Edmonton Oilers

Devils top Oilers, tie franchise mark with 13th straight win

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

NEWARK, N.J. – The young New Jersey Devils are making a name for themselves – in the team’s record book.

Nico Hischier had three assists and the no-name Devils beat the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers 5-2 Monday night to match a franchise mark with their 13th consecutive win.

“I guess we’re up there with the history book,” Hischier said. “Nobody is going to take that from us now and it feels good. It proves that we’re a good team, that we can win hockey games, that we don’t have to hide anymore.”

Jesper Bratt, Dawson Mercer, Damon Severson, Tomas Tatar and Yegor Sharangovich scored for the Devils, who haven’t lost since Oct. 24 against Washington. Vitek Vanecek made 27 saves for New Jersey.

“It’s awesome winning,” said Bratt, who leads the team with 24 points. “So is everything around the rink and being with the guys and playing these important games. That means a lot, and winning is the best thing possible in hockey.”

The Devils still have three quarters of the season to go, but they are well on the road to making the playoffs for the first time since the 2017-18 season.

“We’ve had a great run. We know that we’re kind of the hunted now,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “We know that we’re going to expect probably the best every team can bring because we’re getting recognition. So that part we have to deal with. But 19 games in you can’t say, `We sent a message to the league.”‘

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for the Oilers, beaten twice by New Jersey during its run. Stuart Skinner made 23 saves, but had the puck taken off his stick by Hischier early in the second period to set up the go-ahead goal by Mercer into a wide-open net.

“Obviously a tough game. Tough loss,” Skinner said. “They’re obviously a great team. They’re obviously hot right now as well. They’ve got some great players that make some great plays and it was just tough to lose, especially two in a row to these guys. But all we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on.”

Severson stretched the margin to 3-1 on a counterattack minutes later.

Edmonton made a push early in the third. Nugent-Hopkins cut it to 3-2 at 4:52 and had a close-in chance to tie it, only to be stopped by Vanecek, who improved to 9-1.

Tatar gave the Devils breathing room about a minute later, gloving down the rebound of Mercer’s shot and beating Skinner. Sharangovich added an insurance goal with 5:15 to go.

Jack Hughes had two assists for the Devils.


Not only did Skinner hand the Devils the go-ahead goal, backup netminder Jack Campbell also had a bad night.

Sitting on the end of the bench late in the second period, Campbell was cut when he was hit in the face by a puck that seemed to be deflected by Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Campbell immediately left the bench and did not return for the third period.

“I went and saw him after the second period, and he was laughing and smiling. So that’s the kind of guy he is,” Skinner said. “But no, he had a pretty bloody nose and obviously it’s hard to see that happen, especially to him. I think he’s fine.”


Oilers: Continue their swing through the New York metropolitan area when they visit the Islanders on Wednesday. Edmonton finishes in New York City on Saturday against the Rangers.

Devils: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

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    NHL Power Rankings: Top free agents for 2022 offseason

    nhl free agents
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    With the NHL Free Agency starting on Wednesday we are taking an updated look at our top unrestricted free agent Power Rankings from back in May, removing the players that have already re-signed with their teams (Kris Letang, Filip Forsberg, Valeri Nichushkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Rickard Rakell) and adding some of the restricted free agents that were not given qualifying offers on Monday.

    The latter list includes former Blackhawks Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik, goalie Ilya Samsonov, and winger Danton Heinen.

    You might notice one name missing from the list: Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. We made the decision to leave him out of the rankings because while his contract is technically expiring, he has made it clear that there are only two realistic options for him: Re-signing with the Boston Bruins or retirement. That does not really make him a fit here with the rest of the players on the rankings.

    Which players make the cut and where do they rank?

    To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

    1. Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau picked a heck of a team to have a career year and be the second-leading scorer in the NHL. Gaudreau is an incredible talent, one of the most productive players in the league, and is still at an age where he should have a lot of productive hockey ahead of him. Whether it is Calgary or somewhere else, he is going to cash in this offseason. [UPDATE: Johnny Hockey is heading to the Blue Jackets on a seven-year, $68.25 million deal.]

    2. Nazem Kadri. The pro: He had an incredible season and is a really good two-way player at a premium position. The concern: He will be 32 when his next contract begins and he has never really produced at this level prior to this season. Can he duplicate that on a different team, and for how many years?

    3. Evgeni Malkin. If he is healthy he is still an impact player, especially on the power play. Maybe not as dominant as he was at his peak, but you would take him on your team if given the opportunity. It seems weird imagining him in a uniform other than the Penguins but that seems to be the way this is heading after it was revealed on Monday that he is testing the open market. [UPDATE: Malkin has signed a four-year, $24.4 million extension to stay in Pittsburgh.]

    4. Claude Giroux. Pretty similar to Malkin in the sense that he is not quite the player he was at his peak, but he will definitely make somebody a better hockey team. Would Philadelphia bring him back? Or does he want to take another serious run at a Stanley Cup? [UPDATE: Giroux has signed a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Senators.]

    [NHL free agency tracker 2022: Full list of offseason signings]

    5. David Perron. Perron is a steady producer with a track record of being a top-line player on winning teams. Also an overlooked mean streak that some teams will probably love. It probably does not matter where he actually signs because he always finds his way back to St. Louis anyway. [UPDATE: Perron is moving on after signing a two-year, $9.5 million deal with the Red Wings.]

    6. Vincent Trocheck. Trocheck is a strong second line center option. Can do everything well, good production, and solid player. The bad news: This is the type of signing in free agency that will look good for two years and then by year three or four you are wondering what you are going to do with him and his salary. [UPDATE: Trocheck is heading to the Rangers after signing a seven-year, $39.375 million deal.]

    7. John Klingberg. Klingberg seems to be the type of player whose reputation will depend on who you ask and when you are asking it. His defense gets a lot of criticism, but he can provide some offense from the blue line and is a better all-around player than his critics might have you believe. But is he the player you want to build your defense around? With Letang staying in Pittsburgh he is by far the top defenseman available.

    8. Ondrej Palat. Palat might sometimes get overlooked on that Tampa Bay roster, but he has been one of the top players for one of the league’s top teams for a decade. Great second or third line forward for a contender. Not sure Tampa Bay will be able to re-sign him with that salary cap situation. [UPDATE: Palat heads to New Jersey with a five-year, $30 million deal with the Devils.]

    9. Andrew Copp. Outstanding defensive forward whose offensive game reached another level this season. Also had a very strong playoff showing that will boost his value for sure. [UPDATE: Copp is moving on to the Red Wings with a five-year, $28.125 million deal.]

    10. Evander Kane. Kane is a good player and has been very productive in Edmonton, but when you sign him you are not just signing the player. You are signing everything that comes with the player off the ice, and his off-ice issues are well documented and quite significant (read about them here, here, here, and here). There is a reason Edmonton was able to sign him for so cheap mid-season. But like with Edmonton, it only takes one team being willing to do it. [UPDATE: Kane has re-signed in Edmonton with a four-year, $20.5 million extension.]

    11. Darcy Kuemper. Finally, a goalie on the list. Kuemper had a great regular season and has a very solid resume over his career. But teams might look at what happened to Phillip Grubauer when he left Colorado and wonder what happens when a 32-year-old Kuemper is playing behind a worse team. He is leaving Colorado after the team traded for Alexandar Georgiev. [UPDATE: Kuemper signs a five-year, $26.25 million deal with the Capitals.]

    12. Jack Campbell. Campbell can be very hit and miss. At times over the past two years he has looked like he put everything together, and at other times he has looked just ordinary. How much faith do you have that you are consistently getting the good version? [UPDATE: The Oilers have given Campbell a five-year, $25 million contract.]

    [Related: Tkachuk, Gaudreau headline offseason questions for Flames]

    13. Andre Burakovsky. Really productive player and one of the younger players on the list, so his play will probably not drop off too much right away. [UPDATE: Burakovsky heads to the Kraken on a five-year, $27.5 million contract.]

    14. Nino Niederreiter. Not a superstar, but he is going to score you 20-25 goals and be a strong possession driver. That is a valuable top-six winger.

