Taking Advantage of Other Team’s Expansion Problems

Jonathan Willis
January 05 2017 10:00AM

Ryan Strome

Earlier this week, I wrote about how the expansion draft may offer the Edmonton Oilers an opportunity to shed a contract. The club’s somewhat unique positioning offers it a chance to do something else, though, too: Acquire a player from a team that will have trouble protecting all its forwards.

Edmonton’s Situation

4-Russell-2

The situation will change if the Oilers extend Kris Russell prior to expansion and decide to shield him, but until and unless that happens there are two likely protection setups for Edmonton:

  • 7 forwards, 3 defencemen, 1 goalie: Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon, Mark Letestu, Zack Kassian, Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson and Cam Talbot
  • 8 skaters, 1 goalie: Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Brandon Davidson and Cam Talbot

Your mileage may vary, but with Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse exempt, Edmonton has the option either to protect defensive depth (Davidson) or a bunch of forwards that it could afford to expose if it had to (Letestu, Kassian, even Maroon). The exact names matter less than knowing that those two general paths are the options.

The thing is that if the team is willing to risk Davidson (perhaps making a side deal to keep him safe, as suggested earlier this week) there are a bunch of extra protected slots that it could use for forwards. Lots of teams don’t have that luxury. That creates opportunity.

Teams With Problems

Matt Henderson wrote about adding a player last week—citing the above Bob Stauffer tweet—and came to the same conclusion: there’s room to add a forward, but not a defenceman. What I want to do is take the same process and apply it to NHL teams to figure out which clubs will be looking to clear out a forward lest they lose him for nothing to Las Vegas.

Here’s the list I ended up with:

  • Anaheim: The Ducks are in a terrible spot, mostly because of their blue line depth. Even if the team buys out Kevin Bieksa (or convinces him to waive his no-move clause) it’s going to be tough not to take an eight skaters approach. That leaves the team forced to choose between exposing one of Rickard Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg. Silfverberg is a tremendous player—only 26, a right shot, with good size, defensive instincts and scoring ability. He has a very reasonable $3.75 million cap hit for two more seasons.
  • Detroit: The Red Wings are having a tough year, but they still have the kind of forward depth that will be interesting to Las Vegas. The problem is that most of them are left shots, and the righties aren’t likely to be dealt.
  • Minnesota: We’ll see what happens with Jason Pominville, who the Wild must be desperate to clear off the roster. If they can’t, his NMC will take up a spot and force a tough decision somewhere else. The trouble from an Oilers standpoint is that it isn’t likely to be a right shot who comes free—it’s more likely to be a lefty in the Nino Niederreiter/Jason Zucker/Erik Haula class.
  • Nashville: Viktor Arvidsson’s strong play makes a difficult choice even tougher. Nashville will be hard-pressed not to go the eight skaters route, which will open up a ton of good forwards to possible claim or trade. Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok, both right shots, are particularly interesting from Edmonton’s perspective.
  • NY Islanders: One imagines the Isles protecting Ryan Pulock, and if so they have to take the eight skaters route. That would open up a bunch of forwards, with the most notable possibility from an Oilers viewpoint being Ryan Strome. The NMC on Andrew Ladd’s contract is the icing on the cake in terms of how bad that deal is, because it forces New York to use a slot on him (unless he can be convinced to waive the clause),
  • NY Rangers: The guy I wonder about here is Jesper Fast. It’s hard to see the Rangers finding a way to protect him, and the right-shooting Swede is a pretty interesting player. I
  • Philadelphia: Matt Read doesn’t seem likely to end up protected. Neither does Dale Weise, though given the year he’s having it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for the player.
  • Tampa Bay: The Lightning may be the most interesting team on the list in general terms, but perhaps not for the Oilers. The players on the bubble—Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov—are all left shots.
  • Toronto: Obligatory mention of Tyler Bozak, a right-shooting centre who had 12 power play goals in 2014-15.
  • Vancouver: Jannik Hansen has just one year left on his contract after this one, and it wouldn’t be a shock if Vancouver opted not to protect him. He’s a solid two-way player.

Anaheim and Nashville stand out on the list above. The Ducks are in a very tough spot, particularly since they have a narrow window to win with their older forwards. How they maneuver—and what they do with Silfverberg—will be very interesting to watch. The Predators don’t have quite the same dilemma, and could certainly afford to trade Smith or Jarnkrok in down years for those players.

