It feels like the summer of crazy when it comes to NHL trade possibilities. The changing of the guard in the Western Conference, the closeness of competition in the Eastern Conference, and the upcoming expansion draft have a large pool of possibilities in play.
I spoke to prospect expert and former scout Simon Boisvert today about the expansion draft. The conversation surrounded the protected list for Edmonton, and including Mark Letestu on the list over prospect Jujhar Khaira. Simon and I agreed on how we would proceed, but it was his followup answer that surprised me.
Boisvert suggested the Vegas Golden Knights may choose to secure Laurent Brossoit from Edmonton’s list, allowing them to have an inexpensive and NHL-ready option for backup goalie. The club could then proceed to draft starters who could be traded, keeping one starter and having Brossoit as part of the tandem.
It got me thinking about Edmonton’s roster in a different way. As in, who might be available for trade and who might be vulnerable to the expansion draft?
I wonder if we have properly explored some of the possible trade and expansion options available to Vegas and other clubs. Let’s start with what is probably the most likely protected list:
- Goal: Cam Talbot
- Defense: Andrej Sekera, Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom
- Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu.
I believe this is the consensus list, speak now or forever hold your peace. I have been operating under the idea that (once Iiro Pakarinen was signed) the Golden Knights would be deciding between Jujhar Khaira and Griffin Reinhart. Reinhart is less attractive than Khaira, in my opinion, due to the sheer number of defenders who are available. That said, based on what we know now, those two men would be my guess for selection by the new NHL team.
VEGAS STATE OF MIND
If we’re thinking like Vegas, as Boisvert did today, maybe this isn’t the slam dunk it looks like. If I approach it from the Oilers pov, Khaira and Reinhart are the obvious items for a team building an entire organization. They are young, can grow with the group and are under control for several more years. Let’s look at the players who could be selected or traded.
- G Laurent Brossoit: As explained above, this is a low-cost and NHL-ready option, provided by a team with no obvious top end option. Makes a helluva lot of sense, because Vegas can then draft starters with the rest of their allotment and trade the excess. Great damned idea (not mine, Boisvert’s).
- RD Mark Fayne: There are very few RH defenders and Edmonton might sweeten things if Vegas chooses the veteran.
- LD Griffin Reinhart: Remains a strong option, Vegas will want some continuity on the roster in the early years and GR should be in the NHL for the next several years. Even if he is a third-pairing option, that can have value for a new team.
- LC Jujhar Khaira: A big, strong young forward who is just ending his entry-level deal. I would protect him over the veteran Letestu, partly because Khaira is under control for several more seasons.
- L Benoit Pouliot: He remains an NHL player despite the major falloff in offense this past season, the Golden Knights may find him attractive as a two-way option on LW. Edmonton would probably be willing to throw in a sweetener.
- R Anton Slepyshev: Although he is ineligible, Slepyshev is an interesting option. If the Oilers could acquire a more proven scorer (Vegas would pluck from another NHL team), then sending the young Russan to Vegas could make sense.
- R Tyler Pitlick: Although he is a UFA, the Golden Knights may choose to approach him (or Kris Russell, although the veteran defender would likely prefer to sign with an established team) to see if a contract offer would be agreeable.