The Edmonton Oilers reunited winger Connor Brown with his junior teammate Connor McDavid on Saturday by signing Brown to a one-year contract.
The 29-year-old Toronto native played only the first four games of the Washington Capitals last season because of a knee injury he suffered on October 17.
He had season-ending surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Brown signed for the NHL minimum wage of US$775,000, but according to CapFriendly, his deal was loaded with incentives that brought his price to $4 million.
Oilers general manager Ken Holland said Saturday, “We’re trying to win. We’re adding top six forwards for $775,000. You’re going to pay the price at some point.” “My expectation is that it will take a while for him to move on.
“I talked to Connor Brown today. He said he’s skating, he’s pushing, he’s training hard, feeling good, knows he’s got two months before he gets to training camp. And they are good. You can’t read the future, but all indications are that everything is looking good.”
Brown scored 90 goals and 126 assists in 448 career NHL games with Washington, Ottawa and Toronto.
The six-foot, 181-pound forward was drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2012 in the sixth round.
Brown was a teammate of Oilers captain McDavid when they both played for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League from 2012 to 2014.
Holland said, “I talked to Connor McDavid two or three times since the end of the season about Connor Brown.” “A player who doesn’t like to lose. You’re bringing a guy into the locker room who’s bringing a lot of determination, a lot of passion.
“I’m sure he’ll drive himself to get up and running as quickly as possible.”
Brown appeared in all 82 regular-season games for the Leafs for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019, and was a teammate of current Oiler Zack Hyman before his move to the Senators.
Brown also had one goal and four assists in 20 playoff games for Toronto. He scored 47 goals and 70 assists over three seasons with Ottawa before the Capitals acquired him in a trade.
The Oilers were in the market for cheap forwards.
Edmonton sent wingers Keller Yamamoto and Klim Kostin to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday to create cap flexibility ahead of free agency.
Edmonton’s power-play quarterback Evan Bouchard and forward Ryan McLeod are restricted free agents this summer.
“We didn’t have a lot of cap space,” Holland said. “You saw the deal I made the other day. I couldn’t afford Costin. He wanted $2 million.
“I’m not sure whether we’re going to take 12 forwards or 13. Because of the uncertainty of what needs to be done to sign (Bouchard) and McLeod… definitely we’d like a fourth-line centre.
“I’ll have to hold back some money to get those people done.”
Forward Nick Bjugstad returned to the Arizona Coyotes on a two-year contract after the Oilers picked up the 30-year-old at the trade deadline.
He scored four goals and two assists in 19 games, as well as three goals in 12 playoff games for Edmonton.
Edmonton (50-23-9) reached the second round of the playoffs this year.
The Oilers were ousted in six games by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights.
Edmonton was eliminated in the 2021 Western Conference Finals by the Colorado Avalanche, who won the Cup that year.
“When you look at the window we’re in now, what we’ve accomplished over the last two years, the core of our team is signed up,” Holland said. “You look at the age of the core of our team, They are at their peak.
“We’re in it to try to win it.”
In addition, the Oilers on Saturday announced the signings of forwards Drake Cagiula and Len Pederson to two-year contracts with an annual salary of $775,000.
Cagiula, from Pickering, Ont., played two and a half seasons with the Oilers from 2016 to 2019 before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The five-foot-10-inch, 176-inch forward has scored 46 goals and 45 assists in 282 career NHL games for Edmonton, Chicago, Arizona, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
Pedersen, from Saskatoon, had two goals and one assist in 16 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets last season.
The 25-year-old has a career high four goals and seven assists in 71 NHL games with San Jose, Vancouver and Columbus.
Edmonton also signed defenseman Noel Hofenmayer to a one-year, entry-level contract.
The 24-year-old totaled 13 goals, 34 assists and 138 penalty minutes over the past three seasons with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 1, 2023.