NHL Notebook: Edmonton Oilers free agent signing grades, top free agents left, and recapping some signings

Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
9 months ago
The NHL Draft ended on Thursday, and free agency kicked off bright and early Saturday morning.
The Edmonton Oilers were not shy to start making phone calls to players around the league and have already compiled a handful of new deals and traded away some loved players within the Edmonton market.
On Saturday, the Oilers picked up forwards Connor Brown (one-year, $4 million AAV), Drake Caggiula (two-years, $775,000 AAV), Lane Pederson (two-years, $775,000 AAV), defenceman Noel Hoefenmayer (one-year ELC), and Ben Gleason (two-year, $775,000 AAV) while resigning forward Mattias Janmark (one-year $1 million AAV).
On Thursday, the organization also extended qualifying offers to forwards Ryan McLeod, Raphael Lavoie, and Noah Philp, goaltender Oliver Rodrigue, and defenceman Evan Bouchard; all five players were slotted to become restricted free agents on Saturday.
Let’s look at what experts are saying about the Oilers’ free agency moves so far:

Matt Larkin, Daily Faceoff – Winners

The Connor Brown contract is a stroke of genius. He slides into what should be a vital role for the Oilers at the barely there cap hit of $775,000, with potential for performance bonuses pushing it up to a $4 million value that would carry into next season. Brown’s lengthy LTIR stay this past season in Washington due to a season-ending knee injury made him eligible for the bonus structure despite the fact he’s only 29. He averages 16 goals and 40 points per 82 games in his career and has a history of tremendous chemistry with Connor McDavid. The pair lit it up together with the OHL’s Erie Otters. Brown is a lovely fit to play the right wing on one of Edmonton’s top two lines, and he’s a renowned shorthanded scoring threat to boot.

Eric Duhatschek, The Athletic

So Connor Brown to Edmonton. A surprise to no one. The junior hockey connection (OHL Erie) to Connor McDavid, where he led the league in assists (83) and points (128) in his final year before turning pro with Toronto. Just 29. A player that missed all but four games with Washington last year before a season-ending knee injury. Someone that needed the right fit in order to get his career back on track. Not every move made today is going to make sense, but this does. This was the logical outcome.
Edmonton opened up a spot in its top six by trading Kailer Yamamoto to Detroit. Now, they have that player. If they run two loaded lines, they can mix and match among McDavid, Brown, Zach Hyman plus Evander KaneLeon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Re-signing Mattias Janmark on the cheap for $1 million gets one bottom-six piece in place and Dylan Holloway almost certainly becomes an NHL regular after dividing time between the Oilers and Bakersfield last year.
The Oilers were tight against the cap, so getting him signed for the minimum — $775,000 — with the rest of the compensation as bonus money is a shrewd bit of work because you can kick the bonuses down the road, when the cap goes up year after year. It may ultimately be the smartest bit of business conducted today.
Contract grade: A
Fit grade: A

Sean Gentille, The Athletic

Connor Brown and the Oilers might have just agreed on the most interesting deal of the day.
Brown will only cost $775,000 at his base, with a bunch of incentives that could drive his number up to $4 million. He brings 20-goal capabilities to the Oilers — maybe more, if he reunites with his old teammate Connor McDavid — at an absolute bargain-basement price. Brown had a 128-point OHL season with McDavid as his center. You’re going to hear about that experience quite a bit.
This is happening because Brown, 29, tore his ACL with the Caps last season. He gets a chance to rehab his value in a perfect situation, and the Oilers get a good player at a really good price. Brown’s brains and play-driving skills would fit with the Oilers’ big boys. If the goals aren’t coming, he does enough other things to be a legit contributor down the lineup, which is always a potential spot of need for the Oilers.
But the plan, clearly, is for him to slide into the top six — where Edmonton had an open spot or two — and produce. Not a bad bet. He’s done it before, with and without McDavid, and the price couldn’t be better. If he hits the incentives, it’ll be a good sign for the Oilers.
Contract grade: A
Fit grade: A+
Contract grade: A
Fit grade: A+


Top remaining NHL free agents

It’s been a busy week for NHL organizations. With the NHL Awards last Monday evening, followed by two days of the NHL draft on Wednesday and Thursday, and now the most exciting of it all, free agency.
As of Saturday, more than 170 players have signed new deals around the league, some of which are top-ranked UFAs.
As the free agent feeding frenzy continues, which top UFAs remain unsigned? Here’s a look, with Daily Faceoff‘s Frank Seravalli’s original rank in place:
RankPlayerPosAgeTeamCap HitGPGPTSAFP Projection
9Vladimir TarasenkoRW31NYR$7.5M6918503 x $5m
16Patrick KaneRW34NYR$10.5M7321573 x $5.75m
23Matt DumbaRD28MIN$6M794143 x $4.4m
35Max ComtoisLW24ANA$2.04M649192 x $1.93m
36Tomas TatarLW32NJD$4.5M8220483 x $3.3m
59Jonathan ToewsC35CHI$10.5M5315311 x $2.25m
52Oskar SundqvistRW29MIN$2.75M6710283 x $2.4m
56Denis GurianovRW26MTL$2.9M667172 x $2.27m
59Pius SuterLW27DET$3.25M7914242 x $1.85m
61Noah GregorRW24SJS$950K5710172 x $1.2m

