In all the wreckage left from Hockey Night in Canada’s most recent Headlines segment and everything that’s followed, I feel like we’ve missed an interesting sidebar to the conversation. And that seems more than fair given everything we have caught.
To recap: the Oilers are unhappy with the Ryan Strom for Jordan Eberle deal, need help on the right wing and are considering trading away, at the very least, Jussi Jokinen and Anton Slepyshev among others. Oh, and they have to decide what to do with Kailer Yamamoto soon.
And if that wasn’t enough, Connor McDavid set the internet on fire with his choice of a Halloween costume.
It appears Connor McDavid misinterpreted the Oilers’ need for offensive right wingers pic.twitter.com/ogAn8x1mNf
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 30, 2017
Rest easy, though, because we at OilersNation are nothing if not meticulous. And one detail that caught my attention throughout all this was Elliotte Friedman making a quip about whether there might be a fit between Edmonton and Chris Kreider during Saturday’s Headlines segment.
“They’re looking for speed –and you know one of the teams that we’re going to watch tonight is the Rangers — and I just wonder, depending on what the Rangers decide to do, if there can be a fit with someone like Chris Kreider.”
Before we get any further, let’s get the obvious out of the way. This isn’t a rumour, and nothing appears imminent. Nor is this something Friedman is hearing from his sources; he hasn’t said as much publically, anyway. It’s just Friedman spitballing based on the two team’s situations, and wondering aloud if there was a fit that made sense for both sides. This is not DEFCON1 or even close to it.
It’s an interesting conversation starter, and this is the place to have that kind of discussion. So let’s dive in and see what kind of a fit Kreider would be with the Oilers and how realistic a trade like this is.
The first thing that jumps out at me is that Kreider wouldn’t help the Oilers on the right wing, as he’s been a left winger for as long as he’s been on the hockey world’s radar. Perhaps the idea here is that acquiring another left winger like Kreider frees players like Drake Caggiula and Ryan Strome to play the right wing on a more consistent basis.
Another angle to consider is that Kreider’s speed would make him an excellent fit alongside McDavid, and with Patrick Maroon’s contract nearing its end, this could provide the Oilers with insurance in the event that they can’t re-sign Maroon. Better still, it’s leverage if the two sides come to crunch time.
And as far as insurance policies go, Kreider is the platinum package. His current contract has him signed for three seasons at a manageable $4.625-million annually. And speaking qualitatively, I just don’t think there are many players better suited to play with McDavid than Kreider is. Kreider can keep up with McDavid, open space and bury his chances whenever his centre finds him.
When one digs a little deeper, the case for the Oilers having interest in Kreider becomes increasingly obvious. He’s a shot generation machine, and when he’s been on the ice for the Rangers in the last two seasons, they’ve come ahead in territorial terms convincingly; Kreider’s Rangers were a 6% more efficient team by shot attempt ratio with him on the ice than when he was on the bench. And perhaps most important, he’s produced like a first line player for the better part of four seasons.
It’s not hard to see why Friedman singled Kreider out as someone that would make sense for the Oilers. In fact, it’s blatantly obvious. The only real question is how the Oilers could get to that point.
One has to imagine that a player like Kreider is going to cost a king’s ransom. That might mean parting with Jesse Puljujarvi or another similarly valuable prospect. And even then, it’s not like the Rangers are sellers. This is a team that went into the season with aspirations of contending for a Stanley Cup.
I suppose the hope, in this hypothetical scenario, is that the Rangers panic, wave the white flag for this season, and continue to turn the corner towards the next wave of talent built around Mika Zibanejad, Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson. That’s not an outlandish thought, and in that vein, Puljujarvi or perhaps an Ethan Bear type of player fits. It might mean the Oilers have to wait them out a bit longer, but it’s an interesting point to consider.
And for an Oilers team that’s one year removed from having McDavid on the books for $12.5-million annually, paying a premium in futures for a move that bolsters the now could be justifiable. Especially if there is a long-term incentive, as there would be in this case: a cost-controlled and cost-efficient first line winger with special team chops.
It doesn’t sound like any such move is on the horizon, or has even been considered by either side. But I’d definitely count this among the more sensible options for the Oilers if their unfortunate start forces them into something of a panic. They could do a lot worse.