Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz/USA TODAY Sports

Trade Chips

Everyone can agree that the Oilers have holes in their lineup, and those holes need to be fixed if they want to compete next season. The organization also doesn’t very much, if any, cap space to use on free agents.

Those two facts give them two options if they want to fill the holes in their lineup. They either need to be patient with young players and hope they eventually develop or they need to make trades for players that can fill those holes now.

Some would say that the smarter move would be to hold onto their young, valuable assets and try to find cheap short-term solutions. I believe that’s the best way to go, and I’m sure most of you reading this would agree with me.

Just one problem: none of our jobs are on the line this offseason.

Whether you like it or not, Peter Chiarelli doesn’t have the option of being patient. If this team falters next year, he likely won’t have a job anymore. So Chiarelli is tasked with trying to keep his job by improving this team via the trade market, which makes almost every Oilers fan very anxious, and understandably so.

To get value, you need to give value, and the Oilers do have some young pieces that would certainly interest other teams.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Nov 28, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates his overtime goal against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

How could I write about the Oilers and possible trades without mentioning the Nuge?

His name has been thrown around in trade rumours since the organization drafted Connor McDavid, and that won’t change this summer.

Keeping Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton gives this team incredible depth down the middle, and would allow Todd McLellan to be very flexible with his lines. Add on that he’s grown into a stellar two-way forward, still has room to grow offensively and can play tough minutes against the oppositions best. Anyone who’s been watching this team knows how good Nugent-Hopkins can be.

He’s very valuable to this team, but he’d be very valuable in a trade and would likely fetch you a strong right-handed powerplay defenseman or a top line shooting winger, both of which are big needs. His $6 million cap-hit would come off the books as well, which would give them some financial flexibility.

There is some logic behind a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins deal, but it would still hurt the overall depth of their forward group. Frankly, the Oilers are better with him on the team than without him.

Oscar Klefbom

Oct 19, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom (77) controls the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at United Center. Oilers won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

When Klefbom is at his best, he’s a high-end offensive defenseman who can produce adequately with the man advantage. This year, Klefbom has been far from his best and at times has barely looked like an NHL defender.

If Chia dangles the Swedish blueliner in a trade, he probably won’t get full value given the players injury history and play this season. Still, the Oilers have Andrej Sekera and Darnell Nurse on the left side, so it’s not like that area of their lineup is weak by any means.

There may be a team who values what Klefbom brings when he’s healthy. I could see there being a ton of interest in this player, as is often reported. The reason I struggle with the idea of moving #77 is not just because he’s a good player but also because of his contract. At just over $4.1 million for the next five years, he has a chance to be a real value contract for a team that will need value contracts.

He holds value, he’s coming off a bad season and they have some depth on the left-side, for those reasons I could see Chiarelli dangling him on the trade market.

A Young Winger

Oct 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matthew Murray (30) makes a save against Edmonton Oilers right wing Kailer Yamamoto (56) during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This is where things get rather interesting. If the Oilers want to improve immediately next year, which Chiarelli will clearly want to do, then their best bet would be trade young players with value for proven players who can contribute at a high-level next season.

It’s clear this team needs to get more skill on their wings, and while the likes of Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto could one day be those pieces, they would also be very valuable trade chips.

As I mentioned off the top, I personally wouldn’t move either of them, but my job isn’t on the line. If Peter Chiarelli wants to get better ASAP, then trading off good young players to get good experienced players might be something he needs to look at. It hasn’t worked for him in the past, but he isn’t gun shy when it comes to dealing young talent.

The problem with this avenue is that they don’t have very much cap flexibility, so if they’re going to trade a player on their ELC for a player who’s already on their second or third contract, they would need to find a way to shed salary in another move.


The line of thinking here is similar to the last note. If they want to get better quickly, then they’re best to trade off future assets for current players.

Their first, and even second, round picks this year will have tremendous value to other teams, specifically the Ottawa Senators who have dealt off a lot of their own picks.

If they don’t want to completely deplete their system, they could look at trading down a few spots in exchange for a roster player. That way, they’d still be improving their current team, while not subtracting too much value from their prospect pool.

If they’re really confident in their ability to bounce back in the standings next year, they could even look into trading their 2019 first-round pick, or one of their three third rounders. That pick could be very valuable to rebuilding teams like the Rangers or Senators.

It’s probably the safest bet, but as I mentioned a few times already, they don’t have the cap space necessary to add more than one contract, if that.

The team is backed into a real corner, and if they want to make it back into the playoff picture next season, they’ll likely need to rely on the trade market.

The Oilers don’t have very many trade chips, it’s clear that the ones they do have, hold some serious value, which will make for a very interesting summer.

  • Ben918

    Unless you are talking about trading Russell, Lucic or Sekeras; there is little point in discussing trades. They have assets but trading them opens up larger and harder to fill holes. Chiarelli got nothing for Hall or Eberle, he won’t do better with Nuge. The last good player from the rebuild. They need to part with the contracts he has signed since becoming GM. Then add pieces via Free Agency. A top LW like Van Riemsdyk, Neal or Kane; a top PP defender like Carlson (yes he will cost the Oilers around 7.5 on a 7 year contract but the cap is going up and they need this type of player to compete) or Green who is more of a gamble and most likely would get 6 mil on a 5 year; a 1B goalie that can compete for starting role and hopefully spark Talbot again (I like Raanta, he has been on fire lately but Ward would also be fun) and then a versatile winger that can play a couple years till this years draft pick, Benson and Yamamoto get their feet under them (I like Vanek as he is cheap, incredibly consistent and plays big game on either wing).

