The Edmonton Oilers signed three players on the first day of Free Agency. Going Canada Day bargain shopping Peter Chiarelli spent as little money as he could and filled a few of the holes in his line-up.
First, he gave Tobias Rieder a one-year deal worth $2 million. Rieder’s agent indicated the term was exactly what they were looking for regarding a way for Rieder to audition for a bigger contract the following offseason.
I love this signing. It may not be as sexy as Calgary landing James Neal, but Rieder brings a lot to the table for the Oilers and at an affordable cost. At just 25-years of age Rieder is still young and has speed, something this line-up desperately needed in 2017-18. He’s also an excellent penalty killer which is something they lacked last year also.
Through 68 games last season with both the Coyotes and Kings, Rieder put up 25 points (12G-13A) but before that put up 34, 37 and 21 points in the previous three seasons respectively. Rieder isn’t expected to come in and start lighting up the score sheet by any means. His speed and penalty killing abilities could see him anywhere on the depth chart from fourth to the third line and possibly even second with fellow German Leon Draisaitl and as a natural centre could even take some ice time down the middle of the line-up. Very solid signing in my opinion.
Chiarelli then went out and brought back another former Oiler in Kyle Brodziak. Brodziak signed a two-year deal worth $2.3 million. The deal has Brodziak set to make $1.1million this season and $1.2 million next season. This is another quality bargain deal for Chiarelli.
At 34-years old, Brodziak again wasn’t brought in as big name sexy signing. But with the limited cap space, the Oilers have brought in a veteran on a cheap non-committal contract was a good move. The team at times seemed to miss some veteran leadership last year, much like what they had with Matt Hendricks.
He’s played in 847 NHL games throughout his time in the NHL, with his best season coming with the Minnesota Wild back 2012 when he had 44 points (22G-22A). Last year, in 81 games, Brodziak put up 33 points (10G-23A).
But again, like Rieder, Brodziak wasn’t brought in to fill up the scoreboard. He’s a solid, cheap signing that will play anywhere in the bottom six of the depth chart. He’s another natural centre that can also play the wing but more importantly he is a right-handed shot. If the Oilers were to make him the fourth line centre with Jujhar Khaira and Zack Kassian as his wingers, that would make two centres in McDavid and Draisaitl with left-handed shots and two in Strome and Brodziak as right-handed shots.
Brodziak’s previous stint in Edmonton didn’t result in much in terms of fireworks, but he was appreciated and missed after being traded to Minnesota. The length of this deal isn’t something I’m in love with, as I would have preferred a veteran like this to be signed to just one year. On the other hand, it’s another cheap solid signing by Chiarelli that fills a need.
Lastly, the Oil signed defenseman Kevin Gravel to a one-year $700,000 deal. It’s reportedly a two-way deal so it’s apparent that Gravel will be projected as an AHL player who could find some time with the big club when needed. This signing seems similar to the Yohann Auvitu signing from the last offseason,
Gravel has played in 70 NHL games throughout his career putting up a total of 10 points. He played in 16 games for the Kings last year and isn’t just a guy who will never see the light of the NHL.
After the three signings, the Oilers have a projected $7.05 million in cap space. These three signings were what Chiarelli needed them to be economically feasible while also filling needs on the roster. Sure, they might not be guys that will put up 50 points alongside McDavid and Draisaitl, but realistically were the Oilers ever going to land a player like that at a decent cost?
Overall, it was a productive day one of free agents for Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers.