After the Edmonton Oilers signed Ryan McLeod, they couldn’t be much closer to the cap. He was given $798,000 for one season for a reason, and that’s because there are very few options. The Oilers will have to run a 21-man roster instead of 23 to fit under the cap as well as choose between a few players we may have thought were shoe-ins to make the team.
From the tweets above, you can see just how close the Oilers are to the cap with a couple of men short. There are also restrictions regarding who the team will be able to keep on their roster. Philip Broberg and Ryan Murray are all but confirmed as the sixth and seventh defencemen this season, but it remains up in the air as to whether Dylan Holloway will make the team. To make the cap work, Brad Malone would also have to be the other name kept in the NHL due to his smaller cap hit.
That leaves a decision between newly signed Mattias Janmark and solid bottom-six player and centerman Derek Ryan. The other two who would have to be sent through waivers are Dmitri Samorukov and Devin Shore. Samorukov would likely be picked up by another team as he is just about NHL ready with no room on the Oilers. But Shore wouldn’t be a huge loss considering he was passed by many last season on the depth charts. Let’s dive into what the Oilers can do to avoid losing players for nothing through waivers.
Oilers Can’t Lose Samorukov for Nothing in Waivers
The player the Oilers should be most worried about losing when he is inevitably sent down through waivers before the start of the season is Samorukov. He is a young defenceman who performed well in the American Hockey League (AHL) last season and is pushing for a spot on the Oilers.
If the team hadn’t signed Murray to a one-year deal, Samorukov could have very well been the seventh defenceman. He lost his waiver exemption this season and is one of the top defensive prospects the Oilers have in their system. He is also one of the most NHL-ready if the Oilers were to need a call-up to stick around. If he somehow made it through waivers before the season, there would be a worry that he won’t make it through a second time. This would make the Oilers second guess calling him up throughout the season and go with a defenceman who wouldn’t have to pass through waivers on his way down.
Samorukov is very close to becoming an NHL defenceman, but that opportunity may not come with the Oilers. Unless he has a very impressive showing in training camp, he will be lost for no assets in return (from ‘Lowetide: Why Edmonton Oilers fans should be worried about waivers,’ The Athletic, Sept. 9, 2022). Regardless of what future assets the Oilers get for Samorukov, it will be better than losing him for nothing. A team with room and opportunity could very well jump at the chance to pick him up off waivers, but would also be inclined to trade for him.
A Decision Between Ryan and Janmark
Janmark is the newcomer, and it wouldn’t look very good if the Oilers were to trade him before even playing a game for them. If the Oilers were to try and trade one of the two, it looks bad to trade Janmark but Ryan has proven to be more valuable to the team. I don’t think that either is worth trading and it’s not a huge loss to lose one through waivers if a team picks them up.
With more cap space, both would have more than likely been playing together on the fourth line. But due to constraints, one may be sent down. Familiarity will play a part in the decision and benefit Ryan over Janmark. Preseason will also play a large role as this training camp is important for many. They both have the exact same cap hit and are unrestricted free agents after the season. If one of them has to go down, I’m choosing Janmark. But he will also be the first to be called up.
There is always the possibility of a trade for one of these two veteran forwards, but not likely. If anything, being claimed on waivers may benefit the Oilers with their cap. Samorukov is the candidate that should be traded before he’s lost for nothing. The Oilers’ prospect pool on defence isn’t as strong as their other positions, so losing a player like that will only set them back a bit.
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Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News and trade talks.
You can find more of his work here.