Taking Advantage of Other Team’s Expansion Problems

Ryan Strome

Earlier this week, I wrote about
how the expansion draft may offer the Edmonton Oilers an opportunity to shed a
contract. The club’s somewhat unique positioning offers it a chance to do something
else, though, too: Acquire a player from a team that will have trouble
protecting all its forwards.

Edmonton’s Situation


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The situation will change if the Oilers extend Kris Russell prior
to expansion and decide to shield him, but until and unless that happens there
are two likely protection setups for Edmonton:

  • 7 forwards, 3 defencemen, 1 goalie: Milan Lucic, Jordan
    Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon, Mark Letestu, Zack
    Kassian, Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson and Cam Talbot
  • 8 skaters, 1 goalie: Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, Ryan
    Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson,
    Brandon Davidson and Cam Talbot

Your mileage may vary, but with Connor McDavid and Darnell
Nurse exempt, Edmonton has the option either to protect defensive depth (Davidson)
or a bunch of forwards that it could afford to expose if it had to (Letestu,
Kassian, even Maroon). The exact names matter less than knowing that
those two general paths are the options.

The thing is that if the team is willing to risk Davidson
(perhaps making a side deal to keep him safe, as suggested earlier this week)
there are a bunch of extra protected slots that it could use for forwards. Lots
of teams don’t have that luxury. That creates opportunity.

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Teams With Problems

Matt Henderson wrote
about adding a player last week
—citing the above Bob Stauffer tweet—and
came to the same conclusion: there’s room to add a forward, but not a defenceman.
What I want to do is take the same process and apply it to NHL teams to figure
out which clubs will be looking to clear out a forward lest they lose him for
nothing to Las Vegas.

Here’s the list I ended up with:

  • Anaheim: The
    Ducks are in a terrible spot, mostly because of their blue line depth. Even if
    the team buys out Kevin Bieksa (or convinces him to waive his no-move clause)
    it’s going to be tough not to take an eight skaters approach. That leaves the
    team forced to choose between exposing one of Rickard Rakell or Jakob
    Silfverberg. Silfverberg is a tremendous player—only 26, a right shot, with
    good size, defensive instincts and scoring ability. He has a very reasonable
    $3.75 million cap hit for two more seasons.
  • Detroit: The Red
    Wings are having a tough year, but they still have the kind of forward depth
    that will be interesting to Las Vegas. The problem is that most of them are
    left shots, and the righties aren’t likely to be dealt.
  • Minnesota: We’ll
    see what happens with Jason Pominville, who the Wild must be desperate to clear
    off the roster. If they can’t, his NMC will take up a spot and force a tough
    decision somewhere else. The trouble from an Oilers standpoint is that it isn’t
    likely to be a right shot who comes free—it’s more likely to be a lefty in the Nino
    Niederreiter/Jason Zucker/Erik Haula class.
  • Nashville: Viktor
    Arvidsson’s strong play makes a difficult choice even tougher. Nashville will
    be hard-pressed not to go the eight skaters route, which will open up a ton of
    good forwards to possible claim or trade. Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok, both
    right shots, are particularly interesting from Edmonton’s perspective.
  • NY Islanders: One
    imagines the Isles protecting Ryan Pulock, and if so they have to take the
    eight skaters route. That would open up a bunch of forwards, with the most
    notable possibility from an Oilers viewpoint being Ryan Strome. The NMC on
    Andrew Ladd’s contract is the icing on the cake in terms of how bad that deal
    is, because it forces New York to use a slot on him (unless he can be convinced
    to waive the clause),
  • NY Rangers: The
    guy I wonder about here is Jesper Fast. It’s hard to see the Rangers finding a
    way to protect him, and the right-shooting Swede is a pretty interesting
    player. I
  • Philadelphia: Matt
    Read doesn’t seem likely to end up protected. Neither does Dale Weise, though
    given the year he’s having it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for the player.
  • Tampa Bay: The
    Lightning may be the most interesting team on the list in general terms, but
    perhaps not for the Oilers. The players on the bubble—Alex Killorn, Vladislav
    Namestnikov—are all left shots.
  • Toronto: Obligatory
    mention of Tyler Bozak, a right-shooting centre who had 12 power play goals in
  • Vancouver: Jannik
    Hansen has just one year left on his contract after this one, and it wouldn’t
    be a shock if Vancouver opted not to protect him. He’s a solid two-way player.

Anaheim and Nashville stand out on the list above. The Ducks
are in a very tough spot, particularly since they have a narrow window to win with
their older forwards. How they maneuver—and what they do with Silfverberg—will
be very interesting to watch. The Predators don’t have quite the same dilemma,
and could certainly afford to trade Smith or Jarnkrok in down years for those players.

