Frank Seravalli spoke on a recent Daily Faceoff Live about the need for the Edmonton Oilers to move salary when Kailer Yamamoto returns from LTIR. With Evander Kane on the roster, GM Ken Holland has pushed the salary cap issue down the road for now, but there’s still a need to move salary to be cap compliant when Yamamoto returns. That has led to the GM calling around to see if he can interest a team in one of three forwards.
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Seravalli says that Derek Ryan, Warren Foegele, and Jesse Puljujarvi are all being shopped. While it’s possible (maybe likely) that one of these players is moved, is there an alternate solution? Let’s take a look at the deal that makes the most sense, not only from an Oilers’ perspective but from a team that might be looking into each of these three players. Then, let’s see if there’s a better option.
The Jesse Puljujarvi Conundrum
When it comes to Puljujarvi, the Oilers don’t seem to know what to do and other teams aren’t sure either. When a fan noted that a team could swing in and steal the forward in a pre-deadline trade because the Oilers are facing cap issues, Mark Spector of Sportsnet truthfully pointed out, “31 “teams,” including whoever you consider to have the most analytics leanings in the NHL, could have had this player for the last two-plus seasons. For an ever-decreasing price. None have stepped to the plate.” Is there a buyer out there now?
Seravalli seems to think so. In his report, he notes that teams are expressing interest and perhaps more than the other two players the Oilers are making available. Essentially, the Oilers have been trying to move Puljujarvi for a while but he’s still here because of the lowball offers Holland has gotten. Is it time to take the best deal possible? Or, should Holland stick to his guns?
If the Oilers can’t move Puljujarvi, one has to wonder if they consider waiving him. That’s a huge risk but one that could pan out because of his $3 million salary and rumors there isn’t a team in the NHL willing to take on his cap hit without the Oilers throwing in a sweetener. There will be plenty of fans suggesting there’s no way the Oilers waive the player, but if Edmonton is keen to move out his money, it might be a gamble Holland takes. He’s been a healthy scratch and his ice time will only go down as the rest of the roster gets healthy.
Moving Puljujarvi might mean giving up an asset. If the Oilers can’t move him, it might mean losing him for nothing. Maybe it’s better just to use him?
Warren Foegele Might Be Too Pricy
The issue with Warren Foegele is two-fold. First, he’s got one more season remaining on his current deal at a cost of $2.75 million per season. Second, he’s a good player, but his production comes in spurts. He’s been solid the last few games, but it’s not always consistent production and the question will be if a team is open to taking on his contract without asking for something in return.
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As the Oilers know well, salary cap space is hard to come by. There are only a handful of teams that have room to play with and even fewer that would gladly grab an inconsistent, yet useful winger in a trade when the priority seems to be acquiring centers. There are plenty of other wingers available.
Moving Derek Ryan Might Not Help Oilers Issues
If the Oilers waive Derek Ryan, there are two risks here. First, that he’s claimed. Second, moving him doesn’t do for the team what ultimately needs to happen — which is the Oilers move enough money to solve their cap issues and potentially have the flexibility to make a deadline move if they feel the need to.
Of all three players, perhaps Ryan is the one the Oilers least want to move. Not only is he a center, but he kills penalties, has produced on offense in limited minutes, and understands his role — which might include not playing every night. On the other hand, when the Oilers need someone to jump up in minutes, Ryan is typically good to do so. That’s a factor, especially as depth in the playoffs is considered. He can play wing and the middle. That matters too.
The little dent he makes solution-wise compared to the value he offers could lead the Oilers toward not letting him go for peanuts.
Is There Another Solution?
The one player few people are talking about is Yamamoto himself. This is a player the Oilers are bullish on and like a lot, as do his teammates. At the same time, he’s smaller, his style of play lends itself to a number of injuries, and moving his $3.1 million cap hit off the books solves a number of problems for Edmonton this and next season.
There is a question about what the demand would be for his services around the league, but this also a situation where if Yamamoto ends up not being on the team long-term anyway, — simply because big-name players like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and perhaps even Evan Bouchard, will need the money that the Oilers don’t currently have available — Holland is best to move him now. If Yamamoto is the odd man out regardless, maybe he’s the most logical choice.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”