As we enter into the procurement window for summer, there are a bunch of questions that are rolling around in my mind. I bet you have some, too. Here are mine, feel free to offer opinion and add your own questions.
- Is the possible trade of Jordan Eberle connected to the signing of Spencer Foo? I wrote about this a little while ago and from the Foo camp’s perspective it probably makes some sense. The young winger emerged as a bona fide NHL prospect in time to call his shot, and the depth chart will impact things. I’m not suggesting the Oilers trade Eberle and hand the job to the young college winger, but depth charts are important, even in June.
- Will the Oilers acquire a RH shooter who can play center or wing? Todd McLellan likes to have two centers on one line and increasing the NHL seems to be devoting faceoffs to strong side options. A righty on (say) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ line might be a big help for the team.
- Will the Oilers make a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights? I keep staring at the Florida Panthers roster and wondering about men like Alex Petrovic. Florida has some moves to make in order to protect themselves, but may decide to enter the expansion draft with the current group and take their medicine. If that happens, Edmonton might be able to step in and acquire a useful RHD like Petrovic.
- Can the Oilers afford Kris Russell? Rumors abound that other NHL teams are interested in Russell and that makes sense. Edmonton is interested in bringing Russell back, but cap and term could go deep in a bidding war and there isn’t an abundance of quality in the free-agent pool. Russell may not stay in Edmonton’s range for long.
- Will the twin signings of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl come in under $18 million combined? The length of each contract isn’t known and the cap hit is also a mystery. Fans I talk to want both men to sign for eight years and the expectation of many is a combined cap hit around the $15 million range. I don’t see it, and wonder how close to $20 million these contracts will land.
- What in heck are they going to do about the second pairing? The top pairing (Oscar Klefbom-Adam Larsson) appears set and ideally the Oilers could run Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning as third pair. Andrej Sekera is going to be out a long time and may not be 100 percent until the playoffs or even next season. Edmonton needs a long-term RHD and a LHD who can fill in on a big pairing while also (possibly) getting healthy scratched once Sekera arrives? I have suggested Brian Campbell for the LH role, no guarantees he is interested in heading west.
- If not Eberle and not Nuge, then what? At this point in the Oilers due diligence with other organizations, I expect they know the range available in terms of asset return for the players Edmonton is making available. TSN’s trade bait list has only Eberle (No. 5) on it, suggesting to me the organization is getting better at not letting out secrets. A year ago, Eberle, Nuge, Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov and the No. 4 overall pick appeared on the list, this time it falls to other clubs to have much of their roster identified. If Eberle isn’t enough to get that defender, or center, does that bring Nuge into the conversation? No. 22 overall? It will be fascinating to see how this all develops.
- Can Edmonton draft a future top 6F at No. 22? One thing we know for sure: this team is going to need a pipeline of productive offensive players over the next decade. Connor McDavid is going to be creating millionaires two at a time through 2035 and Peter Chiarelli won’t be able to sign all of them. If Edmonton picks at No. 22, bet on big skill, and hope it’s a forward.
- Will we see another mind blowing deal? In 2015, Edmonton dealt for Griffin Reinhart. In 2016, the Oilers acquired Adam Larsson. Both trades sent this city reeling, and began an argument between friends, foes, cats, dogs, even executives, that continues to this day. Will we see a stunner again? What would it look like?