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Contract Conundrums: Part 2 – Deadline value

Last week we took a downright depressing dive into a few of the contracts that could hold the Oilers hostage as they try to reconfigure the roster heading into the off-season. This week’s piece is slightly less bleak, I promise.

As the trade deadline looms just weeks away, the team holds a few valuable chips in its hand which have the potential to help jump start things for Chiarelli and Co. as management tries to lay the foundation for what is sure to be a busy offseason in Edmonton, starting with the upcoming trade deadline and followed by the draft and July 1 free agency.

Fortunately, today’s NHL makes it easier than ever before to re-tool with a few simple moves rather than blowing everything up, especially when a key talent like, say, Connor McDavid is locked up for the long term.

Here are the pieces Edmonton could (and should) seriously consider moving before the deadline:

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Patrick Maroon

(Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

Contract Situation – $1.5-million cap hit, pending UFA.

Potential Return –  Maroon, a big, left-handed winger coming off a 27-goal season, will easily be one of the most coveted potential acquisitions as the deadline approaches. The Oilers picked him up at the 2016 deadline for a fourth-round pick and minor-league blueliner (now in Europe) Martin Gernat, and can expect a much bigger return than that now that Maroon has proven his worth in Edmonton.  After coming off a career season and displaying an ability to play effectively alongside an elite skater and playmaker like Connor McDavid, the Oilers could likely pull in a second-round pick, a young but roster-ready NHLer or prospect.

Case For Trading – Teams like Boston and Pittsburgh are in need of a top-six winger who can play alongside talented centres, and Maroon could slot in perfectly in one of those Eastern cities, along with several other contending clubs. The 29-year-old is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and there’s a possibility the winger could re-sign with the Oilers even after being flipped at the deadline. If the team can bring in a solid return from a contending team and feels it has a chance to re-sign Maroon in the summer, it shouldn’t think twice about flipping him before February 26.

Case For Keeping – Unless you can replace Maroon’s 20-plus goals and find someone else who Connor McDavid loves playing with, the team has to proceed with caution when deciding what to do with Maroon. To move him for a younger player with the hopes of re-signing him this summer is a risky endeavour, as the chance of Maroon returning to Edmonton on a deal this offseason diminishes greatly once another club has a chance to negotiate with him during the midst of a playoff run.

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Oscar Klefbom

(Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Contract Situation – $4.17-million cap hit, signed through 2023.

Potential Return – Calm, smooth-skating, positive possession blueliners who can anchor a powerplay are always at a premium come deadline time, and Klefbom (aside from POSSIBLY Erik Karlsson) would likely bring the biggest return of any defenceman available over the next month. Being under team control for several more seasons and boasting a reasonable cap hit, Klefbom could bring in a couple good young forwards or blueliners, a roster-ready NHLer and first-round draft pick, or some combination of prospects and picks.

Case For Trading – There are only a couple reasons to consider flipping the 24-year-old: Return and space. Of all the players not named McDavid or Nugent-Hopkins on this Oilers roster right now, Klefbom has the potential to bring in by far the best return. If the chance to fill various needs while replenishing the organization’s prospect pipeline arises, Chiarelli will have to seriously consider parting ways with the club’s 2011 first-round pick. A move would also clear space, both on the roster and the ledger, for Darnell Nurse’s potential emergence as a top-pair, left-handed No. 1 option on the back end.

Case For Keeping – He’s got a great contract, huge offensive upside, and is boasting solid possession numbers on a poor defensive squad.  These guys are very tough to find and, all things considered, a potential deal here smells of one that could see the Oilers getting a sub-par return for one if their most valuable assets… again.

Other Options

(Photo Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

Connor McDavid – Just kidding.

Mark Letestu – The pending UFA centre, who is a career 52-percent face-off guy, could be a solid pickup for any contender looking to add depth down the middle. The 32-year-old likely won’t bring much to Edmonton in return, though.

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Mike Cammalleri – He’s a diminished version of his former self as he approaches age 36, but Cammalleri still has talent on the offensive side of the puck and could be invigorated by being depth piece on a team poised to make a Cup run. Again, there isn’t much return to be had here, however.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – RNH would bring a ton of return and open a second line centre spot for Leon Draisaitl (the 8.5-million dollar man). Plus, honestly, it would be fun as hell to see how Chiarelli handles this one. I don’t think RNH should be traded but this is the Edmonton Oilers we’re talking about so you never know what will happen.

