• Home
  • Agency
  • Lowetide: Oilers pro scouts need to do it right in free agency this summer

Lowetide: Oilers pro scouts need to do it right in free agency this summer

By on June 13, 2022 0

Professional scouting of the Edmonton Oilers and signing contracts based on professional talent viewings just aren’t enough.

This is not an idea to be put forward in order to start a discussion, it is a cold fact.

Since Ken Holland’s arrival in the spring of 2019, there have been three free agent windows, with a fourth coming in the coming weeks.

The real successes of free agents (Zach Hyman, Cody Ceci, Evander Kane) have been high profile talents that were obvious to the hockey world as solid solutions. Kudos to the management for landing them, but the talent assessment was less of a factor than a good sales job.

In the vital business of sourcing free agents on a limited budget, the organization is lost at sea. That needs to change immediately.

2019-20

Holland didn’t have much pocket money when he arrived and the organization was forced to shop in the bargain bins. Some of the names (Joakim Nygard, Gaetan Haas) were outside of the NHL types Holland would have known about from his days with the Detroit Red Wings. Others were signed due to veteran status and the availability of a team on a limited budget.

Player Sign Cape hit Results

May 2019

$925,000

2 years, depth role

July 2019

$925,000

2 years, depth role

July 2019

$1.3M

1 year, in-depth role

July 2019

$750,000

1 year, NHL and AHL

July 2019

$2.15M

2 years. top 9 role

July 2019

$3.75M

3 years, No. 1 G

July 2019

$1 million

3 years, depth role

September 2019

$900,000

1 year, in-depth role

Holland would have relied heavily on the knowledge of the remaining Oilers hockey teams to bring names like Markus Granlund and Tomas Jurco to play in front of blossoming minor league talent (Cooper Marody, Tyler Benson).

Mike Smith was the band’s most successful signing, he played three seasons and is signed for a fourth (pending any retirement announcements). Alex Chiasson was technically a re-signer (rosters are strictly UFA) but his contract had expired and Edmonton had other options. Josh Archibald is the other player in the group who has turned into a multi-year fix, albeit in a deep role.

Given the limited wiggle room and the understanding that many solutions were aimed at slowing down AHL graduations, Holland’s first free-agent summer can be considered a limited success.

It was not a summer that screamed fight for a Stanley Cup, and the urgency of the situation deserved to be confronted with a more substantial and aggressive set of solutions.

2020-21

Year 2 was much the same in terms of cap room, but it was an unusual time for the entire NHL. The first significant signing of a free agent came in October, due to the late Stanley Cup playoffs and pandemic issues.

The urgency to resolve the problems in a substantial way remains. In his second offseason, Holland had more money and attempted to resolve the long-term goaltending situation before switching back to Smith. The dollars landed elsewhere in the 2020 offseason, and a goalie fix was signed, then lost.

Player Sign Cape hit Results

April 2020

$925,000

THE H

October 2020

$1 million

1 year, in-depth role

October 2020

$1.65M

2 years, part-time role

October 2020

$700,000

Lost to Waivers

October 2020

$4.5M

2 years, main role

October 2020

$1.5M

No. 1G

November 2020

$975,000

Disappointing

December 2020

$850,000

2 years, bangs D

January 2021

$700,000

2 years, depth role

Tyson Barrie hedged the bet for two seasons. It was a less than ideal solution, due to Evan Bouchard being on the roster and the youngster replicating the skills of the veteran. Holland responded by signing a negotiable agreement in Barrie.

Smith is a constant throughout this piece, but the 2020-21 regular season numbers were quality. The free agent deal, a one-year fix at reasonable dollars, was valuable and helped the team make the playoffs.

The absolute shame of this crop of free agents is the loss of Anton Forsberg, who had a solid season with the Ottawa Senators in 2021-22.

Dominik Kahun had a fantastic opportunity to build an NHL home in Edmonton, but delivered an uneven season.

Overall, Holland solved some problems but didn’t tackle the goalkeeper, scoring on the wings and there were still holes in defense. Progress was there in some areas, but the build didn’t feel like a stepping stone to a Stanley Cup.

