The Edmonton Oilers have put themselves in a good spot heading into the 2020-21 season, with a front line headlined by the superstar duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, followed by several key cast members including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse.
The Oilers have a projected cap hit of roughly $81,401,165 for the 2020-21 season, leaving them with little to no room to make any additional moves this offseason. While they certainly have some questionable contracts on the books, particularly those of James Neal and Mikko Koskinen ($5.75 million and $4.5 million, respectively), they also have some favourable contracts that will give them some breathing room heading into the future.
In this article, we will look at the Oilers’ 3 best contracts heading into the 2020-21 season.
This should come as no surprise, as the Oilers got an absolute steal signing Tyson Barrie this offseason. He saw his numbers slip in his first and only season as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, tallying 39 points in 70 games. Comparing those numbers to his days with the Colorado Avalanche is like differentiating night from day, as in his final season in Colorado, he put up 59 points in 78 games.
Despite a slight dip in production last season, Barrie is still a solid top-four option on the blue line, not to mention Edmonton committed highway robbery by signing him to a cheap one-year, $3.75 million deal. This signing will shore up Edmonton’s shaky defense, as we could potentially see him paired alongside Nurse on the top line this upcoming season, with Oscar Klefbom potentially sitting out the season due to injury.
The struggles that plagued Kyle Turris as a Nashville Predator were well documented in recent years. He put up 79 points in three seasons with the Predators, and he was an occasional healthy scratch. Much like Barrie, Turris is looking for a bounce-back season in Edmonton, hoping to return to his old form, which saw him put up 64 points in the 2014-15 season as an Ottawa Senator.
The Oilers made a low-risk, high-reward signing by bringing in Turris on a cheap two-year deal worth $3.3 million. He should find himself manning the centre on Edmonton’s third line next season, providing the Oilers with more depth at the position. If he can show even a glimpse of the talent he displayed in Ottawa, the signing will be worth it.
Don’t sleep on Jesse Puljujarvi. The former fourth-overall pick is a popular pick to have a breakout season. Edmonton’s head coach Dave Tippett is onboard the Puljujarvi hype train, as mentioned in a recent interview.
“You watch him play now and he’s a different player, he’s a dominant player in the Finnish league right now. His English is good and he’s anxious to come over and prove he can be a good player in the best league in the world. I think we’ll get a much better player coming in here this time.”Head coach Dave Tippett on Jesse Puljujarvi
Puljujarvi has struggled to carve out a permanent role in Edmonton over his first couple of seasons, tallying a mere 54 points in 139 games thus far. The Oilers extended him in October to a two-year, $2.35 million deal, locking him up through the 2021-22 season. If he shows that he has taken a step forward this offseason, he could be in line for a big payday when his contract expires.
The Oilers will need cap space heading into next offseason with key pieces like Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson hitting the open market. If the Oilers have any hope of retaining these two players beyond next season, they will need to rely on the front office to go out and acquire team-friendly contracts, similar to the contracts of Barrie, Turris, and Puljujarvi.