I expect the earth is moving under Ken Holland’s feet this morning. The trades yesterday, massive reduction in cap dollars from several teams who will be in competition for Zach Hyman, Adam Larsson and others, and the missed opportunity to add to Edmonton’s own protected list during a busy trade deadline Saturday.
I entered this offseason expecting some good, some bad. I think every organization has moments when the tumblers click and golden moments flow. I even think some teams have more of those than other teams because those teams make smart bets and increase their odds. Those teams are still prone to the luck of the draw, but stack the deck as much as able.
I expect Holland tried to acquire some help before the trade freeze, and I also expect he’s become aware of those shifting sands. How much for Zach Hyman? Gabriel Landeskog wants what? Free agency Day 1 is where general managers perish.
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: 5 players outside the NHL who could help the Oilers
- New DNB: Adam Larsson and free agency? Who’s on the expansion list?
- New DNB: Oilers talking to Zach Hyman’s camp
- Lowetide: Lessons learned from Oilers’ previous drafts
- Lowetide: What did the Oilers sacrifice in sending Caleb Jones to Chicago in the Duncan Keith trade?
- Jonathan Willis: Duncan Keith, by the numbers
- DNB: How Ken Holland’s overpay for Duncan Keith limits the Oilers’ offseason options
- Lowetide: 10 free agents for the Oilers to target this offseason
- Jonathan Willis: Yes or no? Have your say on 10 hypothetical Oilers trades
- Lowetide: Is this the year the Oilers find a world-class agitator in the draft?
- Lowetide: Which draft prospects will be available when the Oilers pick at No. 19?
- Lowetide: Oilers 2021-22 roster projection, including trade and free agent targets
- DNB: How do Oilers fans feel about their team’s 2020-21 season?
- Lowetide: What is a reasonable trade price for Oilers to pay for Duncan Keith?
- Lowetide: Will the Oilers draft from the OHL after a season that never happened?
- Lowetide: Finding the ideal No. 3 centre for the Edmonton Oilers
- New DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason
- Lowetide: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ future value to the Oilers will be defined by his adaptability
- DNB: How re-signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for eight years could help and hurt the Oilers
- DNB: Five offseason scenarios that could upend the Oilers’ best-laid plans
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
- Jonathan Willis: How the Oilers could make a Jack Eichel-level trade happen this offseason
- Lowetide: The 7 Oilers roster spots GM Ken Holland must improve this offseason
- DNB: Ten teams the Oilers should be targeting for trades ahead of the Kraken expansion draft
- Lowetide: Why huge Oil Kings goalie Sebastian Cossa could be the perfect first-round fit for the Oilers
WHAT TO DO?
Last year, day one free agency was nuts, as always. Even in the pandemic, the richest deals could choke a horse. Here are the top-10 deals from day one:
- St. Louis Blues signed D Torey Krug to a seven-year, $45-million deal ($6.75-million AAV)
- Calgary Flames signed G Jacob Markstrom to a six-year, $36-million deal ($6-million AAV)
- Toronto Maple Leafs signed D T.J. Brodie to a four-year, $20-million deal ($5-million AAV)
- Calgary Flames signed D Chris Tanev to a four-year, $18.5-million deal ($4.5 million AAV)
- Vancouver Canucks signed G Braden Holtby to a two-year, $8.6-million deal ($4.3-million AAV)
- Washington Capitals signed D Justin Schultz to a two-year, $8-million deal ($4-million AAV)
- Anaheim Ducks signed D Kevin Shattenkirk to a three-year, $11.7-million deal ($3.9-million AAV)
- New Jersey Devils signed G Corey Crawford to a two-year, $7.8-million deal ($3.9-million AAV)
- Minnesota Wild signed G Cam Talbot to a three-year, $11-million deal ($3.67-million AAV)
- Dallas Stars signed G Anton Khudobin to a three-year, $10.5-million deal ($3.5-million AAV)
How many of those look worthwhile a year later? Players who were a little or a lot disappointing included Markstrom, Holtby, Shattenkirk and Crawford. What about the days that followed? Well, the big name was signed after day one, but after that teams didn’t spent much more than $3.5 million at the high end. Better value was available after the fever broke:
- Buffalo Sabres sign LW Taylor Hall to a one-year, $8-million deal ($8 million AAV)
- Montreal Canadiens sign W Tyler Toffoli to a four-year, $17-million deal ($4.25 million AAV)
- Edmonton Oilers sign D Tyson Barrie to a one-year, $3.75-million deal ($3.75 million AAV)
- Detroit Red Wings sign G Thomas Greiss to a two-year, $7.2-million deal ($3.6 million AAV)
- Boston Bruins sign F Craig Smith to a three-year, $9.3-million deal ($3.1 million AAV)
If Holland can avoid spending $7.5 million on Gabriel Landeskog, or going $6 million times six on Zach Hyman, things should begin to ease once Brandon Saad and Tomas Tatar are the top options. There are a pile of goalies, so Holland might grab a partner for Mike Smith in the $3 million range.
OILERS JULY 1 IN RECENT SEASONS
- July 1, 2015: Andrej Sekera ($5.5 million times six years); Mark Letestu ($1.8 million times three years)
- July 1, 2016: Milan Lucic ($6 million times seven years)
- July 1, 2018: Tobias Rieder ($2 million times one)
- July 1, 2019: Mike Smith ($2 million times one)
- October 10, 2020: Tyson Barrie ($3.75 million times one)
I think Peter Chiarelli put himself in a tough spot through July 1 free agency (and the second Kris Russell deal) when he couldn’t make a move by 2017 for just money. Holland has been frugal in the first two seasons, but set up this summer as ‘go’ time.
PROTECTED LIST (OFFICIAL)
- Goal: Stuart Skinner
- Defense: Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear, Duncan Keith
- Forwards: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Josh Archibald, Zack Kassian
I would have Tyler Benson over Zack Kassian and Alex Stalock instead of Stuart Skinner, and believe Dominik Kahun offers the most value for Seattle Kraken.
As has been the case since the signing of Devin Shore early in the offseason, reaction to Edmonton not getting involved in trades before the freeze was instant and angry. No doubt there was real talent moving yesterday, I think Jared McCann and Barclay Goodrow would have been excellent acquisitions. Goodrow, more of a center than McCann, would have filled the No. 3 center spot for Edmonton and came at the cost of just a depth pick.
Both men would have taken some dollars from the cap, without addressing the team’s top needs. As the top end of free agency appears to be running wild, keeping his powder dry before he signs key pieces makes sense. I would be remiss in not mentioning the enormous cap cost for Duncan Keith here, that’s a deal that is going to look beyond expensive as free agency dawns.
Edmonton has to acquire a scoring winger for Connor McDavid, a checking center for the third line, Adam Larsson or replacement, Mike Smith and another goalie. That’s five men, for about $11 million in cap.
Now, we know the club can buyout James Neal, send Kyle Turris to the minors and trade Mikko Koskinen (maybe), but may not do all of those things. Here’s a possible roster when the dust settles.
This sends Mikko Koskinen to Nashville for Borocop, keeps Turris on the roster, adds Linus Ullmark and Zach Hyman. It is not an especially creative summer, and brings back Adam Larsson and that’s currently in doubt. James Neal bought out. There’s $2.2 million in cap room. Klefbom LTIR.