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Armchair GM - UFA Targets (Forwards)

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Continuing the Armchair GM series we start looking at forward UFA targets.

Could Martin St. Louis be a good choice for the Oilers? You'll have to read the entire post to find out.
Could Martin St. Louis be a good choice for the Oilers? You'll have to read the entire post to find out.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the last Armchair GM post I covered off buy-outs and who the Oilers should be targeting as a buyout option. The answer after all was said and done was that the Oilers need to buy out the last year of Nikita Nikitin’s contract. This brought the total salary cap space for the Oilers to $17,342,833.

Note: Even though the Oilers re-signed Miller and Hunt, because neither player’s salary should be over $1M their salaries won’t count against the cap in this exercise.

The Forwards

Before any spots can be filled we have to understand what the Oilers actually have and what they need to fill. Once again I’m going to reference the Armchair GM - The Salary Cap post but this time I’ll break the costs down by line to give a better picture of the salary spent on each.

Roster

Line Left Wing Salary Centre Salary Right Wing Salary Total Salary
1 Benoit Pouliot 4,500,000 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 6,000,000 Jordan Eberle 6,000,000 16,500,000
2 Taylor Hall 6,000,000 Nail Yakupov 2,500,000 8,500,000
3 Leon Draisaitl 3,400,000 Anton Lander 987,500 Teddy Purcell 4,500,000 8,887,500
4 Rob Klinkhammer 725,000 Boyd Gordon 3,000,000 Matt Hendricks 1,850,000 5,575,000

Obviously people are going to freak out that Conor McDavid isn't on this list but until he is officially drafted I am not going to include him on any of these lists but I will keep a roster spot open for him. So if you are keeping track at home McDavid will be $925,000 as a base with $2,850,000 in performance bonuses and $92,500 in signing bonuses so that brings his total cost to $3,775,000. That makes the 2nd line’s total cap hit $12,275,000. I will leave room in the salary cap for him as well so that $17,342,833 becomes $13,567,833 assuming all bonuses are met.

There is also Leon Draisaitl to account for and that will be a tough decision this season. I’d prefer to give him at least 1/2 a season in OKC Bakersfield but it’s a tough call. If he stays with the Oilers then I’d stick him on the third line with Lander and Purcell. This would allow McLellan to rotate Lander and Draisaitl at center while putting Purcell in the best position to succeed and potentially increasing his value over the season if need be. Obviously with Draisaitl in the line-up the salary cap situation changes again, the $13,567,833 left from the McDavid deal becomes $10,167,833 with Draisaitl accounted for. If this is the scenario that plays out then moving Purcell will become a top priority but I’ll discuss that in another post.

Finally the Oilers still have at least the 13th forward spot to add to the mix. Since I have cut Luke Gazdic and Ryan Hamilton already I’ll need a cheap option to eat up that roster spot. Recently signed Andrew Miller probably fills the spot the best, I see him very much like a Mark Arcobello and his $708,750 cap hit still leaves the team with $9,459,083.

Interestingly enough, as bad as the Oilers have been in the past the forward lines isn’t where I’d add a UFA. Unless there is something that really jumps out at reasonable price and at a decent term the UFA market just isn’t the place to grab forwards this offseason.

Up Next

Like I mentioned the foward lines don’t move much. With the exception of adding Leon Draisaitl back into the rotation and adding Conor McDavid once he’s drafted, the forward lines are pretty much set.

The number going forward in the Armchair GM series will be $9,459,083 which isn’t ideal but once trades start happening that number will be managable.