As time goes by, word about what the Edmonton Oilers might do this offseason could change. As it stands, the team has between $21 and $23 million in cap space thanks to expiring contracts and dead deals coming off the books. That could go up if buyouts occur and it could go down if the Oilers sign their own players.
With that cautionary warning out of the way, I thought it might be fun to take an early look at what GM Ken Holland might be thinking about before the action really heats up. The team has obvious needs and a few players are starting to potentially present themselves as options.
Holland may look into some of the following players and ultimately not do anything. The price may be too high or the player might elect to go another direction. That said, some players may relish an opportunity to join a team that has a couple of elite-level stars and is really a playoff series win away from making a splash.
Here are four daring or “bold” early predictions for what Holland might be writing on his big office white board.
Zach Hyman: Ideal UFA Left-Wing Target
It would be hard for Holland not to hear the chatter when it comes to what’s being said about Zach Hyman. A couple of insiders have recently noted it’s not likely he returns to the Toronto Maple Leafs and other scribes and media personalities have picked up on the story. If Hyman intends to make himself available to the highest bidder, the Oilers will be in the mix.
I’ve mentioned Hyman in the past as a target but I’m not totally convinced the Oilers will do what it takes to land him. If the bidding gets out of control, beside Hyman’s name on Holland’s board is probably a number. If the player is going to get signed for more than that number by another team, Holland will bow out.
If rumors of $6 million times six years is accurate, the Oilers will really have to think long and hard about being the team that offers that. $5.5 times four years would be ideal. $5 million times five would be even better. I don’t imagine he takes less.
Dylan Strome: Possible 3rd-Line Center/Top -Six Forward
Reports of the Chicago Blackhawks looking to trade Dylan Strome are out there. It sounds like the team has decided he’s not going to bounce back and earn a regular spot in the top six. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun notes:
“The No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft by Arizona, Strome had only nine goals and 14 points in 40 games last season. He would eligible for the expansion draft.source – ‘Rod Brind’Amour opts to stay behind the Carolina Hurricanes bench… GM Don Waddell listening on Dougie Hamilton” – Bruce Garrioch- Ottawa Sun – 06/17/2021
Strome might be an interesting option for Holland if the Oilers can get him without giving up much. If the Blackhawks are moving him because they want to rid themselves of an unprotected asset before the draft, it would be cheaper for the Blackhawks to trade him to Edmonton for a pick than to swing a side deal with Seattle. For the Oilers, they’d be taking a flyer on a player who had a down season and hasn’t shown recent glimpses of the 51-point player he was a couple of seasons ago, but reuniting with Connor McDavid could be just what Strome needs.
If the Oilers go 7-3-1 and choose to prioritize forwards over defensemen at the expansion draft, there’s room to protect Strome. From there, he would be basically on a show-me deal for one season at $3 million (or less if Edmonton can get Chicago to retain some salary). Strome is an RFA at the end of the 2021-22 season. So too, the Oilers have a lot of the leverage, even if Strome rebounds. Coming off a down 2020-21 season, with a flat salary cap, Strome can’t command that much on an extension.
Corey Perry : UFA Bottom-Six Winger
Corey Perry is the kind of player you hate to play against but don’t mind having on your team. The Oilers could use a lot of what he’s given the Canadiens during this recent playoff run.
Perry is going to be signing a one-year deal with a team and he’ll probably be worth it. He won’t make much more than league minimum and he’s ok not to play every night, but the Oilers have a real issue getting calls in the playoffs and Perry seems to be able to find a way to get the job done even when the officials seem out to lunch. In fact, when the officials are snoozing, that’s when Perry is at his best.
He’s a good net front presence on a power play and he’s got a ton of postseason experience. Just for leadership ability alone, he’d be an interesting addition and Edmonton may look to sign a couple of these types of guys. Holland calls them “NHL pros.”
Alec Martinez: UFA Klefbom Replacement
Holland is probably going to write the names of a few left-side defenseman on his board in the event that Oscar Klefbom is not able to go next season. There’s also a chance he gets scooped up in the expansion draft. Holland will have around $4 million to spend on a replacement and that’s exactly what Alec Martinez makes with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Of course, after the season Martinez has had, he’ll be getting a raise. At the same time, he’s 33 years old, so teams might be hesitant to offer term or much more since this past season was a high point over the past five seasons. Could Holland find a creative way to at least make an offer Martinez would need to think about?
The Golden Knights will certainly be interested in keeping him on the roster, but they may also be a team that can’t help but go after a bigger fish. They seem to do so every summer and part of the consequences of that are moving on from players that you’re not necessarily keen to move on from.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”