The Edmonton Oilers approach free agency with about six million to spend, plus whatever they feel comfortable risking on the Andrej Sekera LTIR move. That’s one big contract or two smaller items. Where to shop? I think RHD is the primary need but there’s not much out there. Trade? Unless the Oilers are willing to deal Nuge, I can’t see it. Until the deadline, this may be us.
CURRENT PROJECTED ROSTER
- I’ve tweaked the cap number based on ‘reasonable’ expectations for the bonus money, which I have set at $4 million. That covers all of McDavid and some of the other group but not more than half of any of the players eligible (JP, Nurse, Benning, Caggiula, Slepyshev).
- I have Sekera here, Edmonton could LTIR if they get to the cap without bonuses but it’s a stick wicket since McDavid is likely to max the max. Let’s say $6 million in walking around money for a RHD and C-RW.
FORWARDS (FREE AGENTS)
- R Sam Gagner FREE AGENT (81gp, 18-32-50). EV numbers are good too.
- LC Martin Hanzal FREE AGENT (71gp, 20-19-39). Everybody loves Hanzal.
- L Patrick Marleau FREE AGENT. (82gp, 27-19-46). Knows the coach.
- R Radim Vrbata FREE AGENT (81gp, 20-35-55). Scorer.
- R Justin Williams FREE AGENT (80gp, 24-24-48). Luxury.
- LC Nick Bonino FREE AGENT (80gp, 18-19-37). Two-way C.
- LC Joe Thornton FREE AGENT (79gp, 7-43-50). Love to see it, seems doubtful.
- R Drew Stafford FREE AGENT (58gp, 8-13-21). Chiarelli type.
- R-L Thomas Vanek FREE AGENT (68gp, 17-31-48). Offensive option.
- R Jordan Weal FREE AGENT (23gp, 8-4-12). Not a lock for Philly?
- R Jarome Iginla FREE AGENT (80gp, 14-13-27). He can still shoot the puck.
- R Jaromir Jagr FREE AGENT (82gp, 16-30-46). Now 70, still going.
- R Kris Versteeg FREE AGENT (69gp, 15-22-37). What he brings has value.
- R Ales Hemsky FREE AGENT (15gp, 4-3-7). Still brilliantly creative.
- R Tyler Pitlick FREE AGENT (31gp, 8-3-11). Finally emerged, could return.
- R P-A Parenteau FREE AGENT (67gp, 13-15-28). Can still score.
- LC Dominic Moore FREE AGENT (82gp, 11-14-25). PK and FO option.
- LC Brian Boyle FREE AGENT (75gp, 13-12-25). He is on their list.
- L Patrick Sharp FREE AGENT (48gp, 8-10-18). Depending on health and price.
- R Alex Chiasson FREE AGENT (81gp, 12-12-24). Has some value.
- LC Mikhail Grigorenko FREE AGENT (75gp, 10-13-23). Good faceoff man.
I added Weal to the list, rumors have him heading out west (after early rumor had him staying in the east). Several fascinating RFA’s weren’t qualified so that group increases the overall number available. I like Tyler Pitlick a lot, Ales Hemsky too, but suspect we’ll see a Drew Stafford over either of them. Chiarelli has no problem with the aged, so Jarome or even Shane Doan (not listed) could end up in Edmonton.
I’ve decided Sam Gagner is the best investment for the group. He can play depth RW, help on the power play and perhaps move up as needed. He shouldn’t cost a ton.
DEFENSE (FREE AGENTS)
- RD Cody Franson FREE AGENT (68GP, 3-16-19). Out of the blue and into the black.
- RD Kevin Shattenkirk FREE AGENT (80gp, 13-43-56). One year at big coin?
- LD Brian Campbell FREE AGENT (80gp, 5-12-17). The man can still wheel.
- RD Christian Folin FREE AGENT (51gp, 2-6-8). New free agent arrival.
- RD Michael Stone FREE AGENT (64gp, 3-12-15). May be some interest.
- RD Eric Gryba FREE AGENT (40gp, 2-4-6). Good chance he returns.
- LD Jordan Oesterle FREE AGENT (2gp, 0-0-0). I like him as a 7D option.
- RD Dennis Wideman FREE AGENT (57gp, 5-13-18). Going to the end of the line.
- RD Adam Clendening FREE AGENT (31gp, 2-9-11). Still hanging around.
