Is it weird to feel like an offseason is going well? As an Edmonton Oilers fan, I’m not quite used to it and to be completely honest, I am waiting for something to go catastrophically wrong. But for now, let’s just enjoy the positivity in this Edmonton Oilers Free Agency 2022 recap.
To recap the situation, we started with a, shall we say, less than ideal draft. But they did manage to accomplish something that the team desperately needed. Freeing up cap space.
They entered the free agency period with over $20 million in cap space. Much more than expected and definitely enough to acquire players to fill all their roster holes.
The orders of business for the Edmonton Oilers Free Agency period 2022 were to re-sign Evander Kane, Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, Ryan McLeod, and Brett Kulak. They needed to acquire a starting goalie. The Oilers need to find a second-pairing left defender after Duncan Keith‘s retirement. And, they need to improve their forward depth (as always).
So far, they haven’t been able to do a whole lot of these things, but they have taken care of some major ones.
Edmonton Oilers 2022 Free Agency Recap
First off, the Oilers re-signed Kane in the wee hours of Wednesday morning before free agency opened to a four-year, $5.125M average annual value contract. That is incredible value for a player who scored at a nearly 50-goal pace during his half-season and playoffs with Edmonton. This solidifies their top-six forward group by giving them a bonafide option on Connor McDavid‘s wing.
After his impressive showing post-trade deadline acquisition, Kulak earned himself a four-year extension with a $2.75M AAV. To answer my previous note about finding a second pairing defender after Keith retired, he may end up filling that role as the coaching staff trusts him to take on more minutes. And he definitely earned a shot at it with his performance at the end of the 2021-22 season.
The big rumoured move for the Oilers was going after Jack Campbell as their next starting goalie. And shortly after the free agency period opened, it became official as he signed a five-year deal with an AAV of $5M.
I have my reservations about this move, as Campbell has been incredibly slow to develop and inconsistent throughout his career. He has never really been able to put together a full season of top-tier performance. In his best year, with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, he started strong but trailed off big time after the midway point.
It could be a cause for concern, as the backup, Stuart Skinner, only has 14 games of NHL experience. Even though he was good last season in his few games, will he be trustworthy enough to take on a fairly big role if Campbell is struggling?
To fill add a bit of depth, they’ve signed all-name team candidate Greg McKegg. He won’t fill a huge role and quite possibly won’t even make the NHL team, but he is a serviceable tweener who can flip between the AHL and NHL.
The Remaining Work to be Done
After trading Zack Kassian, letting Josh Archibald walk in free agency, and potentially shopping Warren Foegele, the Oilers will have plenty of spots available in their bottom-six forward group. The Oilers Free Agency has a lot of work left to be done before the season starts.
The main players to watch in filling these spots are going to be the prospects. The Oilers have a few nearly ready forward prospects who can potentially make the NHL roster full-time next season. Dylan Holloway, who played one playoff game last season, is the top candidate. Others to keep an eye on are Xavier Bourgault (Edmonton’s 2021 first-round draft pick), Tyler Benson, and a couple of longshots in Reid Schaefer and Raphael Lavoie.
Edmonton Oilers 2022-23 Projected Roster
After the first few days, we are able to get a sense of what the Oilers’ roster will look like for the 2022-23 season.
I do anticipate some more moves to come, personally, I would be looking at trading Foegele for someone more consistent. As well as Tyson Barrie as $4.5M is too high a cap hit for a third-pairing defender. And since Evan Bouchard is more than capable of taking over the top powerplay unit, he is more than expendable.
The Oilers still have a few important RFA’s to sign. It sounds like the team wishes to keep Yamamoto and they have no reason to part ways with McLeod so I expect those two to be on the roster.
But the Oilers are apparently pushing hard to trade Puljujarvi while his value around the league is at its lowest, a smart strategy indeed. Instead of keeping the player who makes everyone around him better, they want to rid themselves of him at a low point. I am not shy about pushing the narrative that he is a valuable player, and I do hope the Oilers re-sign him.
For now, those players will remain on my projected roster.
Kane – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Hyman – Leon Draisaitl – Yamamoto
McLeod – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Holloway
Schaefer – Derek Ryan – Foegele
Kulak – Bouchard
Philip Broberg – Barrie
I would like to see the team trade Barrie for some forward depth and/or draft picks and use the cap space freed up there to go after a second pairing left defender as Koekkoek and/or a prospect can fill that third pairing spot. Ideally, a physical workhorse, someone defensively reliable for penalty killing. I look at players like Calvin de Haan or even offer-sheeting Mario Ferraro to a longer-term deal.
After reading this early Edmonton Oilers Free Agency 2022 recap, what moves do you see the Oilers having to make yet? Drop a comment down below with some of your ideal targets.
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