The Edmonton Oilers find themselves in a very similar position to last offseason: a marginal amount of salary cap space that will immediately be eaten up by re-signing their pending restricted free agents. The highest priority among them is 23-year-old Evan Bouchard, who led all playoff defensemen in scoring with 17 points in just 12 games.
In a sitdown piece with The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said discussions have begun on a new deal for Bouchard, but the team will be “challenged” to get it done. Holland referenced last season’s one-year agreement with Ryan McLeod, and a similar one could make sense for Edmonton and Bouchard. By the time the salary cap returns to its normal year-to-year jump, Bouchard will still be under team control as a restricted free agent.
Holland also mentioned he doesn’t feel pressure to get a deal done with Bouchard by the time unrestricted free agency opens on July 1.
More from Holland on the state of the Oilers:
- As soon as Michael Andlauer entered into a purchase agreement for the Ottawa Senators yesterday, rumors began swirling about the Oilers’ current special assistant to the GM, Steve Staios, being brought in for a higher-ranking position in the Sens’ front office. Staios and Andlauer worked together for many years during their time with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Holland said he hasn’t thought about it yet, but said “it’s hard to hold them back” when rising front office stars get better opportunities elsewhere. Holland didn’t seem particularly interested in putting up a fight to keep Staios, saying he prefers to keep their current assistant GMs in place.
- Holland said he hopes to avoid a buyout this offseason when asked about the possibility but didn’t rule it out. The two most likely candidates would be wingers Kailer Yamamoto and Warren Foegele, who both have one year remaining on their contracts but carry slightly overpriced cap hits for the offense and consistency they provide. Per CapFriendly, buying out Yamamoto would save Edmonton $2.67MM next season and cost them $533,334 in 2024-25. A Foegele buyout doesn’t make as much sense, saving them less than Yamamoto in 2023-24 ($2.167MM) and costing them more in 2024-25 ($1.083MM). The NHL’s first buyout window commences tomorrow, 48 hours after the end of the Stanley Cup Final, and closes June 30 at 4 p.m. CT.
- Lastly, Holland confirmed he would qualify all of Edmonton’s remaining RFAs, save for one: Noah Philp, who Holland revealed has decided to retire after what was a tough year for him personally. Philp, 24, had his first full pro season last year, registering 37 points in 70 games with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. The University of Alberta product expressed a desire to stay closer to home in Calgary and be with his family.