Over the series of three articles we have examined the merits for and against the trading of the most rumoured candidates on the Oilers roster, namely Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyson Barrie, and now Warren Foegele.
At the centre of these speculations lies the crux of the issue: the navigation of the NHL’s hard salary cap. Though projections show the cap is likely to surge in the coming years, currently the Oilers find themselves in the tightest of confines. Considering the Oilers might even be looking to upgrade their team over the course of the season, the concept of shedding salary or at least cap management, is an ever present focus.
The safest bet, in all honesty, is that injuries will factor into the Oilers season early and often. These are the unfortunate realities of the sport which allows for some relief from a cap perspective. A fully healthy roster for any stretch of games is anything but a problem, yet is somewhat unlikely.
Does Foegele play an expendable role for the team?
That said, should the Oilers look to move a salary for the sake of the cap, there is a clear choice. Trading Puljujarvi under such a premise would be irrational and is quite frankly a laughable proposition; Trading Barrie’s $4.5 million would free up a chunk of change but would weaken a blueline looking to contend, a dicey proposition given the lack of competition behind Barrie on the Oilers’ right side.
At $2.5 million for two more seasons, Warren Foegele makes a lot less than Barrie (and marginally less than Puljujarvi for those in the back), but also holds a less meaningful spot in this lineup, a spot that is also more contested. With Dylan Holloway all but pencilled into a top nine role, it is likely for Foegele’s role to be decreased from the outset of the season. To contrast, Foegele is purely a bottom six player against an ascending top nine possession winger in Puljujarvi or a strong fifth puck moving defenceman in Barrie. Simply put, Foegele stands out as less impactful among this group.
Foegele is a tradable asset
One can only be brave while afraid. They don’t boo nobodies. Teams don’t want your terrible contracts (without a sweetener). Holland has done somewhat well in ridding the Oilers of their worst contracts – no longer bound to the Zach Kassian and Mikko Koskinen cap hits, which many would’ve named the most egregious among Oilers this time last year.
On the contrary, Foegele is quite fairly compensated. He has a proven track record as a capable third line player, and gives an honest and direct approach that fans and coaches alike appreciate in the role. Although he is not likely to earn looks in a bigger top six role, Foegele is a good player who does make the Oilers better with his inclusion. For all of these reasons, most of, if not all, NHL GMs would take Foegele into their lineup happily, under the right (cap) circumstances. Simply put Foegele is a very tradable asset.
The future for Foegele
The question comes down to whether or not Foegele is a luxury that the Oilers can continue to afford. Despite whom he was traded for (Ethan Bear) and how fans might feel about that (perhaps Bear might make Barrie more expendable), Foegele has completely lived up to his end of the bargain. So long as he is an Oiler, or at least over the course of his current contract, Foegele will continue to live up to that standard of a capable third line winger. Although he was a logical trade candidate, Oilers fans should not hold it against Foegele and should instead enjoy his solid play. It is, in large part, positional context that sees Foegele within these types of trade speculations, so much that he finds himself the answer to the question “who could the Oilers afford to offload as a cap dump?”.
Naturally, the nature of these theoretical trade situations are fluid. Time will reveal all, whether injury or performance greatly shifts the Oilers’ needs, one way or another. Perhaps an unexpectedly strong offer comes in for one of Puljujarvi, Barrie, or Foegele, quite frankly almost anyone on the roster, that sees the Oilers evolve in an equally unexpected direction. Though it is too close for comfort, the Oilers do have a realistic path to cap compliance and thus the aspirations of cap dump trades are more speculative than critically necessary.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire