Craig MacTavish partnered with St. Louis last season in a deal that helped the Oilers. David Perron was one of the few bright spots in a long season. MacT may go south this summer, as the Florida Panthers offer Edmonton some nice possibilities.
Dale Tallon, Florida’s General Manager, is looking ahead to an active summer, and it sounds like he’s going to be aggressive. A couple of quotes from late last month:
On #1 overall: “I’m looking at everything. I’m open for business. You have three options — you either take it, move back or trade it. So that’s what we’re looking at. What’s the best deal for our future, that’s the key.”
- On what they’ll do this summer: “We have a commitment from (owner) Vinnie Viola to win, and to go after the top players in free agency and make this team a winning team right away. That’s what we’re selling.”
So, it seems fairly clear the Panthers are going to re-set. They’ve fired their coach, have said nice things about Barry Trotz and Peter Laviolette, and are giving off the impression they plan to turn north next season.
THE OILER TARGETS
- First overall pick: Why not? If he’s open to trading the pick, and Edmonton could acquire BOTH Aaron Eckblad and (say) Leon Draisaitl? It would depend on price, but that’s an option.
- Dmitry Kulikov: A nice young defenseman who has frustrated Panthers management with errors, but has learned the lessons and is an effective young player.
- That’s a nice player. Full stop.
- It doesn’t sound like Tallon is of a mind to deal his veterans—Campbell, Upshall, Boyes, Goc—but there may be a window of opportunity for someone like Sean Bergenheim. The veteran winger is a $2.75 million cap hit and one year froom free agency.
- That’s a nice two-way player, we’ll call him the modern Pisani.
So, by my count, we’re talking #1 overall, the defender Kulikov and winger Sean Bergenheim. Not sexy enough? I disagree. Would love to have all three assets. Let’s see what it’ll cost.
- #3 overall. It would be nice to gather up #1 and #3, but that’s going to be a massive investment in moving the cluster down the line. May not be possible, let’s see how this shakes out.
- Sam Gagner. He’s a monster cap hit, but 89 is a skill guy and can help a team offensively—especially on the power play.
- Plus, he’s consistent. I bet you a 2-4 he’ll score between 40 and 50 points next season. Panthers have some nice young centermen, so may be able to move 89 to the wing without any trouble. Or, they could run him at center with responsible wingers. Either way, he has value and the Panthers are miles from cap trouble. As rough as Gagner had it this past season, he would have been the second leading scorer on the Panthers (leader: 38 points).
- There are several other possible Panthers, including David Perron, Oscar Klefbom, Andrew Ference, Jeff Petry and Matt Hendricks. Let’s take what we have and see what we can find that fits.
Let’s start with two things Edmonton might want to accomplish:
- Offload Gagner
- Acquire Kulikov
The cap hits are wide, but Gagner’s 4.8M is a hard cost, while Kulikov is an RFA this summer, coming off a contract that paid him $2.5 million. It’s not a massive stretch to suggest the Russian will get over a million in raises annually, maybe more. Both had ghastly plus minus numbers and coverage issues, but both are young and extremely likely to recover.
I think there’s a trade there, with Edmonton needing to add something at the beginning of the negotiation. That might be an agreement to pay a portion of Gagner’s cap hit, or maybe Edmonton throws in a prospect. Florida could add Bergenheim and the first overall, forcing Edmonton to deal Gagner, #3 and something significant from the Perron-Petry list above. There’s a lot to discuss.
LET’S MAKE A DEAL!!!
Using Gagner for Kulikov as the foundation, is there a deal here? I think there is. You?
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I think Craig MacTavish is going to have to employ a little slight of hand this summer, but I’m confident he can do it. Sam Gagner has value, and there’s a underachiever somewhere out there in a town like Miami who could help here.
Gagner for Kulikov. It just makes sense.