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Expansion Opportunities

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee has let it be known that once he receives expansion protected and available lists, he is going to be open for business. A small window of opportunity exists and could mean we see all manner of transactions. Could one or more benefit the Oilers?

Before the original expansion in 1967, the Chicago Blackhawks were having a tough time setting their list. Instead of leaving two quality players available (and then pulling one back when the other was selected, Chicago dealt Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to the Boston Bruins for less than 100 cents on the dollar. It might be the most famous bad trade in the game’s history.

Managers do unusual things sometimes and we will no doubt see several surprises leading up to and during the expansion process. How can this benefit the Oilers?


In order to project the expansion protected lists, I went to CapFriendly and had them do the dirty work of compiling 30 protected lists. I then went to work on 29 teams (Oilers aside) looking for possibly useful roster players for the Oildrop beginning in 2017-18. I will tell you that cap hit was part of the priority and that roster weakness was also a consideration. Here’s what I came up with. I was not concerned with Vegas Golden Knights draft rules, but did comply for the most part in order to get a final list that looked reasonable. I am not suggesting this should be a reasonable estimate of an expansion list.

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  • Goalies: Ryan Miller (VAN); Mike Smith (ARI); Antoine Khudobin (BOS); Anton Bibeau (TOR). Remember, I’m not interested in any of these guys (well, maybe Khudobin)for Edmonton, but wanted to satisfy both the roster makeup and cap requirements of an expansion team. None of these men would be a priority for the Oilers.
  • Left Defense: Brandon Davidson (MTL); Derrick Pouliot (PIT); Fredrik Claesson (OTT); Mark Barberio (COL). I think the Oilers will carry 4 LHD next season and we know who they are (Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Griffin Reinhart). Expansion and trades could change that, and there are good things about all four of these defensemen listed. Pouliot has great potential, Davidson is a fine defender. I could see the Oilers making a deal for either man.
  • Right Defense: JOSH MANSON (ANA); Mark Pysyk (FLA); Ville Pokka (CHI); Ryan Pulock (NYI); Ryan Sproul (DET). When I asked the computer to create the list, everything looked fine but Anaheim. Josh Manson is a very good defender and would be an extremely nice fit for the Oilers. Righty blue, effective defensively, this would be a major addition in my opinion. The problem for the Ducks is that they have several fine defensemen who need to be protected, and the computer went with Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen and Cam Fowler (while waiving Kevin Bieksa). If Manson is available, he would be a perfect fit. Pysyk is also a very interesting name, he has quietly stepped up and would be a fine option. I also like the others, specifically Pulock, but their acquisition would be less costly and could probably be done without a third party.
  • Center: VLADIMIR SOBOTKA (STL); Vladislav Namestnikov (TBY); Adam Lowry (WPG); Erik Haula (MIN); William Karlsson (CBJ).  Sobotka comes with risk (maybe he stays in Russia), including the possibility his skills have eroded over the years. Last I looked he was busy being very productive in the KHL playoffs, though. Adam Lowry is another interesting player, and Namestnikov/Karlsson may add to the skill.
  • Left Wing: Benoit Pouliot (EDM); Michael Raffl (PHI); Jordan Nolan (LAK); Micheal Ferland (CGY); William Carrier (BUF). No one especially vital at this position, Edmonton should be covered for next season (depending on Pouliot) and they have options like Jujhar Khaira on the way for depth roles.
  • Right Wing: Craig Smith (NAS); Lee Stempniak (CAR);  Jannik Hansen (SJS);  Michael Grabner (NYR); Devante Smith-Pelly (NJD); Brett Connolly (WAS); Valeri Nichushkin (DAL). Several of these men could help as scoring options, Stempniak will probably play until he is 50 and Grabner could cash passes from any of Edmonton’s big C’s. I am most intrigued though by the Russian Nichushkin. I understand he is regarded as a high risk, and he does have another year on his KHL deal, but depending on price he would be a very nice buy low option. I bet Slats would have done his due diligence.

What about you? Care to try? It takes awhile but is a lot of fun and maybe you can find a gem or two as well. Click here if you dare! 🙂

  • Glass

    I’d like to see the Oilers acquire one of those depth RD to really push Benning. Manson is an excellent target. The alternatives are to stand pat with Russell or go after big fish like Trouba, Barrie, Faulk (likely not all are available). It would be nice to acquire a RD that is on the cusp of full-time NHL time that is further up the pipeline than Bear, so we can really give him time and less pressure to develop.

  • toprightcorner

    Manson would look fantastic addition, he plays hard, has a Nurse like meanness to him. I have no idea what a trade like that would look like, they would want either a player that they would not have to protect or some draft picks. Does a 3rd round pick and prospect get that deal?

    It may not be a popular suggestion but what about Jones or Bear for Manson? Manson is a proven NHL player who is top 4 within a year or 2 while Bear and Jones have had fantastic junior careers, are far from a sure thing in the NHL. There are loads of great defenemen that dominated the CHL but couldn’t stick in the show. I highly doubt either of those to would be better than Manson and this would be the cheapest way to add a top 4 RHD.

