THE OILERS AND EXPANSION: A MOVING TARGET

As the calendar winds down on 2016, fans thoughts will turn to the trade deadline, playoffs, and eventually the summer activities. One of the big items on the agenda for the NHL this summer will be the expansion draft, as the league stocks the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise. Who are the most attractive players for the Knights from the Edmonton roster? It’s complicated, and likely to change by June.

I doubt this impacts any Oilers players with NM clauses (Milan Lucic, Andrej Sekera, Cam Talbot) but it is wise to be aware of all possibilities. One area that might make sense: Edmonton moving one of their lefty defenders (Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson) to make room for Kris Russell on the expansion list. Long shot for sure, but I have found in these expansion situations that unusual things have happened over the years.

CHANGES?

Be on the lookout for small tweaks in the rules, something NHL general managers have been doing since 1967. For instance, this beauty that was not part of the original rule package I saw back in the summer:

  • Vegas will be granted a 48 hour window prior to the draft to sign any
    pending free agent (RFA or UFA, one per team) that was left unprotected.
    If a team loses a player to Vegas during this signing window they will
    not have a player selected from their roster during this draft.

For Edmonton, names like Zack Kassian, Tyler Pitlick, Jujhar Khaira and Griffin Reinhart could qualify under this plan. I spoke to NHL player agent Tom Lynn a few weeks back, and he mentioned a player like Reinhart—young, under control—might be attractive to a team like Las Vegas. Why? If the club has 23 problems to solve, getting someone who can hang around for years—even in a depth role—might have appeal. If the Oilers were open to the idea, and Vegas could get him done on a friendly one-way deal, that might work for both sides.

OBVIOUS OPTIONS?

I think we have discussed players like Brandon Davidson, Benoit Pouliot and (possibly) Patrick Maroon as options, depending on the names Peter Chiarelli pulls back from the available list. It we assume 7-3-1, Brandon Davidson might be the obvious choice for Vegas. We should also be aware of a player like Mark Letestu—who is having a strong season—or Tyler Pitlick holding some appeal for Vegas general manager George McPhee.

TRADE?

We know that (based on usage) the Oilers might be interested in offloading a player like Benoit Pouliot. The Golden Knights could use a big winger with skill and two-way acumen, and the Oilers might be willing to sweeten the pot (perhaps a draft pick, or a minor league player thrown in) for the newcomers.

The NHL is giving Las Vegas all kinds of room to make trades in order to give them a head start for 2017-18. Peter Chiarelli likes to make trades and the result could be interesting for Oilers fans this summer.

  • Oil drop

    The point is to make the new team competitive. Past expansions have been littered with teams that just weren’t very good.

    Do you think that Atlanta could have made it as a market if they won at all?

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    They may have 48 hours but they still have to make the deal. I think they’d need a call centre if they really want to take advantage of the window.

    They could spend 48 hours on Shattenkirk and Radulov and not get anywhere with either of them if the numbers aren’t right.

  • camdog

    It can be assumed that Vegas will try and sign a few NHL Free Agents. That means that at minimum they will be looking to get a dozen kids that are still waiver wire except. There’s going to be so much wheeling and dealing trying to predict what is actually going to happen is going to be next to impossible.