Random Thoughts: Evan Bouchard’s contract, Warren Foegele drawing interest, and Dana White

Photo credit:Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
Another Saturday has arrived, and that means it’s time for another dose of Random Thoughts. And seeing as there’s a lot to talk about, this week’s edition is all over the place.


I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am that the horribly boring Stanley Cup Finals are over and that we can finally get rolling with silly season speculation. Yeah, Vegas won the Stanley Cup, but who cares? I want to see what’s popping with my beloved Edmonton Oilers. I want to know how they plan to improve with next to no money to spend. I want action. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long for the rumour mill to get rolling once the season wraps, and the Oilers have already been tied to all kinds of names. It’s a beautiful thing, folks, and I love the chaos of it all. My body is ready.


This is a big summer for the Oilers given their window to win, so when Elliotte Friedman was talking about the Oilers’ cap situation and wondered what happens if Ken Holland can’t move Kailer Yamamoto, it’s fair to wonder what plan B looks like. Assuming no one wants Yamo — Holland traded Puljujarvi so I can’t see how that’s possible — the next possible cap casualty on the list could be Warren Foegele. Back to what Friedman said:
“The Oilers if they can’t move Yamamoto I think they’re a little concerned they might have to move Foegele. I don’t think that’s what they want to do but I’ve heard that when other teams are talking to Edmonton I think there have been some teams that have said, you know we saw how Foegele played in the playoffs, cause he was available at times last year”
If I’m being honest, I could see the Oilers moving on from both Yamamoto and Foegele depending on how many upgrades they actually think they need, but I’m also interested in seeing what contract year McLovin could look like. Toward the end of the 2022-23 campaign, Foegele really started to pick it up and the Oilers could use the guy at his best because he can be a handful when he’s firing on all cylinders. Either way, I know some folks in the media believe that the Oilers are in for a quiet offseason, but I’m not so sure about that. The more we have the Oilers being tied to varying players around the league, the more I’m thinking that Old Dutch has a few tricks left up his sleeve before he rides off into the sunset.


The 2023-24 NHL season is still three and a half months away but here I am worrying about what Evan Bouchard’s next contract is going to look like. The Oilers’ clear #1 d-man whether he’s ready for the gig or not, Bouchard is an incredibly important piece of this franchise, and seeing how Ken Holland handles his contract situation will be a fascinating story to follow as the off-season rolls along. On this week’s 32 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman chimed in with a suggestion that a one-year deal might be the play for the Dad on this next contract.
“I just think they’re going to have to do a one-year deal there, I just don’t see how you, I think you have to do one year and a year where the cap goes up and you deal with it there”
After talking it out yesterday on Oilersnation Radio, I actually don’t mind the idea of a one-year contract if the dollar value starts with… say… a two? If the Oilers can get one more cheap year out of Evan Bouchard, that would give Holland a little bit more flexibility to fish for upgrades in the lineup while also kicking the can down the road on a long-term deal to coincide more with the Draisaitl and McDavid extensions. Not to mention, the salary cap has to start going up at some point soon, and knowing more about what that looks like could be a nice future reward for a little bit of patience now. Dare to dream?


On Thursday night, I wrote about the Oilers potentially having an interest in Brett Pesce if the Hurricanes can’t sign him, and how that would be a killer trade for Ken Holland to make provided he can free up the required cap space. Well, less than 24 hours after I wrote that article, Darren Dreger jumped on the Got Yer Back podcast and threw a little bit of rain on my parade:
“You know I think we have to qualify the level of interest here and I know that the Oilers are interested, I know the Buffalo Sabres are interested and there’s probably 10 more teams with interest for all the reasons that we’ve talked about. So, I wouldn’t get my hopes up to high but when you define an area of need and want. You know they want to upgrade what they have in Cody Ceci, you guys know this. So you have to be involved in those conversations and I’m pretty sure the Oilers are”
Even though I never expected Pesce to be a realistic option for Edmonton to acquire — I even wrote that I think the Hurricanes will re-sign him — you don’t usually have a rumour get squashed by its original source quite this quickly. That’s not to suggest that Dreger said landing Pesce would be impossible, but rather that no one should be getting their hopes up about this actually happening. From my perspective, I already assumed that landing another top-four stud was going to be a reach, but the least Dreger could do was let us sit with the fantasy for a little while longer.


I don’t know how many of you saw what Dana White said about the NHL’s marketing department this past week, but I have to admit that it got my attention. I mean, you don’t normally see the President of another sport taking shots at the NHL with this much spice, ya know? On the NELK podcast, White was asked about hockey and the UFC honcho did not hold back:
“F*** ’em. They’re all old dumb f****** people that have no idea what’s going on. They have no idea where this younger generation is, how you reach them, any of that s***. Total video views for the NHL- in the middle of their conference finals, they did 25 million video views. Power Slap did 90 million.”
Say what you will about Dana White or the UFC, the dude knows how to draw eyeballs so when he takes a direct shot at the NHL like this, you have to chuckle about it because he’s not exactly wrong. White’s comments make me think about how the Oilers still don’t want to work with us as if we’re going to do something insane if we had any level of access, and it’s gotten to the point where it actually makes me laugh because all we want to do is talk about why the Oilers are the greatest. Even though the calendar says it’s 2023, sometimes it feels like the league is still trapped in the 90s in the way they think about marketing the sport.


On this week’s podcast, I talked about why I’m happy the Stanley Cup Finals are over, Derek Ryan’s new two-year contract, and answered your questions and more in the voicemail. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you get podcasts. New episodes come out every Wednesday.

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