The player who would really interest me, outside of Silfverberg, is Strome. The Islanders are going to have to do some juggling to keep the best parts of their roster intact, and sacrifices will be made. Strome’s young, has decent scoring rates and can’t seem to get on the good side of head coach Jack Capuano—he looks like a player who might be undervalued by the organization. 

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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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 Spydyr
January 05 2017, 10:14AM
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With teams only being able to protect three defenceman in the first scenario there should be a upgrade or two available for the Oiler's right side.

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#2 FISTO Siltanen
January 05 2017, 10:26AM
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I'm not a hater of either player but if the Oilers could trade both Nuge and Eberle for an RHD like Barrie they could still go the 8 skaters route and protect Maroon as well as the stated 5 defensemen.

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#3 whateverhappenedtoearledwards
January 05 2017, 10:28AM
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I'm guessing the Oil do the 7/3 route, being able to protect 10 rather than 8 is quite a difference. Even if they sign Russell then I see the 7/3 likely. This scenario would mean they would need to expose both Davidson and Russell, but would only lose one at worst and would keep one.

There are rumors that Russell is an Albertan who likes to play close to home. I wonder if he might be looking for a NMC is any new deal. With expansion coming a NMC at this point might be hard for anyone to agree with.

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#4 Spydyr
January 05 2017, 10:36AM
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whateverhappenedtoearledwards wrote:

I'm guessing the Oil do the 7/3 route, being able to protect 10 rather than 8 is quite a difference. Even if they sign Russell then I see the 7/3 likely. This scenario would mean they would need to expose both Davidson and Russell, but would only lose one at worst and would keep one.

There are rumors that Russell is an Albertan who likes to play close to home. I wonder if he might be looking for a NMC is any new deal. With expansion coming a NMC at this point might be hard for anyone to agree with.

IMO the reason they have not signed Russell is Chia feels there will be better options available this summer. Again, just my opinion.

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#5 Spydyr
January 05 2017, 10:37AM
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FISTO Siltanen wrote:

I'm not a hater of either player but if the Oilers could trade both Nuge and Eberle for an RHD like Barrie they could still go the 8 skaters route and protect Maroon as well as the stated 5 defensemen.

I would not trade Nuge alone for Barrie never mind both players.

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#6 T.J.F.M.
January 05 2017, 10:38AM
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If there was a way to get Strome out of NYI, it would be a no brainer to pursue. He would top the list of those mentioned which would fit in with out roster. It would also afford the Oilers some healthy competition with Eberle, something that Pujuls hasn't been able to accomplish this year - but could see him doing a couple of years from now.

After the Columbus game, i really would waive Pouliot. Nobody can tell me that Slepy (or even Lander) wouldn't represent a better effort than he.

Its not the fact that he isn't contributing offensively. It is that he is a liability every single time he is on the ice. He has checked out on the Oilers. Its time they check out on him. Take your losses and move on.

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#7 Rob...
January 05 2017, 10:41AM
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I wonder if the Oilers drafting Graham McPhee will give us a slight advantage in dealing with dear old dad. I'm not talking a huge advantage, as George is a professional, but just give him an ear more willing to listen to what Chia is offering.

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#8 Rama Lama
January 05 2017, 11:20AM
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T.J.F.M. wrote:

If there was a way to get Strome out of NYI, it would be a no brainer to pursue. He would top the list of those mentioned which would fit in with out roster. It would also afford the Oilers some healthy competition with Eberle, something that Pujuls hasn't been able to accomplish this year - but could see him doing a couple of years from now.

After the Columbus game, i really would waive Pouliot. Nobody can tell me that Slepy (or even Lander) wouldn't represent a better effort than he.

Its not the fact that he isn't contributing offensively. It is that he is a liability every single time he is on the ice. He has checked out on the Oilers. Its time they check out on him. Take your losses and move on.

I agree with you except that NYI management is much smarter than ours........I'm still fuming that someone thought getting Griffin Reinhart would solve our problems on defence.

Correct me if I'm wrong but we gave up two draft choices ( 1st and 2nd) and got nothing much in return.......priceless.

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#9 Will
January 05 2017, 11:29AM
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What does Anaheim take for Silfverburg is the question. He wouldn't come cheap, but he also wouldn't be traded for another forward they'd just have to protect so...

Likely Puljujarvi would be the asking price on that one. Either that or a 1st round pick. And that's a lot.

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#10 Randaman
January 05 2017, 11:34AM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I agree with you except that NYI management is much smarter than ours........I'm still fuming that someone thought getting Griffin Reinhart would solve our problems on defence.

