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Edmonton Oilers Salary Cap Outlook: How much space is left for Evan Bouchard, other additions?

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Photo credit:© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
8 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers signed one of their two remaining restricted free agents on Tuesday and their salary cap situation for the 2023-24 season has become more clear.
Ryan McLeod was set to head to salary arbitration later this week but he and the Oilers agreed to terms on a two-year contract worth $2.1 million annually well ahead of the hearing. This contract features a nice raise from the one-year, $798k deal McLeod signed last summer but is excellent value for the team given what the versatile forward provides.
With McLeod signed, the focus shifts to Edmonton’s last remaining restricted free agent, Evan Bouchard. The Oilers have $4,282,500 in open salary cap space with the roster listed below, which should be enough to sign Bouchard and still have room open for another depth player.


Bouchard had a big season for the Oilers last year. The 10th overall pick from the 2018 draft scored eight goals and 40 points over 82 regular season games before popping off with 17 points in 12 playoff games. He logged an average of 18:31 per game for the Oilers in all situations and had an on-ice goal differential of 66-to-57 at even strength.
General manager Ken Holland showed faith in Bouchard’s ability when he moved Tyson Barrie to the Nashville Predators as part of the deal for veteran defender Mattias Ekholm. The 23-year-old took over from Barrie as the team’s power-play quarterback and thrived in the role, helping make the Oilers’ historically-good unit even better.
The Oilers would surely like to get Bouchard locked up long-term but that won’t be doable unless the team moves out a large contract to free up the cap space needed to do so. What appears most likely at this stage is Bouchard returning for 2023-24 on a one-year deal and the two sides considering a long-term contract next summer when the salary cap makes its first significant jump since before the pandemic.
As previously mentioned, the Oilers have $4,282,500 available for Bouchard, but at least $775k needs to be set aside so that the team can afford to carry an extra forward on their active roster. With that in mind, the goal for the Oilers should be getting Bouchard signed for $3.5 million or less.
The more money that Holland is able to squeeze out of this negotiation with Bouchard, the more flexibility he’ll have when it comes to the team’s extra skaters. For example, if Bouchard comes in at $3.4 million, the Oilers would be able to fit Raphael Lavoie and his $874,125 contract on the roster. If Bouchard comes in at $3.5 million, Lavoie would be too expensive and the Oilers might have to risk losing him on waivers.
The roster shown below, which features Bouchard signed to a hypothetical one-year, $3.4 million contract, comes in at just $8,375 under the salary cap ceiling.


 

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