Random Thoughts: NHL Free Agency Edition
Now that we’ve gone through the first two days of Free Will, I thought it was the perfect time to bang my head on the keyboard and clear my brain of the random thoughts floating around.
HOT DUTCH SUMMER
When Zack Kassian was traded to Arizona and Duncan Keith’s retirement was cut short by Pierre LeBrun, the first thing that came to mind was how the Oilers suddenly found themselves with a healthy dose of heading space. The second thing I thought about was how the hell Ken Holland was going to spend it. In my mind, I imagined max-length contracts and dizzying successes for aging veterans that would anchor us down the line. Instead, we actually got a series of decent bets from Ken (Brad?) Holland on players who can help while leaving more than enough room to take care of what’s left on his to-do list. internal. If he can add a trade for another defender or sign one like Mark Pysyk who can close the gap, it would be hard not to give him an “A” for the job he has done so far. Obviously we are still months away from seeing what the finished team will look like and how they will perform on the ice, but I am impressed with what has been done so far and wanted to thank Old Dutch for serving from the crow to a group of us who expected the worst.
EVANDER KANE STICKS AROUND
I said it in the live blog and I’m saying it again here now: I didn’t expect Evander Kane to be an Edmonton Oilers in the 2022-23 season. So when I woke up Wednesday morning and saw he had renewed for a discounted rate – he said it was a discount but I’m not so sure – I was pleasantly surprised to seeing that a guy who filled the net for the Oilers this past season would be back for the foreseeable future. But now that the contract is signed, I want to see how long we’re going to get the better behavior from the guy compared to the one that caused Byfuglien to throw his clothes in the shower. We’ve all read the stories of his last NHL games and needless to say, that’s not the kind of energy we need, which makes this signing and his commitment to being a “team guy”. all the more important. On the ice, I’m thrilled to have Kane riding the shotgun with McDavid again, and hope that success includes staying together off the ice. Does it make sense to be cautiously optimistic? That’s how I feel about this one.
SHOW US WHAT YOU HAVE
I will say publicly that I am very happy to have Jack Campbell on board as our new goalie. As much as some Leafs fans say the Oilers overpaid in dollars and terms, I see this signing as Ken Holland locking in one of the best goaltenders available and paying what was needed to get the job done. Not to mention that some of these complaints are more like shooting an ex for whatever really happened. Also, most free agent signings are a bit too much for a bit too long, but even so, I think Campbell is a guy who will make the team better. Last season, Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen recorded save percentages of .915 and .903 respectively, making Campbell’s .914 – a tally recorded even after a disastrous streak of games for him post-injury – a reasonable bet. to be equal to or better than what we’ve had in the net in the past. To their credit, when Smith and Koskinen were at their best, both guys were very good for the Oilers. But on the other side of the coin, the lows each guy struggled with between those flashes of brilliance were often painful, and hopefully Campbell’s inevitable struggles won’t be so punitive. Still, while it’s nice for me to believe that Campbell is going to be outplayed in goal, it’ll be up to him to show it. And with $25 million coming in to make it happen, I’ll be fascinated to see how he handles the workload and pressure of being the Edmonton Oilers’ newest goaltender. Welcome to Edmonton, Jack.
BRETT KULAK RULES
When word got out that Brett Kulak would be testing free agency, I was really disappointed because I thought there was no way more teams weren’t gagging for his services. Like Kane, Kulak took the time to see what other opportunities were available to him and I was afraid he would find the grass greener elsewhere. A mobile defender who can move up in order, Kulak for four more years at $2.75 million is the kind of value deal I absolutely love to see for a guy who I think can be a real difference factor. The Oilers need defensemen who can skate and defend and I have no doubt in my mind after watching the guy play 18 games plus the playoffs that Kulak will help the Oilers keep the pucks out of their own net.
Come on, Greg.
If Greg McKegg doesn’t wear #69 in Edmonton, we riot. pic.twitter.com/lfT1eYdddN
— Baggedmilk (@jsbmbaggedmilk) July 13, 2022
Bring it back. Do it for the memes.
Better Milk Than Never Free Agency Show
On the new episode of Better Milk Than Never, I gave my thoughts on everything Ken Holland did on day one of free agency, including my surprise that Evander Kane is more than a one-off addition to our top six. Subscribe for FREE to Better Milk Than Never on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and wherever you get your podcasts.