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Preds and Oilers Win Early Days of Free Agency

Two different teams with different needs getting it done in the offseason.

We’re just two days into free agency and there are already some teams emerging as winners of the offseason. In the Western Conference, the Preds and Oilers specifically made some great moves as soon as they could, and both are now set up for exciting 2024/25 seasons. After last year, expectations surrounding these teams are certainly different, but both are doing all they can to fulfill those expectations of fans and players alike. Let’s take a look at how each team has already gotten better.

Nashville Predators

The Preds and Oilers were both busy on Monday, but it was Nashville that stole the early headlines with their acquisitions. After resigning goaltender Juuse Saros to an 8-year deal worth $62 million, they went ahead and inked Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Marchessault and Brady Skjei to four-, five-, and seven-year deals. Sure, all three players are in their thirties, but all three players have also yet to show any signs of aging. Marchessault and Stamkos were both included in our Top Five Forwards of Free Agency list, which you can check out here.

Stamkos may have over 1000 NHL games on his resume already, but he’s been over a point-per-game in each of the last three seasons and a 40-goal scorer twice. For Marchessault, the five years may take him to the end of his career, but he’s also showing no signs of slowing down yet. Just last season, he smashed his career high in goals with 42. Finally, there’s Brady Skjei. The 30-year old blueliner got the longest term of the three players, but he could certainly be a positive factor for Nashville every season he’s there. Last year, he reached a career high in points with 47 while remaining one of Carolina’s better defensive players. If he can continue to produce offensively, he’ll be the perfect second option to Roman Josi for years to come.

Looking ahead to next season, I expect to see all three play significant roles for the Preds. There’s a pretty good chance that former teammates Marchessault and Stamkos will play together on a line as well as the first powerplay unit, while Skjei could find himself playing much of the season alongside Josi. 

These guys are certainly getting older, but the impact they’ll have on Nashville should be immediate. For a team that played Vancouver pretty tough in the first round last year, the improvement to the roster is clear. Nothing’s easy in the Central division, but I expect this Predators team to make a lot more noise in 2025.

Edmonton Oilers

There were certainly different goals and strategies for the Preds and Oilers given how last season went, but both found ways to win. Unlike Nashville, the Oilers didn’t need to go out and sign big name players to long contracts. Instead, they kept almost their entire roster intact with team-friendly deals and grabbed two proven scorers for bargains. Important depth pieces like Connor Brown, Mattias Janmark, Adam Henrique and Corey Perry are all returning for the Oilers. In the postseason, all four proved how important they were to the success of the team and all took team-friendly deals to run it back. This year seemed to be the first in Connor McDavid’s time with Edmonton that the depth players really stepped up at big times, and it almost brought the Cup back to Alberta as a result. 

For a team so close to winning it all last year, they could have been happy just keeping the team intact. Edmonton, however, improved their top six with signings of Jeff Skinner and Viktor Arvidsson to low risk, high reward deals. Both Skinner and Arvidsson have scored more than 30 goals multiple times in their careers and could be in for big seasons alongside Draisaitl and McDavid. Despite the exciting upside, the Oilers will pay a combined $7 million for their services next season. 

Being as good as they already are, Edmonton had limited options in free agency and still managed to get better. It certainly would have been nice to see the team shore up the defence a little bit more, but there’s no argument that, at this point, they have one of the deepest group of forwards in the league headlined by two of the very best players in the world. If Skinner and Arvidsson find some chemistry and consistency on the top two lines, I don’t see how Edmonton isn’t even better next year than they were last.

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