Correct me if I'm wrong but we gave up two draft choices ( 1st and 2nd) and got nothing much in return.......priceless.

And that affects what we do in the future how??

This was not a good deal, we all know that so can we please try to move on??

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#11 Total Points
January 05 2017, 11:35AM
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Oilers need to find a sniper to play with McDavid.

McDavids effect on the other team and the play of the game has dwindled due to no finish on a McDavid rush.

The focus should be on this. It really doesn't matter which ONE player on the lower half of the team is kept or not kept

Chicago has proved this time and time.

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#12 Div 13 Machine
January 05 2017, 11:37AM
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T.J.F.M. wrote:

If there was a way to get Strome out of NYI, it would be a no brainer to pursue. He would top the list of those mentioned which would fit in with out roster. It would also afford the Oilers some healthy competition with Eberle, something that Pujuls hasn't been able to accomplish this year - but could see him doing a couple of years from now.

After the Columbus game, i really would waive Pouliot. Nobody can tell me that Slepy (or even Lander) wouldn't represent a better effort than he.

Its not the fact that he isn't contributing offensively. It is that he is a liability every single time he is on the ice. He has checked out on the Oilers. Its time they check out on him. Take your losses and move on.

I don't know whether Daryl Katz has infinite patience for mistakes, but Fayne is already sitting in Bakersfield making 3.5 M through the end of next season. Pouliot is 4 M for another 2 years after this. The exchange rate on USD is not great. Having both players in the minors may not be an option!

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#13 Div 13 Machine
January 05 2017, 11:39AM
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T.J.F.M. wrote:

If there was a way to get Strome out of NYI, it would be a no brainer to pursue. He would top the list of those mentioned which would fit in with out roster. It would also afford the Oilers some healthy competition with Eberle, something that Pujuls hasn't been able to accomplish this year - but could see him doing a couple of years from now.

After the Columbus game, i really would waive Pouliot. Nobody can tell me that Slepy (or even Lander) wouldn't represent a better effort than he.

Its not the fact that he isn't contributing offensively. It is that he is a liability every single time he is on the ice. He has checked out on the Oilers. Its time they check out on him. Take your losses and move on.

I don't know whether Daryl Katz has infinite patience for mistakes, but Fayne is already sitting in the Bakersfield making 3.5 M through the end of next season. Pouliot if 4 M for another 2 years after this. The exchange rate on USD is not great. Having both players in the minors may not be an option!

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#14 Oiler Al
January 05 2017, 11:44AM
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Total Points wrote:

Oilers need to find a sniper to play with McDavid.

McDavids effect on the other team and the play of the game has dwindled due to no finish on a McDavid rush.

The focus should be on this. It really doesn't matter which ONE player on the lower half of the team is kept or not kept

Chicago has proved this time and time.

Don't mind me chiming in, but I happen to agree with your point on #97 needing a sniper.That sniper would also have to have a good set of wheels.{seen enough of Lucic arriving on the afternoon bus] I know is hard to keep up with him but you have to be closer than # 27.

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#15 madjam
January 05 2017, 11:44AM
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After the exercise I find 6 likely RW candidates that should be available to Las Vegas . In order of preference they are :

D.Brown L.A. 5.875 M ,M. Grabner NYR 1.650 M , J. Silfverberg ANA. 3.75 M , B Richardson Arizona 2.083 M , P.A.Parenteau N.J. 1.250 M, and T. Wilson Wash. 2.00 M . Vegas might not take Wilson because they will probably take defenseman D. Orlov@ 2.750 M over him .

Vegas in goal will probably take Hellybucyk Winn. .667M , Vasilevsky Tampa 3.5M and M.Murray 3.75M Pitt. .

Vegas defense : D.Savard 4.25M Columbus, J.Brodin 4.166M Minn. , L.Sbisa 3.60M Van . , D.Orlov 2.570M Wash., J.Gorges 3.90M Buff., Schenn 1.250M Arizona if they don't take B. Richardson , D.Engelland 2.916 M Cal. , N.Zadorov .894M Colorado , J.Benn 1.10M Dallas and maybe Van Riemsdyk .825M Chi.

I have Oilers losing Pouliot to Vegas

D.Brown will probably be Vegas's top salary player and maybe the only bad contract to deal with .

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#16 whateverhappenedtoearledwards
January 05 2017, 11:51AM
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madjam wrote:

After the exercise I find 6 likely RW candidates that should be available to Las Vegas . In order of preference they are :

D.Brown L.A. 5.875 M ,M. Grabner NYR 1.650 M , J. Silfverberg ANA. 3.75 M , B Richardson Arizona 2.083 M , P.A.Parenteau N.J. 1.250 M, and T. Wilson Wash. 2.00 M . Vegas might not take Wilson because they will probably take defenseman D. Orlov@ 2.750 M over him .

Vegas in goal will probably take Hellybucyk Winn. .667M , Vasilevsky Tampa 3.5M and M.Murray 3.75M Pitt. .

Vegas defense : D.Savard 4.25M Columbus, J.Brodin 4.166M Minn. , L.Sbisa 3.60M Van . , D.Orlov 2.570M Wash., J.Gorges 3.90M Buff., Schenn 1.250M Arizona if they don't take B. Richardson , D.Engelland 2.916 M Cal. , N.Zadorov .894M Colorado , J.Benn 1.10M Dallas and maybe Van Riemsdyk .825M Chi.

I have Oilers losing Pouliot to Vegas

D.Brown will probably be Vegas's top salary player and maybe the only bad contract to deal with .

Dumping Pouliot to Vegas would be a dream, although they will likely be a low salary team and Pouliot's price may not be an issue if they think he can be revived. Still think Davidson or Russell (assuming Russell has a contract here) more likely.

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#17 Neumann
January 05 2017, 11:54AM
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Hansen plays hard, is fast, and can score. Also a Right shot. An interesting option.

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#18 Kepler62c
January 05 2017, 11:54AM
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I like the Strome possibility - Right handed shot, can play C or RW, reasonable size, and (as you said) likely undervalued by the organization. Plus he's only 22 and is still an RFA with 1 year left on his contract after this one.

On a side note - I don't mind if Chia signs Russell if its for 1-2 years, BUT personally I wouldn't protect him. If Russell and Davidson are exposed then I think it would be more likely Russell gets taken with him being veteran player - and if he does it's as if you never signed him. Not a bad outcome. If Davidson still gets taken then Russell and Nurse basically fill that hole. If in the extremely unlikely situation they end up wth Davidson and Russell after leaving both exposed, well depth isn't a bad thing and that opens up a possible trade of Reinhart, Davidson, Russell, Nurse, or Klefbom (I'd hate to see any of the young ones go though).

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#19 Kepler62c
January 05 2017, 11:56AM
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whateverhappenedtoearledwards wrote:

Dumping Pouliot to Vegas would be a dream, although they will likely be a low salary team and Pouliot's price may not be an issue if they think he can be revived. Still think Davidson or Russell (assuming Russell has a contract here) more likely.

Ya I'd agree with you there - if Davidson and Russell get exposed I don't see Edmonton walking away with both of them intact.

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#20 vetinari
January 05 2017, 12:16PM
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Spydyr wrote:

IMO the reason they have not signed Russell is Chia feels there will be better options available this summer. Again, just my opinion.

That could be but there could be other reasons too.

From the team's perspective, other defencemen may hit the market on the eve of the expansion draft which may be an upgrade on Russell making them slow down on upping Russell.

From Russell's perspective, it is in his best interests to wait until after the expansion draft to negotiate a contract after 7-10 teams lose a defenceman which can be used as leverage in negotiations with Edmonton. In this scenario he doesn't risk ending up in a place that he does not want to play and there will be a number of teams with cap room and an open roster spot.

Provided that Edmonton is likely going to expose Davidson in the expansion draft, I think Edmonton would be wise to negotiate a short extension (1-2 years) with Russell at a better than market rate contract with the condition that there will be no "no movement clause" and no guarantee of a protected spot on the expansion draft list in the hopes that they take Russell over Davidson. If they still take Davidson, you have Russell in as a short term bridge. If they take Russell, you protected Davidson.

Davidson's next contract should result in a nice bump for him so that money either gets spent on him or on Russell.

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#21 whateverhappenedtoearledwards
January 05 2017, 12:22PM
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vetinari wrote:

That could be but there could be other reasons too.

From the team's perspective, other defencemen may hit the market on the eve of the expansion draft which may be an upgrade on Russell making them slow down on upping Russell.

From Russell's perspective, it is in his best interests to wait until after the expansion draft to negotiate a contract after 7-10 teams lose a defenceman which can be used as leverage in negotiations with Edmonton. In this scenario he doesn't risk ending up in a place that he does not want to play and there will be a number of teams with cap room and an open roster spot.

