Andreas Athanasiou, Edmonton Oilers, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Oilers News and Rumors: Salary Cap Talk and Hosting the Stanley Cup

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, it appears Edmonton has been chosen to hold the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals should the playoffs resume and bring an end to the season. There are also questions about what the Oilers will do now that a flat salary cap seems to be certainty over the next three seasons. Are there any big concerns for the Oilers?

Oilers Chosen Over Toronto to Host Cup Finals

According to Bob McKenzie of TSN — who has been covering the news of the CBA talks over the last 24 hours — Edmonton has been chosen as the host city for most of the big playoff moments due to their low numbers of positive COVID-19 cases.

Rogers Place
Rogers Place Arena (Alexscuccato (CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)), from Wikimedia Commons)

McKenzie writes:

With Edmonton and Toronto being chosen as the two NHL Hub cities, the question most often asked now is, which of the two will play host to the Stanley Cup final and Conference finals? The answer, apparently, is Edmonton.

McKenzie later said that the problems with play-by-play reporting during a pandemic is that things can change so quickly, what’s up-to-date one minute isn’t the next. He then noted, “…it has now been suggested to me that while EDM is quite likely to host the Stanley Cup final, it can’t be called fully locked in at this moment in time.”

Related: The Best Free Agent Signings in NHL History

Salary Cap Questions for the Oilers

Part of McKenzie’s reporting on Thursday included a note that the expected date for free agency in 2020 is November 1. And, with news from Elliotte Friedman yesterday that the expected salary caps for the upcoming seasons are $81.5 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22 and $82.5 million in 2022-23. (see Twitter thread here), that means the Oilers, like many teams, will have some decisions to make.

Andreas Athanasiou Edmonton Oilers
Andreas Athanasiou, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Oilers have a number of players to re-sign this offseason with just over $10 million available in which to do so. Those names include Andreas Athanasiou (RFA), Ethan Bear (RFA), Matt Benning (RFA), William Lagesson (RFA) Mike Green (UFA), Mike Smith (UFA), Patrick Russell (UFA), Tyler Ennis (UFA), and Riley Sheahan (UFA).

There have been some concerns about Sheahan’s ask as a free agent and what he thinks is an elevated role. There’s also thought that only one of Matt Benning or Mike Green would be staying. Athanasiou will require an investment but the Oilers aren’t about to let him go after giving up two second-rounders to land him. The only way that happens is if he’s absolutely atrocious in the playoffs. At that point, the Oilers may have to cut bait.

Related: 11 NHL Teams Without a Stanley Cup

Future Headaches for Oilers

The issues might not necessarily be this coming season. It won’t be easy making everything work, but in the not-too-distant future, GM Ken Holland will have to deal with a few hefty contracts. They include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse, Adam Larsson, and Kailer Yamamoto.

One solution might be to try and move defenseman Kris Russell. With a signing bonus paid out to him already, Russell is a player that could be attractive to a team looking to hit the cap floor but worried about spending money. One thing to keep in mind is that Russell has a clause where he can be traded to only 15 other teams this year. And, those are teams he must approve. That complicates matters just a touch.

Nugent-Hopkins Joins Oilers in Phase 2

The Oilers welcomed Nugent-Hopkins to skating with the team today. He’s now part of the Phase 2 group.

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