The Edmonton Oilers need to fix their scoring woes and the clock is ticking.
In two weeks time, American Thanksgiving will be upon us. As American hockey fans will eat their turkeys and say grace, NHL fans from all over the globe should also be looking at the standings, as American Thanksgiving tends to create a clearer picture as to who will, or won’t, make the NHL’s postseason.
Since the league expanded to 30 teams back in 2000, close to 80% of teams that were in the playoff picture at American Thanksgiving cracked a postseason berth. That day is fast approaching, and there ought to be some urgency amongst the Oilers personal, with the team sitting seven points back of a wild-card spot, and the team scoring the least amongst any NHL team, with 2.31 goals per game.
The team’s lack of goal scoring is generally attributed to the team’s lack of forward depth, as they’re getting almost no contributions coming from the third and fourth lines.
So, how do the Oilers bolster their offensive attack?
They could look from within, but with Kailer Yamamoto back in Spokane and with Jesse Puljujarvi needing more time in the AHL, the Oilers will have to outsource, and they’ll have to do it fast.
Let’s take a look who the Oilers could acquire to help bolster their offensive attack.
Josh Leivo/Nikita Soshnikov
A deal between the Oilers and the Leafs could make a whole lot of sense.
For starters, the Leafs have a surplus of forwards, many of whom could be of excellent service to Edmonton. In return for one of those forwards, the Oilers could offer up the Leafs some trade deadline chips, giving them a mid-round pick that they could dangle at the deadline if they plan to be buyers.
Now, how about these players?
Josh Leivo, 24, is an interesting and well documented, case of a player that has produced exceptionally well in a small sample size, but has yet to receive a longer leash from Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. Despite scoring at a 0.76 point per game pace for the Leafs last season, Leivo has only been given two games with the Leafs this year, and he’s yet to eclipse more than 12 NHL games in a season. By the looks of things with the Leafs, it doesn’t appear like he’ll be given more opportunity with the team down the road, barring an injury, thus making Leivo an attractive trade chip as his deal expires at the end of this season.
The 24-year-old forward can play on both the team’s power play and penalty kill, and could even ride shotgun with Connor McDavid if needed. This would allow the team to spread their offensive players out a little bit, and create a more balanced top-nine.
As Leivo continues to warm his press box seat at the ACC, Nikita Soshnikov continues to impress at the AHL level.
Soshnikov, whose blistering wrist shot and slick hands are the first few things you’ll see if you search him up on youtube, is another one of the Leafs forwards left out of the fold, despite playing 56 games with the team last year. Soshnikov’s deal expires at the end of the year as well, and sparring a fourth or fifth round pick for Soshnikov could be well worth it for Chiarelli, whose team lacks offensive creators in their bottom six.
Grabbing ahold of perhaps a third or fourth round pick for either of the two forwards could be worthwhile for a Leafs team that likely wouldn’t be too upset if either of the two, or both, walked.
This possibility is somewhat of a long shot but bear with me.
While the panic surrounding the Rangers has dimmed down, for the time being, it may not take long before things turn sour for the Blue Shirts and if that becomes the case–Chris Kreider could find himself on the trade block.
Kreider, 26, has started to heat up as of late, while recording eight points in 16 games, with four of his five goals coming in his last six games. For a Rangers team that may be shifting towards a re-tool, selling high on Kreider could be in the cards for Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton, who has already started to turn the page in The Big Apple.
The speedy left winger is no Taylor Hall, but he’s a three-time 20+ goal scorer who would cost a reasonable 4.625 mil cap hit for the next three seasons. With the skilled centres the Oilers have, Kreider could slot anywhere from the team’s first line, to even their third line, giving Oilers head coach Todd Mclellan another tool in his arsenal to roll out an effective attack.
But what would it take to land Kreider?
I think it’s safe to say that Puljujarvi and Yamamoto are off the table, especially for this kind of deal. Perhaps the Oilers could offer up ‘D’ prospects Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear, tweeners like Slepyshev and Khaira, and package that up with draft picks. That price would likely be steep, but for an Oilers team that can’t afford to take a step backwards this year, it may be the necessary price to pay.
And for an Oilers team that has made some questionable decisions with the salary cap, getting a bargain of a deal in Kreider and his contract, is better than overpaying in free agency, something the Oilers can’t afford to do.
While McDavid and Draisaitl may not be leading the league in points, there’s little doubt they’ll climb the ranks and find themselves amongst the NHL’s elite in point totals.
But no matter how good Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Leon Draisaitl are, playoff hockey requires four lines you’re confident in–not just two lines.
Or rather, two or three players.