According to Allan Mitchell of The Athletic, if the Edmonton Oilers expect to keep all of their restricted free agent forwards for next season, and sign Evander Kane to a long-term extension, sacrifices will need to be made. Among them, trading a few key pieces off of the roster, and possibly the cost associated to a potential breakout season by one of their young wingers.
Mitchell wonders if the Oilers can re-sign Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, and Ryan McLeod, all while getting Kane inked to a long-term deal. Writing, “Kane’s performance on the [Connor] McDavid line, as is the case with Puljujarvi, makes him a priority,” he added, “If the Oilers are going to win the Stanley Cup during the McDavid-Draisaitl-Nurse window, Kane or someone with a similar skill set should be on the procurement list.”
Oilers forwards McLeod Kane Puljujarvi Yamamoto
Puljujarvi hasn’t been scoring a ton, but he’s doing a bunch of other things well and has been an effective player since returning from injury. Kane has slowed down a torrid scoring pace since joining the Oilers as a free agent signing this season but he’s also been a fantastic addition. McLeod has taken steps to become a regular and effective NHL player and Yamamoto seems to have found his rhythm and is having consistently strong outings.
The Oilers are going to want to try and lock Puljujarvi into a long-term deal so as to avoid him breaking out offensively and removing any chance of a value deal. Mitchell adds that Kane could probably be signed to a four-year extension, but a cap hit similar to that of Zach Hyman’s ($5.5 million per season) isn’t that ridiculous. Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod could be signed to shorter-term deals but the Oilers will still need to make moves to make it all work.
What Would Edmonton Need to Sacrifice?
Mitchell writes that the Oilers would likely need to trade Tyson Barrie and deal or buy out Zack Kassian. That’s just for starters. From there, management would need to be comfortable running with youth like Stuart Skinner in goal, Philip Broberg, and Markus Niemelainen on the blue line and with Dylan Holloway as a forward). Even if all of those things are acceptable, GM Ken Holland would have to know he won’t have much room to deal with injuries or to add at the NHL Trade Deadline if the Oilers feel they’re in the thick of things.
Is it worth it?
The Oilers have Evan Bouchard to fill in for Tyson Barrie. That’s not a huge issue. Kassian offers toughness, but not consistently. Some would argue that Holloway is already an upgrade, even though he hasn’t played a single NHL game. A number of fans are itching for Skinner to finally get his shot and letting Mikko Koskinen walk isn’t going to be the end of the world.
It’s all certainly doable, but much of what the Oilers are thinking might changed based on how their playoff run goes.
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