Koekkoek, 26, became an unrestricted free agent in October when the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to make him a qualifying offer. Many were surprised by the move, as Koekkoek enjoyed a career year in 2019-20 and to the tune of just $925K as well. While Koekkoek’s numbers, both offensively and defensively, aren’t stellar, he still earned a career-high 42 games and 16:45 in average time on ice.
The tenth overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, Koekkoek certainly hasn’t lived up to expectations. However, he is still a serviceable two-way defenseman who plays with size and has good possession numbers. The Oilers also won’t be asking him to play too big of a role. Even with the season-long absence of Oscar Klefbom, Edmonton still has a veteran top four of Darnell Nurse, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, and big free agent addition Tyson Barrie, as well as promising prospects Caleb Jones and William Lagesson, not to mention unsigned RFA Ethan Bear likely to be back in the fold. Koekkoek figures to serve as an extra defender for the Oilers or potentially even a member of the newfound taxi squad, but could still prove to be a value at such a minimal salary.