    15. Ryan Strome. He ended up being a really good addition for the Rangers the past few years and a solid No. 2 center. [UPDATE: Strome heads west after inking a five-year, $25 million deal with the Ducks.]

    16. Dylan Strome. There is an argument to be made that Dylan might be an even more attractive option than Ryan given his age and the fact he might be a little cheaper and a better value. It is a mild surprise that the Blackhawks did not want to retain him, but the problem might be that he is just too good for what Chicago wants to accomplish this season. [UPDATE: Strome has signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Capitals.]

    17. Dominik Kubalik. Kubalik came out of nowhere with a 30-goal (in only 68 games) performance as a rookie three years ago but has not been able to match that number ever since. He does have some finishing ability and could be a good scoring option for a team that needs some depth. Like Strome, he was not given a qualifying offer by the Blackhawks. [UPDATE: Kubalik is a Red Wing after signing a two-year, $5 million deal.]

    18. Max Domi. Creative playmaker with some defensive shortcomings. Good complementary player but probably not much more than that. [UPDATE: Domi heads to the Blackhawks with a one-year, $3 million deal.]

    19. Reilly Smith. Very similar player to Niederreiter in terms of what to expect production wise, but maybe not quite the same level of possession driving ability. [UPDATE: Smith is staying in Las Vegas on a three-year, $15 million extension.]

    20. Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov was supposed to be the Capitals’ long-term solution in goal and replace Braden Holtby. It has not worked out at all. With the trade of Vitek Vanecek and not qualifying Samsonov the Capitals are now completelly overhauling their goalie position. He might draw some strong interest in an alarmingly thin goalie market with somebody hoping he can still reach some of his potential. [UPDATE: Samsonov has signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract with the Maple Leafs.]

    21. Brett Kulak. The former Montreal defenseman teams should have been trying to acquire when the Ben Chiarot bidding war happened. Nothing flashy about his play, but he is a very good mid-pairing defender. [UPDATE: Kulak moves to the Oilers with a four-year, $11 million contract.]

    22. Danton Heinen. Heinen had a strong season for the Penguins, scoring a career high 18 goals. But that was probably going to drive up his price tag due to arbitration and the Penguins obviously did not want to go there, especially with the re-signing of Rickard Rakell. Good all around player with some scoring touch.

    23. Mason Marchment. A late bloomer, Marchment had a really nice year for the Panthers. Can he repeat it? How much is that one year at age 26 worth on the open market? [UPDATE: Marchment is heading to Dallas after signing a four-year, $18 million deal.]

    24. P.K. Subban. Still a big name, still extremely talented with the occasional “wow” moment, but not quite the consistent impact player and superstar he was in his prime.

    25. Phil Kessel. Kessel is a new addition to the list with some of the other wings re-signing. He is not an elite goal scorer anymore, but he is always going to be in the lineup and while his goal scoring has started to dry up he remains an excellent playmaker. You need a specialized role for him, but he can still provide something.

    Free agent goalies: Campbell to Oilers, Capitals get Kuemper, more

    Free agent goalies: Campbell to Oilers, Capitals get Kuemper, more
    Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

    With names like Ville Husso and Marc-Andre Fleury being kept from the 2022 NHL Free Agency goalie market, it’s no surprise that a lot of goalies are getting signed right off the bat on Wednesday. Let’s review some of the most prominent free agent goalie signings, including Jack Campbell to the Oilers and Darcy Kuemper with the Capitals.

    Oilers sign Jack Campbell: five years, $5M cap hit

    The Oilers opened up considerable salary cap space by trading Zack Kassian and seeing Duncan Keith retire.

    Personally, I would’ve preferred that the Oilers try to stay spry. Focus on bargains and values, while keeping yourself flexible in case your moves don’t work out. Instead, the Oilers are making some considerable bets on veteran players, especially from a term perspective.

    Maybe these moves will work out, maybe not.

    Late on Tuesday/early on Wednesday, the Oilers signed Evander Kane after all, handing a player with a long list of “controversies and legal issues” a four-year contract with a $5.125 million cap hit.

    Like Kane, Jack Campbell is 30 years old. That’s part of the equation in assessing if the Oilers made the right call in handing Jack Campbell a five-year contract with a $5M cap hit.

