Ken Holland has had a busy summer so far.
He re-signed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mike Smith, traded for Duncan Keith, and saw Adam Larsson leave in the Expansion Draft. On the first day of free agency, Holland traded Ethan Bear for Warren Foegele, re-signed Tyson Barrie, and added Zach Hyman, Cody Ceci, and Derek Ryan in free agency.
Stauffer Projected Lineup
I could see the Oilers add another LD or LW
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) July 29, 2021
So, what’s next? Assuming Oscar Klefbom goes on the Long-Term Injured Reserve and Kyle Turris’ contract is buried, Holland has roughly $7 million to work with.
The Oilers were rumoured to be interested in Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper, but he wound up getting traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a prospect and a first-round pick. Given that, it’s safe to assume Holland is still going to be looking to upgrade the team’s goaltending situation, which currently features Smith, Mikko Koskinen, and Alex Stalock. The team could also use some more depth on left wing and left defence.
Also, Holland still has some restricted free agents to deal with. Kailer Yamamoto and the newly acquired Foegele need new deals, as do AHL standouts Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, and Stuart Skinner. Of these five, both Foegele and Marody have the ability to file for salary arbitration.
Neither Yamamoto or Foegele, who scored eight and 10 goals respectively last season, will break the bank, but there isn’t much salary cap room left for Holland to operate, so any additions the team makes from here on out will likely be minor ones. Finding a way to move Koskinen or Zack Kassian would also free up a little more wiggle room.
Let’s go through some names still on the open market who could be of interest to the Oilers…
- Tomas Tatar: A name that Holland is familiar with as he was drafted by Detroit in 2009 and played 407 games with the organization. Tatar scored 25 and 22 goals in 2018-19 and 2019-20 but cratered a bit in 2021, scoring 10 goals over 50 games. During the Habs’ playoff run, Tatar was mostly a healthy scratch and appeared in only five games. He could be a cheap, buy-low option on a show-me deal, giving the Oilers another skilled winger.
- Eric Staal: Sticking with the Habs, veteran Eric Stall is still on the open market. Staal had a miserable season in Buffalo, scoring just three goals in 32 games. He was traded to the Habs and scored just two goals in 21 games, but stepped up in the playoffs, producing eight points in 21 games in a depth role. Staal will be 37 in October but adding a veteran who can play centre and left wing wouldn’t be a bad thing. There were rumours the Oilers were interested in Staal ahead of last season’s trade deadline.
- Mathieu Perreault: A solid, underrated middle-six forward, Mathieu Perreault would be a nice veteran addition for the Oilers. He’s spent the last seven seasons of his career in Winnipeg, carving out a role as a player who can chip in with a little offence while playing an effective 200-foot game. Perreault scored nine goals in 56 games last season and had very good underlying numbers. He can play both centre and wing.
- Ryan Murray: The former No. 2 overall pick has never lived up to his draft billing largely due to issues with injuries, but Murray is a fine second-pairing defender. Murray was healthy last season playing in New Jersey. He appeared in 48 games, scored 14 points, logged 18:37 per night, and had a positive on-ice goal differential of 35-to-29. He would be a nice defensive defender to play alongside Evan Bouchard.
- Slater Koekkoek: The familiar option for that same role would be Slater Koekkoek, who signed a one-year deal with the Oilers last fall. Koekkoek played in 18 games for the Oilers, missing a large chunk of the season due to a broken collarbone. He scored one goal, had no assists, and logged 13:10 per night with a negative on-ice goal differential of 12-to-4. Dave Tippett liked him enough that he played in all four of the team’s playoff games.
- Alexandar Georgiev: The free-agent market for goalies is pretty barren, so I’ll instead talk about somebody available via trade. Alexandar Georgiev has reportedly asked for a trade out of New York as the team appears ready to move forward with Ilya Shesterkin in net. Georgiev once appeared to be New York’s goalie of the future, but he hasn’t been able to capture the gig. Over the past two seasons, he’s posted a .908 save percentage over 53 games. Still, there’s no denying the upside here. Georgiev has a $2,425,000 cap hit for one more season and will then become a restricted free agent.
What do you think? Who should Holland be targeting? What still needs to be upgraded?