Anyone who paid attention in 2016-17 and then again in 2017-18 will likely tell you something along the lines of how much they miss watching the Oilers in the playoffs.
Who will play in Edmonton’s top six? Well, Connor McDavid is a pretty good start. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will likely be there. Leon Draisaitl? Safe bet. Anyone else? Maybe.
The Oilers might employ Jesse Puljujarvi to play there, or maybe they’ll end up starting Kailer Yamamoto up the lineup. Ty Rattie showed fairly well late in the season. Not doing it for you? Let’s check in on some free agents who should be in or near the bargain bin. Remember, the Oilers aren’t flush with cash this offseason - even if the cap goes up five million.
Who’s out there? Here are a couple of pending options...for now.
- Michael Grabner - LW/RW (2017-18 Cap Number: $1.65MM)
Grabner is finishing up a two year deal where he earned 1.65MM for each of those years. He spent part of his season with the Rangers, and finished up in New Jersey. He scored a combined 27 goals in 80 games between the two clubs, though he finished with just 33 points. His goal total might push him to a multi year deal, but I don’t think this is a player who gets much more than $2.5MM a year. Oilers should make this player one of their top phone calls if they dip into free agency.
- Thomas Vanek - LW/RW (2017-18 Cap Number: $2MM)
56 points for Vanek this past season, and that’s good enough for me. Vanek scored the lion’s share of his points in Vancouver (41 in 61GP), but he finished strong in Columbus after the trade deadline with 15 points in 19 games. At 34 years of age, he’s a one-year option. If $2MM gets me 50+ points in a year, it’s worth kicking the tires. 50 points would be third in scoring on the Oilers in 2017-18.
- Scottie Upshall - LW (2017-18 Cap Number: $800K)
I could’ve put Patrick Maroon in here, but after he got the trade to New Jersey (and a little taste of the playoffs), I think he’s about to price himself out of the bargain bin. A kidney injury forced Upshall’s season to an early end, and he hasn’t scored very much since the 2014-15 season with Florida. He isn’t my first choice at the free agent table, but there’s no doubt that he’d be a relatively inexpensive addition to the Oilers. Nineteen points (7-12-19) in 63 games with the Blues last season, this is a signing that screams Oilers to me. At 34 years of age (and nineteen points), Scottie Upshall certainly doesn’t sound like a top six option to me, but neither did Ty Rattie last season. Being a Good Alberta Boy™ probably gives him a leg up should the Oilers express any interest in July.
There are always a handful of other options, and by no means is this list exhaustive. If the price is right, the Oilers would do well by diving into free agency and coming up with an option on the wings.