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What’s everyone else saying about the Edmonton Oilers moves?

We can talk about what the Edmonton Oilers have done until we’re red in the face. Sometimes, however, it’s good to sit back and listen to what other people are saying.

So today, we’re going to take a trip to some other websites and see how they grade the Edmonton Oilers day one of the free agent moves.

The Athletic

At The Athletic, Dom Luszczyszyn listed Zach Hyman’s deal as one of the best of the day. Here’s what he said:

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There has been a lot of Hyman slander given how much his new extension is worth and it’s somewhat warranted given his injury history and the miles on his body. But he’s a lot better than he’s given credit for and the cap hit is low enough that he should be able to provide positive value over the front half of the deal. On a line with either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, it’ll be difficult not to.

Hyman has proven he plays very well with star players, the guy who does the necessary dirty work in order to drive play. He’s a perfect third wheel and has plenty of comps that filled a similar role: Patrick Sharp, Alex Burrows, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz, Scott Hartnell, Justin Williams. His on-ice metrics are routinely good and he has the ability to score at a 30-goal, 60-point pace with limited power play time. For $5.5 million, teams can do a lot worse … if he ages somewhat gracefully. Big if.

Is this a good deal? No, and there’s a fair bit of downside from his comps suggesting Hyman can fall off at any moment. But for now, it’s a fair deal that could go either way, with Hyman having a 53 percent chance of providing positive value. On free agency day, considering how awful everything else looks, that’s a win.

Luszczyszyn listed Derek Ryan’s contract in his “scrap heap” pile lumping it in with other deals at a low price tag with little risk:

He’s old and wasn’t exactly beloved by his last team, but his defensive numbers are very strong and the price is modest. Ryan may fall a cliff at a moment’s notice, but he’s exactly the type of player the Oilers need in their bottom six.

The Cody Ceci deal, however, didn’t get rave reviews from Luszczyszyn. It was listed as one of the worst deals as an overpriced depth defenceman:

He’s not as bad as he’s made out to be, but how on Earth is he making second pair money for four years? Cody Ceci. How.

The easy way to recognize how out of whack all this is, is to compare other contracts into units of Ceci. Would you rather have one Hamilton or three Cecis? How about 1.69 Cecis vs. one Hyman? There are times where I think the league is getting smarter and then something like this happens. That Edmonton traded Ethan Bear, who makes $1.25 million less to be better than Ceci, is the icing on top.

ESPN

At ESPN, Greg Wyshynski broke down the big signings of the day with some letter grades. Here’s what he had to say about Hyman, the only Oilers signing listed:

Does it make sense? Yes and no. There’s proof of concept with Hyman as a top-line contributor, not just a passenger. He’s been better than a goal per 60 minutes of play in three straight seasons. He shot the puck more (8.3 shots per 60 minutes) last season than he had at any point since his rookie campaign in 2015-16. If he plays with McDavid, he plays with a player who led the NHL with 2.36 assists per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 last season. He’s not an elite finisher, but he can convert chances. Although as the Leafs found out in the playoffs, you’d rather not have teams taking away his more talented linemates so that Hyman gets all the chances.

But does this signing make sense? The $5.5 million annual cap figure isn’t terrible; it’s actually right above what Ryan Nugent-Hopkins received to stay with Edmonton ($5.125 million), and he’s a year younger than Hyman (29). Hyman would have easily found that money elsewhere. The problem with the contract is that no-move clause for five seasons. GM Ken Holland has never met trade protection he couldn’t dole out to a player, tracking back to his days in Detroit. Sometimes these deals work. Sometimes you revisit them in four years and realize they’re a boondoggle that you can’t remove from your salary cap.

Grade: B. The Oilers have a lot of problems. Hyman helps alleviate one of them as a winger in their top six, even if that contract is a bit specious. 

The Score

The Score’s John Matisz provided some analysis for three of the Oilers moves Wednesday.

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On Hyman:

Connor McDavid, meet your new puck retriever and defensive safety valve. For years, Hyman played a similar role in Toronto alongside superstar center Auston Matthews. There’s no reason to believe he can’t do the same for the Oilers. Hyman’s home-run contract, which carries a $5.5-million cap hit, should be fine in the short term. It’s dicey over the long term, however, given the Toronto native is already 29 years old and has dealt with significant injuries. That said, GM Ken Holland needs to start surrounding McDavid and former MVP Leon Draisaitl with better support on the wing, and this kind of commitment is the price. Hyman, a well-liked teammate, also has some scoring touch and is an effective penalty killer. Oilers fans should be pleased.

On Barrie:

This extension has serious “why not?” vibes. Barrie led all NHL defensemen in scoring in 2020-21 with 48 points in 56 games. He fits in well in Edmonton as a slick-skating D-man who can consistently distribute the puck to the team’s fast, skilled forwards. There are questions about what Oilers management is doing with the blue-line corps, in general, but that’s a separate conversation. Barrie gets a pay bump to $4.5 million from $3.75 million last year, and the term isn’t onerous. It looks like the 30-year-old has found a home after signing with the Oilers last offseason following a poor stint in Toronto.

On the Bear for Foegele deal:

The first player-for-player trade of the day is a classic case of GMs exchanging depth players in their mid-20s to address glaring needs. For Carolina, that means adding to a defense corps that recently lost Jake Bean and is presumably losing UFA Dougie Hamilton soon. Meanwhile, Edmonton bolsters a forward group that has sorely lacked legitimate talent in its bottom six for the past few years. Bear will be a third-pairing defenseman for the Hurricanes and Foegele will be a third- or fourth-line winger and penalty killer for the Oilers. What’s left to be determined is the cap-hit differential, since Bear is set to make $2 million on an expiring deal and Foegele is an RFA with arbitration rights. At any rate, this is a logical swap on all fronts.


Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]