Being a seller is no fun, but the potential to drastically alter a team’s outcome from season-to-season with just a couple of tweaks should bring at least a glimmer of hope to everyone suffering through this atrocity of a season.

  • TKB2677

    With the emergence of Nurse and having Sekera who should be up to speed next season, if you are trading Klefbom, it has to be swapping him for a right handed guy. When he is playing well, Klefbom is a 20+ min, decent defending dman who has some offense and can play on your PP. Plus his contract is very good. So if you can swap him out for a right handed shooting guy with similar skill set, it makes sense.

  • puckle-head

    A few thoughts: Mark Letestu isn’t 24, he’s 32… is he not? Klefbom, I would say is probably untouchable, I doubt any team is willing to give up the kind of assets the Oilers would need in return. And other than that, there’s a whole slough of guys I would add to that list the Oilers should try and get whatever they can for them (hopefully late round picks/prospects). Guys like Kassian, Strome, and Davidson (I actually like Brandon Davidson, but we have so many goddamned LD, 2 of whom have NMCs, that I don’t see how he fits in) would be tough to get much of value for them, but a team looking to add depth for their playoff run might throw a late round pick for one of ’em. All of those guys are pretty easy to replace so if you can get something for them, do it.

    And lastly, the Oilers should also consider moving Ryan Strome. I know our RW is depleted, but the guy needs a new contract, and unless he’s willing to go real cheap, I don’t see why we’d want to keep him. He might actually net a not-nothing return too.

  • OnDaWagon

    Klefbom is on a great contract? Most of this year he’s not playing like it’s a great contract. My definition of a great contract, is, a player who is consistently playing above the pay scale he is on. But if he can regain last years ability, i’d agree. But not at his playing level this season.

    • BringitbacklikeSlats

      Agreed. Funny how people keep referring to the “great” season he had last year. I went back and read some Cult of Hockey articles from January last year and there was one about how bad he was for the first half of last season.
      He did get better and played well down the stretch drive but if we can get could value back on trading him I say it’s a great move. I think the claim made in the article that he has “huge” offensive upside is dubious at best. He simply doesn’t process the game at a very high level and I don’t see that hockey sense or lack there of changing anytime soon.

      • MessyEH!

        It is a great contract. 24 year-old defensman who can log top minutes at 4 million a year. If he played for another team we’d be wanting Chia Pete to trade for him.

  • Spydyr

    The realist version on Maroon.

    It has been rumoured he wants to play in the east closer to his home. This makes sense. Maroon will fetch an large contract as a UFA. Chia has put the Oilers in a position where they cannot afford another large contract. It is the GM 101course that unless you can sign a UFA and your are missing the playoffs you trade said UFA for assets that may help your team moving forward. Start a bidding war on deadline day and hopefully walk away with a late first round pick for Maroon.

    • BringitbacklikeSlats

      Not sure that strategy makes sense. If they wait to start shopping him at the deadline day and it passes by the. We have no leverage other than to sign him. And at that point him and his agent go “thanks but we’ll test free agency come the summer deadline”

      So no they should definitely NOT wait till the deadline to move him if that’s the direction they’re taking. Get him moved as soon as possible, and then there’s always a chance they pick him up again in Free Agency if they want him.

      • Spydyr

        Start the bidding war as soon as you want. Don’t pull the trigger until you have all the other interested teams best offers. Use the deadline day to up the ante.

        • BringitbacklikeSlats

          It’d be a shrewd move if successful but I’d hesitate to take the chance it misses. I’ll be more comfortable moving him well before deadline day.

          • oilerjed

            This isn’t totally out to lunch. Seems to me that some of the biggest deals have happened a week or two before the deadline over the last couple of years. Spyder has a valid point though, start the bidding early and let them drive each other up for a bit, but don’t wait too long or someone else my drop on the market expectantly and screw it all up, or more likely, #becauseOilers, maroon gets hurt.

  • hockeyartist

    For all the reasons noted it’s the same reasons why Klefbom and RNH should not be traded. But with Chia pulling the trigger the trade deadline will be tense without question.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Problem is do we trust that Chia doesn’t get fleeced again? And after a season of this site, it wouldn’t surprise me if Maroon, Klefbom and Nuge were all gone before the next season started.

