The pool of unrestricted free agent forwards has dried up and the Oilers are still sitting around with about $3.63 million to spend and a clear need to add a top-six winger. It doesn’t look like they’ll be able to afford someone like Ryan Dzingel or Michael Ferland unless they clear out a contract or two, so if Holland wants to make an impactful addition to this team, he’ll need to hit up the trade market.
For that, he might need to target other teams who are tight against the salary cap or teams that were very active on the free agent market and now may have some pieces they’re willing to move out.
Based on the Oilers lack of depth at the NHL level when it comes to quality forwards or defensemen, they’ll likely need to acquire a forward while giving up nothing but future assets.
Right now, the three teams with the least amount of cap space are the Vegas Golden Knights ($1.9m over the cap), the Pittsburgh Penguins ($1.875 million in cap space), and the Arizona Coyotes ($1.7 million in cap space). Those would be the trade partners Edmonton would have to look at.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Right now, the Golden Knights are about $1.9 million over the cap and while they’re holding onto David Clarkson’s contract and will be able to put him on LTIR when the season begins, they still have some work to do if they want to be cap compliant before the beginning of the season. On top of shedding enough money to be cap compliant, they also need to add a backup goalie.
So, how will they get rid of that money? They’ll need to trade off some roster players. I would have loved for the Oilers to get their hands on one of Erik Haula or Colin Miller, but it seemed like Vegas was more interested in dealing those players out of the Western Conference.
Their hands are still tied and maybe as the summer continues, Vegas might open up to the possibility of making a trade with a division rival. If they are, then the Oilers should be interested in a couple of forwards.
Cody Eakin is owed $3.85 million for one more season. If Vegas is forced to sell him for something around what they got for Erik Haula, and the price should even be less considering his age and cap hit, then the Oilers should explore that possibility. Maybe they offer Vegas Ethan Bear and a low-end draft pick (again, comparable to the Haula deal) and then use a third-round pick to try and get rid of Sam Gagner’s $3.15 million cap hit.
The other player is Nikita Gusev. The 26-year-old Russian winger has never played an NHL game but has ripped apart the KHL for a few seasons now. In the past two years, he’s played 116 games for SKA St. Petersburg and has scored 144 points. He has talent and the Oilers need skilled wingers.
My only concern is that Gusev is currently an RFA and Darren Dreger reported the other day on TSN 1260 that Gusev’s camp could be asking for somewhere around $5 million per season on his next deal. That’s too rich for the Oilers and if his price came down significantly, I would imagine Vegas would keep him.
Right now, the Penguins have just a hair over $1.5 million in cap space with 11 forwards, 8 defenseman, and two goalies signed. They aren’t exactly in a position where they have to make a trade however considering the fact that they just signed Brandon Tanev to a long-term deal, I wonder if Jim Rutherford could be talked into moving one of his top nine wingers. If that is the case, the Oilers should be all over that.
They have a very deep group of forwards and while they’re under the cap, for now, next summer they’ll need to sign Alex Galchenyuk, Justin Schultz, and starting goalie Matt Murray. That’s a lot for them to accomplish with not a lot of wiggle room.
The player I’d be looking at if I was Edmonton would be Bryan Rust. The 27-year-old has never cracked 40 points in a season, but he’s been on pace for at least 15 goals in each of the last three seasons. He makes $3.5 million, so it would push the Oilers right up against the cap ceiling, but I think he’s a guy who could crack 20 goals a season for the next few years with a permanent spot in the Oilers top six.
“The Arizona Coyotes have the third highest cap hit in the NHL”. That doesn’t sound right considering this is the same organization that is notorious for taking in bad contracts to just get to the cap floor.
Their current cap situation is a little deceiving. While they have around $200k in cap space, they will have around $5 million open up to them once they slide Marian Hossa on LTIR at the start of the season. They aren’t forced to make a move, but I’m sure their ownership group wouldn’t scoff at the idea of unloading some money.
Looking at their forward group though, I don’t think there’s a fit between them and the Oilers. Most of their forwards are either good and young, so I doubt John Chayka wants to move them, or they’re on bad contracts, so the Oilers can’t afford them.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
While the Leafs are currently sitting with $8.6 million in cap space, they need to be able to sign Mitch Marner, Cody Ceci, and the newly acquired Alex Kerfoot with that cap space. While they will be able to put Nathan Horton on LTIR once the season starts, I still think that they’ll need to subtract one contract from their payroll and I would suspect that will come from their forward group.
They have newly signed wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson as well as the pending RFA Kerfoot. I’m not sure if the Leafs would even consider moving any of those, especially in a scenario where they only get future assets back, but I still think there might be a fit here between the Leafs and Oilers. Would Kyle Dubas entertain the idea of grabbing one of Edmonton’s young defenseman and some sort of draft pick in exchange for one of the young scoring wingers?
THIRD ANNUAL OILERSNATION OPEN
After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.
- When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday)
- Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
- How much – $1000/team or get in on the $900 Early Bird price until July 10th
- Teams – Groups of Four (4)
- How – Book your team here
As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.