With the deadline to issue qualifying offers fast approaching, the Oilers announced this afternoon that they have sent qualifying offers to six of their ten restricted free agents. In this group are four players that everyone expected to be there: Sam Gagner, Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Fedun, and Teemu Hartikainen, as well as Niko Hovinen and Antti Tyrvainen. On the other side of this news are Theo Peckham, Alex Plante, Colten Teubert, and Phillipe Cornet; each of these four are now unrestricted free agents. For what it's worth the Oilers continue to retain Linus Omark's rights having issued him a qualifying offer last summer.
As mentioned previously there was little doubt that Gagner, Paajarvi, Hartikainen, and Fedun would receive a qualifying offer. These were no brainers, and won't come as a surprise to anyone, but Tyravinen and Hovinen might be to some extent. Neither is very highly regarded by the writers here at the Copper & Blue as they were ranked 40th, and 37th out of 42 in our most recent Top 25 Under 25.
I wonder if Tyravinen's strong scoring numbers in the playoffs might not have been a factor in the Oilers decision to keep him around. After scoring only five points - three goals and two assists - in 32 regular season games, Tyravinen scored six points in exactly half as many playoff games. Of course, those aren't totals that should get you too excited about an bright NHL future for him being just over the horizon. If you're curious about the type of Tyravinen is just take a look at his penalty minute totals and it'll help clear things up. Personally, I'm not a big fan of Tyravinen, but he seems to fill a role on the Barons that management sees some value in. He's now 24 years old though, so I doubt they see value in it for much longer.
In Hovinen the Oilers keep the fifth best goalie in their system. Hovinen split his time in the 2012/13 season between Trenton of the ECHL and the Barons in the AHL, playing a total of 25 games and posting a sub 0.890 save percentage. Like Hartikainen, Hovinen will be playing in Russia next fall having signed on to play with Metallurg of the KHL. The Oilers decision to let fellow Finnish netminder Samu Perhonen walk away earlier last month likely opened up the spot the Oilers need to justify keeping Hovinen. Even if he looks like the longest of long shots to ever play in the NHL.
On the dearly departed list we find three players who were all touted at point or another as part of a future rebuilt Oilers blue line. That clearly never happened, and parting ways with Peckham, Plante, and Teubert was the right move for the club at this point. Not only does this remove three borderline hockey players from the Oilers system, but it also helps to open up spots for the next generation of Oilers defencemen - Martin Gernat, David Musil, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin - who are, or are about to be, knocking on the door. Even for a guy like Fedun who has already established himself at the AHL level, this helps clear out some of the deadwood that has been surrounding him. Hopefully the futures of this group are brighter than those of the three that just left.
If there is a surprise in who won't be coming back it's Phillipe Cornet, the Oilers fifth round pick in the 2008 draft. Cornet split the 2012/13 season between Stockton and Oklahoma City, scoring 9-14-23 in 18 games with the Thunder and 15-18-33 in 46 games with the Barons. This a season after he scored 37 points in 67 games with the Barons. Hardly great numbers, but given the upward trend I would have thought might have been just barely good enough to by the 23 year old another year of development time. Obviously the Oilers thought otherwise.