The Edmonton Oilers have the chance to add 4 players in the first two rounds of the draft this year. Among them is one of the highest acclaimed players of our generation. If he lives up to that hype or not, he will be expected when the Oilers are shopping to fill holes in their roster.
I think the Oilers might be in one of the most unique positions in NHL history. In a time where draft picks are highly sought after, the Oilers don't NEED anymore prospects. Instead they need people that can make an impact now as their team is pretty deep with first round picks that seem ripe to have their best seasons under all new management.
Of course this is all just conjecture at this time but regardless if this is true or if this happens soon, there is a growing number of people that think it will since they won the draft lottery.
The Oilers are now deep at center for the first time in a while. 6'3 power forward Leon Draisaitl (3rd overall in last years draft) looks to be a lock for the team. However that leaves them with an extra center. Lander had a great season in the AHL and could very well be a great anchor on the third line allowing the Oilers to move Leon to wing or let him play one more year in the minors. Leon coming off a great year with Kelowna appears to be arguably the best forward in the WHL this year so most people would assume that keeping him in the minors is not needed.
With their top 9 six forwards (ignore line combinations as they will change):
Hall RNH Eberle
Draisaitl McDavid Nail
Purcell Lander Pouliot
The potential of these players is not yet fully known as the team has never been in the running for the playoffs since any of these players were added. With the average age of their top line being in the early 20's, these 9 have a good 15 - 20 years left. That gives the Oilers a long time to develop new players down the road.
With the lack of need for rookies and the Oilers huge need for a starting goalie and a top 2 dman; the Oilers might be in an extremely unique position to sign a player to an offer sheet.
The things to consider with the offer sheet. The player they want needs to sign it first of all. Another thing to consider is that the Oilers have a fair amount of Cap space to go after the two spots they want filled.
There are many reasons a player would sign an offer sheet with the Oilers. The largest one is negotiating power. We saw this with Vanek, Penner and Kessel to name a few. Vanek signed with Edmonton knowing Buffalo would have to pay him a substantial more than he would have been able to negotiate on his own. Kessel might not have had the same motivation but Boston let him go as the three first round picks they received instead were worth more to them.
On top of this Edmonton's young core is not only noticed by scouts and GM's but also by players. People who want to play with a team that arguably has the brightest long term future. Add this to a brand new arena, new management and one of the NHL's wealthiest owners; this becomes more attractive as the years go by.
To get a top 2 dman or a top tender by offer sheet the Oilers would have to pay a large price. Still the thing to consider is that the Oilers have traditionally had to pay more than a player was worth to sign UFA's so this is an inevitability anyways. The Oilers can really only go after one player unless they are rejected and find a player still eligible but that is not likely.
The Oilers will most likely have to pay in the higher end of the offer sheet table, namely:
Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 First-round and third-round choice
Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 First-round, second-round and third-round choice
Over $6,728,781 to $8,410,976 Two first-round choices, one second- and one third-round
The Oilers are in a great position that they could do without these picks as there is really no way to add more young players for a couple of years either way.
So who do they target? I guess Oiler's management can work that out but among the names that would certainly be batted around in the very least are:
Regardless of my preference for Holtby the Oilers best bet is to go after a player whose team has cap troubles or is rebuilding. Bernier could have a contract not matched as Toronto might covet the picks.
Washington has 20 mil + in cap space but they also have to add 10 more players making the average salary per player roughly 2 mil.
SJ has 2.5 million per player to spend and COULD match any price Edmonton offers. Dillon is young but would be worth considering at the right price.
Boston has roughly 900k per player left to spend and they need to add 7 players. Tough order if Edmonton offers anything over 4 mil for Hamilton. The Oilers signed Nikitan last year for 4.5 so it wouldn't be surprising if they were willing to pay Hamilton in that ball park. Boston with roughly 6 mil in cap space would have to sign 6 players with 1-2 mil if they matched the offer sheet which is impossible due to the minimum salary players are allowed to receive.
Seeing a serious lack of other possibilities in terms of UFA and the only other option to fill these holes is by trade. The Oilers will be looking to do this regardless. The question is, how much is a goalie like Holtby worth in Salary. If the Oilers found another goalie, salaries look to be increasing steadily over the next few years.
Would 6.7 mil be too much for Edmonton to get a starter? Two years ago I would say yes but looking to the future, I am thinking that this will be the cost of one anyways. The Oilers would have to give up their First 3 picks next year if the offer sheet wasn't matched. However with the addition of the new management and players like McDavid, the Oilers could be a playoff team next year and that would make the picks a lot less valuable.
The Oilers still have players in the system that look like they will make the team and they are not hurting for youth. They might be the perfect team to try to acquire a player by offer sheet.
In the end, what other choice do they have?
If they go for a player by trade.
Arizona has Def to spare and needs to sign 13 players with little budget.
The blues have a potential extra goalie in terms of Elliot but he would be a gamble unless it was a 1A and 1B tandem. They do however have a fair number of dmen with an average 1.7 mil per player to sign 8 players. However I am guessing that they don't want to part with any of their top 4 dmen.
Rangers have some really good dmen and 1.3 mil to spend per person. Among the players they would most likely try to keep are Stepan and St. Louis.
Boston, Chicago, Vancouver and Tampa all have decent dmen and all of them have an average salary per player between 530K and 885k. There is the potential for trades or buyouts. With Tampa and Chicago doing amazing in the playoffs, their dmen would most likely be the hardest to acquire. Vancouver is a division rivalry but a trade with them might make the most sense. They have some highly paid dmen with Hamhuis and Bieksa being UFA's after this season. Not just that but they don't look like they will have the cap room to resign them.
The Oilers needs are obvious. These two holes will need to be filled at some point. Despite the odds being against the Oilers making the playoffs, I think salaries will be lower this year than next.