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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.


  • Zack Attack

    Would this trade be crazy enough to work? Nuge, Klefbom and 2018 1st to AZ for OEL, Dylan Strome and a 2nd? Make the trade before the draft so AZ has 2 lottery balls that could yield Dahlin??

    • Dr Dragon

      Nuge and Klef for Domi and OEL. Only if OEL signs a max term extension then i can see how that trade make sense. Oilers need a true number 1 D. If Chia stays pat in the off season we miss the playoffs again next year

        • Dr Dragon

          Who cares if it means getting a true number 1 dman then so be it.. Our offense runs through Connor and Drai. Our defense is terrible and has been forever now cuz management has never really focused on building it correctly. Trade for OEL and draft either Boqvist or Bouchard and thats a start

    • RJ

      Let’s look at that trade offer:

      1) OEL – one season until he became a UFA
      2) Dylan Strome – 49 points in 44 games in the AHL

      For

      1) three seasons of Nuge
      2) five seasons of Klefbom
      3) 2018 pick from 1OV to 10th

      This trade is horrible.

    • OilersGM

      Why would you trade a great centre, a good D-man who is having a down year and a 1st rd pick who could possibly turn into Dahlin or a top line scorer for a great D but not worth all that you’ve mentioned and Dylon Strome who is Griffin Reinhart 2.0.

  • 24% body fat

    if the other teams think caggulia has as much value as chia and tmac think he does we should be able to trade him for hoffman.

    i know russell lucic and caggulia dont fetch you anythong bit seriously addition by subtraction.

    the day of the russell signing i knew nurse or klefbom were gone. so dumb. and now hall and nuge and eberle will be casualties of the lucic signing.

    get rid of those 3 and try to get grabner or jvr. let larsson sekera and klefbom bounce back. it is a safer bet next year than chias bet that they all would replicate last years performance.

    • WillyWonka

      realistically speaking, how much salary do you think the Oil would have to retain in order to motivate a team to take either Lucic or Russell (or both)? and what would you expect in return?

      • RJ

        That is a fair and reasonable question. (Are you ok?)

        As for the ask, I would base that on the return.

        I saw the following trade proposed:

        Micheal Stone for Kurt Russell

        Flames get rid of a high-cost 3RHD and free up room for Rasmus Andersson. They get a guy who can play LHD up and down the lineup and likes to block pucks.

        The Oilers get better L/R balance and better use of their cap space.

        Since there is a NMC Russell has been clear he wants to stay in Alberta. Calgary should work.

        • Snoop Scottie Dogg

          That would be an amazing trade. I LOVE Big Trouble In Little China! Absolutely Kurt’s best work.

          “You know what ol Jack Burton does in in time like this? Ol jack says, what the hell!”

      • RJ

        On Lucic, he’s just about at the bottom in terms of current trade value. I don’t see how the Oil can trade him without keeping 50% and taking a bad contract back.

        Maybe he comes back from the off-season with less weight and he’s better able to manage the speed and pace, and they can get something marginally better back.

    • Stack

      I hate NMC’s and Chia tosses them around like candy, Lucic would have to waive his NMC same with Sekera. However I wouldn’t be too hard on Sekera he is a good defenseman when healthy and I credit him 100% for the PK getting turned around.

      • crabman

        I don’t know how much credit I would give to Sekera for the pk being better the past 10 or so games. He is still only 5th in pk minutes/game 1.02/game. Russell, Nurse, Larsson, and Klefbom all average more than 2 minutes each. So to Credit the 2nd least used regular defensman 100% for the turnaround seems a bit of an overstatement.

      • fasteddy

        I think it’s shooting yourself in the foot retaining large chunks of salary….unless the return is excellent. Paying someone to not be on your team, plus paying a replacement, is not typically a recipe for success in a cap league where space is tight.

    • crabman

      When looking at what moves the Oilers could/should make to improve the team I try not to look at moving anyone with a NMC/NTC. The player signed a deal giving him total control over where he plays. Until an announcement is made that such a player has been asked and agreed to waive the NMC discussing a possible trade of such player is moot.

      As far as Caggiula, as much as I disliked seeing him on the top line and top pp I think he has value as a bottom 6. He is aggressive on the forecheck and has been playing fearless lately. If he was bigger he would be a no brainer as a bottom 6 winger and unless there is an obvious upgrade I would qualify him for next year.

  • Summercrush

    I think the best thing Chia can do is almost nothing since he is so terrible at trading.
    Going forward in a few years oilers could have good wingers in Pujujarvi, Yams, Benson and Stafin. Bear is looking decent.

    The best move would be to leave it and clear cap space, leave the prospects in the minors/juniors and try to sign Erik Karlson next year at UFA.
    I am fine with Oilers not making playoffs if it is the right move.

