Oilers Trade Talk


Compared to the previous five off-seasons, the anticipation of a major trade involving the Edmonton Oilers seems much more realistic this year. Peter Chiarelli stated, “I’m reasonably confident I will be able to address our defense in a meaningful way,” at his end-of-season media availability.

Depending on how the draft lottery unfolds next Saturday, he could dangle his first round draft pick, or most likely, he will trade one or two of his skilled forwards to acquire the much needed top-pairing, right-shot defender.

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If you want quality you need to give up quality, so the most obvious names in trade talks are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. There is a risk in trading any of them, as they are all very good in their own way.

Hall is a proven top-end producer. He’s been top-ten in NHL scoring twice. He had an “off” year this year and still finished with 65 points and 23rd in league scoring.

Eberle is an excellent point-producer, especially at even strength. Matt Henderson astutely reminded fans why trading Eberle would create a void. From 2011-2015, Eberle was tied for first in points per 60 minutes at 2.28 P/60. That was before Connor McDavid.

Nugent-Hopkins turned 23 last week, and he still hasn’t reached his full potential. He’s had to swim in the deep end of the NHL sooner than he should have, but he’s survived and, of the three forwards, his long-term outlook has the most uncertainty. Not negatively, just more unknown.

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Hall has proven he can be an elite scorer. Eberle turns 26 next month and is a proven 60-point player. RNH could reach 60 points, maybe he scores 70, or maybe he is a solid two-way 55-point player. There is a bit more unknown with #93.

Either way, all three are legit top-six forwards and if you trade them they will leave a void.

However, I believe moving one of them is the best way to obtain a proven, veteran defenceman.

I would need a #1 defender to trade Hall, and since those trades are unlikely, I don’t see him being moved.


Trading Eberle or RNH comes with a risk. Eberle is the only proven scoring RW on the team. Moving him creates a hole. Same with RNH. He’s the most experienced offensive centre they have, and he’s perceived as the best-two way centre on the team.

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But is he really as good defensively as his supporters claim?

TSN analyst and former NHLer Matt Kassian isn’t so sure. Kassian watched the Oilers closely this year, working as the pre and post-game analyst and he said this about RNH on my show earlier this week.

“If they will only do the Hamonic deal for Eberle, then you
do it, but I don’t see it that way at all (trading Eberle before RNH). If you
have the choice to trade Eberle or RNH, I trade Nugent-Hopkins, because you
likely will get more value, but I also think the Oilers have more strength down
the middle and I want a proven goal scoring right winger to play with McDavid.

“I had some serious issues with him (RNH) this year,
especially regarding his defensive game. I saw repeated problems this year and
often it didn’t have to do with size. I mentioned it often on the post-game
show where he lost track of his man back checking. He tracked to the
wrong guy. He didn’t pick up a guy, or he got beat off the wall in the
defensive zone. He hasn’t been as fantastic a defensive player as some make him
out to be.”

The entire Oilers team hasn’t been great defensively the past six seasons. All three forwards have had their defensive struggles, which is normal for any young, skilled forward, but RNH seemed to be deemed the best of the three for the past few years.

I’ve said for the past few years I was unsure if he could be the elite two-way centre many Oilers fans wanted him to be, simply because of his size. It is extremely hard to go head-to-head against Ryan Getzlaf, Anze Kopitar or Joe Thornton for any opposing centre, but it is more difficult when you aren’t 6’3 and 200 pounds.

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I felt size was RNH’s biggest disadvantage moving forward even when he becomes more experienced, but Kassian believes RNH’s defensive struggles last year had little to do with size.

Do you agree or disagree?

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

  • KevCantDance

    Let’s say our team right now, the Oilers, lived in an alternative universe, where our team was in Calgary, and we had a middling, very meh – but not last place team – in Edmonton. We would all collectively be SHREDDING that team in Calgary for hanging onto a core that takes them to laughing-stock town yearly. Just like we all did when they held onto their aging core too long with no results. I’m losing a lot of faith in some of the people who write about this team who say “trade that guy!? No, can’t do that..he may be good. Can’t trade this guy, he’s almost good. And no way can we trade this guy, there’s a chance we’re missing some GOODNESS!!”

    If we’re still waiting for our core to “develop” after 5-6 years, then it’s time to take two steps back from the whole thing and imagine how we would feel about these players if they were in another city.

  • bcoil

    You are one injury away from having no strength down the middle that is a non starter you have to keep Nuge .BUT Yakapov and our second round draft choice which is 32 over all will get you a very god defence man

    • aspin

      Totally agree with your first sentence. Have been saying this the whole time. Just like San Jose has done and just like Team Canada is doing, you can never have to many centres and you convert some to wing. YOu always have them there if you need them for centre. Much harder to convert a winger to a centre. Can you imagine Eberle playing centre?