    The problem with adding Manson is that you are basically committing to not adding a PP QB, which is fine, but I think this team could be much more dangerous if they had an offensive dman. I see Nuge as being the guy PC will use to try and get that player.

    • Glass

      Manson has been DOMINANT in the AHL, and also known to be a PP QB (I’m pretty sure). So we are in fact getting someone who is inherently offensive. What do you think about trading Slepyshev for Manson? If they don’t lose Manson, it will most likely be Silfverberg. In that scenario, they have a need on RW and are pretty set on RHD.

      Both are on the cusp of being full-time NHLers imo. I’d hate to lose Slepyshev, but I’d rather get our D corps sorted out sooner rather than later. Not to mention, we have Puljujarvi in the pipeline.

      Klefbomb/Nurse is our 1/2 LD tandem of the future, Larsson is our 1. I’d like to see who comes out on top between Benning & Manson for the 2 spot (and I’d bet that Nurse/Manson > Nurse/Benning). I like Benning, but I don’t have all my eggs in that basket.

      If we don’t make a move, then it’s a long wait to see what happens with Ethan Bear.

  • Oilersrule

    Grabner would be interesting if possible acquiring, mcdavid with grabner would be the speediest line in hockey and here’s a guy that could possibly get open improvising and reacting to mcdavid in real time in order to capitalize on the setups he’s capable of .

    • Glass

      3 D: Team Sweden, Sekera
      You can protect Reinhart as your 4th, but then you risk exposing Maroon, which is a no-no.

      Staples on Forward (6): Eberle, Rnh, Maroon, Lucic, Draisaitl, Letestu.
      My case for Letestu: Great on PP/PK, poor on even strength, which I don’t think is an excuse to let him go and retool your bottom 6, because who knows if Desharnais will be here either.

      Candidates for 7th spot: Kassian, Pouliot, Khaira. Caggiula & Slepyshev are ineligible, the other 3 are the most likely imo.

      Kassian – Probably my pick. Great bottom-6 RW, I think he has more to give even. Physical, stands up for teammates, and I think he wants to be here long-term. However, one might think “why would Vegas take a chance on someone with his history” given the fact that Vegas is THE city of temptation of all the NHL clubs. Not the best environment for him methinks.

      Khaira – I’m kind of indifferent to losing him, but if we protect him he easily slots in at 4LW imo, and he is deceptively fast with underrated hands.

      Pouliot – This is going to be a controversial topic going into the off-season. Do we risk letting Pouliot, who is finding his game, go for nothing? For someone that slots in at 3LW and has a history of inconsistency, he has a bad contract. Also a poor history with TMac (numerous appearances either scratched or on 4th line before injury, short leash due to offensive zone penalties), Chia has tried to get rid of him, but conveniently he was injured going into the past 2 trade deadlines.

      My opinion: Losing Pouliot for nothing would be unfortunate, but I think losing Kassian would be a bigger blow to the team chemistry and balance in the bottom 6. I think Caggiula can step up to 3LW now if he had to, and we’d be saving a lot of cap that way.

      • Anton CP

        Losing Pouliot also meant losing 4m cap hit. That is a lot of cap room that the Oilers need to prepare to re-sign Draisaitl to a new extension. 4m per for a bottom 6 forward is way too much money so I’m feeling that it would be for the best of everyone that Vegas willing to take Pouliot.

  • toprightcorner

    Looking at some of the quality of these players listed, I am more inclined to look at who these teams are protecting ahead of these players and maybe making a trade for one of them. It can help that team if they have cap space issues.

    Instead of going after Manson, I would be talking to ANA about Vatanen. This gives the Ducks much needed cap space and more in return. Vatanen better fills a need on the Oilers because of his offense and PP skills.

    Maybe MIN would trade Dumba and be happy protecting Brodin instead???

    Adam Lowry would be a great 3C, young, huge, skill, over 50% on the dot. Just not sure I would want to get him and lose one of Kassian or Letestu.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    so I am being lazy , but who do we play if we finish 1st 2nd or 3rd in the div ? I really don’t see us falling to the #1 wildcard, one never knows but. From my take , # 1 seed in the west plays # 2 W.C. and #2 seed in west plays #1 W.C. while 2/3 division finishers face each other in both divisions ? So we could play almost anyone yet.

    PS SUCK IT CALGARY. Welcome to the new age. OILERS.

  • Pouzar99

    Assuming there are no trades or special arrangements with Vegas I suspect the Oilers will lose Reinhart, Brossoit or either Letestu or Khaira, one of which will be protected. I would protect Letestu despite his age, as he still has a few more very valuable years in him. Chia would have to be nuts not to protect Kassian. Vegas is not going to take Pouliot or Hendricks, and I can’t see them taking Pitlick, with his long history of injuries.

  • 916oiler

    The player I’d least want to lose (that will probably be left unprotected) is Letestu. He does so many things for us, tough to replace. Brossoit – easy to find another cheap backup. Pouliot – Caggiula could take his place. Reinhart – 3rd pairing d-men are easy to replace. Khaira – solid 3/4L potential…is found everywhere in abundance.