Despite quite a bit of struggles over the past couple of years, the Edmonton Oilers didn’t make a significant amount of changes this offseason. Sure, the team did acquire James Neal in a swap of bad contracts, sending off Milan Lucic, but little else was done. Much of that could be due to new general manager Ken Holland who wants to see more of his team before trading pieces away carelessly.
The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell (subscription required) writes that Holland should be quite busy over the next seven months as there are plenty of opportunities to upgrade. One obvious option is to pick up a free agent or two before training camp begins. The team already signed forward Josh Archibald a few weeks ago, but could add even more talent to their bottom-six. There are several significant names still available, including Derick Brassard, Thomas Vanek, Riley Sheahan, Magnus Paajarvi and Oscar Lindberg all as possibilities.
Mitchell also points out the Oilers could look to signing some players to PTO’s as well. The team got lucky last year when it signed Alex Chiasson to a PTO and eventually signed him as he scored 22 goals last season in a breakout campaign. There are a number of interesting players out there as well that might be willing to sign a PTO, including Valeri Nichushkin, Dmitrij Jaskin and Nicolas Kerdiles.
- In the same article, Mitchell also notes that the team could find itself shopping a pair of their own players at the trade deadline as both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson will be free agents after the 2020-21 season. If the team has little interest in handing either of them long-term deals, Holland might be better served trading them in February if the team is out of the playoff race, giving a buyer a chance to get a player who can help for their playoff run, but also a full year next season. The 26-year-old Nugent-Hopkins is coming off a career-high 28 goals and 69 points last season and could generate a solid return if the Oilers opted to move him at the trade deadline. Larsson, also 26, struggled last season with a minus-28 rating, but could still prove to be a solid defensive depth addition to a playoff team.
- While Mikko Koskinen is being paid more than twice the amount of veteran backup Mike Smith, new head coach Dave Tippett says that he intends to split the minutes up between his two goaltenders equally, according to Edmonton Journal’s Derek Van Diest. The 31-year-old Koskinen was originally signed to take over full-time duties last season and will begin the first year of a three-year, $13.5MM deal, but still hasn’t proven to the team, fans or coaching that he deserves to be the team’s No. 1. “I hope they both play a similar amount of games and they’re both really good every one of them,” Tippett said at the Sixth Annual Mark Spector Golf Classic at the Quarry Golf Course on Wednesday. “Last year, I thought Koskinen looked tired. If you watch the last 20 games, he played a lot and mentally and physically, he looked tired.”
- Former Edmonton Oilers defenseman Alexander Petrovic remains unsigned, but the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson writes that he’s heard that there is interest from the rival Calgary Flames for the blue liner. The team could look to add a veteran depth defenseman like Petrovic, who just bought out Michael Stone. Petrovic, acquired in December from Florida for Chris Wideman and a 2019 third-round pick, played just nine games for the Oilers, posting a minus-seven in that time.