Feb 2: Koekkoek has cleared waivers and can now be assigned to the minor leagues.
Koekkoek, 27, was signed to a new two-year contract in August, but has already found himself on the outside looking in for the Oilers. Originally selected 10th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012, the 6’2″ defenseman has never really been able to establish himself as a full-time NHL option.
In Edmonton, nothing changed, as Koekkoek averaged just over 11 minutes a night in his 19 appearances this season. That included recent games against the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames, but with the emergence of William Lagesson he once again found himself out of the lineup.
The fact that Koekkoek is owed $1.1MM next season–his contract carries a cap hit of $925K–might make him a very unattractive claim to teams around the NHL. If that’s enough to get him through waivers, the Oilers could potentially stash him in the AHL and bury his entire cap hit. That would give them a little more financial wiggle room with Mike Smith nearing a return from long-term injured reserve.