Oilers fans are reaching the point where just about everyone has been discussed in trade—by my count Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl (in photo by Mark Williams) are the only outliers—and maybe it is time we get back to the basics. Let’s start with the McDavid cluster.
If the Edmonton Oilers are to win a Stanley Cup during Connor McDavid’s first seven years in the city, there is plenty of work to do. The team will need players who are older to mentor, but the most important part of the team will be the (hopefully large) group of talents who are near McDavid’s age. Why? The group will mature together, the salary cap will be impacted by their graduation, and the team will have control of them in the identical window to 97.
THE MCDAVID CLUSTER
- Connor McDavid 45gp, 16-32-48
- Leon Draisaitl 72gp, 19-32-51
- Nail Yakupov 60gp, 8-15-23
- Darnell Nurse 69gp, 3-7-10
- Jujhar Khaira 15gp, 0-2-2
- Griffin Reinhart 29gp, 0-1-1
- Anton Slepyshev 11gp, 0-1-1
If the Oilers trade from this cluster (Yakupov), I think there is a need to deliver another player in the range with the rest of this group. Edmonton has some nice players here, and at least one more on the way next Friday. That said, definitely need to get value in a Yak trade.
THE HALL CLUSTER
- Taylor Hall 82gp, 26-39-65
- Jordan Eberle 69gp, 25-22-47
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 55gp, 12-22-34
- Iiro Pakarinen 63gp, 5-8-13
- Oscar Klefbom 30gp, 4-8-12
- Brandon Davidson 51gp, 4-7-11
- Zack Kassian 36gp, 3-5-8
- Jordan Oesterle 17gp, 0-5-5
- Anton Lander 61gp, 1-2-3
This is a larger cluster, of course, because the players are more veteran. Guys like Nuge and Klefbom sort of belong to both, but I have included them here because there is a lot of cap attached to these men. Edmonton traded one of these players—Justin Schultz—at the deadline, and that pick probably benefits the McDavid cluster.
The rest of the Oilers are veterans like Andrej Sekera, Benoit Pouliot, Cam Talbot, Mark Fayne, Patrick Maroon, Matt Hendricks, Mark Letestu and Lauri Korpikoski. They are the ‘hired guns’ in the group, brought in via trade and free agency to aid the foundation portion of the roster.
I think we can guess along with the GM this week, but do wonder about how aggressive things are going to be for him. Beyond drafting No. 4 overall (Matt Tkachuk) I am uncertain about how much work will be done via trade. Oh sure, Nail Yakupov is probably gone, but what kind of return can be expected?
I don’t see a path to solving the defensive issues via trade. Dealing down from No.4 to No. 8 doesn’t get you Ristolainen, and dealing out of the No. 4 position means you are sacrificing a fine prospect for a player who will have to be protected next summer in the expansion draft.
I have suggested that the best plan for this summer is to sign Jason Demers in free agency, find a backup goalie that same way and bring in some of those veteran wingers who cost only a million (listen to me, only a million) to sign.
Keep your powder dry, keep that lovely cap cushion, maybe something shakes loose.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
If trading a great forward for a lesser defenseman is the available move, then why do it? Peter Chiarelli isn’t in trouble until he makes a poor trade. I do not see that happening. As much as making a move this week is anticipated, the smart play is probably waiting for the phone to ring—just like Garth Snow did until early October of 2014. It must have been a long summer, but what a pay day.