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The player who would really interest me, outside of
Silfverberg, is Strome. The Islanders are going to have to do some juggling to keep
the best parts of their roster intact, and sacrifices will be made. Strome’s
young, has decent scoring rates and can’t seem to get on the good side of head
coach Jack Capuano—he looks like a player who might be undervalued by the

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  • FISTO Siltanen

    I’m not a hater of either player but if the Oilers could trade both Nuge and Eberle for an RHD like Barrie they could still go the 8 skaters route and protect Maroon as well as the stated 5 defensemen.

      • TruthHurts98

        And Colorado would laugh at that. They would need Nuge, a 1st round pick + to make that make sense. Nuge is overrated and grossly overpaid to I don’t think any team outside of the Coyotes would want him. He has the worst plus minus on the team and can’t put up points, I can ‘t understand why so many fans don’t see a problem. 6 mil/yr to boot, it’s a growing problem for this franchise when they have to resign Connor, Leon and JP.

        • Oil Can

          I agree totally with you that RNH is terribly over rated and it is probably just in Edmonton that he is seen as this great player. But I think you also over rate Barrie. He is small and terrible defensively. He is almost always one of the worst minuses on the team. I would be talking to the Wild about possibly getting Dumba. He is still under sized, but he hits like tank.

  • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

    I’m guessing the Oil do the 7/3 route, being able to protect 10 rather than 8 is quite a difference. Even if they sign Russell then I see the 7/3 likely. This scenario would mean they would need to expose both Davidson and Russell, but would only lose one at worst and would keep one.

    There are rumors that Russell is an Albertan who likes to play close to home. I wonder if he might be looking for a NMC is any new deal. With expansion coming a NMC at this point might be hard for anyone to agree with.

      • vetinari

        That could be but there could be other reasons too.

        From the team’s perspective, other defencemen may hit the market on the eve of the expansion draft which may be an upgrade on Russell making them slow down on upping Russell.

        From Russell’s perspective, it is in his best interests to wait until after the expansion draft to negotiate a contract after 7-10 teams lose a defenceman which can be used as leverage in negotiations with Edmonton. In this scenario he doesn’t risk ending up in a place that he does not want to play and there will be a number of teams with cap room and an open roster spot.

        Provided that Edmonton is likely going to expose Davidson in the expansion draft, I think Edmonton would be wise to negotiate a short extension (1-2 years) with Russell at a better than market rate contract with the condition that there will be no “no movement clause” and no guarantee of a protected spot on the expansion draft list in the hopes that they take Russell over Davidson. If they still take Davidson, you have Russell in as a short term bridge. If they take Russell, you protected Davidson.

        Davidson’s next contract should result in a nice bump for him so that money either gets spent on him or on Russell.

  • T.J.F.M.

    If there was a way to get Strome out of NYI, it would be a no brainer to pursue. He would top the list of those mentioned which would fit in with out roster. It would also afford the Oilers some healthy competition with Eberle, something that Pujuls hasn’t been able to accomplish this year – but could see him doing a couple of years from now.

    After the Columbus game, i really would waive Pouliot. Nobody can tell me that Slepy (or even Lander) wouldn’t represent a better effort than he.

    Its not the fact that he isn’t contributing offensively. It is that he is a liability every single time he is on the ice. He has checked out on the Oilers. Its time they check out on him. Take your losses and move on.

    • Rama Lama

      I agree with you except that NYI management is much smarter than ours……..I’m still fuming that someone thought getting Griffin Reinhart would solve our problems on defence.

      Correct me if I’m wrong but we gave up two draft choices ( 1st and 2nd) and got nothing much in return…….priceless.

    • Nuts Ack

      I don’t know whether Daryl Katz has infinite patience for mistakes, but Fayne is already sitting in Bakersfield making 3.5 M through the end of next season. Pouliot is 4 M for another 2 years after this. The exchange rate on USD is not great. Having both players in the minors may not be an option!

    • Nuts Ack

      I don’t know whether Daryl Katz has infinite patience for mistakes, but Fayne is already sitting in the Bakersfield making 3.5 M through the end of next season. Pouliot if 4 M for another 2 years after this. The exchange rate on USD is not great. Having both players in the minors may not be an option!

  • Rob...

    I wonder if the Oilers drafting Graham McPhee will give us a slight advantage in dealing with dear old dad. I’m not talking a huge advantage, as George is a professional, but just give him an ear more willing to listen to what Chia is offering.

