Opinion

Yay Or Nay: 2017 Oilers Free Agents

What to do, what to do. The Edmonton Oilers have a handful of both unrestricted and restricted free agents to deal with this summer and it goes without saying that all of them will not be back with the organization. So, who stays and who goes? Let’s have a look, shall we?

UFA’s:

C David Desharnais: A trade deadline acquisition, I can’t see Edmonton bringing him back. He had some solid stretches but overall, he underwhelmed. A little small and simply not enough offense. I think his best days are behind him and I’m not sure he’s a good fit with this club. Verdict: Gone

D Andrew Ference: He’s a tremendous guy, in fact that is an understatement. Injury has claimed his career and I wish him the best in retirement. A solid career for the hard-nosed rearguard and a ring in 2011 is a nice cherry on top. Verdict: Gone

D Kris Russell: I think the Oilers, especially Todd McLellan, would love to have Russell back next season. That said, he had a solid year and likely has more value than he did heading into the market a year ago. While I could be wrong, I think he is likely going to price himself out of the Oilers’ range. I don’t think Edmonton is going to be willing to give him the term he wants either. Verdict: Gone

F Matt Hendricks: Hendricks was a true warrior on the ice, but his body has worn down and his footspeed is now well below par at the NHL level. He saw no ice time in the playoffs and that, to me, is a major tell. Retirement may be in the cards for Hendricks if another team doesn’t see a need for his veteran presence. Verdict: Gone

F Anton Lander: Outside of the second half in 2014-15, Lander was never able to truly establish himself at the NHL level. Rumor has him going to Russia, and that makes a lot of sense. I think he can play in the NHL, but it is painfully obvious that the Oilers no longer value him. It’s too bad the AHL offense never translated. Verdict: Gone

D Eric Gryba: A veteran, stay-at-home defender, Gryba is a very good fit for this team. He knows his role and he plays it to perfection. It may be as a training camp invite or, if Griffin Reinhart is plucked in expansion, it might be sooner but, either way, I think the Oilers bring him back on a cheap deal. Verdict: Re-signed

G Jonas Gustavsson: A true Swedish disaster, Gustavsson was terrible in the NHL and luckluster in the AHL during this past campaign. Apparently has signed in Sweden. Verdict: Gone

F Tyler Pitlick: A dream season for Pitlick ended just before Christmas when he tore his ACL and ended up done for the year. I think he has a spot here and I believe the Oilers would love to have him back. He could be a solid offensive depth option moving forward. Verdict: Re-signed

F Justin Fontaine: Acquired in an AHL deadline deal, Fontaine is a plug-and-play winger with NHL experience. He was solid on the farm and would provide veteran leadership for the Condors while also being able to jump up to the NHL if needed. He’d be a solid low-risk signing. Verdict: Re-signed

D Jordan Oesterle: Oesterle is very close, in fact I think he is ready for an NHL job. If I were him, I’d walk as a UFA and sign with a team like Colorado or Vegas. The Oilers would be wise to sign him, especially if they lose Reinhart and/or Gryba. Verdict: Re-signed

D Mark Fraser: Total non-factor for the NHL club, but a veteran on the farm. There is a plethora of young blue-liners coming up and I’m not sure there is room for a guy like Fraser, especially if Mark Fayne is still around. Verdict: Gone

RFA’s:

F Leon Draisaitl: A core member of the Oilers, it’s just a matter of how much cash over how long. I’ll say eight years by $7 million per. Verdict: Re-signed

D Griffin Reinhart: Could be taken in the expansion draft, but if not he is likely to be the seventh defender in Edmonton. After a horrible camp, Reinhart had a solid AHL season and looked good in his lone NHL game in the postseason. Verdict: Re-signed

F Zack Kassian: Crushed his one-year “prove it” deal and is likely to be rewarded with a little term and a slight raise. Kassian is one of Edmonton’s top-nine forwards to me eyes. Third line right winger next season? Verdict: Re-signed

F Henrik Samuelsson: Barely played after coming over from Arizona in February. Almost no offense in the last two AHL seasons, likely flamed out as a prospect. Verdict: Gone

F Jujhar Khaira: Injury caused the end of his season to be a disappointment, but he had a strong year and is likely to be a full-time NHL’er next season. Would be a quality Hendricks replacement on line four. Verdict: Re-signed

F Bogdan Yakimov: Sealed his fate by heading back to the KHL. Can’t see him being a factor after posting poor numbers in Russia. Verdict: Gone

D Dillon Simpson: Looked good in a brief NHL cameo in December. One of Edmonton’s better AHL defenders in 2016-17, and he’ll likely see more NHL time this season as he keeps developing. Verdict: Re-signed

F Joey LaLeggia: Dominated as a winger after switching positions mid-season, but will it work long term? I’m not sure, but he proved he can score at the AHL level. That means something, and to me he’s earned a contract. Verdict: Re-signed

F Zach Pochiro: A decent season in the ECHL and AHL, but I don’t see a fit for him with the Oilers. Verdict: Gone

F Jere Sallinen: Next to no offense from the veteran Finnish forward. A near non-factor in the AHL this season. Verdict: Gone

G Eetu Laurikainen: He’s been harder to find than Waldo since December. Total non-factor for Norfolk of the ECHL last season. Verdict: Gone

D David Musil: Loaned to Arizona late in the season. That says it all. Verdict: Gone

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