Cody Franson makes it all the way to No. 1 on my list. I also added Folin and Clendening and made the Wideman portion of summer official. MSM seems to be thinking Eric Gryba is a lock, suspect that’s true. After that, PC has to decide whether or no Mark Fayne projects as an NHL option. If not, we could see two of these names added. Don’t forget college man like Teemu Kivihalme, that could be a hidden option. Matt Benning arrived in the NHL last fall and doubt he’ll be leaving for a long time.
Of the 33 testimonial letters in Coach Drake's HHoF nomination package,the one that gets me every time is this from Chief Wilton Littlechild pic.twitter.com/gG32yolrrv
— Bruce McCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) June 27, 2017
Bruce wrote a wonderful piece on Coach Drake here, recommended reading. A legendary figure, he touched so many lives in a positive way and this letter is simply breathtaking. If you can make that much of a difference (as above) in one person’s life you are exceptional. To do it over many decades is something else again.
- 5×5 points per 60: 0.88 (1st among regular Sabres defensemen)
- 5×4 points per 60: 1.22 (two points in 98 minutes)
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 50.9
- Corsi Rel 5×5 %: 5.0
- DFF Elite 5×5 %: 47.0
- DFF Elite Rel 5×5 %: 4.8 (31 percent of TOI v. elites)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 93 shots/3.2%
- Boxcars: 68gp, 3-16-19
- (All numbers via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference)
- Special thanks to GMoney and Woodguy for sharing the DFF’s
Cody Franson, as of now, is the No. 1 free agent on my board for the Edmonton Oilers. I know he is not a grand skater and there is some chaos to his game. I understand his power-play numbers weren’t terrific last season and I get that Edmonton may have him as 7D once Andrej Sekera returns. All that understood, he’s the best available fit. I’ll go even farther than that, Cody Franson is a good fit for the Oilers at this time.
If your son is a young college hockey player with tough decisions ahead of him, the last six months of Spencer Foo’s career offer some really good insight. Faced with returning to a Union College team on the downswing due to graduation, Foo would have been something of a Stone Alone on the squad. His boxcars may have suffered and his value as a pro prospect eroded. As it is, he waited until after free agency to find the right spot and that’s ideal for him. Is that spot Edmonton? Don’t know. If we assume that one of Draisaitl/Strome will be 1R and that Zack Kassian will hold down another spot, it means two positions are open on the roster at this time. Here are the NHLE’s of candidates who spent time outside of the NHL last year.
- Anton Slepyshev (AHL) 43
- Jesse Puljujarvi (AHL) 31
- Spencer Foo (ECAC) 31
- Greg Chase (AHL) 13
- Patrick Russell (AHL) 10
For the Oilers, part of the appeal might be to have the option of sending Jesse Puljujarvi to Bakersfield. It burns off the bonus money and gives the big Finn another (say) half season to develop. Drake Caggiula may also slide into a RW job so there are plenty of options. I do think we’ll see a free agent added somewhere along the way.
THE DRAFT ANALYST AND EDMONTON’S DRAFT
Steve Kournianos and the folks at The Draft Analyst do the most exhaustive work on each year’s entry draft. It gives us some unique opportunities, including access to an actual mountain of prospects for each year’s selection. Here’s Edmonton’s list and how TDA ranked them.
- No. 22 Kailer Yamamoto (DA No. 16)
- No. 78 Stuart Skinner (DA No. 9 goalie)
- No. 84 Dmitri Samorukov (DA No. 65)
- No. 115 Ostap Safin (DA No. 56)
- No. 146 Kirill Maksimov (DA No. 178)
- No. 177 Skyler Brind’Amour (DA No. 146)
- No. 208 Phil Kemp (DA No. 168)
- Goalie Source
Steve will join me on the Lowdown this morning to discuss the Oilers’ draft. That’s three (Bob McKenzie, Craig Button) lists so far that have Edmonton’s draft showing well.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, full boat and lots to discuss. TSN1260 beginning at 10, scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Oilers Nation. Eberle gone, Russell back, are the Oilers done?
- Derek Taylor, TSN. CFL Week One, Ricky Ray timeless, Eskimos raunchy!
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Oilers moves, Leafs non-moves, Flames blue moves.
- Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst. We look at the Oilers draft as well as some other astute draft boards.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.