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Oilers GM Ken Holland: “We have to move a player out just to get cap compliant”

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Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
8 months ago
Don’t expect the Edmonton Oilers to make a major addition this summer.
After re-signing Derek Ryan to a two-year contract worth $900k annually, the Oilers have just a shade over $5 million in open salary cap room to work with. General manager Ken Holland’s goal is to bring back as many players from last year’s group as possible, but with pay raises due to multiple restricted free agents, the Oilers will inevitably wind up having to let some go.
“In free agency, we’re not in on the $4 million, $5 million or $6 million players,” Holland told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic earlier this week. “I’m not even sure we’re in on the $2.5 million or $3 million players. It’ll be maybe a sixth or seventh defenceman.”
“I do know that we have to move a player out just to get cap compliant.”
The Oilers not making a big splash following their second-round loss to the Vegas Golden Knights might seem like a failed off-season but the reality is that their major addition for the year came when they traded for Mattias Ekholm ahead of the trade deadline. Having a full season of Ekholm on the blueline plus internal progression from young players is what Holland is banking on for the Oilers to take a step forward in 2023-24.
The big question this summer for the Oilers is how much it’ll cost to give Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod, and Klim Kostin new contracts and which player, or players, will need to be moved out in order to fit the roster under the salary cap.
The most obvious candidate to wind up a salary cap casualty is Kailer Yamamoto. He’s coming off of a difficult, injury-riddled season in which he scored 10 goals and 25 points over 58 regular season games and only one goal in 12 games in the playoffs. That production isn’t very good for $3.1 million and the Oilers have cheaper options in Dylan Holloway, Xavier Bourgault, and Raphael Lavoie pushing for spots.
Those young wingers could also make Warren Foegele expendable, but he’s cheaper than Yamamoto at $2.75 million and was higher on the team’s depth chart down the stretch and during the playoffs. Moving Cody Ceci or Brett Kulak, who cost $3.25 million and $2.75 million respectively, would give the Oilers some flexibility, but removing veteran depth from the blueline has obvious risks.
Holland also said in his interview with Nugent-Bowman that the team is “set in goal” so dumping Jack Campbell, either through a trade or through a buyout, is clearly off the table. The Oilers would obviously rather trade Yamamoto, but buying out his contract would save them $2.666 million next season with a $533k penalty the following season. The buyout window opens on Friday and closes on June 30.

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