In the spring of 2019, during the early days of Ken Holland’s time as Edmonton Oilers general manager, the organization built a plan that involved small moves to address big problems until the money shook loose in the summer of 2021.
At that time, management looked to free agency in order to address the needs that held the team back in previous winters: A strong goalie option, a scoring or two-way winger, an No. 3 centre and an upgrade at left defence behind Darnell Nurse.
The club re-signed veteran forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (eight years, $5.125 million cap hit) and goalie Mike Smith (two years, $2.2 million cap hit) in front of free agency.
Holland signed Zach Hyman (seven years, $5.5 million cap hit), Cody Ceci (four years, $3.25 million cap hit) and Derek Ryan (two years, $1.25 million cap hit) on July 28. Edmonton also re-signed defenceman Tyson Barrie on July 28, a three-year deal at $4.5 million per year.
A trade, for Duncan Keith, went down in mid-July, bringing two years and a cap hit of $5.538 million.