamamoto in order to make themselves cap compliant to start the season (it would be a paper transaction) and they could potentially send down one more player to make themselves cap compliant on opening day and to maximize Klefbom’s LTIR relief.
If they go that route, they’ll have enough money to sign Ethan Bear, but if they want to sign another free agent, the new addition probably can’t make more than $1.5 million. The good news for Ken Holland and the Oilers is that there are plenty of good players on the market who could be signed for that much.
Anyone hoping the Oilers should go after Sami Vatanen, Mike Hoffman, Mikael Granlund or Evgeni Dadonov shouldn’t hold their breath. It’s just not realistic at this point. There is a very interesting tier of free agents that could be had for around $1.5 million though.
That list includes forwards like Drake Cagiulla, Dominik Kahun, Connor Sheary, Alex Galchenyuk, Derrick Brassard and Colin Wilson. Players like Anthony Duclair, Erik Haula and Carl Soderberg would also interest me, but they’ll likely cost too much. On defence, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Oilers take a look at Mirco Mueller or Slater Koekkoek. Travis Hamonic would be nice but he’ll cost too much.
There are names out there that I wouldn’t mind seeing the Oilers take a chance on and the team could benefit from another left-winger, maybe a penalty-killing centre, or a depth left-handed defenseman. I’m not saying they need to go out and get these players, but it wouldn’t be the worst idea and there are players on the market who they could afford.
I don’t think Ken Holland is done yet.
Here are some other interesting situations and rumours that have caught my attention over the last few days:
AFTERMATH OF FREE AGENCY
Elliotte Friedman had some very interesting pieces of information in his most recent ‘31 Thoughts’ (as he always does) including some insight into the Oiler’s pursuit of Jacob Markstrom. We all know that the team offered Markstrom a max-term contract but he opted to go to take the Flames offer of six-years at $6 million per season.
It turns out, Edmonton didn’t just make an offer, they thought they were going to get Markstrom. Friedman says that the Oilers were “stung” when things didn’t work out. Makes you wonder how different Edmonton’s offseason would have looked if they had landed him. Did Holland have a deal lined up to ship out some salary? He almost would have had to.
He also added that Carolina made a push for Markstrom and had they landed him, I wonder if Edmonton would have gotten Petr Mrazek. Friedman also noted that the Canucks looked into the possibility of acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury before opting to sign Braden Holtby.
Apparently, Boston and Calgary wanted Josh Anderson badly, but obviously, they couldn’t get a deal done. Makes you wonder if either team will push for an impact winger before next season.
I’m always fascinated to read about which deals don’t get done when GM’s are faced with tight timelines.
TEAMS WITH MONEY TO SPEND
It’s certainly a buyers market right now when you look at how many quality players are currently sitting without a contract and how few teams have enough cap space to make a significant addition. If you’re in a position to spend more than $3.5 million on a free agent right now, you’re going to likely get a quality player on a great deal.
The LA Kings, Detroit Red Wings, and New Jersey Devils have the cap space to make moves, but they aren’t exactly playoff contenders so I’m not sure how attractive they’ll be to a free agent.
The Dallas Stars, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins will likely have enough money to bring in another free agent forward even after they take care of their current RFA’s. Those are all really good teams already and could really bolster their lineup by making another solid addition.
The biggest teams to watch over the next week or so are the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators.
The Blue Jackets made a point to clear out cap space over the last ten days and while they do need to take care of Pierre-Luc Dubois and a couple of RFA defensemen, they’re in a great spot to add one of the top UFA forwards that are still available.
As for the Preds, GM David Poile says he isn’t operating under an internal cap and if that’s true, it’s just a matter of time until he starts spending some of the $13 million in cap space that he currently has.
I expect the Preds and Blue Jackets to be aggressive over the next week as the crop of free agents without deals look to find a place to play next season. Friedman listed both teams among the organizations interested in Mike Hoffman. Boston and Carolina were also on that list.
LIGHTNING STILL IN TROUBLE
It’s clear that the other 30 teams around the league are not willing to help out the Tampa Bay Lightning. I was stunned when Tyler Johnson cleared waivers but it really showed that Julien BriseBois and the Lightning are going to have a hard time escaping the tough situation they’re in right now.
They have just $2.8 million in cap space and need to sign RFA’s Mikhail Serghachev and Anthony Cirelli. On top of that, they’ll need to sign a few more depth defensemen. On top of that, all of the forwards they would like to trade have some form of trade protection. The door is wide open for a team with a lot of cap space to take a swing and try to offer sheet one of their RFA’s so the Lightning need to work quickly. Keep an eye on Tampa over the next seven days.
- It’s pretty hilarious how quickly contract talks between Brendan Gallagher and the Habs went from “paused” to “complete.” I like that deal for both sides, but Montreal suddenly has a lot of money tied up in Toffoli, Anderson, and Gallagher. That could be a problem two or three years from now.
- Similar to Tampa Bay, the Golden Knights will probably need to clear out one more contract before the start of the season. Even after moving out Nate Schmidt, they’re about $900k over the cap with just 21 players on their roster. They said they aren’t going to move Fleury so that leads me to believe one of their forwards will be on the move. Alec Martinez is another name to watch though.
- Apparently, Vegas looked at both Taylor Hall and Steven Stamkos… can you even imagine if they found a way to get either of those players?
- 26-year-old defenseman MacKenzie Weegar is reportedly being shopped by the Panthers. The Leafs are among the teams that have had an interest in him. The Canucks did as well but I wonder if the Schmidt deal changes that.
- The Canucks reportedly want to add a winger. I’m not sure how they’ll afford to do that but the reports are out there. I think Mike Hoffman will cost too much for their liking.
- Friedman says that Jack Roslovic is headed for a fresh start. So look for the Jets to move him soon.
- It also is starting to sound like Patrik Laine might be staying put for another season.