Things remain quiet for the Edmonton Oilers these past few days. The most recent news from the team was the one year extension of Kris Russell. My knee jerk reaction was to lambaste the move but looking at it deeper it makes sense, looking forward at Seattle Expansion.
One point of note though is that Kris Russell today is no better or worse than he was four years ago when he was given a 4x4 contract by Peter Chiarelli. His 1.25 million dollar deal for next season fits far better with what he is able to bring to the team and once again shows how terrible Chiarelli was at his job.
I did personally hope that Kris Russell would be dealt prior to the start of this season to a team like the Coyotes or Sens who may want his 4 million dollar cap hit and much smaller 1.5 million in actual salary. This extension all but confirms that will not be the case.
According to CapFriendly, the Oilers have roughly $732,509 in cap space with RFA Ethan Bear still needing a new contract. Klefbom will be placed on LTIR right before the beginning of the season in order to maximize the savings there.
Getting to the point now; we are almost a month since Free Agency opened up and there are still some high quality players out there that have not signed on with any team. Are there any options left that Holland and the Oilers might pursue?
1) Mikael Granlund - LW/RW
For years Granlund was a successful top six forward for the Wild but his numbers took a dive after being acquired by the Preds. Granlund posted a mere 5 points in 16 games with the Preds after being traded and this past year posted 30 points in 63 games, still well off his usual production.
Being only 28 years old, Granlund is in the right age group where he should be able to cash in on being a free agent but the current economic climate is preventing that. Granlund might be better off doing what Tyson Barrie has done in Edmonton; taking a pay cut to go to a team where he can play in a prominent role and earn a bigger pay check the following season. The left side for the Oilers remains thin and Granlund could have a big opportunity to slot in next to McDavid or Draisaitl.
2) Anthony Duclair - LW
For a number of these options I can simply copy and paste the "take a pay cut to play with McDavid and Draisaitl to boost his numbers for a season." Duclair is an interesting case because he hasn't proven yet he can consistently be the player he was last season, putting up 23 goals in 66 games. The Senators did not qualify Duclair and were seemingly concerned that if he went to arbitration that he would demand more than they would wish to pay.
A team like the Red Wings or Devils have a ton of cap space right now and could easily offer Duclair 4+ million if they desired but the risk for Duclair going to a team like that is whether or not he will be able to play with linemates who will set him up to score at the rate he did last season.
Dominik Kahun - LW
Reportedly, the Edmonton Oilers did offer Kahun a contract in free agency but he turned it down, hoping to find more money elsewhere. Kahun remains unsigned so clearly a more lucrative contract has not been revealed to him yet. Kahun and Draisaitl know each other well with Leon once trying to convince the team to sign the forward. Kahun isn't a for sure top six forward but can provide top 9 offense and alternate with a player like Tyler Ennis in the top six, depending on who has the hot hand.
Alex Galchenyuk - LW
What is Galchenyuk? The 26 year old only a few years ago put up 30 goals with the Canadiens but has since fallen off a cliff in terms of production. Over the past three seasons he has played for four different teams. The 2012 Draft will forever remain sour for Oilers fans due to arguably the biggest bust in NHL history with Nail Yakupov, and later trading two high end draft picks for Griffin Reinhart.
Galchenyuk may be too one dimensional to fit anywhere in this roster and his time in Pittsburgh with Malkin and Crosby does not instill too much confidence either. This is a player I would likely avoid if I were Edmonton but perhaps not a terrible idea to offer a PTO to should he remain unsigned.
Ben Hutton - LD
With Kris Russell signed, the Oilers look full on their depth chart but I would not be surprised to see Holland sign one more experienced vet D man, in case of injury or if a younger player like Jones needs some sheltering. Hutton averaged over 18 minutes a night when he played for the Canucks and last season with the Kings. I am not a fan of +/- at all but Hutton was the only defender on the Kings who played more than 10 games who posted a positive.
Slater Koekkoek - LD
Koekkoek doesn't produce a bunch of points but he is defensively sound and moves the puck extremely well. Originally expected to be able to hit a top 4 ceiling, Slater now likely fits better as a strong third pairing option. Would fit extremely well with this Oilers group.
How many of these are feasible options for the Oilers? Options like Granlund and Duclair could easily command north of 3 million dollars if a less cap strapped team has interest while players like Galchenyuk or Kahun could be had on a one year deal more in the 1-2 million dollar range.
Looking at how the Oilers roster is currently designed, there are too many right wingers on the roster and the obvious odd man out remains Alex Chiasson. Archibald is an equivalent fourth line option, signed at a more team friendly deal than the 2.15 million that Alex commands. James Neal or even a player like Kyle Turris could easily take a spot on the top unit PP that Chiasson has taken in the past.
Moving Chiasson provides the Oilers with 2.15 million dollars which could be used to acquire one or more of the players above. If that space suddenly existed, where would you spend the money?
Thanks for reading.