It is important to consider all the details of the salary cap when projecting who will be on the Edmonton Oilers roster. With Oscar Klefbom starting the season on Long-Term Injury Reserve (LTIR), the Oilers will essentially have a salary cap of $85.6m, but because they are starting in LTIR, we could see some interesting roster shuffling to start the season.
Because they will start in LTIR, then performance bonuses become a factor in how the cap works and could play a factor in who makes the opening day roster. Evan Bouchard ($850K) and Ryan McLeod ($57,500) have performance bonuses. Both are expected to make the team. However, Philip Broberg ($850K) and Dylan Holloway ($517K averaged over three years) also have performance bonuses, and if the organization expects to recall them during the season, we could see one, or both, on the opening 23-man roster. They might only be there for one day, but having them on the opening day roster would give the Oilers room to recall them later.
It is an interesting twist to the salary cap. If Broberg is on the opening day roster, then automatically his 850K potential performance bonuses is included. However, if the isn’t on the opening day roster, and because the Oilers will start the season in LTIR, if they recalled him during the season he would be considered a $1.713m cap hit, instead of his $863K cap hit. With the Oilers so close to the cap, that is a significant difference, and it is why I could see Broberg being announced on the opening-day roster.
Holloway is in the same boat, although his bonuses are lower. If he is on the opening day roster, then sent down, but recalled later during the season, he’d count at $925K on the cap instead of $1.325m if he wasn’t here for the first day. This only occurs when you start the season in LTIR, otherwise it wouldn’t be a factor. It isn’t a major deal, but it does impact how the Oilers have to manage their cap for opening day.
— Kailer Yamamoto will sign a one or two-year deal. Often in negotiations, the previous season carries a lot of weight. If a player has a great year, they get rewarded, even if the season looks like an outlier, and if a player struggles in the final year of a deal, often that is the focus of the team. That’s just how it works.
Yamamoto was incredibly productive in 27 games in 2020 and produced 26 points. However, last season he struggled. He had a good start producing 4-4-8 in his first 12 games, but he struggled in his final 40 games producing 4-9-13. He only scored one goal in his last 25 games and that goal came on the powerplay.
Here are some recent signings that Yamamoto’s agent will look at, and also some the Edmonton Oilers will look at from their vantage point. I only used forwards who were a similar age and didn’t have arbitration rights
Dillon Dube (5’11”, 187) signed for three years with $2.3m AAV in Calgary. He scored 11-11-22 in 51 games last season.
Filip Chytil (6’2″, 206) signed two years with a $2.3m AAV with the New York Rangers. He tallied 8-14-22 in 42 games.
Max Comtois (6’2″, 215) signed two years at $2.037m in Anaheim. He led the Ducks in scoring with 16-17-33 in 55 games.
Tyson Jost (5’11”, 187) signed for two years at $2m AAV with Colorado. He scored 7-10-17 in 54 games.
Yegor Sharangovich (6’2″, 196) inked a two-year deal at $2m AAV with New Jersey. He scored 16-14-30 as a rookie last year.
Janne Kuokkanen (6’1″, 193) signed two years at $1.85m AAV with New Jersey. He scored 8-17-25 in 50 games.
Alex Texier (6’1″, 186) signed two years at $1.525 with Columbus. He scored 4-11-15 in 49 games.
Brandon Hagel (5’11”, 175) signed for three years with $1.5m AAV in Chicago. He produced 9-15-24 in 52 games.
Max Jones (6’1″, 220) signed three-year deal at $1.295m AAV with Anaheim. He tallied 7-4-11 in 46 games.
Points aren’t the only stat of course, but point totals play a major role for forwards. I’m sure Yamamoto’s camp will look at Dube and Jost contracts, while the Oilers will counter with Hagel and Jones. Each side will look for the contract comparisons that benefit them more.
Yamamoto is the smallest of the group, and when skillset is similar that does play a factor, whether some like it or not. Yamamoto struggled in the playoffs against bigger, heavier defencemen. The other factor will be linemates. Yamamoto played 748 minutes at 5×5. He played 443 minutes with Leon Draisaitl and another 134 minutes with Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, and another 36 minutes with McDavid. So that is 82% of his 5×5 TOI playing with the league’s top-two scorers.
None of the aforementioned players had that luxury, and I’m sure that will be part of the negotiation.
If Yamamoto signs a one-year deal I could see it around $1.5m. A two-year deal would be closer to $1.7m-$1.8m.
Either way, a deal will get done. I think Yamamoto is better than how he produced last season, and not as good as the 26 points in 27 games he tallied in 2020. He falls in between. He is still very young and could still develop more, but his size will be a challenge for him. He doesn’t have the luxury of having huge legs and significant lower body strength like Marty St. Louis did. Small players can be effective in the NHL, but usually they are very strong to counter the lack of size. Yamamoto is only 23 and will still add muscle and strength the next few seasons, but how much he can add and how more effective can he be against large D-men remains to be seen.
He is a very smart player, and he is fearless. He chases after pucks, and when he is on he is very good at creating turnovers. I think he can be a solid 40-45 point player with potential to produce more. He had a tough year at the wrong time, and timing is a big factor when it comes to contracts.
— The Oilers rookie camp begins on Wednesday, September 15th. Bouchard and McLeod won’t be there, but Holloway, Broberg, Dmitri Samorukov and other young players will be. It is a great opportunity for Holloway and Broberg to grab the attention of the coaches before main camp begins on September 22nd.
— The Oilers are looking at potential PTOs. And it might not only be a D-man. They are looking at potential forward options. Having depth and competition is a good thing and there are many options available. I expect veterans to start signing PTOs later this week or early next week as they choose a team that gives them the best opportunity to sign a contract, or to play enough preseason games that other teams will notice them. Could we see Tyler Ennis on a PTO in Edmonton?
— I expect Cooper Marody to sign a two-way deal with the Oilers. Considering he would be a group VI UFA after this season, look for it to be a one-year deal. I suspect the main negotiating point is what his AHL salary will be. He made $70K last year, but I could see him around $125-150K this season along with $750K at the NHL level.
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