3 Oilers Likely Playing Their Final Season With The Team

The Edmonton Oilers have put together a solid team for the 2022-23 season. There are holes and the salary cap situation means the franchise will be challenged to fill them, but the organization boasts one of the most dangerous top six’s in the league, the team has a decent defense, and GM Ken Holland finally addressed the goaltending situation. What else gets done this offseason or before the NHL Trade Deadline is anyone’s guess, but there are a few players on this roster that have to know this 2022-23 push towards the playoffs will likely be their last in Edmonton.

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The business of making your team good isn’t a once-a-year thing for Holland. His window to win is now, but his mandate since joining the Oilers as their GM has always been to keep the team competitive. Each season he strives to make the club a bit better than the previous one and that means players who were once key components aren’t as vital as they used to be.

Derek Ryan is No Longer the Oilers’ Key Depth Center

When Derek Ryan was signed, the hope was that he’d be that bottom-six (specifically third-line) center the Oilers had been missing for years. Failed experiments with Kyle Turris and others under Holland led to Ryan getting a two-year deal at $1.25 million with the Oilers. This coming season will be the final one of that deal and it’s unlikely he’s re-signed.

Derek Ryan Edmonton Oilers
Derek Ryan, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ryan isn’t a bad player, but at the age of 35 and with Ryan McLeod coming in and cementing himself as an everyday NHL player, Ryan will see himself quickly booted down to the fourth line. The Oilers also have Mattias Janmark, Devin Shore, and prospects from the AHL who can assume some of those depth minutes. A player who was once seen as an important depth piece isn’t as critical moving forward.

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In fact, Ryan is a candidate for early demotion to the AHL if Edmonton feels they need to run with a short roster to solve some of their potential salary cap concerns.

Devin Shore Has Run Out of Runway

Another player that, if used right, can be effective, Devin Shore isn’t a regular NHL player these days. He’s been given a couple of looks under Holland and is currently signed to an $850K deal, but this is likely to be his last run with the Oilers, simply because each new offseason brings the need to be more and more selective.

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Part of the knock against Shore is his analytics. His SCF%, GF%, and xGF% are all on the lower end for the Oilers and the organization has taken a step more towards shoring up (no pun intended) those numbers under assistant GM Brad Holland. Like Ryan, there’s a decent chance Shore winds up spending much of this coming season in and out of the lineup. Shore could actually see more time in the AHL than the NHL. That doesn’t help his chances of earning another deal.

Tyson Barrie Could Finally Be Moved

The Oilers chose not to trade Tyson Barrie this summer. There was plenty of talk he could be a cap casualty, especially with the emergence of Evan Bouchard, but because of Duncan Keith’s retirement and to ensure the Oilers weren’t overwhelming Bouchard or a player like Philip Broberg, Holland thought better of moving on from Barrie, who wasn’t keen about the idea of being dealt.

Tyson Barrie Edmonton Oilers
Tyson Barrie, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Barrie still has value, but with one more season for young players and with Barrie coming up to the final season of his current deal, there’s a decent chance the Oilers revisit the idea of a Barrie trade during the summer of 2023 and see if they can’t move his $4.5 million contract.

There will be a few right-shot defenseman available ahead of the trade deadline and going into next summer’s free agency class. Among them, John Klingberg — who the Oilers were rumored to have an interest in this summer — could be a target. More realistically, the Oilers will be clearing room to re-up Bouchard, who has one more year on this entry-level deal and could be offered a bridge contract or a long-term extension if the numbers work.