Making Decisions on Restricted Free Agents for Edmonton Oilers

Ken Holland has to make some decisions this summer.

The Edmonton Oilers’ sweep of the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference final suggests the team needs to make improvements in order to hold onto the league’s elite, but, unlike last summer, there isn’t much room for salary to work properly currently.

There are five free agents on Edmonton’s roster, three of them are founding NHLers while two are important players, and the Netherlands needs to decide which of them will return, if any of them will be offered a long-term deal, and if someone can help the team by being part from trade.

Announcement – Continue reading below

for this week What are you going to do Wednesday Thursday edition Question, let’s go and determine the best course of action with RFAs in Edmonton.

Six years after being selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2016 draft, Tyler Benson has yet to establish himself as an NHL player. He has proven everything he can at AHL level but hasn’t been able to make an impact in the major tournaments.

Last season, Benson played 29 games for the Oilers, scoring one goal and one assist. He was pretty much playing in the fourth streak and neither Dave Tippett nor Jay Woodcroft appeared interested in giving him too much of a run on one of the team’s skill streaks. Benson authorized the waivers in March and ended the 2021-22 season in the AHL.

Announcement – Continue reading below

After concluding the entry contract, Benson signed a two-way, one-year deal last summer. If he returns, we can expect another two-way deal in which Benson comes in as an AHL veteran providing depth to the NHL club, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Oilers let Benson go so he can try to find a better opportunity elsewhere.

Ken Holland signed up with Brendan Berlini last summer as a reclamation project to see if the 12th public pick from the 2014 draft could give oil companies some deep points. Berlini did well in the training camp, scoring five goals in five pre-season games, but that success did not translate as he only managed to score four goals in 23 regular season games.

Perlini has a good skill set, but the fact that he doesn’t manage to play a checker or take a penalty shootout makes it difficult to play a fourth or extra attacker. Since he was not called up as one of Edmonton’s black ace during qualifying, it’s safe to say the Oilers would go ahead and not give Berlin a qualifying bid.

No one in the Oilers has improved from the start of the regular season to the end of the playoff round more than Ryan McLeod.

He came to training camp fighting for a spot on the roster and spent time in the AHL early in the season, but by the time the playoffs began, McLeod had established himself as a reliable third-line center and a solid choice among the top six on the wing.

Now at the end of his entry-level deal, McLeod has already established himself as a legitimate player in the NHL. The question now is how far it will develop and whether it will work its way into the Oilers’ long-term plans.

Announcement – Continue reading below

The standard path forward for a player like McLeod after his entry-level contract is a two-year bridge deal. It gives the team a high-quality player on a cheap contract who is still in control of the team when the deal expires and gives the player two seasons to establish himself before returning and seeking a bigger deal.

It seems inevitable that one of these two young wings will be traded.

On the Daily Faceoff, Frank Seravalli listed “One of Jesse Bolgojarvi or Keeler Yamamoto” at number 16 on the off-season trade goals board…

Scoop: It’s a safe bet that one of these two players won’t return to the Oilers next season. Both are fan favorites. But both require new deals, both of which are likely to be increases, and GM Ken Holland acknowledged Edmonton will have to monitor every dollar. “Am I willing to trade some assets in a deal that makes us better? Yes I am,” Holland said on Wednesday. Edmonton’s preference would likely be to keep Yamamoto, but he would yield a greater return.

Puljujarvi had a hard time with the entry deal and returned to Finland when it expired. Although the disgruntled No. 4 public pick asked for a deal, the Netherlands remained patient and eventually got Puljujarvi to sign a two-year deal worth $1.15 million in the summer of 2020.

During these two years, Puljujarvi put forward very divisive results. His basic numbers are impressive and he has won praise for playing off the puck, but he’s also only managed 29 goals in 120 games and skeptics don’t see a player who can consistently score goals at the NHL level.

Announcement – Continue reading below

With another two years of team control remaining before he becomes a UFA member, signing with Puljujarvi on an inexpensive one-year deal looks like a good play for the Oilers. He has refereeing rights, but he won’t get a big salary for 14 goals and 36 points per season.

Daniel Nugent Hopkins of The Athletic Bolgojarvi listed it as the most likely bidder to trade a few days ago…

Holland put the hockey world in the know a couple of weeks ago when he said he had a decision to make with Puljujarvi. The right winger has a lot of hope and has great base numbers. He also produced a clip with a score of 0.55 points per game.

However, his production fell off a cliff in the 2022 part of the season and he could become a free agent within two years. The Oilers could be looking for a more established player at a certain cost to replace him.

In the same article, Nugent Baumann suggests that the Oilers will prioritize bringing back Yamamoto, as he has produced at a higher rate of six and kills penalties…

Amid a cover crunch, it may be hard for the Oilers to hold on. At the same time, management allocates nearly $3 million – and maybe a little more – for the first six suites. That’s not much for someone who plays that role and appears in both special teams. Woodcroft described Yamamoto as a “common request as a streak” at the end of the regular season. Combine that with an excellent second half that led to a season of 20 goals and the odds of Yamamoto’s return.

Yamamoto signed a one-year deal last summer after the last season of his entry contract was poor. He got off to a slow start but started to thrive when the Oilers changed coaches in February and eventually scored 20 goals and 41 points in 81 games.

Given his production, Yamamoto will be able to get more and more contract in the trade from Puljujarvi.

Announcement – Continue reading below

What do you say, nation? What RFAs Should Be Returned? Should Oilers Offer Any Long-Term Contracts This Summer? Can you replace any of these players with an upgrade elsewhere? Let’s know!

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