Gonna go ahead and assume that if you’re here, then you saw the disappointment that was the 2018-19 NHL season. If not, go take a few minutes of your time and refresh.
The Oilers are going to need to get better in 2019-20. How much better? About eight to ten wins better. 78 points isn’t going to cut it if you want to have fun in the dance. They’ll probably need a solid 16-20 more points if they want to make it real next year.
The draft is coming in June, free agency follows soon. It’s still April, but I think we ought to take a quick peek at what we’re getting into.
THE CAP INCREASE
The 2018-19 cap was set at 79.5MM. The cap floor was 58.8MM, A 78 point team in Edmonton managed to finish their year choosing to sell off a goaltender in order to activate Andrej Sekera from LTIR to stay under the cap. No, I don’t want to talk about it.
Assume the cap increase to be around three or four million. Because the Oilers are going to need every bounce they can next season, lets put the upper limit at 83.5MM. That’s a four million dollar increase, which may be a little more than actually happens. Play along.
Now, let’s math.
FORWARDS (in millions)
- Connor McDavid (12.5)
- Leon Draisaitl (8.5)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (6)
- Milan Lucic (6)
- Sam Gagner (3.15)
- Zack Kassian (1.95)
- Kyle Brodziak (1.15)
- Cooper Marody (925K)
- Kailer Yamamoto (895K)
- Colby Cave (675K)
Forward totals: nearly 42 MM.
I’ve pencilled in Kailer Yamamoto and Cooper Marody into the lineup though they’re weren’t there at the end of the season. Jesse Puljujarvi will be looking for a new deal as will Jujhar Khaira. Add both players in and we’ve got a number that’s slightly higher than what you see for the forward total. It’s a lot, and there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room for improvement unless a significant piece gets moved for space.
- Andrej Sekera (5.5)
- Oscar Klefbom (4.167)
- Adam Larsson (4.16)
- Kris Russell (4)
- Darnell Nurse (3.2)
- Matthew Benning (1.95)
Defencemen totals: 23MM
You already see where we’re going here. We’re at 65 million and we’re still three players away from a full roster (2F+1D).
- Mikko Koskinen (4.5)
That’s nearly 70 million of last year’s roster that’s already slated for next season. Don’t forget that the club is also paying Benoit Pouliot a million plus for the next two seasons, and Eric Gryba gets another 300K from the Oilers. Oh, and Brandon Manning’s 2.25 salary gets over a million of that picked up while he’s in the minors. Make that about 73 million in committed cap.
Remember, 83.5 million is the upper limit in our arbitrary 2019-20 salary cap.
WHO DIDN’T GET INCLUDED IN THE TOP NUMBERS?
- Jesse Puljlujarvi (925K in 2018-19)
- Alex Chiasson (650K, that guy is going to get paid somewhere)
- Ty Rattie (800K)
- Tobias Rieder (2MM)
- Kevin Gravel (700K)
I’ve got Puljujarvi getting a contract unless he’s moved. Alex Chiasson is going to get paid by someone, let’s hope it’s not the Oilers. I’d be shocked if he scores 20 goals again. Tobias Rieder and Ty Rattie are likely goners, and Kevin Gravel might be too.
73 million dollars is already committed into the club, and that doesn’t include the five players just listed. That means the Oilers are going to need to find six players to fill out the 23 man roster (2F+1D+1G, plus a 13th and 14th F). Using our fairly generous cap increase, they’ll have roughly ten or eleven million cap dollars to do so.
That’s quite a few spots, and not a lot of cash to go around. It’s absolutely a reason to be concerned unless the Oilers are able to find a willing dance partner to take on a big contract for little in return. The Oilers will almost certainly have to rely on the youth movement from the farm.
Who might be the inexpensive options who will get this done?
- Evan Bouchard (925K)
- Joel Persson (1MM)
- Ethan Bear (720K)
- Tyler Benson (808K)
- Josh Currie (688K)
- Any Current NHL Backup Goaltender (1MM)
Six spots for eleven or twelve million dollars, and that’s just to fill the roster out. That’s not necessarily an improvement, that’s just to find warm bodies.
As free agency inches closer, we’ll no doubt be taking a look at some best bets and some good guesses to plug and play. Before all of that happens, can the Oilers make some cap space appear?