    You add players like this, you have a team competing in the playoffs again next year. You trade Nuge and all we have is Draisaitl and McDavid. One gets injured and your season ends each year.

    Problem is Chiarelli. He has done nothing to fill the holes we have and the contracts he has given to UFAs are crazy bad. He is a perfect example of trading and making a hole. He traded Hall for Larsson and it forced them to bring in Lucic. We trade Eberle for Strome and add Jokinen to make up the points on the wing? Trading Nuge leaves us needing a top line RW. You won’t find one as versatile as Nuge with a cap hit under 6 mil.

  • QuitForRealThisTime

    Chia has made some bad moves, and some good ones but I don’t think he is as dumb as some people think. KBom has a very good contract and had a tough year. If he can get healthy next year his contract will have really good value for a long time. With the cap estimated to increase to a potential of $5mil for next year Nuge will not be traded. We know the coach loves his game and trading him just does not make any sense if he can stay under the cap. I don’t think the Oil have as many holes as people think. I healthy defense next fall will go a long way to a better start. I don;t think Talbot will be worse next year but would like to see a better backup, someone to push Talbot. As much as people rag on Cags, he is a second year pro. Like many others: Slep, Khaira, Benning, Pullularvi, Aberg these players will need more NHL experience, even Drai, Kbom, Nurse, McD are really young and need more experience. I have made this reference a few time, LV has very few players on their roster with less that 5 years of NHL experience, I believe this is the reason for their success. I think it would be a mistake to move too many pieces at this point. I think think team can be a lot better next year even if they make no moves. I don’t think signing JVR, Kane, Neal or Carlson to massive free agent deals of a good idea either. We can complain about the Lucic and Sekera deals only to do it again with these guys. Remember only armchair GMs can sign players like this to short term value contracts. Chia will need to be very creative like he was in getting Maroon. Using pieces like picks on in the first round, prospects that are not in the Oilers 10 ten etc.

  • VK63

    Pundit noise out of “the six” infers that Katz is livid about this seasons results.
    As ANY spitballing by Freidman is instantaneously absorbed as the new gospel.
    Patience is off the table.

    Also of note. renewals are meeting significant resistance (Check Kijiji for some very amusing share plans) and perhaps more disturbing… advertising and sponsorship partners are pulling out en mass (locally) because the Oilers organization provide minimal to weak value for that spend and thus………. poor ROI to partners.

  • A-Mc

    To safely navigate our cap situation, I think the Oilers need to stay the course and really nail their 1st and 2nd round picks on forwards for the next couple years. Forwards in the first 2 rounds are really their only reasonable chance at adding usable NHL talent @ a good price on a decent time line.

    My personal opinion is that the #1 need is RHD, but drafting or moving picks to find this player would be a mistake IMO. Unfortunately i think we need to be patient with our existing D, to make use of what we have. If there’s a chance at adding a usable RHD with 2/3years remaining, then we can look at that, but i think those opportunities are rare and we have no control over when they present themselves.

    • Arfguy

      I think we should stand pat, as well. We have McDavid, Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at centre. I could be really off, but I think we should let players like Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Dmitri Samorukov grow in the AHL until they are over-ripe and then try and bring them up. I do think Klefbom can bounce back next year. We need to sign Nurse and give him some kind of NTC so he doesn’t get poached by Seattle. We will just have to wait to see if Safin, Benson, Puljujarvi can fill in the wing position. I do not recommend trying to sign players like John Carlson. We got burned by waaaayyy over-paying for Lucic and we will get burned again if we try and get Carlson.

      The fix has to come from within.

        • Arfguy

          Problem is, McLellan’s line choices have been absolutely horrible. He played Lucic with McDavid so many games that McDavid lost out on a bunch of points. Draisaitl should be playing with Puljujarvi. I think the Oilers have a viable centre depth and should not change that under any circumstance. At this point, I do not believe any more rash moves will help.

          I also don’t think McLellan can be anymore creative with what he’s got. I look at the Carolina Hurricanes and they are finding players to score. Sebastian Aho is playing on a top line with Jordan Staal and putting up goals. Same thing with Teuvo Teravainen. When you have a player like McDavid in your roster, you gotta find players who can keep up with him. That means you do not pair him with Lucic, but McLellan kept insisting on it, despite Lucic scoring a single goal in the last 30 games.

          The Oilers need ot exercise more patience and make smarter decisions. Trading prospects and picks will not make this team better. Signing players close to their 30s to overpriced contracts will not help this team. They really need to figure out how to built from within, as much as it pains the fanbase.

  • MrBung

    Fans need to accept that Chia irreparably wrecked this team. It is not going to be competitive…untilbwho knows when. I think in a couple years when the Oil miss the playoffs again McDavid will ask for a trade.