Edmonton Oilers: Looking at expiring contracts – UFA edition

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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Slater Koekkoek #20, Edmonton Oilers
Slater Koekkoek #20, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Left/Right D Slater Koekkoek, expiring contract $850,000

The swiss army knife of the D corps, Koekkoek did whatever was asked of him. Sub in on the top pairing? Shutdown the opposition on the second pairing with Larsson? Done. Partner with Evan Bouchard and help clean up after his mistakes? Yup. Form a veteran third pairing duo with Kris Russell and shutdown the soft competition? Done.

Koekkoek, IMO, was one of – if not the – best depth defender the Oilers iced this past season. He had more partners than a player at a nightclub. I guess Holland’s motto on this one was “if you can’t beat ’em, sign ’em” as Koekkoek was instrumental 2 seasons ago at shutting the Oilers down in the playoffs as a member of the opposition Chicago Blackhawks.

Koekkoek started out the season as a regular but didn’t play at all between February 20 and May 15 as other players caught up to his play. That’s a long time to go between games, but Koekkoek did it. On the surface, his boxcars don’t warrant much as he finished 1-0-1 in 18 games with a -7, the latter mark of which was a career-low for him. Nonetheless, I think Koekkoek showed enough to come back – if a taxi squad is a thing again next season, IMO Koekkoek is a prime candidate for it. The fact that he can play both D sides is certainly a point in his favor.

As expected, he didn’t play at all on the PP, but put in 1:54 per game on the PK, like Kulikov a decent secondary option in the games he did play. This was part of about 13:10 per game total on the year. He doesn’t hit much but finished 9th on the team in blocked shots with 31 – and in a total shock to me was first on the team in blocked shots/60 with 7.84. Perhaps his penchant for blocking shots every game might be good enough to get him another contract.

He played all four games in the playoffs and had one assist. He’s always been a part-time NHLer in his career, never once playing a full NHL season but still putting up a career of 167 games over eight NHL seasons. He could be that guy again next season, IMO. Easily replaceable, but not enough reason to dismiss him out of hand for my money.

Chances he’s re-signed – 50%

Projected contract – 1 year, $850K