    The season after next the Oilers could look something like this
    Nuge-McD-Yams
    Benson-Leon-Puljujarvi
    Safin-Strome-Aberg
    Lucic-JJ-Kassin
    Nurse-Larsson
    Kelfbom-Karlsson
    Sekera-Bear

    Maybe Sekera gets bought out
    Karlson will get P.K Subban money.
    Salary cap increases by $8 million
    There is still the possibility of another expansion draft.

  • Republic of oil

    We talk alot about the lucic deal and its not good but sekera for 5.5 million and hes nearly invisible out there most nights. Too bad they both have no move clauses. I like looch but 6 million dollars a year for 5 more years. Ouch!!

      • fasteddy

        Anyone that thinks Sekera adds a ton of value hasn’t watched him play. He’s serviceable; somewhere between a 4/5 D-man, that’s it. He walks the puck down the left wall and throws it into the goaltender’s chest twice a game, scrambles in his own end more often than not. Wherever the idea came from that he’s some sort of saviour is ridiculous.

        • crabman

          Sekera was a very good defenceman last year. He is a big reason our pp was so much better last year. He wasn’t a threat from the point bit he made quick accurate passes and kept the puck moving. He was great in the OT 3 on 3 as well. There was a reason he was 1st over the boards with McDavid and Draisaitl. And at the time of his signing he was one of the best defenceman available, $5.5M was the going rate. He will bounce back next year and be a capable middle pair guy and the year after if they decide to move him his contract turns into a MNTC and they can move him then. Sekera’s contract isn’t the problem moving forward.

    • TruthHurts98

      He tore his ACL and had knee surgery. It takes a while but I’m guessing he’ll be much better next year. Not many hockey pundits expected him to be back to form this year. Free agents typically get bloated contracts that’s why building through the draft is the proven way to building championships. Hint hint PC.

  • Serious Gord

    Been saying this for sometime now: the oil are screwed.

    The only hope is that all of the key players who have had miserable years this season bounce back: Klefbom, Lucic, Larrson, sekera and talbot.

    the cap room is so dear unless Chai can unload RNH for a massive return he will have to work on building depth cheaply and that’s about it.

    Next season is pretty much a write off with a hope of going a couple of rounds in the playoffs until next year when the likes of yamamoto mature.

    the only real substantive change chia can achieve is massive change in the assistant coaching and both amateur and pro-scouting. That’s an area where there is no cap and the improvement can be enormous and almost immediate.

    • RJ

      I’ve been saying this for a while but it wouldn’t kill the Oilers to be pursuing Free Agents from Europe.

      Of course, when you read that Puljujarvi didn’t even get enough support to acclimate to North America until this year, the Oilers probably don’t have the credibility to attract quality free agents overseas.

      • Joy S. Lee

        You’re right, and I couldn’t believe it when I heard that, either. The Oilers, as an organization, have continually displayed a flair for incompetence and shooting themselves in the foot. They are and have been the laughing stock of the NHL for too long now. They have no vision, and lack the required awareness to bring them back to elite status… and things like not teaching your #3 overall draft pick to speak English before he arrives are the subtle little things that make all of that clear. Beyond a lacking understanding of player value in the MODERN game, these bonehead mistakes are what make me cringe.

    • Arfguy

      This is good. I think OilersNation needs to brace for potentially another couple of rough seasons. I like the chances of Klefbom, Sekera and Talbot bouncing back. I really do think this season will end up being the worst of their respective careers.

      I think the Oilers need to strengthen their farm system and need to address the coaching staff, at both the NHL and AHL level. There is zero excuse for McLellan to keep playing Lucic and Cammalleri on the top two lines, when it costs the development of younger players. The PK and PP were awful this year, so that will need to have a serious look. I think a healthy Sekera and Klefbom will re-invigorate the powerplay. If Bear makes the team next year, that I like our chances of having a better season on defence and powerplay. The penalty kill is something I do not have any clue as to how to fix.

      Again: do not trade RNH or Klefbom unless the returns are massive and certain. Bring back players like Slepyshev and Strome, but do not give them massive salaries. Someone like Strome is worth $2 AAV for 2 years. Same with Slepyshev. If they ask for more, let them go.

    • Fred Nation

      Agreed. Best decision is to start thinking long term. Get rid of Chia – he has absolutely trashed this team with poor decisions, acknowledge that team is in short term misery, hire someone good who does not have Chia’s knack for trading skill for poor return, and hope. My only hope for the next few years is McDavid and what a difference he alone may be able to add to players development. We are in a mess.

    • No matter what Chia does, fans will want him gone. Fans want Tambo back as Tambo fired coaches every season and the key reason for the mess to begin with. The contracts given to Hall and Eberle were given by Tambo but certain people blame Chia for it. Good grief.

  • 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.