Oilers Interested in College UFA Max Veronneau

This is the time of year in the NHL where a ton of news is relayed as it pertains to college free agents. The Edmonton Oilers have signed their share of them over the past few years including Matt Benning, Drake Caggiula, and Justin Schultz. This year, it appears they have their eyes on another name, Princeton’s Max Veronneau.

Bob McKenzie of TSN reports, “Veronneau of Princeton could make a decision as early as today on which NHL team he’ll sign with. The Ottawa native received interest from 25+ NHL clubs and has whittled that list down to a final two or three teams.”

The Oilers are rumored to be on that list and, as you can imagine, the Ottawa Senators are also interested.

Why the Edmonton Oilers Would Be Interested

First, when everyone else wants someone, why would the Oilers not? At 6 feet tall and 180 pounds, the 23-year old forward recorded 37 points in 31 games this year and attracted serious interested from over 25 NHL teams. He’s recorded 144 points in 130 games during his Princeton career, including 55 points last season as the second- leading scorer in the nation. That’s some serious offense that could immediately help the Oilers.

CEO and Vice-Chair, Oilers Entertainment Group, Bob Nicholson
CEO and Vice-Chair, Oilers Entertainment Group, Bob Nicholson (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

The Oilers may not know who their next GM will be and perhaps because of it, will hesitate to make certain moves. That said, this type of move appears to be a no-brainer regardless of who is running the show these days. Veronneau is a quick skater, he can beat defenders one-on-one and he creates space for his teammates. He’s got great vision and has the tools to be a solid winger in the NHL.  

He’s taken part in a number of NHL camps — including in 2017 with the Vegas Golden Knights — and won’t be completely new to the NHL game.

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Why Veronneau Would Want Edmonton

The standard stance most will take is that Veronneau may be attracted to the possibility of playing with Connor McDavid. It’s the same thing that gets said about almost everyone who “might be” coming to the Oilers. In this case, it might actually be true.

Ron Hainsey; Connor McDavid
Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid could be an attractive option for Veronneau. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Edmonton will need to dangle a carrot out for Veronneau and while they won’t make promises (a bad habit to get into with college free agents) they can offer the opportunity to play with the best player in the world. Because Veronneau is already 23, he’s mature enough to make the NHL jump and perhaps, more importantly, the most he can sign is a two-year entry-level deal.

The Oilers could offer up the chance to burn the first year of that deal by signing it for this season, a negotiating tactic that often attracts top college players. In this case, it might actually help the Oilers. If he joins right away, plays with the team and helps the Oilers, he would become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2020. This is great for his long-term future and expedites how quickly he can cash in to make bigger money.

And, while he may not be the thing that puts Edmonton over the top, he may also help the Oilers with their final hopes for a playoff push. That is, if Veronneau has the goods.

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What Are the Odds of Veronneau to Edmonton?

For the Oilers, Veronneau is exactly the kind of offensive presence the team will be looking for heading into next season. For that reason alone, he’s worth looking at. The icing on the cake is that he may also be helpful this season.

Edmonton lacks in the scoring depth department and they’re still trying to make a push to end this season’s run. Adding the kind of offensive presence Veronneau provides is something good for the Oilers and good for the player. Moreso, signing in Edmonton could provide Veronneau more of an opportunity than signing anywhere else.

As Julie Robenhymer wrote earlier this week, he studies mechanical engineering at Princeton and when asked what kind of job you can get with that degree, he smiled and said, ‘I hope I never have to find out.’ Clearly, he wants to make an impression right away. In Edmonton, he has an opportunity to do just that.