The Edmonton Oilers have signed unrestricted free-agent Slater Koekkoek to a two-year contract worth $1,850,000, or $925,000 annually. The contract takes the defenseman through the 2022-23 season.
The Edmonton Oilers have signed defenceman Slater Koekoek to a two-year deal with am AAV of $925,000.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) August 12, 2021
Edmonton Oilers Signs Slater Koekkoek to Two-Year Deal
Koekkoek will enter his eighth NHL season when he suits up for the Oilers next year. The former first-round selection of the Tampa Bay Lightning spent close to five seasons in Tampa as a low-scoring, bottom-pairing defender. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019 in a deal for Jan Rutta.
He spent a season and a half in the Windy City, culminating his time there by playing against the Oilers in the 2020 playoffs. In that series, Kokekkoek made a strong impression as his Blackhawks beat the Oilers soundly. This prompted Edmonton to sign the defenseman last offseason to a one-year deal.
His initial season in Edmonton was less than ideal. He appeared in only 18 games, scoring one goal and no assists. Koekkoek broke his collarbone in a game on February 20th, and remained sidelined until the playoffs where he then appeared in all four games.
His possession numbers weren’t that great either, with sub-40% Corsi and Fenwick in just over 13 minutes of ice-time. This may have been more of a result of who he was playing with and against, however, as he spent more than half his time without Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl on the ice. Additionally, close to 70% of his time was played against middle-six competition and above (according to PuckIQ), whereas he tends to excel against lesser opposition.
What This Means Going Forward
The numbers show that Koekkoek struggled for the most part, but it’s possible some of this was situational. As it stands on the Oilers’ depth chart, Koekkoek will slot in behind Darnell Nurse and Duncan Keith on the left-hand side, likely competing with Kris Russell for the last spot in the top six. Dmitri Samorukov and Philip Borberg remain darkhorse candidates to compete as well.
If Koekkoek does slot in on the third pairing, he will likely spend time with youngster Evan Bouchard. Tippett will give Bouchard easier matchups given his age and experience, and that should translate into better results for Koekkoek.
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