NHL Rumor Mill – June 7, 2022
What’s facing the Oilers in the offseason and a look at whether the Blackhawks should take Petr Mrazek off the Leafs’ hands in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE OILERS?
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis believes the warning signs were there for the Edmonton Oilers’ collapse in the Western Conference Finals. Captain Connor McDavid couldn’t do it all while fellow superstar Leon Draisaitl played that series hampered by a leg injury.
Goaltending was inconsistent as 40-year-old starter Mike Smith was brilliant in some games and struggled in others. They also didn’t get much secondary scoring against the Avalanche. Ellis wondered who else apart from McDavid and Draisaitl would’ve scored for the Oilers in this postseason if they hadn’t signed Evander Kane at midseason.
Ellis believes general manager Ken Holland must take a serious look at his roster and decide what he wants them to look like. They’ll need a goaltender with Mikko Koskinen expected to depart as an unrestricted free agent and there aren’t many options in the UFA market. Kane’s situation will be an interesting one as he’s also slated for UFA status while the defense corps needs help.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski also wondered what the Oilers will do with Kane. He meshed well with McDavid but do they sign him to a much higher cap number on a long-term contract? Forwards Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod and Jesse Puljujarvi are restricted free agents while defensemen Brett Kulak and Kris Russell are UFAs.
Wyshynski pondered what they’ll do about Smith. “He’s under contract for one more season and turns 41 in March. What do they do? What can they do?”
Until the Oilers improve the supporting cast, Wyshynski doesn’t expect much of a change in the club’s fortunes. McDavid and Draisaitl are good enough to carry this team into the playoffs and make them competitive but they need help to become a true contender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ struggled to eliminate the underdog Los Angeles Kings in a tight-checking first-round series, blew away one of the best teams in the league in the Calgary Flames, only to have their flaws exposed by a very deep and talented Avalanche club.
It would be a mistake for Holland to point to this season’s playoffs as proof that the Oilers need only minor adjustments to become a Stanley Cup contender. McDavid and Draisaitl are outstanding players but, as has been mentioned, they can’t do it all themselves.
Cap Friendly shows the Oilers with $7.1 million in cap space for 2022-23 with 15 players under contract. They’ll get $4.167 million in cap relief if necessary by placing the permanently sidelined Oscar Klefbom on long-term injury reserve.
Holland will have to get creative to find enough cap room. Even if they could get Kane signed to a discount, he’d take up a big chunk of those remaining cap dollars, leaving little to add a goaltender or address those blueline needs.
SHOULD THE BLACKHAWKS ACQUIRE MRAZEK FROM THE LEAFS?
The Leafs need to shed salary and moving Mrazek’s $3.8 million would enable them to upgrade the roster, including signing or replacing pending UFA netminder Jack Campbell. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are in full rebuild mode and would seek creative ways to utilize their cap space if it’ll help them in the long term.
Powers believes the Blackhawks would want a draft pick or prospect bundled with Mrazek. Seigel suggested the Leafs could add a second-round pick with a B-level prospect or maybe add Justin Holl to the deal to free up more cap room.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Siegel and Powers are spitballing here. We have no indication whether the Blackhawks would be interested in discussing any deal with the Leafs, let alone if Mrazek would be part of it.
Still, as they point out, the Hawks are rebuilding and Mrazek could at least provide some depth in their crease for a couple of seasons while whatever else is packaged in the return could turn into long-term assets. This proposal also gives us some idea of what it might take for the Leafs to find a club willing to take Mrazek off their hands.