Recapping The Last Few Days Of Free The NHL Free Agency

Oct 12, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) attempts to make a save in front of Washington Capitals right wing Connor Brown (28) at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 12, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) attempts to make a save in front of Washington Capitals right wing Connor Brown (28) at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
  • We can forget about the guy in the picture coming back to the Oilers at a cheaper price, Yamo just signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Seattle Kraken. The Oilers simply didn’t have the cap space to give him any more than $1 million, and honestly, even if we did there’s no way we’d be able to compete with the fact that Yamo is now going back to his hometown NHL team, as he’s from nearby Tacoma Washington. Can’t blame a guy at all for wanting to play in front of family and friends all season.
  • Prior to free agency the Oilers also managed to re-sign C/RW Derek Ryan to a two-year, $1.8 million contract ($900K per). That’s a full $350K off his old cap hit of $1.25 million a year, which is awesome. Ryan took the contract because he wanted to be a team player and live here. He likes it here, his family likes it here, and cap info on teams is public knowledge, so his approach was basically, why leave?
  • The Oilers also managed to re-up Mattias Janmark for one year at $1 million even, a $250K haircut off his previous cap hit. That might not seem like much but every dollar counts when you’re a cap team like the Oilers. Between Ryan and Janmark the Oilers have now saved $600,000 off the cap from last season. You can almost sign another player for that much, and depth is important especially come playoff time. Kudos to Holland for getting this done and kudos to the players for realizing the team’s situation and adjusting their own situations accordingly.
  • The Oilers now have $4.775 million to sign Ryan Mcleod and Evan Bouchard. Both players are needing raises but I think it can be done.
  • I’ve heard rumours the Oilers have a deal for Brett Kulak in their back pocket, but they need to make sure Philip Broberg is ready to take over. I recently read one ridiculous take that the Oilers should elevate Broberg to the second pairing – and IIRC it was Bruce McCurdy of the Journal, of all people, who said it. No answer to the obvious question of what you would do with Mattias Ekholm in that situation…..what a *poo emoji* take. Anyway, getting back to Kulak – As far as I’m concerned Holland’s next priority should be to trade Kulak as his spot on the roster has been made redundant by Ekholm, and now he’s way too expensive for the third pairing, even a regular spot on it. Trade him for a third or fourth-round pick and get on with it.
  • I have to believe that Markus Niemelainen will be counted on to be the seventh defenceman this season. His deal reverts from a two-way to a one-way deal and this would be the ideal situation as opposed to bringing in an outsider. Not to mention Niemelainen is still only making the NHL minimum, another reason for him to be up in Edmonton full-time but only playing part-time unless Broberg really struggles.
  • Fun story from this past season’s trade deadline, the LA Kings were pushing hard for a trade with Nashville that involved Jusse Saros and Mattias Ekholm, but the Oilers swooped in and traded for Ekholm at the last minute, which meant the Kings at had to settle for a package of Gavrikov and Korpisalo from Columbus. I think we can all agree that we should be thanking Ken Holland extra hard for pulling this one off, seeing as how essential Ekholm will be to the Oilers’ playoff fortunes for the next three seasons and how much better the combination of Saros and Ekholm would’ve made the Kings – probably even good enough to beat the Oilers in the playoffs. Saros has had an sv% over .920 three out of five times the Predators have been in the playoffs in his career, and two out of five times he had a GAA below 2.0. That would be devastating to play against in the playoffs.
  • Nick Bjugstad as expected had a bidding war for his services but in the end……he went back to Arizona for $2 million for two years. Why he’d want to wade back into the dumpster fire of the Coyotes when he could easily win a cup next season as an Oiler is beyond me…..
  • The Oilers were rumoured to be in on Teddy Blueger as well, but he ended up going to the Canucks for one year at $1.9 million.
  • Speaking of LA, they didn’t do much to address their goaltending issues. They signed Cam Talbot and David Rittich to go with Phoenix Copley. How cringe-worthy they didn’t get Korpisalo back….no matter who wins the two jobs in LA, their goaltending will hold them back next season. They better hope they have a prospect that can grab a starter’s job, otherwise, they’re screwed for next season. Korpisalo ended up signing with Ottawa, a team that’s shaping up to make the playoffs next season, at least on paper.
