Hooray! Some Oilers news to talk about!
The Oilers re-signed Swiss centre Gaetan Haas to a one-year deal with an AAV of $915k. Haas has 10 points in 58 games for the Oilers so far in the 2019-20 season (hopefully he gets the chance to add to that total).
Haas brings a great deal of speed to the bottom of the Oilers lineup. He’s a right-handed centre, which is tough to come by. He is more of a defensive specialist than anything, but he is a useful piece that can play 4C and come in and out of the lineup without hurting the team’s chances on any given night. If that’s what is expected of him, then this deal makes sense. If he is being asked to play 3C, then there’s a problem.
The cap hit comes in at $10k less than his 2019-20 cap hit, which makes him a good, cheap piece for the Oilers. It’s been a while since I’ve had a reason to do one of these, so here is an updated look at the Oilers’ cap situation for 2020-21 with the flat salary cap that is now expected due to COVID-19:
Neal ($5.75M) McDavid ($12.5M) Kassian ($3.2M)
Nuge ($6M) Draisaitl ($8.5M) Yamamoto ($894,166)
Nygard ($875k) 3C Archibald ($1.5M)
Khaira ($1.2M) Haas ($915k) Chiasson ($2.15M)
Klefbom ($4,167,000) Larsson ($4,166,666)
Nurse ($5.6M) 2RD
Russell ($4M) Jones ($850k)
Buyouts: Sekera ($2.5M), Pouliot ($1,333,333)
Retained: Lucic ($750k)
Total Cap Hit: $71,351,165
Cap Space: $10,148,835
Active Roster: 17
Spots Needed: 6 (3C, 13F, 14F, 2RD, 7D, 2G)
Avg Space/Spot Needed: $1,691,472.50
Athanasiou (QO- $3M)
Bear (QO- $735k)
Benning (QO- $2M)
Lagesson (QO- $735k)
Holland has 6 spots to fill and $10,148,835 to use to fill them.
The RFAs will take up a sizable chunk of that. Andreas Athanasiou will certainly get a qualifying offer. He will back next season for at least $3 million, if not a little bit more. Ethan Bear will also certainly get a qualifying offer, but I feel quite comfortable in suggesting that he will get substantially more than what his qualifying offer will be. Given how many spots and how little space Holland has to work with, I would anticipate a bridge deal between $2-$3 million if I had to guess today.
Those two would cost about $6 million, which would leave Holland with approximately $4 million to sign 4 players. That math is pretty easy, $1 million per player.
After signing AA, there would be up to 2 forward spots up for grabs. It was sounding like Riley Sheahan was going to get re-signed, which would make sense given the hole at 3C and his current $900k cap hit. While I like what Sheahan brings to the team, I don’t particularly love him as the 3C; I think he’s a better fit at 4C on a good team. An upgrade over Sheahan at 3C would take some maneuvering.
Out of the wingers on the internal UFA list, the name that jumps out at me is Tyler Ennis. I thought he looked decent in a limited sample in Edmonton. He was just starting to find his form offensively in 2019-20, he’s fast, and he isn’t afraid to get in on the forecheck. He’s the guy I would sign to fill out my forward roster. We also can’t forget about the other Tyler waiting in Bakersfield.
Tomas Jurco didn’t get a fair shake this season due to his injuries, but he had looked good in the preseason. Given his relationship with Holland, I wouldn’t rule out a return for Jurco in an NHL-AHL tweener role. Don’t rule out a return of Sam Gagner in a similar role either.
After re-signing Bear, the 7D spot would be the only D spot left. The Oilers could also choose to carry 8 defencemen. There are a handful of interesting names in the running for that spot.
Matt Benning has perhaps the most intriguing situation. He does a lot of good things for the Oilers in a 3RD role, but one of those things is not puck moving. He will cost the club at least $2 million to re-sign, and there are cheaper options that are better puck movers than Benning. There’s a case to be made for keeping him and for moving on from him.
There is internal competition with Evan Bouchard being poised to crack the NHL roster. I think the Oilers saw enough out of William Lagesson to warrant giving him another contract, even if it means that he would spend most of next season in Bakersfield.
Then there’s the free agents. Mike Green could very well end up back with the Oilers at a much lower cap hit given his history with Holland. He’s an ideal 7D, as long the cap hit is right. He’s a veteran, and his specialty has always been moving the puck. I added Swedish defenceman Theodor Lennstrom’s name to the list as well since it has been reported that the Oilers are interested in his services. His numbers (15 points in 31 SHL games) don’t jump off of the page, but Elite Prospects says that he is an offensive defenceman that needs to work on his defensive positioning. He sounds like a left-handed and lesser version of Joel Persson, and we saw how that worked out last season. He could add AHL depth though.
Who knows what will happen with the backup goaltending situation. If Smith is available for a lower cap hit, then I’d be interested, but I’d also like to see which other options are out there in that $1 million range.
I’m going to save trade speculation for another day; but given how the Oilers roster is shaping up now, I’m predicting that Athanasiou and Bear will be the two most exciting signings of Holland’s off-season. The rest will likely be bargain basement signings similar to what we got last year.
I’m going to continue updating the cap situation and reacting to any new signings that occur for the next while. Once we find out more about when we will see hockey again, then I will definitely start posting more new content far more often than I have been lately for obvious reasons!
In the meantime, stay safe and try to stay busy!