We are now two weeks into the free agency period of 2019, and the Oilers continue to sign short deals to players who are unarguably bottom six players.
Let’s take a short step back and see how it’s shaken up since July 1st.
- Goaltender Mike Smith to a one year deal (2MM, NMC)
- Forward Markus Granlund to a one year deal (1.3MM, 12-10-22 in 77 games w/ Vancouver)
- Forward Tomas Jurco to a one year deal (750K, last played in NHL in 2017-18)
- Forward Gaetan Haas to a one year deal (925K, 15-23-38 with Bern (Swiss-A)
- Re-signed forward Alex Chiasson to a two year deal (2.15MM/yr, 22-16-38 in 73 games w/ Oilers)
- Re-signed forward Jujhar Khaira to a two year deal (1.2MM/yr, 3-15-18 in 60 games w/ Oilers)
- Forward Josh Archibald to a one year deal (1MM, 12-10-22 in 68 games w/ Arizona)
The Oilers also signed Philip Broberg to his ELC, but we’re not going to see him for a while.
This is an impressive list of bottom six players. Got anything to go up top?
IS THIS IT?
This can’t be what Holland’s offseason plan entails. Sign a bunch of bottom six guys and open camp? The Oilers need help on the wings, and they need it before the beginning of the season in October. There’s no way that this group of free agents can reasonably be asked to step in a top six capacity for more than a game or two. There’s got to be more to this. Right? Maybe. Maybe not.
The Oilers have just under 3 million in cap space, which isn’t all that encouraging if they’re looking to sign a free agent. Another big flashing yellow light? They’re at 49 of 50 contracts right now. I’d be hard pressed to think that they’re going to sign another contract without getting rid of one.
SO MAYBE A TRADE?
Sure. There’s always a chance that Ken Holland could pull off a whopper of a deal. Maybe Milan Lucic has privately accepted a deal to another club and the Oilers will include an NHL contract along with it as a sweetener. Anything is possible, though it would take a massive deal to get Lucic’s contract off the books. You can all but guarantee that an ugly deal is coming back in return if 27 is headed out.
Although Holland could pull off a big one, it’s looking more and more like it might not come. There’s still time for Holland to make a move, but the Oilers are once again tight against the cap. They’ve got 49 NHL contracts, and it would be somewhat surprising to take one on without letting one off.
I’m holding out hope that there’s more to the summer than we’ve seen. Signing a couple of 22 point players, a couple who have never played an NHL game, and one who hasn’t been in the league since 2017-18 doesn’t leave me with a great feeling. My inner fan says there’s got to be more. My mind suggests that this is probably the path they’ve chosen.
So what’s the plan? Is Holland going to just hope one of these value free agents can step up and score 40 points? Is Benson going to be asked to do the heavy lifting on line two this year? Is there still time for a trade? Can the Oilers find themselves an actual top six winger (or two)?