After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2020-21 regular season, which is targeted to start Jan. 1. Today, the Edmonton Oilers:
The Edmonton Oilers are counting on two veteran free agents to help fill roster needs and sustain progress made last season.
Tyson Barrie agreed to a one-year contract Oct. 10 after he scored 39 points (five goals, 34 assists) in 70 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. The defenseman will be asked to take on many of the responsibilities normally held by Oscar Klefbom, who might be out for the season because of a shoulder injury.
“In the short term, first of all it’s a big loss,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said. “You’re talking about our No. 1 defenseman, runs the power play, on the first pair, plays against the other team’s best players, plays 22-24 minutes a night. It’s hard to replace those types of people.”
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Barrie’s role will include quarterbacking what was the No. 1 power play in the NHL last season (29.5 percent).
Kyle Turris agreed to a two-year contract Oct. 9 after he had the final four years of his contract with the Nashville Predators bought out two days earlier. He scored 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 62 games last season. He is expected to be the third-line center, behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and figures to give Edmonton a boost in offense among its bottom six forwards.
“Last year, the bottom part of the roster did a great job with checking,” Holland said. “There’s people down there who did a big job with us being in the top two in penalty-killing (second in NHL at 84.4 percent), but we’re trying to get more offense spread through the lineup.”
Edmonton (37-25-9, .585 points percentage) finished second in the Pacific Division last season but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
Here is what the Oilers look like today:
Tyson Barrie, D: The 29-year-old went from 4:03 of power-play time per game and 25 power-play points for the Colorado Avalanche in 2018-19 to 2:40 per game and 12 power-play points for the Maple Leafs last season. … Kyle Turris, F: The 31-year-old has scored 416 points (165 goals, 251 assists) in 726 games for the Predators, Ottawa Senators and Phoenix Coyotes. … Jesse Puljujarvi, F: The 22-year-old restricted free agent signed a two-year contract Oct. 7 to return to the Oilers after playing two seasons for Karpat of Liiga, the top league in Finland. The No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft tied for fourth in Liiga scoring last season with 53 points (24 goals, 29 assists) in 56 games. Puljujarvi scored 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) in 139 games for Edmonton from 2016-19.
Matt Benning, D: Did not receive a qualifying offer after scoring eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 43 games last season and signed a two-year contract with the Predators on Oct. 9. … Riley Sheahan, F: Remains an unrestricted free agent after scoring 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 66 games last season. … Andreas Athanasiou, F: Did not receive a qualifying offer. He scored two points (one goal, one assist) in nine games after being acquired in a trade from the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 24. … Mike Green, D: Retired on Aug. 26 after scoring 501 points (150 goals, 351 assists) in 880 games over 15 NHL seasons. He played two games (no points) for the Oilers then missed the rest of the regular season with a knee injury after being acquired in a trade from Detroit on Feb. 23.
On the cusp
Philip Broberg, D: The No. 8 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 45 games last season with Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League. The 19-year-old is likely to get a chance to earn a spot on the Oilers roster. … Evan Bouchard, D: The No. 10 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft is on loan to Sodertalje of the second tier HockeyAllsvenskan in Sweden until the NHL season begins. The 21-year-old had a strong first pro season, scoring 36 points (seven goals, 29 assists) in 54 games for Bakersfield of the American Hockey League in 2019-20. … Dmitri Samorukov, D: The 21-year-old is committed to CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League this season but could help Edmonton later in 2020-21 depending on his development.
What they still need
A top-six wing, maybe two, to go with McDavid and Draisaitl, and a defenseman to help make up for Klefbom’s anticipated absence. With the NHL salary cap flat at $81.5 million for this season, the Oilers don’t have a lot of flexibility to further upgrade in either area.
Barrie can challenge his NHL career highs in points (59 in 2018-19) and power-play points (30 in 2017-18) with Edmonton. He took advantage of his exposure to elite forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen with the Avalanche and now has the luxury of playing with the top two scorers in the NHL last season, Draisaitl (110 points) and McDavid (97), on the power play. Given Klefbom’s long-term injury concern, Barrie should bounce back after an underwhelming season with Toronto and is worth targeting among the top 25 defensemen. — Pete Jensen
James Neal — Connor McDavid — Zack Kassian
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — Leon Draisaitl — Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Ennis — Kyle Turris — Jesse Puljujarvi
Josh Archibald — Jujhar Khaira — Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse — Ethan Bear
Caleb Jones — Adam Larsson
Kris Russell — Tyson Barrie