Edmonton Oilers free-agent targets: 12 players they should try to sign

The Edmonton Oilers enter free agency with the ability to alter their lineup.

That’ll depend on how many of their pending UFAs they bring back — a process that started Friday when they re-signed backup goaltender Calvin Pickard to a two-year, $1 million AAV deal. Retaining Pickard left the Oilers with just over $9 million in cap space, per PuckPedia, but with seven forwards, five blueliners and the Jack Campbell exit route still to be chosen.

The Oilers could still sign their entire third line from the Stanley Cup Final — Adam Henrique, Connor Brown and Mattias Janmark. Defenceman Vincent Desharnais and winger Warren Foegele are among the other prominent players on the verge of testing the market. It’s unlikely the Oilers can afford them all.

If they don’t, however, that gives them the flexibility to tweak the roster.

There are two areas that could use addressing: the middle-six up front and the right side of the blue line. Here are some candidates that fit the bill.

Middle-six forwards

The Oilers have four bona fide, front-line options in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl (at least for now), Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The offensive quality drops off after that.


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Evander Kane has battled serious injuries for the last two seasons. Ryan McLeod is a responsible defensive player but largely had a rough playoff run. Derek Ryan is purely a bottom-sixer. Dylan Holloway has shown promise, but he’s an RFA and needs a new contract.

The Oilers need more useful scoring threats among the forwards.

Viktor Arvidsson

The Oilers have been linked to Arvidsson, which makes sense considering he can play on the second or third line and they’re weakest at right wing. They know him well, too, having faced him in the first round with Los Angeles in each of the last two years. (Arvidsson missed the 2022 series). He’s 31 and coming off a seven-year, $4.25 million AAV contract but can’t command that type of deal now. The one red flag is health. Arvidsson missed the first 50 games this season with a back injury.

Jake DeBrusk

The Edmonton native has scored at least 19 goals in five of his seven NHL seasons and can play either wing. He’s only 27, so there could be some untapped upside. DeBrusk was seventh on the Boston Bruins in power-play ice time among forwards and had 13 goals and 25 points at five-on-five. That’s the kind of role he’d have and production that would be expected of him with the Oilers.

Sean Monahan

Monahan enjoyed a nice resurgence with 26 goals and 59 points in 83 games with Montreal and Winnipeg this season. He’d be the third centre in Edmonton, which could make him the beneficiary of mismatches. The Oilers would be his fourth Canadian team.

Jordan Martinook

Martinook has scored 27 goals over the last two campaigns. He’s a heart-and-soul player who kills penalties. That he was raised just outside of Edmonton doesn’t hurt.

David Perron

Perron, 36, had 47 points this season. He could be a low-cost option with minimal term.

Jeff Skinner

Bought out by the Buffalo Sabres, Skinner can pick his next destination as he attempts to reach the postseason for the first time in his NHL career. The Oilers could likely get him at a bargain after a 24-goal, 46-point season.

Steven Stamkos

Can you imagine? If he actually hits free agency — we’ve seen this song and dance between him and Tampa Bay before — and if he considered playing in Edmonton, the fit would be perfect. The Oilers would have to do more than just get rid of Jack Campbell to afford Stamkos and fill out the roster. That makes signing Stamkos a long shot. But they could use another top-six winger. The thought of McDavid and Evan Bouchard feeding him one-timers on the power play is downright scary for opposing penalty kills and goaltenders.

Chandler Stephenson

Stephenson would be an excellent replacement for Henrique if that’s required. He can be the third-line centre, fill in at 2C if coach Kris Knoblauch wants to play McDavid and Draisaitl together, or he can play left wing in the top six. That he’s four years younger than Henrique only helps. He’s probably a bit too pricey for the Oilers, though.

Tyler Toffoli

The Oilers didn’t get Toffoli at the trade deadline. This could be their chance to do so. Toffoli shouldn’t be as expensive to sign as some of the other higher-profile wingers. That could give the Oilers a chance here even though teams like Vancouver and Los Angeles appear to be more likely destinations.

Right defencemen

Whether the Oilers re-sign Desharnais or trade Cody Ceci, who has one more year with a $3.25 million cap hit on his contract, they could still benefit from an upgrade at right defence. Bouchard is the one star they have there. Philip Broberg appeared in the last 10 playoff games and moved over to the starboard side for the Stanley Cup Final after being kept on his natural left side in the minors.

Alexandre Carrier

Carrier got tough matchups in Nashville this season and handled the assignment with aplomb. He came out on the right side of the ledger for shot, scoring chance and five-on-five goal differential. That type of play would be welcome in Edmonton. He kills penalties, too. He’s listed at only 5-foot-11, but there might be a change in the way the Oilers value the size of defencemen now that Ken Holland’s gone.

Matt Roy

Interest is expected to be high for Roy when the opening bell rings for free agency. And why not? He shoots right and typically excels against strong competition. Roy led the Kings in short-handed ice time during the regular season when they boasted the second-best PK in the league. He’s also played well against the Oilers in the last couple playoff series — at least at five-on-five.

Sean Walker

The Oilers were reportedly interested in Walker before the trade deadline, but he wound up being shipped to Colorado from Philadelphia. He’d add some mobility to the right side. Some cause for pause: Walker is undersized — matching Carrier at 5-foot-11 — and he didn’t have a good showing in the playoffs. However, 45 percent of his five-on-five minutes came next to Jack Johnson.

(Photo of Jake DeBrusk: Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

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