Oilers News & Rumors: Russell, Larsson, Smith, Cap Penalties, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, the Oilers re-signed a depth forward, while a hint was dropped as to who the defenseman most likely to be traded this offseason is. There is news the Oilers are over the cap in terms of bonuses and a penalty is likely coming for next year’s salary cap, and GM Ken Holland says the team will stick with two goaltenders next season.

Oilers Re-Sign Patrick Russell

The Edmonton Oilers took care of some important but not necessarily critical business on Monday. The team re-signed forward Patrick Russell to a one-year extension.

Financial terms of the contract were not immediately released but the deal is for league minimum of $700,000, as per Cap Friendly.

Russell is not going to be a regular in the Oilers lineup next season but his one-way deal is important to note as the team seems to think he could be a somewhat regular contributor in a depth role.

Adam Larsson Most Likely Trade Candidate

While speculation is that the Edmonton Oilers will look to move Kris Russell in the offseason, the name that appeared on Frank Seravalli’s TSN Trade Bait Board was not actually Russell’s. It was Adam Larsson who showed up on the list at No. 15.

Edmonton Oilers Adam Larsson
Edmonton Oilers’ Adam Larsson (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

There has been talk that the Oilers might move two top-four defensemen and while it can be argued Russell doesn’t fit into that category, Larsson certainly does. He’s got one year remaining on a contract that pays him $4.16 million next season. There are questions about his effectiveness, speculation the Oilers have prospects they’d like to move up, and it’s obvious the team needs to shed some salary.

In many ways, Larsson makes a lot of sense as a player that could be moved.

Oilers Will Face Cap Penalties

Part of the reason the Oilers need to shed salary is because the salary cap will be flat for next season. Edmonton got worse news on Tuesday as multiple sources are reporting in 2019-20 the team exceeded the NHL salary cap by close to $700,000.

Those overages were incurred thanks to bonus clauses written into the contracts, including players like Ethan Bear and Mike Smith. The franchise will now have the option to pay the entire penalties this coming season or split that cap penalty 50/50 over the next two seasons. It is assumed the Oilers will take the second option.

The Oilers weren’t the only team that get caught here but for Edmonton, a team already looking to clear space to do some things this offseason, an additional $350K or so no longer being available hurts.

Oilers Will Keep Goaltending Tandem

It wasn’t the news of the cap penalties that caused Ken Holland to share his plan for next season when it comes to the goaltending situation, but it certainly explains part of the reasoning he’s not going to be going big-game hunting.

Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

According to The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman, Holland has noted the Oilers will stick with a tandem, electing to go the 1A and 1B route. Holland said:

If you look around the league, it’s really a two-goaltender league. We were almost 50-50 (in terms of starts percentage between Koskinen and Smith). It’s a small list of guys who were on pace to play over 60 games. It looks like it’s gonna be a condensed schedule. You’re gonna have more back-to-backs. You factor the travel that we do in Edmonton, the road trips that we go on, I anticipate that we’re gonna have a two-goalie system.

source – ‘Q&A: Oilers GM Ken Holland on improving internally, the flat cap and goaltending’ Daniel Bugetn-Bowman – The Athletic – 08/29/2020

The question is whether or not Mike Smith is the goaltender the Oilers look at as their 1B option. He was a $2 million goaltender with performance bonuses worked in. Holland would have to find another goalie for close to or under that number.

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