The Tyson Barrie signing signals a shift in market conditions for the Edmonton Oilers: 9 Things

The Tyson Barrie signing signals a shift in market conditions for the Edmonton Oilers: 9 Things

Author of the article:

Kurt Leavins

Publishing date:

Oct 11, 2020  •   •  6 minute read

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland talks to the Lindsay family during the public visitation of Ted Lindsay at Little Caesars Arena on March 8, 2019 in Detroit. Photo by Dave Reginek-Pool /Getty Images

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Entering the weekend, Oilers General Manager Ken Holland had 4 boxes left to dob on his 2020-21 off-season BINGO card.

By Saturday night, all 4 squares had been filled…one of them with a very pleasant surprise indeed.

And in the process, Holland may have done more than merely round out his roster. The franchise itself may have taken a vital, transitional step forward.

I’ll explain in this week’s edition of…

9 Things

9. Oilers prospect Matt Cairns will play his Sr. season at Minnesota-Duluth, moving over from Cornell. Drafted 3rd Round (84th overall) in 2016, Cairns has not added any substantial offence to a solid defensive game. And the clock is ticking. The club will have to decide on Cairns this August.

8. Arguably the Oilers top long-term goaltending prospect, Olivier Rodrigue has been loaned to the Austrian Hockey League for the 2020-21 season. Hard to imagine how that’s a bad thing for his first full year of pro hockey. Rodrique finished near the top of the QMJHL in numerous categories for goaltenders including a .918 SV%.

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7. For the first time in the history of the franchise, the Oilers took all forwards in the NHL draft. It does feel like a “wait-and-see” crop. 1st Rounder Dylan Holloway projects as a solid, 2-way, Bottom-6 player but not exactly a sexy pick. And with no 2nd Rounder and the 3rd Round pick traded down, 5 of the clubs 6 picks ended up in the 4th Round or lower. Skilled Saint Albert-born Carter Savoie (100th overall) is perhaps the most tantalizing of them all.

6. Newly re-signed winger Tyler Ennisis already back skating from the broken leg he suffered during the play-in. That’s earlier than expected and given that the NHL may not get going until January-February, there should be no problem with him being ready. If they get the same player for $1m that showed up in Edmonton after the deadline, it’ll be a nice bargain. And Ennis is versatile: He can play all 3 forward positions, up and down the lineup. Solid signing.

5. Top Oilers Defence prospect Philip Broberg is off to just a glittering start to his season with Skelleftea of the Swedish Pro League. Broberg has already amassed half as many points (4) in just 6 games this year than he did in 45 games last season. And from the tape I’ve watched, his skating is at an elite level. It doesn’t appear his strong play-in camp was a mirage. Barring injury, Broberg seems destined for a top-pairing situation in Edmonton ina  season or 2. The kid is truly gifted.

4. Am I surprised to see veteran G Mike Smith back in the fold? A little. But by Saturday afternoon the remaining UFA goalies were comparable to Smith, who is a known (and valued) entity in the Oilers room. And this deal is better than the last one: $1.5m in salary, up to $2.0m with bonuses. I expect Mikko Koskinen to carry up to 60% of the load. So, if Smith hits those bonuses chances are it’s because he’s played well. Don’t discount chemistry. I suspect the organization realized they missed out when both Matt Hendricks and Sam Gagner moved on. And Smith still sounds hungry: “Edmonton was always a place I wanted to be. I was disappointed the way things went in the bubble but had my heart set on Edmonton”.

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3. There was a lot of hand wringing over the Oilers perceived lack of action on Day 1 of Free Agency. If you look back over the recent history of this franchise on Day 1, though, why would you repeat it? Andrew Ferenceonly played 6 games over the final 2 years of his contract. 2 years in, crippled Boyd Gordon was a salary dump for Lauri Korpikoski.Mark Fayne only played 4 more games in the NHL after his time in Edmonton. Andrej Sekera (a good pro) got injured twice and was bought out. And the club is still paying for Milan Lucic via the James Neal deal. 4 of those 5 guys got 4+ years on Day 1. Were they better than Ken Holland’s “reclamation projects”? In a revisionist world, perhaps. At the outset of these contracts there is no question Holland’s patience realized at minimum a superior value per dollar. Only time will tell how the ultimately pay off in comparison.

2. Kyle Turris, bought out by Nashville, was Ken Holland’s first signing of the post-season. Turris and Mikko Koivu appeared to be good fits for the opening down the middle of the roster. In the end, Ken Holland almost certainly picked the model with the most miles left on it. And the contract is also superior: $1.1m for Turris in 2020-21, $2.2 (maxed out backloading) in Year 2. Koivu signed for $1.5m in Columbus, maybe $1.75m with bonuses. Would you prefer 31-year old Kyle Turris for the same money (less this year because of the front-loading) as the 37-year old Koivu? Yes. And I don’t mean any disrespect whatsoever to Koivu.

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The Kyle Turris contract is a terrific bet for the Oilers at 3C. And I’d caution you against thinking that Edmonton is just re-cycling Nashville’s trash. On the face of it, his production has been off the last 2 seasons. But Turris’s Points Per Game the past 3 years has been very near his career average. And his possession numbers over that same period actually exceed his career stats. The veteran right-shot Center has also been above 50% in the face-off circle in 7 of his last 8 seasons. Finally, for some added context: Kyle Turris and Jesse Puljujarvi together are signed for less this upcoming campaign than Andreas Athanasiou’squalifying offer.

1.The news of the week, however, has to be the signing of Free Agent Tyson Barrie. The Victoria, B.C defenceman has long been connected to Edmonton by several commentators. But it took a rough patch in Toronto to create the circumstances required to make it happen. TSN’sDarren Dreger reported Saturday that Barrie turned down a $6m offer elsewhere (Vancouver?) to take a 1-year, $3.75m “show me” contract with the Oilers. It’s hard to imagine a much better situation for either player and team. For the Oilers, it made available an elite-level puck mover and Power Play specialist at a flat cap-friendly price. For Barrie, it is a chance to prove that his year as a member of the Maple Leafs was an outlier (even though his numbers improved to career levels from November 20th when Mike Babcockwas fired) on. If Barrie has a big year, a big pay-day with term is likely to follow. And Edmonton will have the cap space by next season to make that happen if it’s right for both sides. Win, win.

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