One of the most exciting days of the year is here for the Edmonton Oilers. Free agency opens today and the team is able to start getting to work on new contracts for some of their key players. With Stanley Cup aspirations at the top of the wish list, the Oilers have some work to do to fill out their roster.
Here is everything you need to know about the Edmonton Oilers as the 2023 free agent period opens:
Moves so far
The Edmonton Oilers have been busy to start the offseason and they are projected to be one of the busier teams for the next few weeks.
Since the season ended, the Oilers have inked new contracts for Derek Ryan and Mattias Janmark that will last two and one years respectively. They also signed Jayden Grubbe to an ELC as well as Philip Kemp to two-year, two-way contract.
They also executed one of the more interesting trades of the offseason, sending both Kailer Yamamoto and Kilm Kostin to the Detroit Red Wings for absolutely nothing. Yamamoto was then bought out by the Red Wings and is now a UFA, while Kostin signed a new two-year, $2M AAV contract with the Red Wings. That was a price the Oilers weren’t willing to go to.
They now have a number of UFAs and RFAs that need new deals.
Current Free Agents
The Oilers have 14 players who are free agents as of July 1:
|Nick Bjugstad||Evan Bouchard|
|Devin Shore||Raphael Lavoie|
|Justin Bailey||Noah Philp|
|Jason Demers||Olivier Rodrigue|
|Ryan Murray||Ryan McLeod|
|Slater Koekkoek||Tyler Benson|
Now there are some players here that wont be considered for new contracts for a number of reasons. Oscar Klefbom, Mike Smith, and Noah Philp all most likely are retiring all things considered. Mainly due to injuries, or in Philp’s case to pursue another line of work. Slater Koekkoek also announced back in May that he would be stepping away from the NHL due to mental health reasons. Here’s to hoping nothing but success for all four players in wherever they head next.
Devin Shore doesn’t appear to be returning to the Oilers, but the team has expressed interest in retaining Nick Bjugstad and Ryan Murray should the price be right.
Their biggest question comes on the RFA side where Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod both need new contracts. The rumors have been around two bridge deals to keep the AAVs low, but I think everyone involved would prefer to have long terms deals in place. Let the negotiations begin.
The Oilers currently have some salary cap to work with, but knowing there are some key RFA contracts coming this may dry up relatively soon.
The team only has a roster of 18 currently on the books, which doesn’t give them a lot of room to make a big swing. The remnants of James Neal’s buyout still hurt the team, with just shy of $2M being stuck on the cap for the next two seasons. The team has two goalies and seven defencemen under contract next year, meaning most of their work comes on the forward group (outside of Bouchard of course).
The team has been rumored to be linked to Connor Brown, but outside of that there hasn’t been a lot of smoke when it comes to other UFAs on the market. Fans would surely love the team to go after a Daniel Sprong when the market opens, but the Oilers have to ensure they don’t back themselves into the salary cap wall entering negotiations with Bouchard and McLeod.
That being said, I guarantee there will be a few surprise signings today when it comes to forward depth.
What to expect?
The Oilers have a number of things to get to when the market opens, with the top of the list being a new contract for Bouchard. Being an RFA, they will probably have that situation drag a bit into the summer leaving some immediate roster holes to address.
Getting some younger and faster depth forwards under contract will surely be the top of Ken Holland’s wish list. The rumored Brown signing would be a massive get to start with, and then I’m sure there are some intriguing names that haven’t risen to the top yet as well.
Let the negotiations begin!
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire