Expansion Opportunities

Jonathan Willis
January 02 2017 09:00AM

67-Pouliot-7

When the Vegas Golden Knights make their selection from the Edmonton Oilers at this summer’s expansion draft, my guess is that it will be one of two players: Benoit Pouliot or Mark Fayne.

Superficially, neither is an ideal pick for Vegas, but Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has the ability to make such a choice worthwhile for the Knights, and presumably he also has the motivation.

Benoit Pouliot

One of the things working in favour of a Pouliot selection is the fact that there just isn’t going to be that much offensive talent available this summer. For most teams, a scheme which protects seven forwards makes sense, which is going to leave a lot of third-liners exposed.

Pouliot is obviously not a favourite of the current administration—recall that Chiarelli let him walk after a 16-goal season in Boston to make room for Jordan Caron—but he has more scoring ability than he’s shown this season. Entering this season he’d averaged 24 goals/82 games played with the Oilers and he only just turned 30 at the start of the year. This season hasn’t worked out for him, but as a reclamation project he makes a lot of sense for a Vegas team that is going to be woefully short of skilled forwards.

Having said that, Pouliot is also in the middle of an awful campaign and has two years left at a $4.0 million cap hit after this one. In some ways his situation is comparable to that of Teddy Purcell when Purcell wound up in Edmonton, and given his contract one must assume that his trade value is negative.

For the Oilers, offering an incentive to Vegas to make this selection makes sense. In some ways it works in the favour of the Golden Knights, who could collect some kind of future while at the same time adding a useful NHL forward who can play in all situations. For Edmonton, the obvious upside is clearing away the salary of a player the coach doesn’t seem to trust.

Mark Fayne

5-Fayne-4

Fayne’s situation is similar to Pouliot’s in some ways. His value as a player is obviously lower at this point, but at the same time he has just one year left on his current contract rather than two.

For Vegas, the appeal is in landing a right-shot defenceman who can be thrown to the wolves for a while to buy time for younger players. There are going to be some decent blueliners available in expansion, but predominantly those players are left-shot options.

Working against this is Fayne’s contract and status. It’s more difficult to make a case for him as a reclamation project than it is for Pouliot. Additionally, while buying out Pouliot’s contract would be a major headache, the last year of Fayne’s deal isn’t really that costly. By my math, the cap hit on a buyout would be a modest $1.3 million in 2017-18 and then $1.2 million in 2018-19.

However, with Connor McDavid’s new contract kicking in for the 2018-19 season, Edmonton might well prefer to avoid the buyout entirely and just burn Fayne’s $3.625 million cap hit in 2017-18 and be done with it.

On the whole, this is a less likely scenario than a Pouliot selection, but it might work if the Oilers can move Pouliot in another deal (likely retaining salary in the process). In that event, Edmonton would be eager to remove Fayne’s cap hit and Vegas would be an obvious destination.

What it Would Take

88-Davidson-2

As it stands, Brandon Davidson seems like the most likely selection for the Golden Knights. Edmonton won’t have trouble protecting its forwards, and Davidson fits the sweet spot of cheap, young, somewhat experienced and potentially capable of playing top-four minutes at some point in the future.

For the Oilers, convincing Vegas to take a Pouliot or Fayne would require offering enough assets to compensate the Golden Knights for a) missing out on Davidson and b) taking on the remaining dollars of a Pouliot/Fayne.

To work with, the Oilers have a full set of 2018 and 2019 picks. The club doesn’t own a second-rounder in 2017, but should have extra third- and fifth-round picks that year. In the Knights’ shoes, prospects make sense, too and Edmonton has some options there.

Such a deal would make sense for both teams. The Oilers would be able to clear money and keep Davidson in the system. Vegas would be able to add an established player, but more importantly stock up on picks and prospects. It’s likely to be a few years before the Golden Knights are really competitive, and so this expansion draft is likely to be almost as much about extorting futures from teams as it will be grabbing NHL-ready talent. 

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 OilCan2
January 02 2017, 09:11AM
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Everything was fine until you mentioned Davidson possibly leaving.

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#2 Spydyr
January 02 2017, 09:30AM
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I'm far more interested in what players especially defencman the Oilers can pick up then what one player the Oilers will lose.

Teams will be looking to move players for something before losing them for nothing and trades can be made with Vegas for players they claim.

This is the summer to build a contender.

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#3 Mitch92
January 02 2017, 09:43AM
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The Oilers would be wise to leave RHN and Eberle unprotected and protect the young guys who they are growing their team with. If Vegas bites on one of those two it opens up six million in cap space to work with.

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#4 OriginalPouzar
January 02 2017, 09:50AM
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Ryan Nugent Hopkins played on the 23 and under team at the World Cup. Lets not forget how young this kid is and the fact that he's a few years away from the start of his prime.

There is zero chance he will be left unprotected.

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#5 Spydyr
January 02 2017, 09:59AM
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Mitch92 wrote:

The Oilers would be wise to leave RHN and Eberle unprotected and protect the young guys who they are growing their team with. If Vegas bites on one of those two it opens up six million in cap space to work with.

Nuge, come on man!

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#6 Spydyr
January 02 2017, 10:00AM
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OilCan2 wrote:

Everything was fine until you mentioned Davidson possibly leaving.

Davidson is exactly who I would take if I was Vegas.

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#7 MGD
January 02 2017, 10:04AM
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Vegas has to get to the cap floor, so I'm sure they'll be looking at players like Pouliot who are half way decent and carry a decent cap-hit.

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#8 Slipknot 8
January 02 2017, 10:06AM
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I think Vegas would take a long look at Pouliot if the Oilers added a sweetener.

Ether way, the Oilers are dumping Fayne and Pouliot before next year, the Cap space will be to important not to.

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#9 camdog
January 02 2017, 10:12AM
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I guess it depends on how well Davidson plays the rest of the season. If he plays like he did last year odds are Vegas takes him. If he struggles and get's hurt again Vegas might make a move like that.

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#10 Copper
January 02 2017, 10:38AM
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Veterans with expiring contracts will be of great value to Vegas. A RHD like Fayne may bring extra picks at trade deadline 2018.

Now. If only PC can convince Vegas of the value AND trade Pouliot to them...

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#11 Twitch
January 02 2017, 10:47AM
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Aside from Alzner(Burns will get signed) there isn't much on the free agent D market worth looking at, so keeping Davidson is important to the depth of the Oilers future unless Oesterle really steps up his game. Making whatever deal they can to keep Davidson should be Chiarelli's #1 priority this off-season.

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#12 vetinari
January 02 2017, 10:55AM
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I used to freak out about losing a player in expansion but at the end of the day, every team will lose one and you can't deplete your roster so that none of the available players are attractive to LV... and LV has an experienced GM running the show so they are not going to just be a dumping ground for bad contracts.

If we lose a defenseman, like Davidson or Reinhart, it hurts but we have Bear and Jones moving up through the ranks to replace them eventually. We could also look at signing a short term UFA, like Russell, on a bridge deal as a stop gap. I would only be worried if we had loaded defences like Anaheim or St. Louis where you know that you would be losing either a starter or a quality prospect.

If we lose a physical depth forward, like Kassian, Hendricks or Pitlick, Chiarelli has shown a knack for finding these guys in trades and UFA signings.

I think the expansion draft will open up trade options between teams because once guys are selected, teams will have more cap room and the incentive to backfill their systems through trades. This should be an active and interesting off season.

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#13 24% body fat
January 02 2017, 11:14AM
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Poos contract is actually good for an expansion team. They need to hit the floor so I Veteran forward with two years left at an age where the contract wont kill you might look nice.

The way Davidson has played since being back I dont think vegas will want him if that is the way he is going to play. And the if a lot of teams go 7 -3 than there just may be that many better defence than Davidson.

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#15 IRONman
January 02 2017, 11:48AM
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Vegas will be like Toronto

They want it all and right now.

What players can we get before deadline?

Shattenkirk?? They can't afford him.

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#16 Hemmercules
January 02 2017, 11:49AM
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I hope Chia can work something to keep Davidson. Losing a good young Dman isn't something the Oilers need right now. I think throwing them a pick to take Fayne or Pouliot is a good plan but depends on the pick. Probably have to be a decent pick to take Fayne. If Pouliot doesn't improve it will have to be a pretty decent pick as well.

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#17 camdog
January 02 2017, 11:52AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The problem is that every team in the NHL will have bad contracts that they want to foist on the Golden Knights.

Vegas is in a great position to leverage additional assets out of teams like Edmonton.

And that is why they won't feel the need to lose an expansion pick in the process as suggested in your proposal.

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#18 PepsiForTheWin
January 02 2017, 11:57AM
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Are we not signing Russell? I would think he is more interesting to Vegas

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#19 Total Points
January 02 2017, 12:21PM
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Twitch wrote:

Aside from Alzner(Burns will get signed) there isn't much on the free agent D market worth looking at, so keeping Davidson is important to the depth of the Oilers future unless Oesterle really steps up his game. Making whatever deal they can to keep Davidson should be Chiarelli's #1 priority this off-season.

Burns is already signed

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#20 Explicit
January 02 2017, 12:29PM
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Any chance we can get Vegas to take both of them?

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#22 dsanchez1973
January 02 2017, 12:43PM
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Oilers are the only team trying to make convoluted moves to ensure we don't face the possibility of losing a guy with 70 NHL games playing at the position we have the most depth in. Davidson is a decent prospect but we're not talking about the next lidstrom here.

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#23 Seriously Bored
January 02 2017, 12:56PM
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@dsanchez1973

Media and bloggers discussing it does not mean the oilers are actively trying to do this.

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#24 Gadgets
January 02 2017, 01:28PM
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Can I please not hear about how Vegas will take our expensive contracts because they need to get to the floor anymore? There are a ton on expensive contracts that some teams will gladly pay vegas extra to take off their hands. Why take Pouliot "just to get to the floor" when LA will give them a second rounder to take Dustin Brown for example

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#25 Poloismz
January 02 2017, 02:18PM
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Losing a player like Pouliot would sting, yes his contract isn't that great right now, but maybe if this coaching staff were to give him the chances to get out of his funk like they seem to do with everyone else on the roster, it might not be so bad. Teams who have depth win games and cups. There is no one in this organization to replace a player like Pouliot when he is playing well.

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#26 Oiler Al
January 02 2017, 02:21PM
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Dont see it any other way than: 4/3 ........

Dria, Eberle, Lucic, Maroon, and defense Larrson, Klefbom, and Sekera.

If they go 4/4 than you flip Davidson for Maroon.

Any other ideas.?

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#27 Leaking5w-30
January 02 2017, 02:32PM
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Fayne has cleared waiver each of the last two years... aka he has no value. Why would vegas take him in the expansion draft if they know he will come availbe for free later ( either buy out or waiver wire)?

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#28 Copper
January 02 2017, 02:45PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Dont see it any other way than: 4/3 ........

Dria, Eberle, Lucic, Maroon, and defense Larrson, Klefbom, and Sekera.

If they go 4/4 than you flip Davidson for Maroon.

Any other ideas.?

It's 7 forwards , 3 Dmen and 1 goalie or 8 skaters and 1 goalie

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#29 Dwayne Roloson 35
January 02 2017, 03:33PM
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I like Davidson but it's not the end of the world if he gets taken. Left side is pretty set with sexbomb, Sekera and Nurse. We also have some decent prospects who are almost ready for the show.

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#30 Samesame
January 02 2017, 04:13PM
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@vetinari

Reinhart is nowhere near davidsons class at present. hes not a write off yet, but hes a slow footed ahl defender, while davidson is a great option on the 3rd pair and can even slot in the top 4 in spot duty.

And bear and jones are just good prospects at present. "Eventual fill ins" is not what this team can afford to look at right now. Theyre finally making real strides partly due to the depth they have and they need to keep the ball rolling. Losing davidson would hurt immensely as hes exactly the type of defencemen that winning teams have furthur down their lineup.

The oilers will probably go the 7-3 route at present to be sure to protect maroon, but one of PC's top priorities needs to be finding a way to sweeten a deal and keep vegas away from selecting davidson.

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#31 Samesame
January 02 2017, 04:20PM
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@Dwayne Roloson 35

Davidson can comfortably play his offside.

We have no prospects on davidsons level that can also play tough minutes like hes shown.

Benning has been the one nice surprise and gives us some options going forward to slot him in next season. But imo, its more important to keep davidson (and that steal of a deal) than it is to offer russel some silly contract we'll regret going forward

I could live with nurse in a top 4 role next season (or brandon if nurse struggles) with benning and davidson making up a solid well rounded 3rd pair

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#32 godot10
January 02 2017, 05:00PM
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The Oilers would be nuts not to go 4/4/1 and protect Davidson as the 4th defensemen.

Forwards are easy to find. Defensemen not so much. Add in the fact that Benning and Nurse don't need protection, and the Oilers get to keep their best 6 defensemen coming out of the expansion draft.

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#33 camdog
January 02 2017, 05:08PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

They're spending 30 expansion picks on guys who are almost all going to need waivers to go down to the minors. They can only keep 23 of them.

I expect a bunch of expansion picks to be used on expensive players after the NHL teams involved have made a suitable payment to Vegas to make those selections.

If Vegas were to trade Davidson back to the Oilers for a a third round draft pick they wouldn't need to be burdened with taking on salary and a roster spot for a bloated contract that they can easily find as a free agent.

Pouliot and or Fayne being dealt to Vegas would likely be a separate deal involving even more draft picks going their way. Oilers aren't really in a good place to bleed draft picks, they need to start developing some prospects.

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#34 Robin Brownlee
January 02 2017, 05:09PM
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"Entering this season he’d averaged 24 goals/82 games played with the Oilers . . ."*

*Hasn't scored 20 goals in a single season during his career/has averaged .26 GPG as an Oiler, which would translate to 21.32 goals IF he played all 82 games in a season.

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#35 tealyn
January 02 2017, 05:40PM
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@OriginalPouzar

There better be zero chance or the pickforks are coming out!!!!

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#36 McJeetz
January 02 2017, 06:35PM
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Mitch92 wrote:

The Oilers would be wise to leave RHN and Eberle unprotected and protect the young guys who they are growing their team with. If Vegas bites on one of those two it opens up six million in cap space to work with.

While I wouldn't be hasty moving RNH, there is logic to exposing Eberle. He would for certain be picked up on waivers. It would be hard to trade Eberle without taking a player with salary back. Giving Eberle away for nothing allows...

Mcdavid to be signed

Draisaitl to be signed

Oilers to keep Davidson and Maroon. Davidson may have more long term value to the Oilers than Eberle. One can argue Maroon helps win games more than Eberle does.

The down side is the right wing is really depleted. Plus giving Eberle away is brutal asset management

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#37 JimmyV1965
January 02 2017, 07:12PM
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dsanchez1973 wrote:

Oilers are the only team trying to make convoluted moves to ensure we don't face the possibility of losing a guy with 70 NHL games playing at the position we have the most depth in. Davidson is a decent prospect but we're not talking about the next lidstrom here.

You have no idea what the Oilers are doing or what other teams are doing. They could all be making convoluted moves. This is just fun speculation. But if you can protect Davidson you do it.

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#38 JimmyV1965
January 02 2017, 07:22PM
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McJeetz wrote:

While I wouldn't be hasty moving RNH, there is logic to exposing Eberle. He would for certain be picked up on waivers. It would be hard to trade Eberle without taking a player with salary back. Giving Eberle away for nothing allows...

Mcdavid to be signed

Draisaitl to be signed

Oilers to keep Davidson and Maroon. Davidson may have more long term value to the Oilers than Eberle. One can argue Maroon helps win games more than Eberle does.

The down side is the right wing is really depleted. Plus giving Eberle away is brutal asset management

Wow!!! Your opinion of Eberle is incredibly poor. You may not like him, but they're are 29 teams in the NHL that would jump at the chance to get him. His salary is about the 70th highest in the NHL. The list of players with worse contracts than Eberle is staggering. Any GM who gives him up for free should be fired on the spot. And although I love Maroon, his career numbers don't even come close to Eberle's.

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#39 Slipknot 8
January 02 2017, 07:26PM
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godot10 wrote:

The Oilers would be nuts not to go 4/4/1 and protect Davidson as the 4th defensemen.

Forwards are easy to find. Defensemen not so much. Add in the fact that Benning and Nurse don't need protection, and the Oilers get to keep their best 6 defensemen coming out of the expansion draft.

Would like to keep Davidson too which is why I think they give up something to Vegas to take Pouliot.

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#40 pkam
January 02 2017, 08:13PM
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Gadgets wrote:

Can I please not hear about how Vegas will take our expensive contracts because they need to get to the floor anymore? There are a ton on expensive contracts that some teams will gladly pay vegas extra to take off their hands. Why take Pouliot "just to get to the floor" when LA will give them a second rounder to take Dustin Brown for example

Do you have a better example than Dustin Brown?

Brown is 32 and has been brutal the last 3 years so how likely he will rebound? And he still has 5 years left at 5.9M.

Pouliot has been good the last 2 seasons. This is his only bad season as an Oilers. He is only 30 and has only 2 years left at 4.0M.

You really think George McPhee will take Brown and a 2nd over Pouliot and a 3rd? If I am a GM, I will take Pouliot without any sweetener over Brown and a 2nd.

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#41 HardBoiledOil 1.0
January 02 2017, 08:21PM
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Hemmercules wrote:

I hope Chia can work something to keep Davidson. Losing a good young Dman isn't something the Oilers need right now. I think throwing them a pick to take Fayne or Pouliot is a good plan but depends on the pick. Probably have to be a decent pick to take Fayne. If Pouliot doesn't improve it will have to be a pretty decent pick as well.

with Sekera, Nurse, Klefbom, Benning, Larsson, Russell, Fayne, Gryba all here and Simpson, Reinhart, Musil still around in the AHL as well as Bear and Jones coming in the very near future, the Oilers most certainly could afford to lose Davidson and not have it effect them in the future. though we still don't have a franchise d-man or even a true #1, we now have plenty of depth in our system that would allow us to be able to absorb the loss of Davidson quite easily.

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#42 JimmyV1965
January 02 2017, 09:20PM
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pkam wrote:

Do you have a better example than Dustin Brown?

Brown is 32 and has been brutal the last 3 years so how likely he will rebound? And he still has 5 years left at 5.9M.

Pouliot has been good the last 2 seasons. This is his only bad season as an Oilers. He is only 30 and has only 2 years left at 4.0M.

You really think George McPhee will take Brown and a 2nd over Pouliot and a 3rd? If I am a GM, I will take Pouliot without any sweetener over Brown and a 2nd.

I would take Poo and Fayne every day of the week ahead of Brown. As far as really bad contracts go, the Oilers are doing okay. They don't have huge anchors with three or four years left on their deals. That's what makes Poo attractive give. He can still play and there's only two years left on the deal.

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#43 madjam
January 02 2017, 10:59PM
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Vegas would be interested in decent contracts associated with some size and truculence , meaning Kassian or Maroon over Letestu or Hendricks . Defensively Davidson or Reinhart would be an easy addition price wise .

We have no second round pick in draft , so I doubt Oilers will be dealing any draft picks to Vegas .

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#44 Samesame
January 02 2017, 11:17PM
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@HardBoiledOil 1.0

except that only 3 of those guys you listed are unequivocally better than davidson. and most havent proven they can play in they can play in the nhl.

nurse probably will be better, but hes still got some development to do without the puck.

benning is a nice young player, but again, hes not as adept without the puck as davidson. and hes got some development to do.

anything more than 3 mil short term for russel and we'll badly regret it.

fayne is horrible. gryba is nice depth guy and/or a #7, but nothing more. simpson is an ahl'er. reinhart is an ahl'er. musil is a career ahl'er.

bear and jones have never played a game in the show.

a guy that can play up and down the roster and handle tough minutes if neccesary all for just over a mil. those guys arent easy to replace

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#45 Samesame
January 02 2017, 11:22PM
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@JimmyV1965

dude's silly to even bother suggesting not protecting nuge or eberle.

theyll be protected, period. not even up for debate

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#46 HardBoiledOil 1.0
January 03 2017, 05:12AM
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Samesame wrote:

except that only 3 of those guys you listed are unequivocally better than davidson. and most havent proven they can play in they can play in the nhl.

nurse probably will be better, but hes still got some development to do without the puck.

benning is a nice young player, but again, hes not as adept without the puck as davidson. and hes got some development to do.

anything more than 3 mil short term for russel and we'll badly regret it.

fayne is horrible. gryba is nice depth guy and/or a #7, but nothing more. simpson is an ahl'er. reinhart is an ahl'er. musil is a career ahl'er.

bear and jones have never played a game in the show.

a guy that can play up and down the roster and handle tough minutes if neccesary all for just over a mil. those guys arent easy to replace

^and that's the other side of it though. Fayne and Gryba have no longevity here and the 3 AHLers may never be here full time. and yes Bear and Jones may not have proven anything yet in the NHL but they were both signed to ELC's so it does look somewhat promising for both. i really do believe that PC will try to do everything in his power to not lose Davidson and be one of the teams that makes a deal with Vegas that would allow us to keep him.

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#47 Aron S
January 03 2017, 01:56PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Unfortunately, JW has you on this one. He wrote "Entering this season" which is 33 goals in 113 games (.292 GPG), or just shy of 24 goals/82 games played.

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