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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

FIRST ROUND PICKS

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.

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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.

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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.


  • Spydyr

    Do not trade your draft picks. The only way to build a team in todays NHL is through the draft. Surely even the “Oilers Braintrust” can grasp that simple concept.

    That being said I fully expect Chia to move the first pick and likely Nuge and Klefbom in a desperate attempt to save his job.

    The moves will set the Oilers back years.

  • TruthHurts98

    Ok stop it with the trading Nuge nonsense. If PC trades him I’m done. The only reason he would trade him is because of the moronic signing of Lucic and Russell. Not to mention overpaying Leon as well. And he has never won a big trade, ever. He’s traded more first overall picks than any other GM and gotten fleeced on every trade. And speaking of trading picks, Reinhart sure worked out well. SMH. Plenty of good RHD in the top of this draft. #GETRIDOFPC And history shows us time and again trading picks for the short term does not win cups. We don’t have a good farm system so it’s time to build properly. Get a real GM that knows what the #$%^ he’s doing. Enough said.

  • Snoop Scottie Dogg

    If the oilers draft in the top five PC would be crazy to trade it. Look at all the first rounders ripping it up this year. I would rather wait one year for a contract controlled player to mature than trading it for some ageing role player. Geez

      • RJ

        No offence Gord, but I have heard this argument every year for the past 8-10 years. Can’t draft RHD because we can’t wait for the Development, and 10 years later they still have no established homegrown RHD of note.

    • Joy S. Lee

      You make a valid point… today’s kids are READY for the pro game like never before. Trading cheap picks that are the best value in hockey is completely opposite to what an opportunity to build around a gem like #97 offers. I’ll double-down on your “Jeez” and throw in the keys to my car.

  • lee

    Nothing good will come out of either trading away another one of your top players or trading another draft pick like PC did in his first year which turned into another team getting the rookie of the year and potential superstar.
    Do what all competent GM’s do and draft your players, you have some top end players and its your job to find some temporary wingers / right d men until your draft picks make the team. Teams like Winnipeg, Toronto, Tampa, Boston and Florida who just might be a dark horse team when its all over have done just this.
    PC had his chance when he had a 1st and 2nd round pick + Hall + Eberle and even Maroon who was the best pick up at the deadline to fix what the Oilers needed.
    You can’t just keep saying , who’s our next top player we are trading, build the team properly, the fans will be fine with this.
    This years draft according to the experts is a very good draft the Oilers have a top 10 pick maybe a top 3 if they get lucky. Stay the coarse and build the team right.