We are just hours away from the start of NHL free agency. The market will officially open at 12:00 pm est, but players have already begun to commit to teams. The Edmonton Oilers got a commitment yesterday, agreeing to terms with goalie Mike Smith. His one-year deal will be official shortly after noon eastern.
The Oil also placed Andrej Sekera on waivers Sunday, starting the buyout process for the veteran defender. Edmonton gains $3,000,000 in cap flexibility via the buyout in each of the next two seasons.
The addition of Smith, who was new coach Dave Tippett’s workhorse in Arizona until 2017, only fills one hole for Holland. He’s got many irons in the fire and will be hoping to fill other needs via free agency today. I’d expect multiple signings from Edmonton.
With free agency about to start, it’s time to revisit Ken Holland’s first shopping list as Oilers GM. Included with each item on the list is the latest on what Holland is working on to fill said holes.
Holland’s 2019 List:
1.) A top-six scoring winger: The Oilers were not willing to go to four years with Brett Connolly. There was mutual interest between the sides, but Florida added the fourth season and Connolly will sign with them later today. I don’t blame Holland for balking at the extra year, I would have too.
Edmonton is out on Mats Zuccarello, who they also showed interest in. The former Ranger will head to Minnesota and earn roughly $6,000,000 per season. At this time, the Oilers are still in the mix for Gustav Nyquist. The Swede and former Red Wing is likely their only shot at signing a top-six forward in free agency.
2.) Rid yourself of Milan Lucic: The Lucic trade chatter has been quiet in recent days, but don’t be shocked if it picks up in the coming days. There is still a mutual interest between Lucic and Vancouver. Lucic has made it known to Edmonton that his preference is to be traded, and the Oilers would prefer a fresh start as well.
The market will expand later today when Milan’s signing bonus is paid by Edmonton.
3.) Third line center: The Oilers have set their sights set on Brian Boyle. The veteran free agent will not return to Nashville and has had discussions with Edmonton. The New York Islanders are interested in Boyle, and I don’t rule out New Jersey having interest in a reunion as well.
Boyle is best suited as a fourth-line center, however, and would be in over his head on Edmonton’s third-line. I do have time for Boyle, however. He’s a great leader, has a little offensive punch and is great in the faceoff circle. I’d personally have a lot of time for Jason Spezza in this role, but don’t think Edmonton is interested as of now.
Valtteri Filppula is of interest as well. Ryan Rishaug of TSN had that detail first. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman confirmed it last night.
4.) Find a 30-35 game goalie: Ken Holland has decided on Mike Smith for this role. Smith is coming off of the worst season of his professional career, losing his job in Calgary and posting a save percentage of .898. Yes, he was great in the playoffs and I thought was better in the second half of the season.
He’s still a massive risk and could set Edmonton back $4,000,000 if he hits the bonuses laid out in his contract. Holland is really rolling the dice here. This is a high-risk gamble.
5.) Rebuild the bottom-six: Expectation is that Sam Gagner and Jujhar Khaira will both play roles in the bottom-six. Gagner was a solid secondary scorer after coming over form Vancouver, while Khaira is a strong two-way forward with grit and decent enough offense to survive.
Boyle and Filppula are being targeted to supplement this area. The Oilers have also sniffed around Brandon Pirri and Daniel Carr as potential depth scorers for the bottom-six. Brandon Tanev is of interest, and the former Jet could help Edmonton’s horrid PK unit. Boston’s Noel Acciari is also on the club’s radar, while Boston is shopping PK’er Joakim Nordstrom.
6.) Create space on defense: Sekera’s buyout opens at least one spot on Edmonton’s defense. Both Alex Petrovic (Yeah, he’s an Oiler) and Kevin Gravel will be walking later today. It’s also believed the Oilers are shopping Kris Russell in hopes of clearing another roster spot and some cap space.
This N’ That:
Alex Chiasson was as good as gone as recently as a week ago. Now? I’m not so sure. The Oilers have already lost out on numerous free agents and very well could strike out today. If they do, Chiasson is very much open to returning. Anything over $1,500,000 would be an overpay, in my opinion.
The overall numbers for Chiasson look great, but he rode an extremely high shooting percentage early in the season. He struggled mightily in the second half and didn’t produce much at five-on-five at any point in the season. Chiasson is a solid depth piece, but that’s about it.
Edmonton had interest in Corey Perry, and offered a deal close to $2,000,000 per season. The veteran elected to sign with Dallas instead. The Stars are also inking Joe Pavelski to a three-year contract worth $7,000,000 per season.
Could Edmonton and Boston link up on a trade? The Bruins like Jesse Puljujarvi and the Oil have been hot after Torey Krug for almost two years. These two teams are a great fit for each other.[protected-iframe id=”17ec6d74bb2713a1a42fcd4196ebf1b6-142507471-51660995″ info=”hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw” class=”twitter-tweet”]