4 Backup UFA Plans for Oilers If Evander Kane Doesn’t Re-Sign

There are reports that Evander Kane is open to a long-term extension with the Edmonton Oilers. If true, that’s great news for Kane fans and Oilers Nation who believe the team is much better with him than without. But, in the event that Kane goes back to the San Jose Sharks or he tests free agency and signs elsewhere, it would be a smart idea for Oilers’ general manager Ken Holland to have a backup plan in place.

Is there a handful of players out there that would be suitable replacements for Kane? Some may cost less and some may cost more, but these would all be forwards who could make the Oilers a better team in the short-term, something Holland is clearly focused on. If he’s willing to clear space and spend big on Kane, perhaps he’s willing to do the same for these players.

Will Claude Giroux Come Out West?

A report surfaced on Monday from The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun that the Oilers were looking at Claude Giroux in free agency. He writes:

There are clubs lurking, hoping to have a chance at Giroux, 34, come July 13. One of those teams, I’m told, is the Edmonton Oilers. In the event that the Oilers can’t re-sign Evander Kane, I was told over the weekend that the Oilers have internally discussed the merits of trying to sign Giroux. He has played primarily wing the last few years, but also remains a top faceoff guy and still obviously impactful offensively.

source – ‘LeBrun rumblings: Why hasn’t Filip Forsberg re-signed with Nashville yet? Claude Giroux to Edmonton?’ – Pierre LeBrun – The Athletic – 07/04/2022

Claude Giroux Florida Panthers
Claude Giroux, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There’s every reason to believe Giroux could do a lot of what Kane did when he joined the Oilers last season. Giroux is a top-six forward all day long. He’s been a 100-plus point player in his career and when he joined the Florida Panthers in a trade deadline deal he turned up the volume and improved his numbers while playing with talented players.

Related: Oilers Would Become More Dangerous by Adding Claude Giroux

His experience and leadership would be a welcome addition and if he signs, it’s because he believes the Oilers can win it all and not just because he wants to pad his stats.

Would Oilers Take Nichushkin?

It sounds crazy to think the Oilers would move out Jesse Puljujarvi — a player many think could become the next Valeri Nichushkin — for Nichushkin himself, but why not? The only difference for Edmonton here is that they’re moving up their timeline for when the player will be useful and paying more to have that production now.

Valeri Nichushkin Colorado Avalanche
Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The knock on Puljjuarvi is that he isn’t figuring out how to round his game out fast enough for him to be as useful as the Oilers need him to be during their window to win. Nichushkin has clearly figured it out and he’s going to get paid well in free agency because of it. The Colorado Avalanche have said he’s a priority, but why wouldn’t the winger at least test the market after signing a low-cost deal with the Avs and hitting it out of the park? Colorado can’t keep everyone.

Could it take five years and almost five million per season to get it done? Maybe. Some Oilers fans will lose it if Puljuarvi goes at what would have been half the cost, but the Oilers aren’t waiting around. That’s why they’re looking at extending Evander Kane in the first place.

A David Perron Return to Edmonton?

David Perron made it clear that he wanted to stick with the St. Louis Blues and sign another extension. That was a few weeks ago. For some reason, that deal still isn’t done and there has been speculation the Blues low-balled Perron on a two-year deal worth close to what he was already making and he wasn’t pleased. Is there enough friction there that Perron will test the free agency market?

David Perron St. Louis Blues
David Perron, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The likelihood is those two sides eventually get something ironed out, but if they don’t, the Oilers should kick tires on the idea of bringing Perron back. Yes, he’s 34 years old, and yes, it will likely take a three-year deal to get him signed. Still, Perron doesn’t seem to age and he’s consistently good at putting up points and being a difference-maker in games that matter. He had 57 points in 67 games for the Blues this past season and scored another 13 points in 12 games during the playoffs.

He’s about as versatile forward as there is on the market and the Oilers could certainly use him.

Andrew Copp Ready to Test the Market

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, sources indicate that Andrew Copp is among the pending UFAs in the Rangers organization that intends to test the market. He writes:

Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp both intend to hit the free agent open market on July 13, multiple sources have told The Post, thus creating an urgent need for the Rangers to acquire a second-line center… Winger Frank Vatrano is also expected to hit the open market.

Andrew Copp New York Rangers
Andrew Copp, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

What is Copp looking for? He had a tremendous season, scoring 35 points with the Winnipeg Jets and then joining the Rangers in an elevated role and jumping to better than a point-per-game player. His 14 points in 20 playoff games were impressive too and he’s got the ability to play all three forward positions, adding physicality and hockey sense to his well-rounded game.

Copp will be a popular player when free agency opens. The hope would be that reports of UFAs eyeing up the Oilers are true and that Copp feels Edmonton might be a nice fit. The Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings have both been linked to interest in Copp but how badly does the player want to win?

4 Backup UFA Plans for Oilers If Evander Kane Doesn't Re-Sign

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