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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – How would you grade Ken Holland’s offseason work so far?

Happy Monday, Nation, and welcome to a brand new Mailbag to help you get your week started and break down what the Oilers got done in free agency. This week, we’re looking at the free agency surprises, Ken Holland’s scorecard, RFA contracts, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.

May 26, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) shake hands after the game in game five of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

1) Trent asks – Which signing surprised you the most during this free agency period?

Robin Brownlee:

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Evander Kane back in Edmonton.

Jason Gregor:

Nichuskin getting eight years and Rakell getting six years. I don’t see either signing aging well.

Cam Lewis:

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I’m a little surprised that Washington just cut ties with Ilya Samsonov and handed out a big contract to Darcy Kuemper. Johnny Gaudreau is somewhat surprising, not that he left the Flames but that he didn’t go to New Jersey. The Devils with all of their cap space and being close to where he’s from seemed inevitable.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

It has to be Johnny Gaudreau going to Columbus. Although, if you would have told me six months ago that the Oilers were going to land Jack Campbell, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I’m honestly still kind of surprised that Toronto let him walk without an offer.

Baggedmilk:

I was stunned to see Evander Kane re-sign. I thought he’d be a one-and-done player for sure.

Jun 4, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Evander Kane (91) battles Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram (4) for position in from of goaltender Pavel Francouz (39) in the first period in game three of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

2) Oilers fan in Van asks – What are everyone’s quick thoughts on the Kane, Campbell, and Kulak signings? Seems to me that all three guys came in at reasonable value whereas other similar type players were going for more money overall.

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Robin Brownlee:

Kane is a steal based on the numbers he put up. Term is OK. Campbell will have to grow into his contract a bit but that’s fine. Seems like a character guy who’ll take on the challenge. Has paid his dues. Question is the length as it pertains to Skinner’s future. Would have preferred three years. Kulak is a good value deal.

Jason Gregor:

Good deals for Edmonton. Campbell is tied for 14th-20th highest paid goalie so he comes in around where he should. If Kulak becomes a regular 2nd pair LD his contract will be a major steal. Kane should give really good value at $5.125m as well. Term is a bit of a risk based on past, but if he remains a good teammate then his deal won’t be issue either.

Cam Lewis:

The dollars and terms on both Kane and Kulak appear to be very good value. Campbell got exactly what you’d expect a starting goaltender to get in free agency. I don’t think anyone expected he’d be taking a discount, whereas the two who re-signed seem to have done that.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

I love the Kane and Kulak signings. They’re both relatively low risk with the potential for them to each turn into tremendous bargains. The Campbell deal scares me a little simply because goaltending is wildly unpredictable. If that deal doesn’t work out, it could be very costly. I still like the gamble that Holland took there, but there’s still some risk attached to it.

Baggedmilk:

I think the Campbell contract is a bit too long and for a bit too much, but I don’t think it’s a crazy UFA signing deal that we’ll be dreading down the line. Fingers crossed, of course. Like everyone else, I like the Kane and Kulak contracts a lot.

Nov 14, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod (71) handles the puck as St. Louis Blues left wing Brandon Saad (20) defends during the second period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

3) Ed asks – According to Gregor, the Oilers have about $8M in cap space (once Smith and Klefbom go on LTIR). The three RFAs not signed Mcleod, Yamo, and JP will likely take up almost all of this space (say 1.25, 2.75, 2.75 = 6.75) leaving maybe $1.25M ( it could even be less) with three roster spots to fill. It seems that some salary will need to be shed in some way. What is the most likely move?

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Robin Brownlee:

I’m not making the same assumptions you are, so I don’t know. We’ve got the Mattias Janmark signing from Sunday and arbitration for Yamamoto and Puljujarvi will play into the bottom line.

Jason Gregor:

Holland will look to trade Foegele or Puljujarvi would be my best guess based on convos I’ve had. There is more interest in Puljujarvi at this moment, but his pending arbitration case likely means a deal isn’t done until all parties know what his next contract is. I wonder if Holland considers allowing a team who is interested to negotiate a new contract with Puljujarvi and then trade him.

Cam Lewis:

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I think the focus now is getting the three restricted free agents signed. Two of them have arbitration rights and could wind up earning decent raises through the arbitration process. Ken Holland won’t back himself into a corner by making another significant addition before those cases are dealt with, I would assume.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think the Oilers should just look to sign some players making around $1m in free agency to fill out the rest of their roster. Get a veteran defenseman for cheap and go sign a bottom-six forward with some upside, like Zach Aston-Reese or Sonny Milano. I would keep Foegele and Barrie unless you can swap either for Soucy or a similar shutdown LHD.

Baggedmilk:

The Oilers just signed Mattias Janmark on Sunday so I wonder how much that affects this overall question/plan?

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4) Taylor asks – How would you grade Ken Holland’s offseason work so far?

Robin Brownlee:

Excellent. Couldn’t ask for much more, could you? If you’re looking for a letter grade — A.

Jason Gregor:

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He signed three key pieces for less than $13m, so that is very good. The Kassian trade made sense to free up cap space. His next moves will likely be discussed and debated more. Who he trades and what kind of return the Oilers get will be a hot topic.

Cam Lewis:

We’ll see what happens with the RFAs, but it’s at least an A- for now. I think this has been Holland’s best off-season with the Oilers.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I give him an A. He made a couple of great signings in Kulak and Kane plus he finally signed a big name goaltender. He checked some major boxes and found a way to keep a team that made the conference finals relatively intact.

Baggedmilk:

He’s had a hell of summer and I’d have a hard time giving him anything less than an ‘A’ grade at this stage.

5) Laird asks – If you had to create a starting lineup using the people from the Oilersnation. Who are your forwards, defence, and goalie?

Robin Brownlee:

Thank goodness I don’t have to. Near as I can tell, Gregor is the only guy who played at any reasonable level and who is still somewhat young enough to have any chance to not embarrass himself. After that, I don’t know. A lot of the young guys these days talk a good game but I haven’t seen them play.

Jason Gregor:

Jay Downton will be staring on the blueline. Big mobile defender.

I’d have Chalmers as a winger. He’d a pest type of winger.

Yaremchuk would be the other winger. Not sure what type of hands he has though.
Baggedmilk would play goal. We’d train him like Goldberg in the Mighty Ducks by tying him to the net, and he’d be better for it.
Wanye Gretz would partner with Jay. He’d try really hard, but is likely more of an off-the-boards and out type of defender.

I’d be the centre.

Cam Lewis:

Just as long as we have Tyler ‘Beer League Legend’ Yaremchuk on the ice we’ll be more than fine. I’ve heard that he averages more than four points per game in the Capital City Rec Hockey League.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’m going to use some of the knowledge I have from our pond hockey tournament out in Jasper. Up front, you gotta have myself and Baggedmilk up there since we have some much natural chemistry. We’ll go and throw Rick from The Pint up on the top line too. On the blue line, we’re going to have the towering presence of Jay Downton playing alongside the steady, stay-at-home Zach Laing. Between the pipes? Producer Liam said he played in net once in a floor hockey game, so we’ll go with him.

Baggedmilk:

After Brownlee’s answer up top, I’m putting him in net so I can shoot pucks at him. I’ve got me, Yaremchuk, and Jay up front with Gregor and Cooomsy settling in on the backend.

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