    On one hand, it’s promising that Campbell sports a .916 save percentage, and generated 17.7 Goals Saved Above Average throughout his career. He’s also a widely beloved teammate, something you uh couldn’t always say about Evander Kane.

    For a 30-year-old goalie, his resume isn’t that large, though. Campbell’s only played 135 regular-season games in the NHL. Last season was his closest to being a borderline No. 1 goalie, as he appeared in 39 contests. Otherwise, he’s played 31 games or less (sometimes far less).

    So, basically, there’s a mix of good and bad with Campbell, so we’ll see if the Oilers are glad they made a significant investment (again, especially in term).

    Capitals end offseason goalie shuffling with Darcy Kuemper signing

    If you were to spotlight an issue for the Capitals in 2021-22 (besides Father Time knocking on the door), it would be goaltending. Time will tell if the Capitals actually improved enough to justify their spending, but you can’t accuse them of sitting idly by.

    After trading Vitek Vanecek and letting Ilya Samsonov (more on him soon) walk, the Capitals signed the big goalie free agent fish in Darcy Kuemper. The Capitals signed Darcy Kuemper to a five-year contract with a $5.25 million cap hit.

    When it comes to judging Kuemper, it’s an especially interesting case.

    It’s a misconception that Kuemper and Pavel Francouz failed to give the Avalanche quality goaltending all season long. Instead, Kuemper was fantastic during the regular season. His recent track record is very, very promising.

    Things just got rocky in the playoffs, especially after a scary eye injury.

    Really, a detail like this would make me slightly concerned. What if Kuemper can’t track the puck at the level he once did?

    Later on, the Capitals made another reasonably promising bet in Charlie Lindgren. Naturally, the NHL sample size is small, but it could pay off nicely since they signed him for a few years at a small clip:

    Maple Leafs complete free agent goalie moves by adding Samsonov

    After trading Petr Mrazek and letting Jack Campbell walk in free agency, the Maple Leafs enter 2022-23 with a goalie tandem of Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov.

    Following salary retention, Murray carries about a $4.688 million cap hit for the next two seasons. The Maple Leafs made an interesting short-term bet on Samsonov, 25, at $1.8M for 2022-23. From there, he could become a restricted free agents, and would have salary arbitration rights.

    If you want, a subset of Maple Leafs fans will give you a full-bodied defense of the Matt Murray trade somewhere on social media. Personally, it still seems like a very, very dicey bet.

    [Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Tracker]

    One of the (not especially convincing) arguments to getting Murray is that goaltending is unpredictable. It is, but wouldn’t that approach lead you to spending less in salary cap space, not well over $4.5M?

    Instead, the Maple Leafs signing Samsonov adheres closer to that (defeatist and/or pragmatic?) logic. If Samsonov struggles again, it’s not a huge investment. If they find something, he’s young and cheap for at least one season. It’s a bet on potential and maybe lowered expectations.

    Other NHL free agent goalie moves

    Let’s run down other free agent goalie moves of note:

    Evander Kane heading back to Oilers on four-year, $20.5M deal

    evander kane oilers
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Who needs insiders? Evander Kane broke his own signing on Twitter early Wednesday morning east coast time, announcing he had agreed to a four-year, $20.5 million deal with the Edmonton Oilers.

    The Oilers had allowed Kane and his agent to speak to other teams ahead of the opening of NHL free agency, but in the end he will remain in Edmonton.

    “Throughout the last 12 months there have been lots of road blocks, tons of adversity and many tough days. I’m grateful for the tremendous amount of support from family, friends, teammates, and others who have helped me stay strong through those difficult times,” Kane wrote in his Twitter message.

    “… A big part of my decision to stay in Edmonton was because of the opportunity given to me only seven months ago but also the chance to be a part of a championship team. I want to win, and I believe after signing this deal, we will be able to add the right pieces along with myself to accomplish that goal, a championship.”

    Kane joined the Oilers in January after the remainder of his seven-year, $49 million contract with the San Jose Sharks was terminated after he violated COVID-19 protocols while playing in the American Hockey League. A grievance was filed through the NHL Players’ Association and has not yet been ruled on.

