The Edmonton Oilers announced Friday that defenceman Markus Niemelainen had been placed on waivers. In a corresponding move, forward Adam Erne was signed to a one-year contract with an Average Annual Value (AAV) of $775K.
What’s going with with Niemelainen
Niemelainen had started the season on Season-Openining Injury-Reserve after suffering a minor injury during the preseason. As players cannot be waived and assigned to the minors while hurt, it had limited Edmonton’s roster flexibility. With the additional injury to Mattias Ekholm, the Oilers played their season with 11 forwards and six defencemen.
The 25-year-old defenceman played 23 games with the Oilers last season, resulting in four penalty minutes and a +3 rating over that time. He also played 30 games with Bakersfield, accumulating two goals and five assists along with 18 penalty minutes and a +4 rating. Niemelainen went -3 with no counting stats in the Condors’ two playoff games. The 6’6” defenceman played three games in the preseason, posting a team worst 28.96% expected goal share along with a 36% goal share and two shots at 5v5.
With Niemelainen placed on waivers, and expected to clear Saturday at 12p.m. MT, the Oilers announced they signed Adam Erne to a one-year contract at $775K AAV after competing on a PTO through training camp. According to PuckPedia, the two-way deal is worth $775K in the NHL and $250K in the AHL, with a guarantee of $300K. The contract cannot be officially filed until Niemelainen is off the Oilers roster on Saturday.
Erne is coming off a 2022–23 season with Detroit, where he played 61 games, accumulating eight goals and 10 assists. At even strength, Erne had an on-ice 42.62% expected goal share and 39.34% actual goal share. Erne also played 98 penalty minutes with the Red Wings, with his unit yielding 15 goals while scoring two in that span. During the preseason, Erne played six ganes, scoring on his lone shot, while posting at 32.89% expected goal share and 20% goal share at 5v5.
With Niemelainen actually making less than this year’s league minimum (which Erne signed for), the Oilers’ cap space will drop from $395K to $382.5K. Meanwhile, prospect Raphael Lavoie makes $874,125 at the NHL level, meaning the Oilers are opting for the veteran at nearly $100K less.
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