I'm anticipating another frustrating seasons end for the Oilers, and would like to take advantage of that.
They're without a second rounder this year, are in a cap crunch, and have depth issues all over the place and a captain visibly losing patience with the team around him, so lets solve some problems.
VGK2022 1st., 2023 2nd*(the Lowest of any in BUF control) Henri Jokiharju, Anders Bjork (50% retained), Eric Portillo, rights for Arttu Ruotsolainen.
Evan Bouchard, Jesse Puljujarvi. 2023 EDM 3rd*( becomes a 2nd if Ruotsolainen dresses for 41 NHL games for EDM, or scores 25 NHL points[lowest in EDM posession])
Why would Edmonton do this?, here's my thinking.
EDM have 17ish mil coming off the books (inc. expiring RFA deals), 3.6 or which is eaten up by Nurse new deal kicking in (which, wow man. good for him I guess), leaving 13 or so to play with.
they will want to extend Kane, He probably gets something in the 5mil neighborhood for 3.
Oilers ultimately choose Yamamoto over Puljujarvi to extend, as he has the triple benefits of being younger, and a lower draft pedigree (read:less salary leverage) and heavy air quotes, "consistency". Yamamoto gets 3.5 by 4.
McCloud gets a bridge deal in line with Yamamoto's last deal, plus inflation so he's up for 1.5 for 2 to stay RFA.
Kulak gets an extension to stay around at 1.5 for 2 to fill the bottom pair.
Bjork slots in as a younger cheaper replacement for Archibald at 800k after salary retention.
Smith and Skinner platoon the regular season in net, and Portillo comes in as the new presumptive goalie of the future when school wraps up.
Aforementioned depth issues present a massive opportunity for a guy like Rooster to parlay a dynamite Calder playoff performance in to an NHL gig. For whatever reason, he hasn't had the chance to stick in BUF, despite repeated assurances that's what he's working for, I think it's a waste to not lock him down, and also a waste to not get him that opportunity *somewhere*. EDM seems like a fit to turn him into a depth threat at the NHL level.
That's well over half their cap playroom gone (11.5m), and it really seems like they will try and throw money at Klingberg and Letang hoping to land at least 1.
Shipping out Bouchard is ultimately dumb long term, but it does open up a roster spot, to accommodate Klingberg/Letang and adding in Joki gives them a cost controlled option to slide up and down the right side as their pairs figure themselves out, and gives you good cause to bury or trade Barrie and free up yet more cap space (Hello Chicago/Arizona).
It's a steep bill to pay, but here's my thinking for Buffalo
Puljujarvi is lost in the shuffle for Edmonton, and gets unfair hate for inconsistency despite being pin-balled around the lineup, so a fresh start is probably warranted and he steps on to an in tact vibes roster he seems like he'd gel with, in particular lining up with Asplund & Cozens. Fresh start RFA's usually end up on solid team friendly deals, but Buffalo can afford to buy a little "Buy in" from the former 4th overall if you take my meaning. a deal matching Mitts/Joki range seems about right.
Bouchard, being an RFA with 1st round pedigree and solid numbers down the stretch, will have a strong case for a raise on a team that probably can't afford to pay him his due and still pretend they're fixing their issues so Buffalo swoops in and picks up a partner for Owen Power, and solidifies a Death star top 4 defense unit for a decade or more. 1 more year on his entry deal means you get Samuelsson and he up for new deals at the same time, and a nice stagger on the 4 cornerstone defenders.
Sending Portillo opens up the logjam at G all arriving together, giving you clarity to sign Levi as the path is now open for him to step directly in to pro-starter role for Rochester with UPL getting his big league reps in.
That's my thinking, by all means, rip me in the comments.