Toronto Maple Leafs sign Tyler Bertuzzi to one-year contract

The Toronto Maple Leafs have inked forward Tyler Bertuzzi to a one-year contract worth $5.5 million.
The former Red Wings winger started the 2022-23 season in red and white, but in March, he was sent to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a first-round pick in 2024 and a fourth-round choice in 2025. The move gave Boston a top-six player that was expected to take the place of Taylor Hall, who was placed on the long-term injured reserve in early March.
Bertuzzi, too, was dealing with injuries throughout the season. In early December, the forward missed just short of six weeks after having surgery on his left hand and returned to play after the new year. Bertuzzi scored eight goals and 30 points in 50 games between the two clubs. He entered free agency after he and the Boston organization failed to come to terms on a long-term deal.
Here’s what Daily Faceoff‘s Mike Gould wrote on the signing:
Detroit originally selected Bertuzzi, the nephew of former NHL star Todd Bertuzzi, in the second round (No. 58 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.
The six-foot-one left wing made his NHL debut with the Red Wings in the 2016–17 season and established himself as a full-timer with the club two years later, scoring 21 goals and 47 points in 2018–19.
Bertuzzi reached the 30-goal plateau and scored 62 points in just 68 games with the Red Wings in the 2021–22 season, during which he missed numerous games due to his unvaccinated status.
With the Bruins, Bertuzzi made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut and emerged as a difference-maker, although the Bruins blew a 3–1 series lead and ultimately lost to the Florida Panthers in the first round.

Calgary Flames sign Jordan Oesterle to a one-year contract

On Sunday, the Calgary Flames announced the organization had signed defenceman Jordan Oesterle to a one-year contract with a $925,00 cap hit.
The blue liner signed a two-year $1.35 million AAV contract as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings in 2021. This past season Oesterle scored two goals and 11 points with the Red Wings with a minus-nine rating. The 31-year-old, now a Flames member, will have played on both sides of the Battle of Alberta as he made his NHL debut with the Oilers in 2015.
Here’s what Daily Faceoff‘s Mike Gould reported on further details on the newest Flames player:
Oesterle, 31, collected two goals and 11 points while averaging 15:39 in 52 games with the Detroit Red Wings during the 2022–23 regular season.
The Red Wings had previously signed Oesterle to a two-year, $1.35 million AAV contract back in 2021. Oesterle’s new one-way deal with the Flames carries a $925,000 cap hit.
Oesterle spent parts of three seasons with the Oilers before signing with the Chicago Blackhawks as a Group 6 unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2017.
After just one year in Chicago, Oesterle was traded to the Arizona Coyotes as part of a seven-player deal. Arizona received Oesterle, Vinnie Hinostroza, Marian Hossa’s contract, and a 2019 third-round pick in exchange for Marcus Kruger, Mackenzie Entwistle, Jordan Maletta, Andrew Campbell, and a 2019 fifth-round pick.
Oesterle spent three seasons in Arizona, firmly establishing himself as an everyday NHL player and helping the Coyotes qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2020. He signed with the Red Wings in 2021 as a UFA from the Coyotes.
Through 349 career NHL games over parts of nine seasons with the Oilers, Blackhawks, Coyotes, and Red Wings, Oesterle has collected 19 goals and 84 points. He’s added a goal and four points in nine career playoff contests with Arizona.
Through 326 career NHL games over parts of seven NHL seasons with the Red Wings and Bruins, Bertuzzi has collected 92 goals and 218 points.

Detroit Red Wings sign Shayne Gostibehere to a one-year deal

The Detroit Red Wings have signed defenceman Shayne Gostibehere to a one-year $4.125 million AAV deal.
Gostibehere became a free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season when his six-year deal worth $4.5 million AAV he originally acquired with the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2017 ended. The blue-liner spent seven years with the club before being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in 2021. Most recently, he split his 2022-23 season after another trade in March sent him to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a third-round pick in 2026. In 75 games split between the two franchises, Gostibehere scored 13 goals and 41 points.
Here’s some of what Daily Faceoff’s Scott Maxwell wrote on the signing:
Gostisbehere, 30, was an unrestricted free agent after finishing a six-year contract with a $4.5 million contract, a deal he originally signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. He ends up seeing a decrease in salary of $375,000, and with it being only his third contract, it will be his lowest non-ELC cap hit. His closest cap hit comparable on the blue line is Mikey Anderson, who also has a $4.125 million AAV.
Gostisbehere had a bit of a rejuvenated career since joining the Arizona Coyotes in 2021, with 14 goals, 37 assists, and 51 points in 82 games in 2021-22, and 13 goals, 28 assists, and 41 points in 75 games this past season with both the Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes, along with three assists in 15 playoff games as the Canes were swept in the Eastern Conference Final by the Florida Panthers.
Gostisbehere was a third round pick of the Flyers in the 2012 draft, and spent the first seven seasons of his NHL career in Philadelphia. He was dealt to the Coyotes in 2021 as a cap dump, and then joined the Canes at the 2023 trade deadline as a rental.
Fischer was an unrestricted free agent after he didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Coyotes at the conclusion of his one-year, $1,125,875 contract.

