Edmonton General Manager Jason Jarrett went into the unrestricted free agency period knowing that he wanted to add at least one, and preferably two, of the limited number of high end forwards available on the open market. As round one of negotiations approached, he homed in on Marian Hossa, Patrick Eaves, and Mike Fisher, tendering nearly twelve million dollars in offers between the three forwards.
“We have a solid core,” said Jarrett. “We have capable two-way centers, top to bottom, and we have some skilled playmakers in Laine and Parise. Our defensive pairings, particularly OEL and Hanifin, are some of the strongest in the league, and with Bobrovsky in net, we just needed to round out our lineup. We sent our initial offers and waited. We were admittedly a bit low on Fisher, but we saw him as the weakest of the bunch. We never even heard back from Eaves. But when Hossa’s agent called to say they had a better offer on the table, better than the $5 million payday we were offering, I was stunned. With Eaves out of the picture, and Fisher a substantial step down from Hossa in the near term, we went big rather than end up empty handed. We have the cap space, so we might as well use it.”
Hossa signed a four year, $6 million deal to return to the Oilers, ensuring he will finish his career in Edmonton. Hossa came to Edmonton from Vancouver at the trade deadline last season. He appeared in just five games with the Oilers, missing the remainder of the season due to injury. He had 35 points in 62 games. Hossa has long been regarded as one of the best two-way forwards in the league, failing to amass more than forty points in a season just once in his career. This season, he looks to slot in as the second line right wing, centered by Alex Wennberg. Sven Andrighetto should play opposite him.
Additionally, Edmonton secured the services of depth defensemen Jakub Jerabek (3 years@$1M) and Joel Hanley (3 years@$600K), signing both to two-way contracts that will allow Jarrett to freely send both players back and forth between the big club and Bakersfield.
The Oilers also signed backup goalie Chris Gibson to a four year deal worth $700,000 per season. He is likely to receive the lion’s share of backup opportunities, while David Rittich is expected to spend much of the season on the farm, being called up for spot starts and injury replacement. They traded a sixth round pick to the New York Rangers in exchange for prospect Hayden Hawkey, adding to their goalie pipeline.
With the most recent signings in place, the Oilers find themselves with forty-one rostered players and slightly more than $42 million spent toward the salary cap. While Jarrett has expressed interest in landing a player that would allow Kempe another season to grow in Bakersfield, he says the team is ready to roll for opening day if the right situation doesn’t present itself.