Edmonton Journal

Oilers made the math work to take salary cap hit on defenceman Stecher


When the Edmonton Oilers picked up Troy Stecher from Arizona on Thursday, they took on his whole US$1.1 million cap hit for the last six weeks, which seemed a gulp for a seventh defenceman, but it was because the Coyotes balked at any retention.

They retained at last year's trade deadline on Nick Bjugstad, 50 cents on the dollar, so the Oilers only had to add $450,000 to their cap on the right-shot centre, for defence prospect Michael Kesselring and a third-round draft pick, but this time around, the Coyotes told the Oilers they wanted to keep their powder dry for Friday deals or during draft week.

NHL teams only get three max retentions and they have a hefty one on Oliver Ekman-Larsson (four years). In the end, they chose not to retain on defenceman Matt Dumba ($3.9 million cap hit), who went to Tampa or on Jason Zucker ($5.3 million), who went to Nashville on Friday.

They also wanted to keep retentions in their back pocket for draft week in June, in case they made any deals, like possibly trading forward Nick Schmaltz ($5.85 million).

Though capfriendl­y.com said the Oilers had $1.035 million in cap space Friday, the Oilers internal audit said they had about $700,000 to work with as the clock ticked down, which would have meant getting somebody in with likely retention and a player out.

Yes, they made countless calls on other people over the last week (Jordan Eberle, Tyler Toffoli, other defencemen), but they didn't get a fourth piece to go with Adam Henrique, Sam Carrick and Stecher, who didn't arrive in Buffalo in time Friday for practice.


Nobody gambles more than Vegas, which could have the Oilers as a first-round matchup if they get their struggling act in gear (27th in points over the last 30 games). And now they've gone and traded for San Jose's best player in Tomas Hertl. He'll be the No. 2 centre in Vegas behind Jack Eichel.

Sure, he's out now after left knee surgery to clean up some cartilage Feb. 12, and he could go on long-term injury joining captain Mark Stone, but he'll be back for the playoffs. Perhaps he wouldn't be with the Sharks, who want the best draft odds possible for the lottery. But in Vegas, perhaps late in the regular season, who knows?

“That non-contact jersey line is gonna be sick!!!” tweeted ex-NHL defenceman Aaron Ward, contemplat­ing practice with Stone and Hertl.

Hertl, who has an infectious personalit­y and will have no trouble fitting in with his new team, has six more years left on his deal, but the Sharks are shaving 17 per cent off that, so it's $6.75 million yearly on the cap for Vegas. Seems a lot, but the Vegas cap guy, who should be in the cap HHOF with his manoeuvrin­g, will find a way during the summer to fit it in, even if they have to re-sign winger Jonathan Marchessau­lt.

Perhaps they don't re-sign defenceman Alec Martinez

($5.2 million), and pass on bringing back Anthony Mantha, at

$2.8 million.

Or Noah Hanifin does sign in Tampa on July 1, so he's only a rental.


Eberle had several NHL teams calling on him as a rental but the ex- Oiler signed a two-year deal in Seattle for $4.75 million a season, a slight raise from his $4.5 million a season.

Eberle, who turns 34 in May and has 21 points (10 goals) since the start of 2024, had wanted three years. But the Kraken, who grabbed Eberle off the Islanders “in the expansion draft, were holding firm at two, probably because of his age.

The slight bump in salary offsets the extra year for Eberle who is at 998 games, with

No. 1,000 next week against Vegas. Somewhere in heaven, ex- Oilers amateur scout Lorne Davis, who pushed hard for Edmonton to draft the small but skilled forward in 2008, is smiling today as Eberle closes in on 1,000 games.

A home run as a 22nd overall draft pick after Washington took Swedish forward Anton Gustafsson at No. 21. Gustafsson retired after playing zero NHL games and only one in the AHL.


Hindsight is always a clear 20-20, but winger Klim Kostin chased the money and probably should have stayed here where he had a significan­t role, was well-liked by the team for his pugnacious style and loved by the fans for his willingnes­s to battle, rather than get greedy after the Oilers revived his failing career. He wanted $2 million a year when the Oilers were reportedly offering a raise to about $1.1 million over his $750,000. He went to Detroit (he did get a twoyear deal for $4 million), but was hurt, and he got no traction as a fourth-liner with the Red Wings, who sent him on his way to lowly San Jose on Friday.

 ?? CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/ GETTY IMAGES ?? The Oilers absorbed the full amount of Troy Stecher's US$1.1 million salary cap hit when they acquired him from the Arizona Coyotes Thursday.
CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/ GETTY IMAGES The Oilers absorbed the full amount of Troy Stecher's US$1.1 million salary cap hit when they acquired him from the Arizona Coyotes Thursday.
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