2021-22

Holland finally had some real money to spend in the 2021 offseason. Needs included an upgrade on the top line (wing), a more consistent goalie, and help on defense. The blue line became more necessary when veteran stop defenseman Adam Larsson moved to the Seattle Kraken during the expansion process.

Hollande could spend, but the holes were bigger than expected in the organization.

Player Sign Cape hit Results

July 2021

$5.5M

Impact in the role of the feature

July 2021

$3.25M

Quality in the role of functionality

July 2021

$1.25M

Solid role in depth

August 2021

$750,000

NHL and AHL

October 2021

$750,000

NHL and AHL

January 2022

$2.109M*

Impact in the role of the feature

Hyman’s contract is long, but the first year has been exceptional and has given the team a much-needed boost in important areas. His 27 goals were the most by a pure Oilers winger in many years.

Kane made a huge impact for just over $1 million (his contract was cut in half as he joined the team mid-season).

This delivered quality and landed a supernova top pair with Darnell Nurse.

This summer

Holland had plenty of money and delivered three outstanding free agents. If every year went this well, the Oilers would consistently win championships. A single contract was north of $5 million, but Kane’s deal was unique and cannot be duplicated every year.

That brings us to this summer. The track record of professional scouting isn’t as strong as it needs to be for Edmonton to build a championship. Holland prefers to build through free agency, but there are no signed value deals for less than $3 million.

Looking for valuable offers

The Holland Oilers advanced to the final four of the NHL playoffs, and his work in free agency helped with that. Based on the excellent work done by Shayna Goldman and Dom Luszczyszyn for Athleticismthere are five contracts that have delivered more than $1 million more in real value than their price: Hyman, Kane, Ceci, Smith and Derek Ryan.

The 2022-23 Oilers will need more value deals no matter what happens at the top with Kane and others.

What did last year’s contracts in value look like?

There were several that looked like the signing of defenseman Mike Reilly by the Boston Bruins. Acquired at the 2021 trade deadline by the Ottawa Senators, Reilly was signed for a significant raise ($3 million AAV is double his previous annual cap) and delivered a solid game for the Bruins in a field that needed them.

A parallel could be made with the Oilers’ current situation with Brett Kulak, acquired at the deadline from the Montreal Canadiens.

Michael Bunting is another invaluable player after a stellar season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The scoring spike was somewhat predictable (he scored 10 goals for the Arizona Coyotes in 21 games in 2020-21), but the key is to grab quality as soon as it’s available.

Edmonton would benefit from an analysis service in this area, it would make life easier for Holland. It’s much easier to task three or four math players with hockey knowledge to find the next Reilly or Bunting than to sit down with professional scouts who can give a general manager a solid scouting report on specific games. , but which do not provide a statistical overview of a season or several seasons. .

A possible target list

It’s been a good year for free agency, and there’s room for a savvy general manager. If the Oilers sign Kane, there will be very little wiggle room elsewhere.

If Holland decides to step down from Kane and pursue another goalscorer, the team might be able to meet multiple needs on a limited budget.

Player Cap 2021-22 Role

$2.5M

High end 6F

$1.645M

Two way winger

$1.35M

Skill F with a little courage

$1.05M

Competence, great utility

$800,000

Front line winger

$41M

Rugged Top Pair D

$1.3M

Compete against the elites on 2nd pair

$900,000

Solid two-way player

$1.65M

He’s an NHL starter

$1.25M

4 great seasons in a row

$750,000

Quality season

It could be a plan to keep the powder dry in the early hours of free will.

There will be good deals this year. Professional scouts need to know if Vinnie Hinostroza can play on the third line with Warren Foegele and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Professional scouts need to know if Mark Pysyk can help or if paying a little more for Kulak is the best plan.

Is Jack Campbell worth the price? Or does Casey DeSmith at a better price make more sense, especially if Nick Paul can also be signed and fit under the cap?

It’s going to be a fascinating season for free agents. Expect some loud noises, but let’s hope they come on day 2.

The Oilers need valuable contracts in free agency. The days of Lennart Petrell and Gaetan Haas are long gone. Surely.

(Photo by Brett Kulak: Sergei Belski/USA Today)

  Agency