There are only a handful of restricted free agents left to sign and it appears as though at least one will come off the board rather soon. Ryan McLeod was at the Edmonton Oilers practice facility to undergo his preseason medical testing, and general manager Ken Holland told reporters including Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic that he hopes the young forward will be on the ice tomorrow.
McLeod, 23, scored 21 points in 71 games as a rookie last season and was a strong defensive presence in the playoffs, averaging more than 14 minutes a night and adding four points. Selected 40th overall in 2018, his emergence as a legitimate option down the middle of the ice is a huge reason why the Oilers lineup looks deeper than it has in years. Holland expects to sign McLeod to a one-year deal because of cap restraints.
- The team is currently over the salary cap, but as expected, Mike Smith will join Oscar Klefbom on long-term injured reserve to start the year. Smith took his physical this week and failed, according to Holland, and has now returned to his home in Kelowna. Smith, 40, is heading into the final year of his contract and is not expected to play professional hockey again.
- Slater Koekkoek, meanwhile, has left the Oilers for a different reason. The 28-year-old defenseman has left the team for the time being to work on his mental health but still has the goal of returning at some point. Holland and the entire organization are in full support of Koekkoek’s decision. In his absence – and that of Cody Ceci, who will miss the first few days with a hamstring strain – the team brought in Jason Demers on a professional tryout.