  • reaperfunkss

    Honestly does it matter who they trade? As long as the deal improves the team then it makes no difference.

    This is a bad, totally under achieving team so no one is untouchable and all moves should be considered. McDavid is the only one who is sacred.

    I personally do not like Eberle because he seems to be one of the most entitled guys on the team. His defense is as bad as Yaks most times but he was rarely called on it. Trading him could be a wake up call to the rest. Maybe not, who can say for sure.


  • gongshow

    I know Chia said McDavid was untouchable but as a thought experiment would you do 97 for Ekblad and Barkov? Subban and Galchenyuk? Hedman and Drouin? Pietrangelo and X? McDavid made it more enjoyable to watch Oilers hockey again this year but I would do the Florida or Tampa Trades. Would they bite on the deals?

    • Word to the Bird

      Put it this way, would you trade Crosby for Ekblad and Barkov? I know I sure wouldn’t.

      You don’t truly realize what we have in McDavid yet, players like him come once a generation! (Crosby, Lemieux, Gretzky, Oor) McDavid is a special player, anyone who has eyes can see he is already our best player and will only get better.

      I would honestly trade Hall, Nuge and a high draft pick in a package before even considering McDavid. He’s that good.

  • Calling Nurse McNuge!!!

    One thing I know is this. Ryan Nugent Hopkins just’feels’ like the one to keep. Throwing out the analytics and all the “pundits” evaluations (That of course have flip flopped a thousand times) it just seems like I would want the “type”of player that RNH is. I completely disagree with Matt Kassian’s interpretation of RNH in an injured season, and at 23 years old I believe that he (As well as McDavid) are two players you build teams around.

  • The Goalie 1976

    Listening to Kassian while being stuck in traffic was giving me road rage.

    You build through the middle. Defense and center. Only a fool builds from the wings in.

    Wingers are the least valuable players in the team, and the easiest to replace.

    Keeping Eberle over Nuge is ridiculous.

    • madjam

      Not sold you trade either , but if you trade Eberle we have zero bona fide top six RWinger in lineup . Unless you figure Yakupov is top six or a Finn in draft might be one , then we are left with none as we would be relyng on a rookie of questionable help in that regard . If you move Draisaitl to wing it would be temporary . Hopkins could be expendable if top six has Draisaitl and McDavid occupying the top 2 center positions . Chia does not appear to want to give up on an improving Yak either , but he is no Eberle to be honest . Because of operational requirement on Rwing , Eberle is our best option to remain unless you use him for a trade for a similar Rwinger like Okposo .

      • Word to the Bird

        Yeah but in terms of value, Nugent-Hopkins brings more to the team than Eberle does.

        If we were talking about Hall vs Nugent-Hopkins then I’d be inclined to trade Nuge first, but between Nuge and Eberle its obvious who is more ideal to be traded between the 2.

        • Jason Gregor

          How does RNH bring more value when you have other centres are are good? Eberle is clearly their best RW and this team does not score enough yet.

          Trading Eberle creates a major void on RW, but trading RNH doesn’t leave as big a hole at centre with 97 and 29 here.

          • Ed in Edmonton 1

            The question about how big a hole wold be left if RNH is gone is really about LD. If LD is the guy who played from game 10 to the all star break, then the Oil and in pretty good shape without RNH. If LD’s performance after the all star break was just a 1st year player hitting wall (or I have heard he had a rib problem)then the risk is lower. Then you are looking to fill a 3rd line center spot, which is not so hard. But if the real LD is the guy after the all star game, well that’s the rub.

          • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

            Because RNH is further along the Draisaitl, further more, you still have no idea what Draisiatl is.

            I’m a little concerned over HOW Draisiatl finished.

            If you look at the sample size he was way more productive on RW, Centres can play wing, but wingers have much more difficulty playing centre.

            I can’t believe this is even an argument……

            Now it doesn’t mean Draisiatl will stay at the wing, but you have better options going forward with depth down the middle.

            Draisiatl can play wing, he’s proven it, So trading Eberle doesn’t create the void you think it does. Look at the UFA pool, wingers are an easier find.

          • Kurt

            overall Eberle is a 0.79ppg and Nugent-Hopkins is 0.72 ppg. Over 82 games that averages to 65pts and 59pts respectivly.

            Thats not enough of a difference to say that scoring will go drastically down. Eberle is worse defensively that Nuge. I’d rather lose 6 personal pts per year and be somewhat better in my own end.

  • ooj

    I don’t know but when pondering the idea of trading nuge, a smallish center… I just question if he can be for the oilers what bergeron is for the bruins..

    • Ed in Edmonton 1

      There are some similarities between Bergeron and RNH. Both played in the NHL at 18 and are touted as good 2 way centers. If you believe posted stats Bergeron is a touch bigger. Bergeron has been amongst the best face off guys in the league with a career average of over 58%, he was above 50% as an 18 year old, There seems to be no reason to believe that this will ever be as strength of RNH. Scoring is similar, but with a slight edge to Bergeron again, career 0.75 ppg vs RNH at 0.71.

