With it now seemingly obvious that the Oilers will attempt to rectify their lack of NHL centres via trade rather than free agency, it might be helpful to look at what assets the team has at its disposal. Exactly what can Edmonton afford to send the other way?
Process of Elimination
Under the right circumstances, anybody might be dealt. But with Leon Draisaitl freshly drafted, it seems unlikely that Edmonton’s going to go out and make a long-term fit at second line centre a priority; more likely the team is looking for a stop-gap who can hold the position for a couple of years.
Assuming that we’re looking for a stop-gap type player, we can eliminate a bunch of high-end options – the core players Craig MacTavish has identified previously, people like David Perron and Nail Yakupov, and of course all the recent free agent signings.
Who does that leave?
The Main Piece
Jeff Petry’s name is a popular one in the rumour mill these days, and makes a lot of sense from a certain point of view. If the Oilers really believe in Justin Schultz as a top-four defenceman next year, and they believe that Mark Fayne can hold down the right side on the other top-four pairing, Petry suddenly seems a little on the redundant side. It’s not an assessment I agree with – in my view, Schultz hasn’t proven that he’s a top-four defender – but based on the organizations’ comments over the last few months it seems probable that they see Schultz that way.
Alternatively, one of Martin Marincin or Oscar Klefbom could be sent out, but that seems unlikely, even with Darnell Nurse in the system.
Other than Petry, there isn’t much the Oilers are likely to move. Andrew Ference is the team captain, Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks are already penciled into a role for next year and probably don’t have a ton of value on the open market, and Edmonton’s decision to give two unproven goalies an opportunity means they aren’t likely to trade either one (and even if they were, why wouldn’t their prospective trading partner just grab James Reimer from Toronto instead?).
The only real alternative is one of the Oilers high picks in the next few years – the team owns both its first and second round selections in 2015 and 2016. Of those four picks, the 2015 first round selection is one the team is probably loathe to deal, just in case things don’t come together this year.
In addition to the main piece, the Oilers have some interesting kickers they could add to get a deal done.
For teams looking for a nearly-NHL ready body, any of Mark Arcobello, Anton Lander, or Tyler Pitlick might be of interest. Arcobello is the least likely of the three to be on the move because even if the Oilers add another centre they still have one open position and Arcobello is a useful safety net for Leon Draisaitl there. Additionally, Arcobello’s versatility (he can play C or RW, both special teams and on either a scoring line or a defensive zone unit) makes him awfully handy as lineup spackle.
Second-tier prospects are also in abundance. Beyond the big-three defensive prospects, the Oilers have David Musil, Martin Gernat, Dillon Simpson and Brandon Davidson; all potentially have NHL upside and are a lot closer to active duty than a draft pick.
And there are always draft picks, too. The Oilers have a full slate of picks over the next two seasons, plus a spare seventh round pick in 2016 picked up in the Shawn Horcoff trade.
For a team looking to dump some salary, the Oilers are a nice option; they can send a decent draft pick back plus either a nearly-NHL ready player or a solid prospect the other way. For a team with a surplus of forwards looking to add on defence, Petry or Petry+ has to be an attractive option.
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