    [FROM OCT: NHL suspends Kane 21 games for COVID protocol violation]

    In 43 games with Edmonton Kane, 30, scored 22 goals and recorded 39 points. His production continued into the playoffs as he netted 13 goals and 17 assists in 15 games while helping the Oilers reach the Western Conference Final.

    According to Puck Media, Kane will make $750,000 in salary plus a $5.5 million signing bonus this season; $1.5 million in salary and a $4 million signing bonus in 2023-24; $2.75 million in salary and a $2 million signing bonus in 2024-25; and a $4 million salary in 2025-26, the final year of the contract.

    [NHL free agency tracker 2022: Full list of offseason signings]

    Also of note, the contract does contain a no-movement clause but it only lasts until Feb. 28, 2025 — the third year — and then Kane has a 16-team no-trade list for the rest of the deal.

    “I think my message to the fans would be I’ve done my due diligence,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said after signing Kane in January. “I’ve talked to a lot of people. … Certainly we’re trying to win, trying to be a more competitive team. It’s a move made to make our team better. … Like Evander said…Evander is 30. He’s been through a lot of experiences in his life, and I believe there’s another opportunity here that can be a positive experience for all of us, for the fans, for Evander, and the Edmonton Oilers.”


    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.


    Duncan Keith retirement adds Oilers cap space, Blackhawks penalty

    Duncan Keith retirement adds Oilers cap space, Blackhawks penalty
    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    Duncan Keith has announced his retirement from the NHL. This is, of course, huge news for the player and his fans. It’s also noteworthy from a salary cap standpoint, as it opens up room for the Edmonton Oilers while the Chicago Blackhawks face a recapture penalty.

    At least some of that tension is mended by the Blackhawks’ being in a full-blown rebuild. Maybe?

    Duncan Keith retires after a tremendous career

    This ends quite the career for the 38-year-old defenseman.

    Keith spent 16 of his 17 NHL seasons with the Blackhawks, who drafted him in the second round (54th overall) in 2002.

    During his time with the Blackhawks, Keith won two Norris Trophies, three Stanley Cups, the 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy, and made multiple All-Star teams. Keith played 1,192 of his 1,256 regular season games with Chicago, and suited up for 135 of his 151 career playoff games as a member of the Blackhawks.

    Last offseason, the Blackhawks traded Keith to the Oilers for Caleb Jones and a pick. At the time, it was noted that the Blackhawks didn’t need to retain salary to trade Keith.

    Naturally, Keith’s decision to retire complicates that part of the analysis.

    [NHL free agency tracker 2022: Full list of offseason signings]

    Keith retirement helps Oilers as they navigate salary cap challenges; Blackhawks face recapture penalty

    Sometimes, it feels like a team gains breathing room with each day. In the case of the Oilers, that’s been literally true during the past couple days.

    On Thursday, the Oilers sent some picks to the Coyotes to take on the remainder of Zack Kassian‘s contract. On Friday, news surfaced about Keith retiring.

    Keith was to carry about a $5.534 million cap hit in 2022-23. Instead, the Blackhawks foot that bill for 2022-23, and face an additional salary cap recapture penalty. About the only silver lining is that Chicago’s deep into a rebuild, so they won’t be counting every dollar in the same way they did during much of Keith’s prime.

    Granted, it’s still dead money, and the Blackhawks might have wanted to weaponize their salary cap space more than they already had. It’s another example of the NHL’s excessively punitive response to teams legally “circumventing” the salary cap.

    Keith might not be the only Oilers player who retires this summer, either. It’s believed there’s a real chance Mike Smith may also end his career or get placed on long-term injured reserve.

    Chances are, whoever ends up in the Oilers’ net will cost more than Smith’s $2.2M cap hit. Still, it’s clear that the Oilers have opened up a lot of salary cap space recently, at a time when it’s badly needed.

    What happens next is crucial. Will the Oilers be savvy about how they use (still-limited) salary cap space to improve the supporting cast around Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl? Or will they just make the same mistakes and ask those two to clean up those errors?

    It hasn’t always been pretty, exactly, but Edmonton has breathing room to make some moves.