  • billythebullet

    I trade Eberle over RNH. I like both players a lot and they do both have warts but here’s a simple reason to trade Ebs first. Remember what we got in return for Ales Hemsky? Ebs is in his prime now and best to trade him before he starts to diminish as a trade asset. Hall RNH Drai worked great as a line. We also have Maroon and Pou that can produce points in top 6.

  • billythebullet

    I trade Eberle over RNH. I like both players a lot and they do both have warts but here’s a simple reason to trade Ebs first. Remember what we got in return for Ales Hemsky? Ebs is in his prime now and best to trade him before he starts to diminish as a trade asset. Hall RNH Drai worked great as a line. We also have Maroon and Pou that can produce points in top 6.

  • Stack Pad Save

    The reason I keep RNH is I think he makes the players around him better. I don’t necessary think Eberle has that affect. I think Eberle is terrible defensively and does not create turnovers.

    I have no advanced stats to prove my opinion. I would love to see some advanced stats on how these 2 players affect those around them.

    I am personally just tired of watching Eberle coast through games, give up on forechecking and make defensive mistakes on a near constant basis.

    I don’t think RNH is perfect, he did not have a good year this year, however I think his few mistakes can look more glaring than the ones Eberle make because of the position he plays.

    IMHO I think the hole RNH would make at centre is greater than the hole Eberle would make in the roster for the Oilers. I also think Dr. Drai is more suited to the wing.

    • Word to the Bird

      While I agree that RNH is more valuable to the team than Eberle and we would be better off keeping Nuge over Ebs when push comes to shove, I don’t think Nuge has that ability to make players around him better. Only superstars have that ability. The only 2 players on the team with that ability is 97 and 4.

  • camdog

    Kassian’s comments on RnH were 100% correct for this season. However I don’t know if this indicative of his entire bode of work in Edmonton?

    RnH got sick in and around December. After the illness he was not the same player both offensively and defensively. My biggest problem with RnH’s game is faceoffs. If the team is up by a goal with a minute remaining I wouldn’t have him taking the faceoff, that’s what I think of when I think of a defensively reliable centre and that’s not RnH.

  • This.Is.NHL

    Im ? percent a Nuge fan he’s young and more experienced center then Dri and McDavid so I keep him if I’m the GM I’m having a talk with Nuge and ask him are you going to change your game, the problem is that Nuge and Dri need to have more grit and be more aggressive on the puck and shots need to be harder to stop.

    I hate having so many number ones and being last its just embarrassing.

  • camdog

    I get the impression that PC is going to acquire a right handed centre to centre the third line next season. Regardless if one of the centres is moved or not, there is no way that that both LD or Hopkins will start the season as centre.

    • CLubhouse

      I agree with that.

      Im of the opinion that we need to trade for 2 quality dmen perhaps even 3. A #1/2 and a #3/4 and both that play the right side for sure.

      This is a major challenge as they are the most difficult to acquire. Now that being said there are other ways to procure the #3/4 guy such as offer sheeting one of the about 6 quality 3/4 RHD that are RFA’s. Or doing a trade much like the Hamilton one this year for Calgary.

      We also have a surplus of young LHD that have value in the form of potential. I think we could trade one of these potentially to get the #3/4 d we need.

      So who gets us the 1/2 guy? I guess who is that guy? Imagine getting Subban and Hamonic this summer unlikely but possible. Or Hamonic and Barrie same unlikely but possible.

      I’m of the mind that for trade value not including (Mcd, Drai) it goes:

      Hall, Nuge, Nurse, Klefbom, Eberle, Pouliot, Yakupov, Reinhart, Korpokoski and our picks interspersed throughout.

      So would I move Hamonic for Klefbom yes
      Would I move Hamonic for Eberle and sweetner yes

      Would I move Hall and 2017 1st for Subban yes.

      It really depends on who’s coming back for the players traded whether Id make the deal or not.

      One thing I do not trade is this years pick if its top 3 mainly because that player is automatically expansion protected which further makes the 3 old core more expendable.

  • Hamm34

    In my opinion we should trade The first overall pick if we win the lottery. I know many think we cant pass on Matthews but imagine the player you could get with that pick. Ideally I’d love to have Ekblad on my team but i doubt thats happening anytime soon but imagine having Pietrangelo on the oilers. A large #1 defensemen playing in every situation on the ice who can make passes out of the zone. Unfortunately he isn’t overly physical but he edges out players because of his size,

  • ifiwasgm

    I love Hall but I think he should be the one traded due to the raise he will get when this contract expires.

    Eberle and RNH will not be getting much more then what they are making now.

    McDavid and Hall will be like Toews and Kane, taking up to much salary cap.