Philadelphia Flyers sign forward Garnet Hathaway to a two-year contract

The Philadelphia Flyers, amidst their new era of orange, have signed forward Garnet Hathaway to a two-year contract with an annual cap hit of $2.375 million.
Hathaway is another player who split his 2022-23 season between two different clubs. A former Washington Capital he was traded to the Boston Bruins as a part in a three-team deal in February that involved the Minnesota Wild. Hathaway scored 13 goals between the two teams, and 22 points, he contributed one point in the Bruins seven game playoff series.
In light of his new threads, here’s what Daily Faceoff‘s Mike Gould wrote:
The Kennebunkport, Maine product added an assist in seven games as the Bruins fell to the Florida Panthers in surprise fashion in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Hathaway’s new contract with the Flyers carries an annual cap hit of $2.375 million, representing a modest pay raise from the $1.5 million he made per year on his previous deal with the Capitals.
Through 457 games over parts of eight NHL seasons spent with the Flames, Capitals, and Bruins, Hathaway has collected 58 goals and 122 points. He’s added three goals and six points in 31 career playoff contests split between the three teams.
Hathaway will now compete for playing time under John Tortorella on a Flyers team that also features Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, Scott Laughton, Nicolas Deslauriers, Owen Tippett, Ryan Poehling, Noah Cates, and Morgan Frost at the forward position.

Colorado Avalanche sign defencemen Jack Johnson to a one-year contract

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Colorado Avalanche signed defenceman Jack Johnson to a one-year contract with a $775,000 AAV.
Johnson started the 2022-23 season amongst a shaky Chicago Blackhawks team. In 58 games, he compiled four points and a minus-25 rating while averaging 19:50 of ice time a night. In late February, the former Stanley Cup champion would rejoin his once victorious team for the remainder of the year, sending Andreas England to the Blackhawks. Once in Denver, the blueliner scored two goals and four points in 25 games with a plus-10 rating but remained point-less throughout playoffs.
Here’s what Daily Faceoff‘s Mike Gould wrote on the signing:
Johnson won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Avalanche in 2022. He subsequently signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks but appeared in just 58 games with the team before being sent back to the Avs ahead of the trade deadline in exchange for Andreas Englund.
The Carolina Hurricanes originally selected Johnson in the first round (No. 3 overall) of the 2005 NHL Draft. The Indianapolis product never played for the Hurricanes before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings alongside Oleg Tverdovsky in 2006 in exchange for Eric Belanger and Tim Gleason.
Johnson spent parts of six seasons with the Kings before being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012 as part of a deal that sent Jeff Carter the other way. While Carter won two Stanley Cups in L.A., Johnson spent seven seasons with the Blue Jackets and continued to ply his trade as a top-four NHL defenseman.
From there, Johnson made brief stops with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers before joining the Avalanche in 2021. He appeared in 13 games with the Avalanche during their run to the Stanley Cup in the 2022 playoffs.

Florida Panthers sign Evan Rodrigues to four-year deal

The Eastern Conference Champions, the Florida Panthers, have signed forward Evan Rodrigues to a four-year contract with a $3 million AAV.
At the end of the 2021-22 season, the forward joined the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent. This past season he struggled with injuries but still scored 16 goals and 39 points through 69 games. Rodrigues contributed to one goal and five points through the Avalanche’s seven playoff games.
Here aremore details on the news from Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis:
The Panthers announced they had signed Evan Rodrigues forward to a four-year deal worth $3 million per season. It’s the biggest contract they’ve signed so far this offseason, edging out Niko Mikkola’s $2.5 million cap hit for the next three years.
Rodrigues, 29, was a late-summer signing by the Colorado Avalanche last year, scoring 16 goals and 39 points for the second-best numbers of his career. The Etobicoke, Ontario native had 19 goals and 43 points with the Penguins two years ago, the best season of his career. He has had five points in each of his last two playoff runs, with both teams getting knocked out in seven games.
The Panthers have $362,499 in projected cap space, with Aaron Ekblad and his $7.5 million cap hit not expected to start the season on time due to injuries.

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