The Edmonton Oilers added three players via free agency yesterday and improved some important areas. The penalty kill has more suitable options and there are more actual NHL players on the roster than yesterday. Work remains, but the overall thrust of this summer matches what we discussed back in April. Peter Chiarelli kept his powder dry, refrained from the aggressive trade that hurts him, and is now left with roster structure and balance. He’ll need someone to blossom as a scoring right winger but there are a few good candidates.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers grab Tobias Rieder in free agency
- New Jonathan Willis: Oilers hopes rest on players already on the roster
- New Lowetide: Frugal Oilers grab Kyle Brodziak in free agency
- Lowetide: Hard Target Search: Tobias Rieder.
- Lowetide: Oilers still preferred CHL and older prospects in 2018 draft.
- Jonathan Willis: How will Oilers manage rich collection of goalie prospects?
- Lowetide: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- Lowetide: Low budget free agents can deliver Oilers big bang
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
- Lowetide: Oilers top 10 prospects in front of the 2018 draft.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers scouting directors: A history.
NEW 50-MAN ROSTER
- Four new names added, Mikko Koskinen could very well emerge as the most impactful. He is a complete wild card. The goalie prices were kind of crazy but there are still a few interesting names available. Robin Lehner is out there, I wonder if he could be had for a more reasonable cap today.
- Tobias Rieder and Kyle Brodziak are excellent pickups, considering Edmonton’s lack of cap and cachet entering the biding this weekend. I’ve listed Rieder as a left winger but if the kids can’t grab the available jobs on that side, we could see Draisaitl center Rieder on RW.
- Kevin Gravel is a wildcard acquisition, there are health concerns and he’s a defensive defenseman. Still the Oilers like his speed and there’s a good chance we see him play NHL games in 2018-19.
CHIARELLI’S NEEDS LIST
- A scoring winger capable of sliding up and down the depth chart as required (the answer may be internal, with Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and Ty Rattie all lined up on the runway. Tobias Rieder may emerge as an option here if the trio of hopefuls falter).
- A two-way forward who can provide veteran presence on the third or fourth line (Tobias Rieder and Kyle Brodziak both qualify).
- A second-pairing defender (patience may require this solution arrives later, and it might be Matt Benning until Evan Bouchard is ready).
- A backup goalie (Mikko Koskinen).
ASSETS OUT LIST
- Milan Lucic. No idea what the market might be for the big man.
- Zack Kassian. He’s likely in a few conversations.
- 2019 first-round pick. It would have lots of value.
- Oscar Klefbom. The OEL signing has him moving down my list (from No. 1).
- Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s vulnerable, suspect they’ll regret dealing the big man.
- Ryan Strome. Oilers may want to reset that third line.
- Andrej Sekera. Injury unknown likely keeps him here.
- Kris Russell. NMC probably keeps him here.
- Cam Talbot. I don’t believe it but his name is out there.
REMAINING OILERS FREE AGENTS
- G Nick Ellis RFA. Retired.
- G Laurent Brossoit UFA. Signed with the Jets ($650,000).
- LD Darnell Nurse RFA. Qualified, sounds like a contract is closer.
- RD Matt Benning RFA. Signed, more responsibility on the way.
- LD Yohann Auvitu UFA. Rumored heading back to Europe, no contract yet.
- RD Mark Fayne UFA. Crickets on his next destination.
- LD Keegan Lowe UFA. Signed, he will push for No. 7D.
- LD Dillon Simpson UFA. Signed with Columbus, $675,000 times two.
- LD Joey Laleggia UFA. I’ll guess he signs in Vancouver as a defenseman.
- LD Ben Betker RFA. Destination unknown.
- RC Ryan Strome RFA. Qualified, contract soon.
- RC Kyle Platzer RFA. He will land somewhere in the AHL imo.
- LC Grayson Downing UFA. Likely to land another AHL deal.
- L Mike Cammalleri UFA. He can still do some things, might get NHL chance.
- L Drake Caggiula RFA. Signed, yesterday’s moves may reduce role.
- L Braden Christoffer RFA. Signed an AHL deal.
- R Anton Slepyshev RFA. Signed with CSKA Moscow, two years.
- R Iiro Pakarinen RFA. Signed one-year deal with Magnita, KHL.
- R Patrick Russell. RFA. Signed, outside chance he sees NHL cup of coffee.
- R Brian Ferlin UFA. Health is the big story.
PROJECTED LINEUP AND CAP
- I put Tobias Rieder on a skill line, mostly because it allows the top 6F to have more speed. I’m uncertain he could keep the job alongside Leon but it might be worth a try. Takes the pressure off Lucic.
- I placed Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi on the skill lines, because if the Oilers don’t address right wing the most likely scenario involves Ty Rattie not holding on to that 1R job. No disrespect, he was amazing in Portland, but his career trajectory makes my scenario the most likely result based on the current situation.
- Kevin Gravel is placed at No. 7 defense, I’m still thinking that spot goes to Keegan Lowe.
A solid offseason so far, I think it’s fair to give the general manager credit. It isn’t a perfect summer, that $2.5 million he used on an unproven goaltender would have been useful yesterday, not to mention the $300,000 of cap lost on the Gryba buyout.
It’s also true that most of the roster problems and cap issues currently seen were self-inflicted, so giving credit comes with an explanation. That said, the moves yesterday will help the penalty kill and speed on the roster. There are more options.
- Chiarelli on Rieder: “The one year deal is a good fit in general but if he hits it out of the park, we’ll be paying for him next year. But it gives him a platform. He’s a fast, quick player who closes in on pucks quick. We are looking for speed up and down the lineup, and he fits that. “
There’s room to grow with this team and Rieder is young enough to hang around for several years if things break right. My article at The Athletic drills down on his usage in Arizona and how things might change in Edmonton, thus allowing him to wheel and produce more offense. A solid signing.
- Chiarelli: “It’s possible we could add another forward. We were close on a couple of things today, including a trade. We could possibly add a center at the depth position.”
There are shoes to drop, Evan Bouchard signing could have an impact on the NHL roster and the RFA’s Nurse and Strome have to get done. I think we’ll see one more trade. Peter Chiarelli’s future as general manager is surely on the line, and there’s too much reliance on the department of youth on the current roster.