Lowetide: 10 free agents for Edmonton Oilers to target this summer


The Edmonton Oilers’ cap situation is dire.

There are 15 players signed, with over $75 million committed cap, leaving just over $7 million to sign seven players. Three RFAs (Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod) are awaiting raises and the organization has expressed interest in re-signing winger Evander Kane and defender Brett Kulak.

Based on this information, it is likely that expensive veterans will move over the summer.

Goalkeeper Mike Smith and defender Duncan Keith will contact the club around July 1 to give general manager Ken Holland an idea of ​​their future. If both retire, an additional $7.5 million will be added to the pool of money available to free agents, with 13 signed players taking over the $68 million cap.

It’s an exercise in futility until Smith and Keith give notice, but management can take steps to free up some cash. Veteran signed Tyson Barrie, Warren Foegele and Zack Kassian should be available to teams interested in a trade, especially if Holland can fire them without taking big contracts in return.

Regardless of how one views the current situation, the organization will have to be frugal in free will. The talent pool is deep this summer, which means there should be savings down every aisle in free agency. Edmonton can reasonably get a big contract, with the rest being in the second or third tier. Here are 10 free agents that make sense for the Oilers this year.

The high end

1. L. G. Evander Kane, Edmonton Oilers

Holland will attempt to bring Kane back; the great winger’s outstanding performance (22 goals and 39 points in 43 games) deserves a nice boost this summer.

There are unusual circumstances, including the current contract issue with the San Jose Sharks who may not be resolved until free agency begins. If Kane is free to sign anyone this summer, things could well go beyond Edmonton’s outer limit for the free agent in a hurry. If a shorter deal (three or four years) works out, the Oilers might be willing to make a competitive offer and then offload the contracts to make the money work.

Kane is a combination of power forward, enforcer and finisher and in his 43 games with the Oilers, he has delivered on the front line five-for-five. Here are the numbers (via Natural Stat Trick) for Kane and Connor McDavid with the two young right wingers at five-for-five in 2021-22:

Line Minutes Goals-60 Sharing goals









The temptation will be great for Edmonton. Kane’s performance last season was Milan Lucic’s expectation when he was signed by former Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli in the summer of 2016.

2.G Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs

The Oilers may buy in Toronto for the second straight summer, after Zach Hyman was robbed in 2021 free agency with another big signing. Goaltender Jack Campbell has a lot to recommend him. Edmonton needs a veteran goaltender with a long record of puck-stopping success, and Campbell’s NHL career is holding up well. Those numbers are five to five.

Year Games save percent GAA

















Campbell can’t sign in Toronto; there’s a tightening of camp and a disappointing playoff streak might be enough for the organization to move on. By the numbers above, however, he is a consistent goalkeeper who has delivered solid performances over the past four seasons.

From the start of the season to Dec. 14 (he was placed on the COVID list on Dec. 18), Campbell played in 23 games, posting a 1.77 goals-against average and .942 save percentage.

From January 1 to the end of the regular season, Campbell played in 26 games, dropping badly in five-on-five save percentage (.895) and goals-against average (3.18).

There is some risk, but Campbell just turned 30 and has been consistent for several years. A small sample like the playoffs or even a midseason swing followed by a recovery (he would post a .927 five-on-five save percentage in his final nine games of the regular season) isn’t enough to sink his CV this summer.

If Campbell is the target, the Oilers are shopping in the right place.

3. LW Mason Marchment, Florida Panthers

Mason Marchment had a great season (54 games, 18-29-47) on a one-year, $880,000 contract. His five-for-five 60 points (3.42) and five-for-five goal share (68%) were exceptional, and he reached free agency with a stunning resume.

Add his skills (a big man with good hands who can make room for his teammates) to those numbers and offers from NHL teams will be pouring in. Edmonton may not get this player, but an aggressive early offer in free agency could get his attention.

There’s always a risk with a player starting at 26, but Marchment was the whole package last season and it’s impossible to ignore.

4. G Ville Husso, St. Louis Blues

Ville Husso could be the number one target for Edmonton. He is younger than Campbell (turned 27 in February). He may have more teams chasing because of this.

