Kailer Yamamoto has avoided his arbitration hearing and signed a two year deal with the Oilers.
Yamamoto will average 3.1MM for the next two years. It brings the Oilers over the cap (including LTIR). Edmonton needs to sign Ryan McLeod as well, and will need to somehow free up some cap space between now and the start of the season.
Yamamoto finished 2021-22 with 41 points in 81 games, good for just a whisker more than a half point per game. Yamamoto spent most of his time on a line with Leon Drasaitl, but did spend a fair share at evens with Connor McDavid on the top line. Yamamoto spent a fair bit of time on the second power play unit, but produced just 3-3-6 on the man advantage. Both he and Jesse Puljujärvi are likely top six candidates for this club in 2022-23 (both Yamamoto and Puljujärvi are currently the only right wings with contracts on the club), and Yamamoto will look to seize the elusive top line position with 97 as much as possible.
Along with the Puljujärvi deal, Yamamoto’s deal is a bridge deal. While Yamamoto’s deal is twice as long as Puljujärvi’s deal, both are bridge deals. If Yamamoto and / or Puljujärvi break out and hit 50+ points in 2022-23, the next deal will likely be a big one and may cramp an already tight Oilers cap number. The Yamamoto deal is a fair bet, and it seems like a better bet that one of Yamamoto or Puljujärvi will pad their numbers from 2021-22 to b become a definitive top six option for the club going forward.
The issues are also clear and present; the Oilers are over the cap and need to sign Ryan McLeod. Even with a boatload of IR from the Oscar Klefbom and Mike Smith deals, the Oilers will need to move a contract in order to sign McLeod and to fit under the cap. McLeod’s qualifying offer is just over 800K, that number could teeter around a million plus if they get a couple years done.
One of Tyson Barrie or Warren Foegele are likely the odd players out. I think Ken Holland likes Barrie a fair bit and would try to move Foegele (2.75MM x 2 years) at first, though Barrie (4.5x2 years) would provide more cap relief and likely has a wider audience.
Yamamoto’s deal is an OK bridge deal, but a big year from him will shoot his next deal through the roof. A big year by either Yamamoto or Puljujärvi could spell a deal for the other guy. If both players have a big year? That’s a good problem to have.