We are officially within 24 hours of the NHL’s free-agent window opening and the madness is only just beginning.
Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux, and John Klingberg are just a handful of star players who could have new homes by this time tomorrow.
Before we get into some things that could happen elsewhere around the league, let’s take a look at what we’re expecting from the Edmonton Oilers.
First off, it seems like a slam dunk that Jack Campbell will sign in Edmonton tomorrow and the expectation is that his deal will be for five years with an AAV of around $5 million. It’s a fairly hefty price to pay for a 30-year-old goaltender that only has 135 games of NHL experience, but I’m generally a fan of the move. Campbell has shown that he’s capable of looking like a legit number one goaltender for stretches.
There were also some really rough stretches last season for him so are some reasons to be concerned, but the ceiling is there for Campbell so I think this will be a fine signing if it happens.
The other side of this is that there really aren’t great options on the market. Darcy Kuemper is reportedly going to the Washington Capitals on a deal that will be at a higher AAV and be longer term. He was never really an option.
What else could the Oilers do? Well, they will be actively looking for forwards, we know that for sure.
There are reports that they offered Evander Kane a shorter-term deal with a cap hit around $5 million and when that was apparently rejected, they gave Kane’s camp permission to speak with other teams. Kane and his agent apparently believe he can get close to $48-50 million on a long-term deal and by allowing him to talk with other teams early, the Oilers are essentially calling Kane’s bluff. I don’t mind that from Holland.
Potential free-agent options we’ve heard connected to the Oilers: Claude Giroux, David Perron, and Mason Marchment. There has also been talk that they could be interested in acquiring Connor Brown from the Ottawa Senators. He had ten goals in 64 games last season and carries a cap hit of $3.6 million for one more season. He could be an interesting buy-low option for Holland.
I also really like the idea of signing David Perron if the price is right. The guy scored 27 goals in 67 games last season and I’m fairly confident he could repeat that production while playing next to either McDavid or Draisaitl.
Giroux is starting to feel like a less and less realistic option as he apparently has his sights set on the Ottawa Senators according to a few reports.
On the back end, defenseman Brett Kulak is set to test out the UFA market tomorrow according to a report from Frank Seravalli. It would make sense for him to do so considering he’s one of the better shutdown options on the market. There were reports a week ago that his ask was for around $2.5 million per season and Seravalli has added that the Oilers made a few different short and long-term offer to the Stony Plain, Alberta native.
He could still circle back to the Oilers, and I doubt the team would close the door on re-signing him but with this news and the official retirement of Duncan Keith, it’ll be very interesting to see what Ken Holland ends up doing on the blueline. He needs to replace some heavy minute munchers.
We’ve heard the Oilers connected to Flames defenseman and pending UFA Nikita Zadorov. I personally wonder about Nick Leddy if he doesn’t go back to St. Louis. Josh Manson apparently wants to go back to California, so he isn’t an option.
On the trade market, I wonder if a Tyson Barrie for Carson Soucy swap would make sense for the Oilers and Kraken. Seattle would get a puck mover while Edmonton would bring in a more cost-effective defensive defenseman.
Colin Miller is also scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency and could be an interesting right-shot replacement for Barrie on the third pairing. Seravalli has said that a deal for Barrie is still possible and has him at #8 on his trade targets list.
There is also the potential for Jesse Puljujarvi to be moved at some point this week. Certainly, something to keep an eye on.
If Johnny Gaudreau does not sign with the Flames by midnight eastern time tonight, Calgary loses the ability to give him an eighth year on any potential contract and will essentially lose their biggest bargaining advantage over other teams.
The Flames are apparently pushing more chips into the middle here in their negotiation with Gaudreau, but no decision has been made.
If Gaudreau leaves, keep an eye on the Flyers, Islanders, and Devils as potential landing spots. As we creep closer to midnight, it seems more and more likely that #13 has played his final game in Calgary.
If the Flames don’t bring him back, many are wondering if Matt Tkachuk could follow him out the door and if this could be the beginning of a potential rebuild for the Flames. That would be welcome news for the Oilers as it would mean one less divisional opponent to fight with for a playoff spot.
IS EVGENI ‘WALKIN’?
The Penguins were ready to put a fourth year on the table for Evgeni Malkin but, the forward was apparently hurt by the way things have played out and told the team he wants to test the market. The Penguins then went out and gave Rikard Rackell a six-year deal worth $5 million per season.
Still, the door isn’t closed on a potential return to Pittsburgh for Malkin. The team is still interested. Seravalli named Vincent Trochek as a potential replacement if ‘Geno’ were to find a new home though.
Tomorrow, I’ll be hosting a three-hour edition of The Daily Faceoff Show that features the return of our ‘Insider Cam’ with Frank Seravalli as well as appearances from Mike McKenna, Scott Burnside, Matt Larkin, Chris Gear, and Pete Blackburn of Bally Sports!
We’ll cover the latest free-agent signings, trades and other big news from what should be a crazy day of player movement around the NHL!