On the morning of training camp, the Edmonton Oilers have finally locked in their lone remaining restricted free agent, agreeing to terms with forward Ryan McLeod on a one-year contract extension worth $798,000.
The deal, which came at the last possible second of the offseason on Thursday morning, keeps McLeod in Edmonton for what should be a pivotal year for the franchise and ensures that he retains his RFA status upon expiry.
Cap space. The Oilers have none of it. In fact, they have a negative amount, with CapFriendly listing them as approximately $6,781,333 over the cap with just 11 forwards signed prior to McLeod's deal this morning.
That's why Ryan McLeod remained without an extension for so long. Even when the Oilers are eligible to put Mike Smith and Oskar Klefbom's deals on LTIR, they'll still be over the $82.5 million threshold, meaning that GM Ken Holland will need to move some money out in order to allow the team to ice four full forward lines and stay compliant.
Whether that materializes as an ill-advised Jesse Puljujarvi trade or attaching a sweetener to Warren Foegle in order to entice another team to assume his cap hit, something will need to be done with the Oilers' roster prior to the start of the season.
Still, getting McLeod signed for just a smidge above the league-minimum rate is a boon for the club.
The 22-year-old looked like a bonafide big-leaguer last season, managing to make the most of his paltry 12:45 in nightly ice time by racking up 21 points in 71 games on an Oilers team that made a surprising run to the Western Conference final. Not to mention, McLeod is a rare developmental success story that comes outside of the first round for the Oilers, with the club taking him 40th overall in the 2018 draft and guiding him all the way to the NHL.
Now that he's locked in, the real work begins.