Edmonton will have several new faces in the opening night lineup for 2021-22, Evan Bouchard among them. The Oilers RH depth chart will likely run Ethan Bear, Adam Larsson and Bouchard, meaning veteran Tyson Barrie is down the line.
When evaluating the roster and possible improvements, one of the key factors in this area of the roster is the increase in cap room. Barrie’s contract was significant, Bouchard’s on his entry deal. That’s almost $3 million in extra room and one of the reasons making the move away from Barrie is the obvious next step.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: Oilers enter free agency as a major buyer. Is third time the charm?
- New DNB: Oilers could look quite different next season after departure of several players
- Lowetide: It won’t be easy, but the Oilers need to re-sign Darnell Nurse soon
- DNB: Ideal Oilers free-agent targets
- New Lowetide: An early look at the Oilers’ options for the 2021 draft
- New DNB: The pressure is on Oilers GM Ken Holland
- New Lowetide: What now for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
- New DNB: Connor McDavid shows his frustration as another year of his prime is lost: ‘We’re a group that expects more’
- New Jonathan Willis: The NHL gifted the Oilers Connor McDavid; six years later, they have yet to adequately support him
- New DNB: The Oilers’ 10 biggest offseason priorities after a disastrous first-round playoff loss to the Jets
- Lowetide: The 5 biggest stories from the Bakersfield Condors’ 2020-21 season
- DNB: How Jesse Puljujarvi’s return to Finland primed him for Oilers success
- DNB: Darnell Nurse is on ‘another level’
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi has arrived for the Oilers — again
- Lowetide: Oilers final 2020-21 report cards: A regular season to remember
- DNB:What are the Oilers’ pressing questions ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft?
- Lowetide: An early look at ideal Oilers’ free-agent targets for the offseason
OILERS ROSTER BEFORE ADDING UFA’S
I have Caleb Jones going to Seattle, James Neal getting bought out, Kyle Turris and Alex Stalock in the minors. Holland would have $23 million left for five players.
Mike Smith for $2.5 million plus $1 million in bonus dollars, Adam Larsson $4 million over four years, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins $5.5 million times five. That’s $13 million added and now the GM has $10 million left for a scoring LW and a C-W who is preferably RH.
Folks? That’s enough for Zach Hyman and Brandon Sutter, with maybe $2 million left for various items through the year.
What does that mean? I think Ken Holland has to offload James Neal and Mikko Koskinen to make a significant difference. Not sure what it looks like, but Edmonton needs more difference makers and the names I’ve mentioned are complementary pieces.
Bottom line: Nuge, Hyman, Sutter, Larsson and Smith aren’t enough to push the river when McDavid and Draisaitl are off the ice. What would be better?
The problem here is that you can’t sign five UFA in one summer because the other teams will have a say. Specifically, the Seattle Kraken are going to take a big bite out of the free-agent pool.
How can Holland improve his team, while using the free-agent market realistically? Well, I do think he signs Nuge, Larsson and Smith. That takes care of three issues.
Then, he’ll be looking at trades, likely for overpriced talent that remains useful. The sweetener for trading teams will be cap room. Tampa Bay might be a good place to start.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
It’s a big day on the Lowdown, we get started at 10, TSN1260. Dave Jamieson and Matthiew Iwanyk will join me and Tyler Yaremchuk for a special announcement just after 10. We’ll chat with John Matisz from The Score about Montreal Canadiens victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night and the possible impact of the TML collapse. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.