An early look at contract projections for the Oilers’ pending free agents

Edmonton Oilers Warren Foegele
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
No matter what happens between now and June, when Gary Bettman will hand the Stanley Cup to its winner, the Oilers have a busy offseason ahead.
Of players just on their roster, they have 12 pending free agents, two of which being restricted. The Oilers will have tough decisions to make when it comes to their salary cap situation, too, with only $8.9-million in cap space to fill those spots.
All signs point to Jack Campbell’s time with the franchise ending through either a trade or a buyout. In the case of the latter, the Oilers would free up $3.9 million in space for next season, opening things up for them to do business.
And on Tuesday, Evolving Hockey released their contract projections for all pending free agents in what is shaping up to be a stacked class.
It’s highlighted by excellent top-end talent, with the likes of Sam Reinhart, Jake Guentzel, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, and Joe Pavelski listed as the top five on Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli’s free agent rankings.
Today, we’re going to dive into what Evolving Hockey thinks the Oilers’ free agents would receive re-signing in Edmonton, and on the open market.

The Forwards

The Oilers have three pending restricted free agents: Dylan Holloway, James Hamblin, and Raphael Lavoie. The latter two are projected for league minimum contracts on one-year deals, while Holloway is projected to sign a two-year deal just over $1 million. These would all be great contracts for the Oilers, as the trio have a chance to be with the big club next year. The Oilers will need Holloway to step forward in the top nine, while the other two could fill bottom-six roles.
When it comes to the unrestricted free agents, two headline the class: Adam Henrique and Warren Foegele. There’s a good chance both walk in free agency, with each projecting to sign multi-year deals. They are each projected to sign for a little more if they stayed in Edmonton than on the market, but would each earn over $4-million on their next deals. I’d be interested in them both remaining Oilers, but not at the prices listed here.
Then there’s the murky middle: Corey Perry, Sam Carrick, Mattias Janmark, Connor Brown, Sam Gagner, and Adam Erne.
Re-signing Perry is something I’m sure the Oilers would love to do, as he’s been a solid addition to the lineup since he joined the team. His contract projection is more than reasonable and in line with what he’s earned over the last number of years.
Carrick and Janmark, meanwhile, are up in the air. The Oilers undoubtedly like both players, but they’re, by and large, one-dimensional players. They’d contest with the aforementioned RFA’s for ice-time, should the Oilers re-sign them.
When it comes to Connor Brown, I could see him remaining with the Oilers at his projected deal. For as many offensive struggles as he had for most of the year, he was a strong defensive player and was rock solid on the penalty kill. It feels like there’s only room for one of him or Janmark on the roster, though.
Lastly, I could see Adam Erne walking in free agency, and Sam Gagner retiring. I wouldn’t be opposed to the latter remaining with the team as a player, but I could just as easily see him retiring and remaining in the organization in a player development role, or something similar.

The Defencemen

The Oilers’ blueline could see some changes this offseason. Cody Ceci and Brett Kulak are both players the club could trade as they look to find cap savings and potentially bring forth some upgrades.
Still, the Oilers have one restricted free agent on the blueline in Philip Broberg, who is projected to re-sign a one-year deal at under $1-million. I expect him to be in the NHL next season, and if the club trades Kulak and replaces him with Broberg, there would be roughly $1.8-million in cap savings.
Re-signing Vincent Desharnais is another thing I would expect, and his projected deal is perfect for a third-pairing defenceman. For as solid as he’s been in Edmonton, he is, after all, a one-dimensional player who struggles to move the puck. That doesn’t take away from the defensive strengths he has, but there’s no reason to overpay him.
Lastly, I’m curious to see what happens with Stecher. He looked good in his brief playing time this year, and could be a solid No. 6/No. 7 defenceman for the club next season.

The Goalie(s)

The Oilers will need to address their backup goaltending spot. Pickard will be an option, but there will be others on the market, too. Edmonton will likely need whoever it is on the cheap, likely in the $1-$2-million range, so Pickard could fit based on his projected contract.

In closing…

If the Oilers re-signed all the players at their projected cap hits, the total cap hits would be $23,179,800 — nearly double what the team would have in space if they bought out Campbell. That’s why the potential moves of Kulak, Ceci, and/or others will be needed this offseason.

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 zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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