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The Edmonton Oilers Cap Challenge

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Photo credit:Jason Franson/Canadian Press
Liam Horrobin
10 months ago
Ken Holland has a challenging task ahead of him this summer. With a limited cap space of $5,970 million, he needs to find a way to resign multiple players and improve the team in free agency. 
A few weeks ago, Frank Seravalli from Daily Faceoff suggested that the Edmonton Oilers could have an aggressive summer. He even mentioned Damon Severson as a possible target for the team. 
Before the team address any needs in the free agency window, the most significant task for Holland is resigning Evan Bouchard. In recent conversations, it has been indicated that Bouchard does not want to sign long-term with the team but instead a bridge deal for an estimated two years. A contract would bring his salary down significantly and lower than $4 million. 
Bouchard is one of six pending restricted free agents this summer, with the others being Ryan McLeod, Klim Kostin, Raphael Lavoie, Noah Philp, and Oliver Rodrigue. 
The most significantly unrestricted free agent for the Oilers is Nick Bjugstad. Bjugstad was brought in at the trade from the Arizona Coyotes and positively impacted this team. He played in 19 regular season games scoring four goals and ten points, then followed that up with three goals in the playoffs. While Holland would likely love to have Bjugstad back next season, the 30-year-old centreman may have priced himself out after a great season. 
Mattias Janmark, Derek Ryan, and Devin Shore are the other pending UFAs, and all could be back with the team next on friendly deals. 
The Oilers have just under $6 million to resign all upcoming free agents. Of course, not all will return, and it’s fair to assume Holland creates more space for himself with a buyout or a trade. Additionally, there is the possibility of the cap going up. With that, the Oilers could have almost $10 million to spend. 
Kailer Yamamoto, Cody Ceci and Warren Foegele are continuously mentioned in trade conversations. However, could there be an option to trade more core players on the team, creating more flexibility? Frank Seravalli had this to say about that possibility on Oilersnaton Everyday with Tyler Yaremchuk.
“The Oilers seem locked in (on their roster). If something comes around that they can’t say no to, then you always have to allow for that possibility. I don’t see any changes coming in net, given that the Oilers are locked in contractually. (Cody) Ceci is the wild card. I don’t have him on my trade board yet because I don’t have any confirmation that he is actually authentically in play. Who else would be from this group that makes sense to move? Hyman’s not going anywhere. Kane’s not going anywhere. Also, despite rumours, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins isn’t going anywhere. They’re sitting there looking at all of it and thinking well who would be really be possibly moving from this group that makes any sense?”
While the Oilers want to be aggressive this summer, they will have to find ways to be creative about it all. As Frank mentioned, moving on from anyone in the core group doesn’t make sense, and why should they? This team aspires to win the Stanley Cup and can do so. They made a hiccup on the way this playoffs, but the talent is there. 
This summer is shaping to be quieter for the Oilers while still adding smart deals at the bottom of the lineup. 
If you were Ken Holland, what moves would you be making? 

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