Random Thoughts: Oilers RFAs, Jack Campbell’s kingdom, and Johnny Gaudreau

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
Another day, another dose of Random Thoughts about our beloved Edmonton Oilers.


With the NHL draft and the start of free agency behind us, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m surprised to see Jesse Puljujarvi is still on the Oilers’ roster. Don’t get it twisted, I’m thrilled that he’s still with us but what doesn’t feel so warm and fuzzy is hearing speculation that the Oilers are back to looking for a draft pick as a return for him. Yesterday in the Notebook, Zach transcribed the clip from 32 Thoughts where Friedman and Marek were chatting about Jesse, and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t a big fan of what they said:
Friedman: “They want to move him for a pick. it’s hard right now because the teams that are at the cap, or close to the cap who are interested in him, they didn’t want to do that. I think there was at least one deal out there. Edmonton was talking to a team, and were told they had to take a player back who has a salary, a decent salary. Edmonton is like ‘we can’t do that,’ and if you trade with some of these other teams, you know you have to attach something with it. I think Edmonton’s a bit stuck there right now. I think there is people interested in Puljujarvi, it’s they don’t like the trade they’re going to have to make. i still think they’d like to do some things.”
Jeff Marek: “I’m very much of the belief that the Oilers like him, but they just don’t like him at the number the arbitrator is going to give him.”
Friedman: “I agree with that. I think they want to move him to create space, but the problem is not that they can’t move him, the problem is they can’t do it to create space.”
When the Oilers missed out on Connor Brown after Ottawa sent him to Washington instead of here, I wondered if that meant a better chance that we’d see Jesse back in the lineup come October. If the general rule is $100K per point in arbitration, that makes him a $3.6 million player, which happens to be what Puljujarvi’s deal might look like if the two sides can’t come to an agreement. Would you rather have Jesse Puljujarvi or a Connor Brown — Connor Brown-type right now, I suppose since he’s a Capital now — heading into 2022-23 if we’re going to be working with that general price point?
Personally, I want to see if Jesse can build upon the strong start he had in 2021-22 before looking like a different person at points post-injury and COVID. I want to know what he can give in a full season. I mean, the kid only played 65 games last year and I’d love to know an honest answer on how many of them were played at 100%, especially in the back half of the year. What I’m saying is that I’m not ready to give up on a player that’s shown us flashes of what he can do with the underlying numbers to support the bet that he’ll eventually be able to do it again.


As much as everyone is talking about Jesse Puljujarvi, I want to know what’s going on with Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod. Unless there’s something crazy coming down the pipe that we haven’t heard about, the bulk of Holland’s heavy lifting for UFAs is probably done for the summer so I’ll be looking forward to seeing when these two contracts land and what the details look like. If you believe in a guy like Ryan McLeod and believe he’ll get better with time, would you try to give him something longer than the usual two-year bridge? How much could it possibly cost on an annual basis? Let’s get creative here and Klefbom this kid. As for Kailer Yamamoto, he just posted career highs in both goals and assists and it will be very interesting to see how Holland handles this one. Yamo is coming off a one-year deal that didn’t come together until mid-September. After the heater he put down in 2019-20, the bubble year wasn’t the best for young Yams (52GP: 8G, 13A) and that’s why I actually respected the move of signing a one-year contract and betting on himself, but now that he’s put in a solid season for himself the expectations could get lofty.
As always, we wait.


After the Oilers officially locked Jack Campbell in on a five-year deal, our graphic designer, Kennedy, was doing a deep dive into all things Soup. Not only did she crank out a Soup and Stu shirt to honour our broth-based bros in record time, but she was also the first at Nation HQ to discover that Campbell threw a birthday party for his cat. At this point, the guy hasn’t played even a second of Oilers hockey and he’s already putting in the kind of work that will make him a star. Just look at it:
Look at how adorable our new friend looks holding his buddy for a birth snug. That’s some wholesome content right there, my friends, and even the dog lover in me can respect the love that Jack Campbell has for his cat. Then, just when I think Jack’s magical kingdom was cute but complete, he goes and adds a puppy.
Look at that little face. That’s a bundle of cuteness that can turn any day around if I do say so myself. How can you not appreciate what’s going on at our new goalie’s house? Cats and dogs and a heart of gold. If that’s not the makings of a goalie we can get behind then I don’t know what to tell you other than your heart may, in fact, be cold and dead.


Despite the hilarious tweet above, I actually feel a little bit sorry for Flames fans and I know that must be shocking for everyone to read. I’ll give you all a moment to reflect. But to have your start player leave upwards of $15 million on the table to sign in a city where he’s not likely to win anything at all is a headscratcher that I just don’t understand outside of it being easier to move around the country to see family since he’s an American citizen. Then again, if he had taken the extra money that Calgary reportedly offered him, he could have paid each of his family members a salary whenever they came to visit him so who knows what the real story is, but when he said, “It didn’t matter where I was signing, we just decided it was best not to go back to Calgary” my jaw damned near hit the floor. I mean, if you’ve made the unfortunate life choice to become a Flames fan, how do you not see that quote and feel like your heart has been ripped out of your chest? That shit hurts, man. And that’s why I honestly feel bad for them a little bit. Maybe it’s because I don’t know anything about Columbus and that the city is so damned awesome that it makes you forget about how passionate you once were about the creepy head statue you guys have downtown? But to leave $15+ million dollars on the table? Man, he must really hate Calgary.

Better Lait Than Never Free Agency Show

On the new episode of Better Lait Than Never, I gave my take on everything Ken Holland got done on the first day of free agency, including my surprise that Evander Kane was more than a one-and-done addition to our top six. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts.

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