Oilersnation Roundtable: Let’s go bargain bin shopping
Photo credit:© Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis2 months ago
The NHL Entry Draft and Free Agent Frenzy have come and gone and now we’re into the Dog Days of Summer.
The Edmonton Oilers have made a few changes so far this off-season, as Kailer Yamamoto and Klim Kostin were moved as salary cap casualties and Connor Brown, Lane Pederson, and a few other minor-league tweeners were brought in, but there’s still work to be done and areas on the roster to improve.
Restricted free agents Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod are still in need of new contracts and there won’t be much cap room to go around for other additions once those two are signed. With that in mind, let’s take a look at which free agents are still out there and who might be an ideal fit for the Oilers on a cheap contract.
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Kailer Yamamoto, Klim Kostin, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Nick Bjugstad, combined to score 30 goals for the Oilers last season. A healthy Connor Brown and a more mature Dylan Holloway are good bets to replace a lot of that offence but the Oilers could certainly use some more depth up front.
There are two names from the Detroit Red Wings who stand out as nice fits for the Oilers. Filip Zadina, the No. 6 overall pick from the 2018 draft, couldn’t find his groove in Detroit but he’s a pure sniper who could break out if given the right opportunity. Pius Suter scored 14 goals and 24 points for the Wings last season and was one of the team’s most frequently used forwards on the penalty kill.
The Oilers have quietly put together a very interesting group of defencemen who will be in Bakersfield pushing for opportunities in the NHL. Cam Dineen, who was acquired from Arizona in the Nick Bjugstad trade, along with off-season signings Ben Gleason and Noel Hoefenmayer have all been productive players in the minors, while 2017 seventh-round pick Phil Kemp has established himself as one of the Condors’ top defensive defenders. A veteran depth defender would be nice but doesn’t feel like a necessity.
The Oilers should be hot after Derek Stepan.
He played last year for the Carolina Hurricanes scoring five goals and 11 points in 73 games. All five goals, as well as 10 of the 11 points, came at 5×5. With him on the ice in those situations, the Hurricanes controlled 64.98 percent of the shot attempt share, 65.33 percent of the expected goal share, and 65.90 percent of the scoring chances. Carolina outscored opponents 22-15, for 59.46 percent, and Stepan’s PDO was 99.1 — right in line with league average meaning what you see is what you get. He can kill penalties, and won 54 percent of his faceoffs last year.
Still not convinced? According to hockeyviz.com, he contributed even-strength offence at an eight percent rate above league average and defence at a six percent rate above league average. It may sound weird to say, but he is an elite fourth-line center and if that’s an area the Oilers want to still address, this is the perfect player to do it.
Evolving Hockey projects him to make league minimum — $775,000 — on a one-year deal, and is exactly the type of contract the Oilers should be looking to sign heading into next season.
Listen, I know you’re not going to want to hear this but the perfect bargain bin free agent for the Edmonton Oilers is one man and one man only… Phil Kessel. Why? Let me tell you… Right now, the Oilers have a wide-open spot on their right side and the man to fill one of those holes is the one that is not only the league’s ironman but also one with three Stanley Cups.
Sure, you may be thinking that ol’ Baggedmilk has lost his mind with this one, but I would counter with the argument that Phil Kessel has won the Stanley Cup almost every time he’s ever been doubted. You might also say that Phil Kessel isn’t nearly as fast nor can he score as much as he used to as a younger man, and once again, you would be wrong. Despite not playing nearly the minutes he used to, Kessel still managed to score 14 goals and 36 points for the Vegas Golden Knights and that’s the exact kind of production we’d love to have in our bottom six. Are you convinced? Of course you are.
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