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Oilers GM Ken Holland Faces Some Big Off-Season Decisions

The Edmonton Oilers enjoyed their best post-season performance in years, but a big summer is looming.
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The Edmonton Oilers enjoyed their best post-season performance in years by reaching the 2022 Western Conference final. After getting swept by the powerful Colorado Avalanche, general manager Ken Holland must build up his roster for next season.

Cap Friendly shows the Oilers with $7.1 million in cap space with 15 players under contract for 2022-23. Evander Kane is slated to become an unrestricted free agent while Jesse Puljujarvi is among their restricted free agents.

Signing Kane will be among Holland's priorities. The 30-year-old winger meshed well with Connor McDavid after joining the Oilers in January following his contract termination by the San Jose Sharks.

Kane enjoyed playing for the Oilers but was non-committal over whether he'll return. The outcome of his contract termination grievance with the Sharks will factor into his decision but he could still prove expensive to sign.

Holland must trim some salary-cap payroll to make room for Kane's next contract. Sportsnet's Mark Spector suggested Tyson Barrie ($4.5 million cap hit) or Zack Kassian ($3.2 million) as cost-cutting trade candidates.

Holland seemed uncertain over Puljujarvi's future during his season wrap-up press conference. That prompted Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson to suggest swapping the 24-year-old winger for the Chicago Blackhawks' Dylan Strome.

Jason Gregor of Oilers Nation reported sources said Mike Smith was considering retirement. The 40-year-old goalie told reporters it was too early to tell if he'll hang up his pads. However, The Athletic's Daniel Nugent-Bowman pointed out that Smith didn't say if he'll return with the Oilers.

Smith is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $2.2 million. That comes off the Oilers' books if he retires, but it will leave Holland scrambling to find a new starting goalie.

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