Provided that Edmonton is likely going to expose Davidson in the expansion draft, I think Edmonton would be wise to negotiate a short extension (1-2 years) with Russell at a better than market rate contract with the condition that there will be no "no movement clause" and no guarantee of a protected spot on the expansion draft list in the hopes that they take Russell over Davidson. If they still take Davidson, you have Russell in as a short term bridge. If they take Russell, you protected Davidson.

Davidson's next contract should result in a nice bump for him so that money either gets spent on him or on Russell.

Agree from Russell's point of view not signing until after the expansion draft the best move.

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#22 TruthHurts98
January 05 2017, 12:32PM
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Spydyr wrote:

I would not trade Nuge alone for Barrie never mind both players.

And Colorado would laugh at that. They would need Nuge, a 1st round pick + to make that make sense. Nuge is overrated and grossly overpaid to I don't think any team outside of the Coyotes would want him. He has the worst plus minus on the team and can't put up points, I can 't understand why so many fans don't see a problem. 6 mil/yr to boot, it's a growing problem for this franchise when they have to resign Connor, Leon and JP.

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#23 TruthHurts98
January 05 2017, 12:36PM
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Total Points wrote:

Oilers need to find a sniper to play with McDavid.

McDavids effect on the other team and the play of the game has dwindled due to no finish on a McDavid rush.

The focus should be on this. It really doesn't matter which ONE player on the lower half of the team is kept or not kept

Chicago has proved this time and time.

For starters they could leave Maroon on his line, they have chemistry at 5 on 5. Lucic doesn't, not even close. However he plays well with Leon and does find some with Connor on the PP. Wonder why Connor has dried up?? Pretty easy to see why. Ebs needs to go back to a shorter stick and attend some motivational classes. He should be thriving with Connor. Then again the Oilers should be playing with more passion the last 3 games, but they don't seem to care much lately. That's a bigger problem.

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#24 Dwayne Roloson 35
January 05 2017, 12:48PM
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I think we have to go with the 7-3-1. I'd prefer to expose Davidson over Maroon and Letestu. At the moment, Maroon and Letestu bring more to the oil than Davidson IMO.

I like Davidson. Hard shot and has seemed pretty solid in the Dzone in his short career but he didn't produce a lot in junior or the AHL.

Bear and Jones are both pretty much a point per game in junior right now and are 6 years younger than Davidson. They're not ready yet but i'm sure the McDavid effect can attract a stop gap until they are.

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#25 Oilers21
January 05 2017, 01:13PM
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Strome is the guy for me. The organization doesn't seem to like him as mentioned here, and he has the feel of a guy who might take a while to figure it out. Imagine in 2-3 years when this team is seriously competing and then Strome comes out of nowhere to figure it out and chip in with 60-70 points as well.

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#26 Oil Can
January 05 2017, 01:56PM
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TruthHurts98 wrote:

And Colorado would laugh at that. They would need Nuge, a 1st round pick + to make that make sense. Nuge is overrated and grossly overpaid to I don't think any team outside of the Coyotes would want him. He has the worst plus minus on the team and can't put up points, I can 't understand why so many fans don't see a problem. 6 mil/yr to boot, it's a growing problem for this franchise when they have to resign Connor, Leon and JP.

I agree totally with you that RNH is terribly over rated and it is probably just in Edmonton that he is seen as this great player. But I think you also over rate Barrie. He is small and terrible defensively. He is almost always one of the worst minuses on the team. I would be talking to the Wild about possibly getting Dumba. He is still under sized, but he hits like tank.

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#27 The Whispererer
January 05 2017, 02:06PM
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Brossoit's performance in the Bake seems to have come back to earth, raising questions about him being our goalie of the future. He will also be left unprotected in the expansion draft. We need a proven backup for Talbot. Perhaps something could be worked out with the Isles involving Halak + Strome + ? for Pouliot + Gustaffson + ?. Halak runs hot and cold,but when he's on he is very capable of performing at a very high level for extended runs.

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#28 Petrolero
January 05 2017, 03:44PM
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The game is afoot!

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#29 Heavy Stick
January 05 2017, 03:49PM
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@vetinari

Davidson needs to pick it up. Worried about injuries? Can't see anyone taking him unless he gets on his horse and gets back to last year's status.

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#30 Heavy Stick
January 05 2017, 03:51PM
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The McDavid effect is a misnomer. The teams dwindling performance is counteracting it.

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