Derek Ryan’s team-friendly contract is a win for the cap-strapped Oilers

Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
11 months ago
The salary cap is going to be a challenge for Ken Holland and the Edmonton Oilers this summer.
The team came into the off-season with roughly $75 million committed to eight forwards, six defencemen, and two goaltenders. When you add in James Neal’s buyout penalty and the bonus overages from last season, Holland has just under $7 million to re-sign restricted free agents Evan Bouchard, Klim Kostin, and Ryan McLeod and flesh out the rest of Edmonton’s roster.
With all that in mind, Holland will have to seek out bargain contracts to fill up the team’s depth. He found one on Tuesday by re-signing soon-to-be unrestricted free agent forward Derek Ryan to a two-year contract worth $900k annually.
Ryan signing another contract with the Oilers doesn’t come as much of a surprise. He joined the Oilers on a two-year contract back in the summer of 2021 after a difficult season playing for the Calgary Flames and said a few weeks ago that he wanted to finish his career in Edmonton.
“I’ve had that conversation with my agent, with my dad, my wife, my kids, with everybody close to me in my life about how that was a hard decision,” Ryan told Bob Stauffer on Oiers Now back in May. “I had the same contract offer to stay in Calgary but I chose to come here. That’s never an easy choice, but I couldn’t be happier with my choice to be here. I’d love to finish my career here.”
His start with the Oilers was slow but Ryan really found his groove when the Oilers fired head coach Dave Tippett and replaced him with Jay Woodcroft. Ryan scored three goals and six points in 40 games with Tippett and improved to 20 goals and 36 points in 115 games with Woodcroft and he also posted the fifth-highest on-ice goals for percentage of any Oiler since the coaching change.
Given his production over the past few seasons, Ryan likely would have been able to command a one-year contract on the open market in the $1.5 to $2 million range this summer. Ryan instead opted to ink a team-friendly deal with the Oilers in which they’re essentially splitting the money he’d be able to earn on a one-year contract over the course of two years to help give the team some financial flexibility.
Ryan’s cap hit sliding down from the $1.25 million figure on his last contract to $900k on this one might not seem like anything worth talking about but every dollar counts when a team is pressed up against the cap ceiling. The Oilers spent a large portion of the 2022-23 season unable to carry a full 23-man roster because they couldn’t fit everybody under the salary cap so finding deals like this one to make the bottom of the roster less expensive will be very helpful down the road.

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