Kurt Leavins of The Edmonton Journal writes that he has been hearing that the Edmonton Oilers and restricted free-agent center Ryan McLeod were closing in on a new contract, but that the goalposts might have moved. What exactly that means is unclear and Leavins doesn’t speculate in the article, however, according to Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun, the Oilers have been trying to sign McLeod to a contract with a cap hit of around $2MM and with the arbitration ruling for Philipp Kurashev, they might be looking at a higher number. Kurashev received $2.25MM in his arbitration ruling and given McLeod’s track record he has a good case for a number north of that.
Couple that piece of information with the news that Leavins believes that the Oilers could be looking to bring in some centers on PTOs before training camp and it is a development that isn’t overly encouraging for Oilers fans. However, it doesn’t change the fact that McLeod and the Oilers are set to go to arbitration on August 4th and there are no guarantees of a higher salary for McLeod. He will be pencilled into the lineup once that ruling comes down, meaning there isn’t a threat of him not being signed.
McLeod hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in his first three seasons in the league, but this past season was his best thus far as he posted 11 goals and 12 assists in 57 games while posting a Corsi For % of 53.8%, meaning that the Oilers were controlling the puck more than half the time McLeod was on the ice. The 23-year-old has improved in every season since he started in the NHL and could be just scratching the surface of what he can be.
In other Oilers notes:
- As mentioned above Leavins believes the Oilers are looking at improving their center depth, and while bringing in centers on a PTO is an option, Leavins also thinks that Edmonton will look at a possible in-season trade as another solution. The Oilers won’t have a ton of cap space (if any) after they sign their remaining restricted free agents, which is likely why Leavins mentions Jake Evans of the Montreal Canadiens and Nic Dowd of the Washington Capitals as possible targets. Dowd has two years left on his current deal at $1.3MM while Evans also has two years remaining and is owed $1.7MM in each of the next two years.
- Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun writes that he believes the Oilers have dodged a bullet and he doesn’t expect an offer sheet to come this late in the off-season for restricted free-agent defenseman Evan Bouchard. That’s good news for Oilers fans, but it also isn’t all that surprising given the rarity in which offer sheets are utilized. Leavins wrote today that he believes the Oilers and Bouchard are close to a deal but doesn’t give any details. Given the Oilers tight cap situation it does seem highly likely that they will sign a bridge deal with their budding defenseman which could open the door for him to sign a very lucrative extension soon should he continue to quarterback the league’s best power play. Bouchard had eight goals and 32 assists this past season in 82 games, but just 13 of his 40 regular season points came with the man advantage. In the playoffs, it was a different story as Bouchard had four goals and 11 assists on the power play in just 12 playoff games.