The concern over Husso relates to a very small NHL resume that includes half of 2020-21 and all of 2021-22. It’s not a massive sample and spending $5 million a year on a maybe is the kind of thing that gets a CEO fired. Still, the lack of alternatives means that several teams will offer Husso a rich contract.

His numbers outside the NHL show a solid goalie dating back to his junior years in Finland. These are global numbers, including all game states.

Years League generalist save percent GAA
















Finland’s save percentage points to a bright future, but the AHL’s totals are modest. Stuart Skinner, Edmonton’s likely backup goaltender in 2022-23, has a .906 career save percentage in the AHL and has posted a .920 save percentage this season.

Edmonton, like all other NHL teams looking for a goaltender, must consider Husso due to his excellent work during the 2021-22 regular season. There are a lot of risks involved, but the ability to solve the goalkeeping dilemma is a major chore this summer. Husso could be Edmonton’s answer.

Average level

5. L.A. Andreas Athanasiou, Los Angeles Kings

At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and with just four penalty minutes in the 2021-22 season (11-6-17 in 28 games), Andreas Athanasiou would be a strong candidate for the Oilers in a scoring role. He won’t replace Kane’s physical game, but is a volume shooter (71 shots) and had a great scoring season. He’s scored 1.18 of 60 goals and 1.85 of 60 points five-for-five and should be affordable in the midrange of free agency.

6.G Braden Holtby, Dallas Stars

Holtby’s name has been linked to the Oilers in the past. If the club is to achieve free agency with limited dollars, Holtby might be the best candidate. His last four five-on-five seasons show wild inconsistency, with last year’s numbers as a member of the Dallas Stars representing an impressive recovery.

Year Games save percent GAA

















Holtby turns 33 in September and the days of 73 games in a season are long gone. If the Oilers lose retired Smith this summer, Holtby would be a reasonable replacement. That doesn’t fix the long-term goalie problem, but gives the team a veteran who can contribute in 2022-23.

7. DL Brett Kulak, Edmonton Oilers

Kulak was a deadline-lease buyout for the Oilers, and he’s done so well that there’s a chance he’ll be back in the fall with a new contract. His shooting share (55%) and goal share (57%) after leaving the Montreal Canadiens were quality, and his foot speed and carrying ability added some much-needed pace to the third pair. He also played successfully shorthanded for Edmonton. The Oilers have a plethora of young left-handed defensemen, but Kulak can play either side and mentor younger players. He would also be a candidate to move up the depth chart if he signs.

8. G Eric Comrie, Winnipeg Jets

Eric Comrie played in 19 games during the 2021-22 season, posting a .920 save percentage and a 2.58 goals-against average. He’s slightly undersized (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) for the NHL and has come a long way to professional success, but the past season has been solid for the young goaltender. If Winnipeg doesn’t sign him, Edmonton would be well advised to make an offer.

The cheap level

9. LW AJ Greer, New Jersey Devils

If the Oilers are unable to sign Kane, then checking up to Marchment is the next best move. After that, a trade is the most likely scenario, but it’s also possible that Edmonton could be left out of the daunting draw. AJ Greer isn’t a top-six option, but he’s a big forward (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) who can skate well and brings some intimidation. His five-on-five possession numbers last season were impressive. After a lengthy audition for the NHL, partly due to injuries, he seems to have turned a corner (in a small sample). It would be worth a contract.

10. AG Maxim Mamin, Florida Panthers

Maxim Mamin is probably the least famous 6-foot-2, 206-pound winger in the NHL, but that will change in the years to come. He went 7-7-14 in 40 games for the Panthers and could re-sign with the club before free agency. He has a strong two-way game and is an excellent passer. His salary from a year ago ($975,000) is going up, but he would be a bargain even with a significant raise.


Edmonton needs a goaltender and has a limited free agent budget. After Kane’s decision, expect the Oilers to aggressively pursue a real solution. If a trade scenario arises, the club could be relieved to get out of a risky pool of free agents.

Marchment and Mamin would be solid options, but competition will also be stiff for late attackers.

It’s possible Holland will sign Kulak, finish Holtby and shop on the trade market for a power winger to replace Kane.

(Photo by Evander Kane: Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today)


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