  • Chicago signed Cory Perry for one year at a whopping $4 million. I don’t understand their thinking here. Are they hoping and praying Perry magically becomes a top-six forward again at the age of 38? This one doesn’t make sense to me. They’re lucky they’ve got a lot of cap space so it’s not going to come back to bite them, at least in a financial sense….
  • Holland was also trying to land bottom-six forward Matt Nieto but ducked out at the last minute, and Nieto ended up signing with Pittsburgh, for two years at $1.8 million.
  • One under-the-radar signing – the Ottawa Senators signed former Oilers farmhand Josh Currie. He had a decent call-up for the Oilers in 2018-19 and I never did figure out why they didn’t re-sign him. He’s spent the last two seasons playing in the KHL so he’s coming back to North America probably in a bottom-six role.
  • Former Oiler Josh Archibald signed with Tampa Bay for two years. You remember Archibald, don’t you? He’s an anti-vaxxer who now can no longer travel to Canada because he doesn’t meet the vaccination requirements to cross the border anymore. He’s from Regina so he can literally never go to visit his family there again, and he’ll have to be out of the lineup every time the Lightning have an away game in one of the Canadian outposts because he won’t be allowed off the plane, hurting himself personally and professionally. That seems like an awfully terrible sacrifice to make just in case a couple of stupid and outrageous conspiracy theories are true.
  • Going back to the playoffs, after the second round was over, Draisaitl refused to shake Alex Pietrangelo’s hand. I can’t blame him either. You remember why, don’t you? Pietrangelo was being a big baby getting upset because the Oilers were playing him physically. In a playoff game. When he was their best puck mover. What did he expect? How much physical punishment did he take when he was playing in St. Louis and they won the cup in 2019? His response to that was to intentionally slash Dr. Drai’s wrist to try and take out one of our best players in the game. No wonder Darnell Nurse went after him right afterwards…..what a baby. He should really know better, he’s been an NHL player long enough.
  • The clown show in Calgary continues. Tyler Toffoli informed the Flames he was not interested in signing an extension and he subsequently got traded to New Jersey. Noah Hanifin has told the Flames the same thing while Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm are strongly considering the same thing. If this isn’t a sign to new GM Craig Conroy that he needs to start a rebuild of the Flames and turn over the scouting staff, then I don’t know what is. Does someone need to hold a literal sign outside the windows of the Flames offices? Their roster has been crying out for a rebuild for years now.
  • The Bison King apparently underwent double hip surgery but his underwhelming performance for the Canes post-trade deadline meant he was a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs and not surprisingly wasn’t issued a QO by the Hurricanes, and now that he’s a free agent he has somehow been passed over by everyone else too (sarcasm alert). I vote for NOT bringing him back.
  • WHL’s Ice franchise is on the move…..again. This franchise started out here as the Edmonton Ice, which then moved to Cranbrook and became the Kootenay Ice, then moved to Winnipeg to be the Winnipeg Ice. According to the article, Winnipeg was supposed to give them a new arena as part of moving there which didn’t happen (they played at the University of Manitoba’s rink). They will now move to Washington state (Wenatchee? Where’s that?) and join the WHL’s US division.
  • In a bizarre twist of events, right D Damon Severson was signed to a crazy extension by the New Jersey Devils of $6.25 million for a max of eight years, then immediately shipped to Columbus for a third-round pick in the recently completed draft. Severson may have been the top free agent available but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to back the Brinks truck up to him. His point totals declined by 13 points from two seasons ago to last season despite the fact Severson played an extra game year after year. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen will live to regret that contract as Severson is paid about $2 million too much. He’s been a top blueliner in Jersey for years now and he’ll be 36 by the time the contract expires so he’s got some hard miles on his body. This will not age well, I guarantee it. I should know as an Oilers fan – I still remember Andrej Sekera and how quickly he declined after signing a big-money contract.