Who’s left for the Edmonton Oilers to sign in free agency?

Photo credit:Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
The work is far from over for the Edmonton Oilers.
Yes, Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto have been inked to new deals, but Ryan McLeod and Tyler Benson still need new deals. As has been mentioned, the Oilers are already at the salary cap even when accounting for Mike Smith and Oscar Klefbom heading for the LTIR.
So something has to give. I still think Warren Foegele is the most likely candidate to be moved, but Tyson Barrie would be the smartest. If the Oilers could move both, that would be even better.
Ken Holland was on TSN1260 yesterday, where he admitted there was work to be done. Not only that, but there’s a certain type of player the Oilers are looking to sign.
“Probably more of mid to late twenties,” said Holland, adding the Oilers could look at someone who has been undervalued in the market.
He too was later asked about Phil Kessel being a possibility: “With regards to Phil Kessel, I mean obviously anybody that is, most everybody that is on the market, I’m aware of and talked to their agents.
“So we’ll see. I’m not going to say yes. I’m not going to say no. I think that depends on if we do anything to our lineup between now and opening of camp.”
Phil’s an interesting case. This past season, he was an offensive play driver who had strong numbers setting up his Arizona Coyotes teammates. In 82 games, he scored eight goals and 52 points in what was another solid season of production for the veteran who is aging like fine wine. Coming off his massive eight-year, $8-million AAV deal, Kessel is still unsigned and likely could be had around a million bucks.
Another option could be Sonny Milano. The 26-year-old is coming off one of his best seasons in the NHL where in 66 games, he tied a career-high in goals (14) while setting bests in assists (20), and points (34). Still, he’s left unsigned in the market. Milano was a great play drver in the Anaheim Ducks’ top-six last year. According to hockeyviz.com, he contributed offence at a six percent rate above league average and defence at a seven percent rate above league average. He was also above average in finishing and setting up teammates.
28-year-old Evan Rodrigues is another appetizing option as a player coming off a career year. Career highs in goals (19), assists (24) and points (43) came while playing largely in a third-line role with the Pittsburgh Penguins. According to hockeyviz.com, his finishing rates were four percent below league average while his setting rate was league average. Despite that, he provided offence at an eight percent rate above league average and defence at a seven percent rate above league average. He’s coming off a one-year, $1-million prove it deal, and appears to be in for another similar contract this summer.
Zach Aston-Reese is another ex-Penguin who I’d have interest in. The 27-year-old scored five goals and 15 points in 69 games, but offence isn’t his calling card. Playing in a third-line role, he was a defensive specialist contributing at a nine percent rate above league average, according to hockeyviz.com.
In terms of defencemen that could replace Tyson Barrie on the right side, the list is limited. Michael Stone could make sense. He provided offence at a six percent rate above league average and defence at a four percent rate above league average. P.K. Subban provided offence at a five percent rate above league average and defence at a league average rate. Greg Pateryn provided both offence and defence at five percent rates above league average.
Scoring goals won’t be an issue for the Oilers. Keeping the puck out of the net will be.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.


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