Connor McDavid reached out to Tyson Barrie to let him know that it would be great to have him before he signed with the Oilers. Leon Draisaitl campaigned to get the Oilers to sign Dominik Kahun in 2018 when he was set to come over to North America from Germany. Draisaitl’s wish came true today. The Oilers signed Kahun to a one-year deal worth $975k. The Oilers are starting to reap the benefits of having two Hart Trophy winners off of the ice as well.
Kahun has 68 points in 138 NHL games over two seasons with Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo. The Sabres chose not to qualify him to avoid the arbitration process. Edmonton got him for less than Buffalo would’ve had to play to keep him. Kahun is a versatile forward that can play all of the forward positions, but he will likely be used at left wing most often. He can play up and down the lineup, which means that coach Tippett will have plenty of possible line combinations. Kahun is more of a playmaker than a scorer. His calling card is his strong play at even strength, which is a trait that the Oilers need in spades. Kahun is only 25 years old, and he will be an RFA after this season. This is a fantastic signing by Holland. This definitely takes a bit of the sting out of losing Andreas Athanasiou for nothing. Holland managed to get Kahun, Tyler Ennis, and Jesse Puljujarvi signed for about the same price as it would’ve taken to qualify AA. I’m happy to have the depth rather than AA.
Here is the updated salary cap situation after the Kahun signing:
Nuge ($6M) McDavid ($12.5M) Puljujarvi ($1.175M)
Kahun ($975k) Draisaitl ($8.5M) Yamamoto ($894,166)
Ennis ($1M) Turris ($1.65M) Kassian ($3.2M)
Neal ($5.75M) Haas ($915K) Archibald ($1.5M)
Nygard ($875K) Khaira ($1.2M) Chiasson ($2.25M)
Nurse ($5.2M) Barrie ($3.75M)
Russell ($4M) Bear (RFA)
Jones ($850k) Larsson ($4,166,666)
IR: Klefbom ($4,167,000)
Retained: Lucic ($750k)
Buyout: Pouliot ($1,333,333), Sekera ($2.5M)
Cap Space: $561,835
Off-Season Cap Hit: $83,866,280
I’m going to do a series on which wingers should be playing with which centres over the coming weeks, but I want to focus on the cap situation and what we can expect going forward in terms of roster moves between now and the start of the season.
You can see that the Oilers now have 15 forwards under contract, and that they still need to sign Ethan Bear and add one more depth defenceman. You can also see that they only have $561,835 in cap space, which is below the league minimum salary for one player.
I have also included the current off-season cap hit, which isn’t necessarily important, but it is interesting because it does help us to understand just how much cap space that Holland would have to work with if he were to put Klefbom on LTIR before the off-season starts. The rule in that situation is that the Oilers’ new cap limit going forward would be whatever the off-season cap hit total is at the moment that they decide to put Klefbom on LTIR, which would be $83,866,280 right now. For an explanation on where that number came from, click here.
The way to maximize the amount of LTIR space that the Oilers would have access to by putting Klefbom on LTIR would be to get the total salary cap hit as close to the $81.5 million limit as is possible on the first day of the regular season. The highest possible amount that the Oilers could spend on salary cap hits after putting Klefbom on LTIR would be $81,499,999 ($1 below the limit) + $4,167,000 (Klefbom’s cap hit) = $85,666,999.
Holland could spend up to that limit now and place Klefbom on LTIR before the regular season starts. If we take the highest possible limit and subtract the current off-season cap hit, that leaves Holland $1,800,179 to work with at the moment, assuming that he plans to place Klefbom on LTIR before the regular season starts. That isn’t a lot to work with, and we know that this isn’t the best possible scenario because the off-season cap hit is higher than the cap hit based on the likely opening night roster.
Holland could just wait until the first day of the regular season to sign RFAs Ethan Bear and William Lagesson using LTIR money, but they both need to participate in training camp. I want to figure out how much money Holland could spend on signing Bear and Lagesson before the start of training camp.
The idea here is to make transactions that will get the Oilers just under the $81.5 million limit on the first day of the regular season, place Klefbom on LTIR, and then use the LTIR money to reverse the original transactions. Holland can make paper transactions where players get sent to the AHL and then call them back up in time for the first game. Players that are exempt from the waiver process are usually the ones that are involved in these transactions. The only such player on the Oilers roster is Kailer Yamamoto. It would be weird to see him get sent to the AHL for any reason due to his strong second half of last season, but he wouldn’t actually report to Bakersfield. It would just be a paper transaction. That would take $894,166 off of the team’s total current cap hit.
The other option would be to bury a contract in the AHL. This would have to be a player that the Oilers would need to be prepared to lose should another team claim him on waivers. The maximum cap savings that this type of transaction would save the Oilers is $1,075,000. For example, if the Oilers were to bury Alex Chiasson’s $2.15 million contract in the AHL, the Oilers would still only save $1,075,000 against the cap, and the Oilers would still have $1,075,000 as a cap hit for Chiasson. Chiasson is a prime candidate for this type of move because the odds of a team claiming him on waivers is low because of the value of his contract.
If we take the current cap available cap space ($561,835) and add it to the amount that the Oilers could remove from the roster on opening day ($894,166 + $1,075,000), we get a total of $2,531,001. That is the maximum amount that Holland could spend on Bear and Lagesson assuming that no other Oilers get moved out.
The addition of Kahun makes Joakim Nygard’s situation interesting. He is currently on loan to the SHL, but he has an NHL contract as well. Nygard is now behind Kahun, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tyler Ennis, James Neal, and Jujhar Khaira on the left wing depth chart. Tyler Benson is a factor at left wing as well. If there’s a way to simply make Nygard’s contract disappear by keeping him in Sweden, that would give Holland another $875k to spend on Bear and Lagesson, which would bring that new total to $3,406,001.
Hopefully this gives you a better idea of how much cap space that Holland has to work with at this point. Bear has a case to earn around $3 million on a bridge deal, but it doesn’t appear that will be a possibility unless the Bear contract was to get signed using LTIR money after the season starts. Either way, I don’t expect a Bear contract to come any time soon. It will take some time to determine what is fair for both the player and the team here.
For now, we can celebrate the fact that Holland was able to add another quality winger to a growing group up front. There is no reason that the Oilers can’t have 3 scoring lines now, and they could even have perennial 20-goal scorer James Neal on the 4th line. This group of wingers is deep now, and they have three centres that are capable of putting up some points to support them. The Oilers are going to be an exciting team to watch in 2021!