Now that the World Hockey Championships are over, we should get some closure on the Todd McLellan-to-Edmonton rumors. If everything falls into place on the coaching front, we should be able to talk about trades by this time next week—and maybe something will actually happen on that front in the next two weeks.
Which brings us to this: What assets will Peter Chiarelli have to deal this summer?
- The No. 16 overall selection, 2015. This is a significant pick in any year, very important this time because of the quality and depth in this draft. This year’s draft is extremely strong at the top end and a team looking to add a major piece might be interested in trading with the Oilers. Edmonton is in a position where there’s no need to ‘trade down’ in the round, so clubs without a first round selection could be interested. Teams without a pick—NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, Nashville, St. Louis and Chicago—could target the Oilers second first-round pick and offer a veteran defenseman to Edmonton.
- The first-round pick, 2016. Dangerous pick to trade, because the Oilers have a good chance of being a lottery team again next season (remember, new lottery rules include more teams). Having said that, because of that possibility, this pick could have enormous value to building teams.
- The No. 33 overall selection, 2015. Another valuable piece, I think it’s a good thing the second round+ goes on day two, probably creates a lot of chatter about the pick overnight, maybe some good offers too. I’m more open to trading this pick for a goalie than the first round pick, just based on value, but honestly wouldn’t trade either for anything short of a veteran defenseman who could play top 4D who is also under contract.
- D Martin Marincin. Despite some flaws in his game, MM is big, can skate and is learning a very difficult position at the NHL level for a bad team. Given a chance to help in a limited role (before taking on more responsibility) Marincin should have a long and productive career.
- C Boyd Gordon. It’s not ideal, but with the development of Anton Lander (and McDavid straight ahead) there’s some logic in the idea of moving Gordon—especially in the walk year if he’s not part of future plans. Clearly a move that couldn’t be made before the new coach has a chance to review the roster, but from an asset point of view this might be a good time to move him.
- D Justin Schultz: I’m fairly certain there’s an NHL team out there who had a good value on him on draft day, and we know for sure Edmonton had competition when Schultz signed as a free agent. The difficulty now is the next contract and it will impact a trade return immensely. Still, I think Chiarelli might look at Schultz as a trade option.
- L Matt Hendricks. Coming off a fantastic season, it’s absolutely worth asking why he’s on the list. Hendricks has two years left on his deal and might fetch something of value, or be a useful addition to a pick or prospect package. I’m fine with Hendricks returning but Chiarelli has to listen if a team comes calling.
- C Bogdan Yakimov. Big C’s are always in style and young Yakimov was close to a point per game in the dozen games played before his season ending injury. NHL teams are always looking for big pivots with skill and Edmonton might be able to afford dealing him.
- L Anton Slepyshev. Edmonton is rumored to be signing him but the young Russian scored 10 goals in his final 19 KHL games. Again, not someone you’re looking to move but if there’s a needed asset to send a deal over the top, he might be it.
- R Nail Yakupov. I saved him for last, because I don’t want to see him traded. Oilers fans like me are going to see some of our personal favorites sent away, and it’s absolutely true you have to give in order to get. I’m sincere in saying the idea of trading Yakupov is noxious to me, but Peter Chiarelli’s job is to grind this roster into a useful group. That probably means trading a winger for more quality up the middle. I’m hopeful it won’t be Nail.
Who goes? Who stays? It’s likely to be a busy week and when the new coach is named the Oilers themselves will have a better idea about how to proceed. For Edmonton Oilers fans, one thing is coming clear: In some ways, progress is going to involve seeing some of these young men heading to new NHL cities.
Chiarelli is a veteran GM with a good track record. This should be fun, and maybe a little bit scary.