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What Ken Holland would like to add and what he can add are very different. He hasn’t hid behind the fact he’d like to add another scoring winger, but he doesn’t have much cap space and until the contract demands of existing UFAs drop, he doesn’t have the room to add who he wants.

Holland was close on a few players leading up to July first, but other teams offered them more. In the case of Wayne Simmonds, it was $1.5 million more. That’s the reality right now, but with every passing day the potential for salary demands to drop will increase.

Here’s what I know about some salaries right now

Derick Brassard‘s camp was looking for $4 million over four years. Considering Marcus Johansson signed for $4.5 million for only two years, there is almost no chance Brassard will get the term he wants. But for now, he has no reason to drop his salary demands. Wayne Simmonds got $5 million for one year, and Brassard’s camp likely won’t budge off of $4 million for now.

He is coming off the worst season of his career, producing only 23 points in 70 games. His rookie season he only played 31 games due to injury, but still scored 25 points.

Prior to this season, he had produced, starting in 2014, 45, 60, 58, 39 and 46 points. He averaged 50 points over five seasons before stubbing his toe heading into free agency. Once again debunking the myth that players magically have career years leading into a contract year. Some players perform well, others remain status quo and some struggle. If it was easy to just flip a switch and have a career year in the final year of a contract then all players would do it. But it isn’t.

Make no mistake, NHL GMs will use Brassard’s down season to their advantage, just like agents use a career year for their client to his advantage. Brassard’s 14-9-23 season will cost him some money and term, it is just a matter of how much.

I’m told the Oilers could find a way to go to $3million, but ideally they’d like to come in around $2-$2.5 million. .

OTHER OPTIONS…

Ryan Dzingel is still available, but is looking for something in the $4-$5 million range. He might get that on a short-term deal. Ottawa had offered $5mil/year for five years according to Elliott Friedman, but Dzingel’s camp turned it down. If he has a change of heart, would they still offer that? Hard to say, but I’m told teams are curious why the Blue Jackets elected not to sign him after they lost Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. It has some teams wondering if there are concerns about his game? Whether that is fair or not, he might be a financial victim of optics.

Michael Ferland has scored 41 and 40 points the past two seasons in Calgary and Carolina. The main concern, from three different organizations that I spoke with, is his concussion history. They all like what he brings, but are leery of the possibility of another concussion. Head injuries are very scary, but the fact he might get another from delivering a body check or from receiving one is working against him in free agency. It sounds like he is going to have to settle for a short-term deal.

Ferland had 35 EV points with Calgary in 2018 and only six on the PP. Last year, in Carolina, he had 27 at EV, and 13 on the PP. He is unlikely to get on the first PP unit in Edmonton because they already have three left-shot forwards in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Chiasson was very good in front of the net, and he shoots right. But Ferland’s play with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan is what makes him appealing. He is smart enough and skilled enough to play with skilled forwards. He is on the Oilers radar, but his salary demand will have to drop in order for them to be a serious bidder.

It is very unlikely Patrick Maroon is a fit in Edmonton, simply because of Milan Lucic. I know it worked in 2017, but having both heading into next season isn’t ideal. The Oilers don’t have interest in Maroon at this time.

SPEAKING OF LUCIC…

Over the weekend, I was informed there have been no serious talks regarding a Lucic trade. Opposing teams are not interested. His bonus due date doesn’t change the fact he is a $6 million cap hit for four more years. I’ve seen some speculate it is July 17th, but a source sent me a text this morning. Confirming 100% the contract clearly states July 1st as the bonus date for Lucic.

I wonder if those pushing July 17th got it mixed up with McDavid. His bonus is due July 17th, 2019. But I have it confirmed from a source on both sides of Lucic and the Oilers that July first is his bonus due date on every year of his deal, except the initial year when he received his $4million bonus on September 16th. Maybe they agreed to alter the date, but the original contract states July first.

It might have happened, but it would have required both sides agreeing to delaying it. Which would be very odd. And from what I’m told right now there is no trade talk that hinges on a bonus being paid prior to the trade.

I sense this bonus due date has Oilersnation talking because many are holding out hope it means Lucic can be traded after. I understand the theory behind it, but I don’t believe there is much to it in reality for many reasons. Lucic has a NMC and he has to agree to a trade. He will not agree to Ottawa, which many have speculated due to their cap space. Vancouver was discussed, but the Eriksson for Lucic trade was more rumour than close to occurring. The Oilers would have to add a lot to take Lucic, and then it has to be a team he wants to go to. He believes the Oilers can be competitive so, outside of Vancouver, he isn’t interested in going to a team he thinks is further away from competing.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had to add a sweetener of a 1st round pick to Carolina in order for the Hurricanes to take Patrick Marleau’s contract. He only had one year remaining at $6 million. Lucic has four. At this point, do not expect a Lucic trade. This can change, of course, but there has been no serious trade discussions to this point. Lucic is training in LA and has been working with a skills coach. The Oilers are hopeful that will allow him to be more productive this season. His camp is confident he can be more productive as well. Skating isn’t the area of weakness. He thinks the game well, but the past 18 months his puck skills have eroded. A lack of confidence is part of that, but working on those small area drills with a skills coach will help. He needs to make better plays with the puck, and he has to improve his play along the wall.

Also, the James Neal for Milan Lucic rumour was shot down from a source from both organizations. Neal’s name is out there and he is available, but nothing serious has emerged between Edmonton and Calgary at this point.

If you are into bonus due dates. Next summer here are the bonus dates: Milan Lucic is July 1st ($3mill), Leon Draisaitl ($7mill), McDavid ($13 mill) and Mikko Koskinen ($500,000) are on July 15th. Kris Russell is July 16th ($1mill).

PARTING SHOTS…

Regardless if Holland can sign another UFA this summer, expect a few veterans to sign PTOs with the Oilers. They saw what Alex Chiasson did with his PTO. He earned a one-year deal at $650,000 after a strong preseason, and then had a career-year and signed for $4.3 million over two years.

No team in the NHL has the Oilers combination of skilled centres and a lack of proven scoring wingers. The opportunity to come to camp, earn a spot and then work your way up the lineup is a very realistic possibility.

Right now Edmonton has the 13th and 14th forward spots open, plus Joakim Nygard and Gaetan Haas are on two-way contracts. A veteran would look at that and see four open spots. I was told by three different agents, that they would recommend to a client, especially if they were a winger, to take a PTO in Edmonton over most teams at this point.

Names to keep on eye on in late August or early September if they are still unsigned could include Oscar Lindberg, Dmitri Jaskin, Jamie McGinn or Magnus Paajarvi to name a few.

Holland wants to sign another UFA forward, but the prices are still too high. That could change in the next few weeks and especially later into the summer. We have seen free agents have to take shorter term and reduced money before and Holland will be pressing to find those types of deals. The other option, is if he can find a good return for Jesse Puljujarvi.

SPORTS TRIVIA…

Are you a sports trivia buff? If you are, and can find a partner, then send me an email to jgregor@tsn1260.ca. We are having a special SPORTS ONLY trivia at Smarty Pints Trivia next Tuesday at Match Eatery and Public House in West Edmonton Mall. No cost to enter, but the winner will win many prizes, and more important, bragging rights that they are the Sports gurus of Edmonton. First place prize includes ten rounds of golf, gift certificates and more.

We have room for three more teams, so email me and let me know why your team is qualified. Good luck.

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.

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