  • What does Anaheim take for Silfverburg is the question. He wouldn’t come cheap, but he also wouldn’t be traded for another forward they’d just have to protect so…

    Likely Puljujarvi would be the asking price on that one. Either that or a 1st round pick. And that’s a lot.

  • Total Points

    Oilers need to find a sniper to play with McDavid.

    McDavids effect on the other team and the play of the game has dwindled due to no finish on a McDavid rush.

    The focus should be on this. It really doesn’t matter which ONE player on the lower half of the team is kept or not kept

    Chicago has proved this time and time.

    • Oiler Al

      Don’t mind me chiming in, but I happen to agree with your point on #97 needing a sniper.That sniper would also have to have a good set of wheels.{seen enough of Lucic arriving on the afternoon bus] I know is hard to keep up with him but you have to be closer than # 27.

    • TruthHurts98

      For starters they could leave Maroon on his line, they have chemistry at 5 on 5. Lucic doesn’t, not even close. However he plays well with Leon and does find some with Connor on the PP. Wonder why Connor has dried up?? Pretty easy to see why. Ebs needs to go back to a shorter stick and attend some motivational classes. He should be thriving with Connor. Then again the Oilers should be playing with more passion the last 3 games, but they don’t seem to care much lately. That’s a bigger problem.

  • madjam

    After the exercise I find 6 likely RW candidates that should be available to Las Vegas . In order of preference they are :

    D.Brown L.A. 5.875 M ,M. Grabner NYR 1.650 M , J. Silfverberg ANA. 3.75 M , B Richardson Arizona 2.083 M , P.A.Parenteau N.J. 1.250 M, and T. Wilson Wash. 2.00 M . Vegas might not take Wilson because they will probably take defenseman D. [email protected] 2.750 M over him .

    Vegas in goal will probably take Hellybucyk Winn. .667M , Vasilevsky Tampa 3.5M and M.Murray 3.75M Pitt. .

    Vegas defense : D.Savard 4.25M Columbus, J.Brodin 4.166M Minn. , L.Sbisa 3.60M Van . , D.Orlov 2.570M Wash., J.Gorges 3.90M Buff., Schenn 1.250M Arizona if they don’t take B. Richardson , D.Engelland 2.916 M Cal. , N.Zadorov .894M Colorado , J.Benn 1.10M Dallas and maybe Van Riemsdyk .825M Chi.

    I have Oilers losing Pouliot to Vegas

    D.Brown will probably be Vegas’s top salary player and maybe the only bad contract to deal with .

    • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

      Dumping Pouliot to Vegas would be a dream, although they will likely be a low salary team and Pouliot’s price may not be an issue if they think he can be revived. Still think Davidson or Russell (assuming Russell has a contract here) more likely.

  • Kepler62c

    I like the Strome possibility – Right handed shot, can play C or RW, reasonable size, and (as you said) likely undervalued by the organization. Plus he’s only 22 and is still an RFA with 1 year left on his contract after this one.

    On a side note – I don’t mind if Chia signs Russell if its for 1-2 years, BUT personally I wouldn’t protect him. If Russell and Davidson are exposed then I think it would be more likely Russell gets taken with him being veteran player – and if he does it’s as if you never signed him. Not a bad outcome. If Davidson still gets taken then Russell and Nurse basically fill that hole. If in the extremely unlikely situation they end up wth Davidson and Russell after leaving both exposed, well depth isn’t a bad thing and that opens up a possible trade of Reinhart, Davidson, Russell, Nurse, or Klefbom (I’d hate to see any of the young ones go though).

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    I think we have to go with the 7-3-1. I’d prefer to expose Davidson over Maroon and Letestu. At the moment, Maroon and Letestu bring more to the oil than Davidson IMO.

    I like Davidson. Hard shot and has seemed pretty solid in the Dzone in his short career but he didn’t produce a lot in junior or the AHL.

    Bear and Jones are both pretty much a point per game in junior right now and are 6 years younger than Davidson. They’re not ready yet but i’m sure the McDavid effect can attract a stop gap until they are.

  • Oilers21

    Strome is the guy for me. The organization doesn’t seem to like him as mentioned here, and he has the feel of a guy who might take a while to figure it out. Imagine in 2-3 years when this team is seriously competing and then Strome comes out of nowhere to figure it out and chip in with 60-70 points as well.

  • The Whispererer

    Brossoit’s performance in the Bake seems to have come back to earth, raising questions about him being our goalie of the future. He will also be left unprotected in the expansion draft. We need a proven backup for Talbot.
    Perhaps something could be worked out with the Isles involving Halak + Strome + ? for Pouliot + Gustaffson + ?. Halak runs hot and cold,but when he’s on he is very capable of performing at a very high level for extended runs.