The Oilers entered the 2019 free agency period on a limited budget. The club signed several UFAs that day, but none project to be an impact forward that can be expected to score in the top six. Ken Holland says that he’s not done making moves, this could mean a couple of different things. He might try to go via the trade route, which will likely send an asset out the door. The simplest way to pick up an asset right now is through free agency.
Though the big ticket items have been snatched on July 1 and 2, is there anything left in the bargain bin that the Oilers could use?
You’re going to hear about names like Ryan Dzingel and Derick Brassard. I’m going to save you some time and suggest that the Oilers aren’t going to sign those guys unless it gets late into the offseason and either become desperate. Dzingel made a whisker under 2MM last season and picked up 56 points between his tenure in Ottawa and Columbus in 2018-19, and the only way I can see him in Oiler colours is for a one year deal. Someone will go over the top to get him. Brassard is coming off a 23 point season over 70 games between three teams, it was his last year of a five year deal that averaged 5MM a year. Brassard could take a big shave to come to Edmonton, but it would be a big bet that he’s going to rebound on a line with Milan Lucic.
Let’s cross that bridge if we get there.
What do the OIlers need?
- Top four puck moving defenceman, right handed shot
- 3C, right handed shot
- Two scoring wingers.
What do I think the Oilers are going to end up accomplishing?
- One mid six winger
- Everything else: a PTO
If the Oilers are going to stick Brandon Manning into the ECHL (likely) and another player like Kyle Brodziak might find himself in the AHL at one point this season, it gives the Oilers a little less than six million to make a few moves. If they’re really crafty, they can make a go of it this season. Emphasis on “really crafty”. With that being said, I think they’re going to grab a winger between now and September. After that? Chips fallin’ where they may.
So what’s in the bucket?
- Thomas Vanek, (2018-19: 16-20-36 in 64 GP w/ DET): Vanek pulled a 3MM cap hit last season with his second tour of duty in Detroit. Can play either wing, he spent most of his time with Frans Nielsen and Dylan Larkin. Not sure if this is the guy you can wind up next to Connor McDavid for a year, but the club is still looking for the player to go on the right side of 97 and we’re approaching McDavid’s 5th year.
- Patrick Maroon, (2018-19: 10-18-28 in 74 GP w/ STL); This one would probably feel better than it actually would be. After a fairly successful stint in Edmonton and a trade to New Jersey, the winger took a one year deal and a significant paycut (1.7MM in 2018-19) to go home to St. Louis in 2018-19, it turned out OK as the club would drink from the Cup in June. Maroon’s numbers were not spectacular, and putting him on the left wing would all but ensure that Leon Draisaitl would appear next to McDavid for lengthy periods of time on the top line. Unless you’ve got the Oilers upgrading on Zack Kassian, it’s a strong bet the Oilers would see plenty of 19-97-29 in 2019-20.
- Micheal Ferland (2018-19: 17-23-40 in 71 GP w/ CAR) Ferland’s second year at 1.75MM is a nice price for 40 points, though it’s worth noting that he spent a bunch of time with Teuvo Teravainen and some guy named Sebastian Aho. Would likely encounter the same issue on the right side if Maroon was brought back up top.
- Magnus Paajarvi (2018-19: 11-8-19 in 80 GP with OTT) A true bargain bin pickup, Paajarvi’s 900K would be easy for the Oilers to absorb even with their current cap issues. Edmonton’s first round selection in 2009, he would spend four years with the club before being dealt to the Blues for David Perron in the summer of 2013. If the price is right, bring him in and let him battle for top line ice time with Zack Kassian (15-11-26 in 79 GP) and whomever else comes in on a PTO.
The big name pickups have been all scooped up.
Can the Oilers patch a top six together with what’s left in free agency?