      • IRONman

        The fact is the oilers have at most 20 million cap space. So we can’t pay Maroon 4 million a season and Nurse, fill other holes. Trade maroon to the east, for a decent pick. The defence is young. Defence do not get going after age 25. 4 and 2 are older but what do u do

      • oilerjed

        I think Chia only got fleeced on the Rienhart deal. Hall got Larsen and it doesn’t seem like he was getting more. Ebs didn’t have nearly the value that others around this site seem to think he did. Sure, they may have over estimated what Strome would bring but I don’t think you can say he was fleeced without using hindsight.

        • Gravis82

          Trade value when you are shopping someone will always be lower than real added value to the team. Why would you trade for someone and give up market value? You are not improving your team that way.

        • RJ

          Are you the last #InChiaWeTrust guys?

          As it relates to trades, I think looking at the Duchene trade is the right framework. Set a target on what they want, get multiple bids and get the best deal possible. Other GMs didn’t know Hall was available. Was Larson the best return if the Devils were bidding against no one?

          And if you read any Strome analyses, hewas described by everyone as a thirdliner with some upside. And that’s who he is as an Oiler.

          • oilerjed

            Fair enough about whether or not Chia got bids from anyone else, who knows? I only heard one other GM say that they didn’t know Hall was on the market. GMs aren’t above playing games with each other so who knows how much credibility I give this.
            As for #inchiawetrust, there has been good and bad but there is no doubt in my mind that this version of the Oilers is far more capable of beating good (when giving it their all) NHL teams then the previous 3 GMS were.

  • oilerjed

    No matter what his value, the Oil CANNOT trade a top 4 dman that they have been developing for 6 years unless the other team comes at Chia with an outrageous deal that can’t be turned down. Sheer Lunacy!
    And is Letestu really only 24 years old?? Wow
    Please take Nuge off your list, I find it personally offensive 😉

  • RJ

    We should recognize that the NHL/Oilers are a business. Anyone could get traded. Gretzky did.

    The real topic is what kind of return you’re going to get for your player/pick/prospect if you do trade them.

    If you are going to trade anyone you need to know who you have to backfill the role, what they’re going to cost, what you’re getting back, and what they’re going to cost.

    Using this to evaluate the Eberle trade, they gave up a soft RW who could put up points at times and do nothing else. His first playoff run was brutal. I don’t mind he was traded. I also don’t mind the timing. Next season the Oilers are going to have cap challenges. Lowball offers would be abundant and the ability to get a decent return was not going to increase.

    But who did they find to fill a top-6 RW? Puljujarvi has been fine in a limited run, and should get better but the first two months of the season that spot was a black hole. Some thought Slepyshev might make an improvement, but he was injured early and he’s never been given much of a run by TM. One article I read pointed out the line he had the best success with was together less than a minute this season. Not really setting him up for success.

    Trade Klefbom? There is depth at LHD. Even with Nurse getting a bump the Oilers can’t spend $4.1 for Klefbom, 5.5 for Sekera, 4 for Russell and 4 for Nurse. One of them have to go an two have NMCs. Pretty simple math.

    But if you’re going to trade Klefbom, don’t frigging lose the trade again, and add a player that improves the team.

  • RJ

    Just curious what folks think…when they showed pictures of McDavid on his birthday celebrating Maroon was the Oiler they showed with him.

    Does that mean anything? Maybe Maroon is his guy, and the Oilers pony up to keep him.

  • 15w40

    If Strome can replace Letestu plus bring a little more offence that would be good. Not too sure what his qualifying salary would be as a RFA. Jujhar could play 4th line centre and Strome 3rd line centre

    • IRONman

      Keep Nuge. So tired of giving players to the islanders. It will be interesting to see PC next move. Penguins and oilers have same cap space next year. Let see who spends wise

      • Heschultzhescores

        I like Nuge. He’s a skill guy but seems to fall into losing way too easily. Can’t blame him, he’s only been in the playoffs one time. Though, if he is traded we cannot get raped again. We need equal value or better back.


    Come the trade deadline these are the only guys going anywhere (unforetunately not Lucic). Maroon,Letestu,Cammalleri,Slepyshev and Auvito.There is no need to move anyone else not named Talbot but who knows what Chia will do.