As has been iterated many times already this offseason, the Edmonton Oilers’ main goal as they prepare for free agency is to free up some cap space. Several different possibilities may allow them to do so, as speculation has fueled surrounding both Duncan Keith and Mike Smith’s futures. On top of that, there have been trade discussions involving players like Jesse Puljujarvi and Tyson Barrie, as well as Zack Kassian, who may also be a potential buyout candidate. If, for whatever reason, one or several of these options don’t work out as planned, general manager Ken Holland may have another moveable asset in Warren Foegele.
Foegele, 26, was acquired by the Oilers last summer in exchange for Ethan Bear. It was a polarizing deal at the time as fans in Edmonton were quite divided in their opinions of the now 25-year-old defenceman.
After year one of the trade, it is tough to say who won the deal, as neither player was great with their respective club. Foegele managed to start his Oilers’ tenure off strong with two goals and four points in seven games but went on to record just 12 goals and 26 points in 82 games. His struggles carried over into the playoffs, where he managed just a lone assist in 13 outings and was healthy scratched on three occasions.
Like Foegele, Bear started out the 2021-22 season strong but declined as the year went on. By the time the regular season had finished, he had averaged just 16:05 in ice time through in 58 games. He then went on to be a healthy scratch in all 14 of the Hurricanes’ playoff outings. To no surprise, he’s received the go-ahead to speak to other teams about a potential trade this summer in hopes of a fresh start.
What all of this is meant to say is that, despite some fans still not thrilled about this deal for the Oilers, it appears to be one that didn’t really work out for either party involved. Despite Foegele’s down season, however, there could still be some interest from teams throughout the league, especially given the fact that he is on a fairly modest deal that carries a cap hit of $2.75 million. Here are three that may be willing to make a move for him.
The Ottawa Senators are a young, skilled team who are hoping that their talent can soon translate to wins. The hope was that they would take a step forward in 2021-22, but that turned out not to be the case as they managed just a 33-42-7 record. Due to the disappointing year, it is clear that some changes need to be made by general manager Pierre Dorion ahead of the 2022-23 season.
A few of those changes have already taken place, as the team chose not to qualify restricted free agent Adam Gaudette this past week while also buying out Colin White on Tuesday. This means that they will be on the look for a few forwards to fill those roster spots, and while they may look to take a big swing on a free agent, Foegele could help round out their bottom-six for a very cheap cost. After all, the Senators did finish in the bottom 10 for league scoring this past season, and while Foegele is by no means an offensive powerhouse, he has proven to be an OK secondary scorer in the past.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have bigger things to worry about right now in Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, but once those issues are resolved, trading for Foegele may be something their management group would consider. After all, he has always been known for being a player who generates plenty of scoring opportunities. His issue has been that he seems to lack the finishing touch, something that has been said about many players before going to the Penguins and really finding their game.
Though Foegele’s time with the Oilers didn’t – or at least hasn’t – worked out as one had hoped, he has also been viewed as a player throughout his career who is tenacious on the forecheck and isn’t shy to throw his body around. His 127 hits on the season were fourth amongst his Oilers teammates and would be a valued asset in the Penguins’ lineup. He could be placed essentially anywhere amongst their fourth lines and would likely have success, much like many others have found a way to do in Pittsburgh.
As we saw last offseason, the Arizona Coyotes are in tank mode. They took on several bad contracts last offseason while also acquiring draft picks to do so, and there is little to no reason to think they won’t do so again.
Unfortunately, their tank didn’t go as management had likely hoped, as they finished second last in league standings but slid down to the third overall pick at the draft lottery. That said, the bigger prize comes at next year’s draft in Connor Bedard, a player who they will be doing anything and everything to get their hands on.
What this means is that the Coyotes will likely be willing to help teams out once again in shedding salary if that said team also sends a pick their way. Given that Foegele isn’t on a bad contract and is still relatively young and growing as a player, the Oilers shouldn’t have to part ways with a pick of value if this is indeed the route they choose to go.
Critical Offseason for Holland
Whether Foegele is on the team or not when the 2022-23 season rolls around remains to be seen. The one thing that is for sure, however, is that the Oilers need to figure out a way to free up some cap room. This team is in desperate need of a goaltender and will likely be looking to add another blueliner or two to the mix as well. On top of that, there is still hope that Evander Kane can also be brought back into the fold. If Holland is able to figure out a way to create that space, this Oilers roster has a chance to be even more dangerous heading into 2022-23. If he isn’t, you can expect to hear plenty from what will be a disgruntled fanbase.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.