Raiding the West: 14 targets the Oilers should consider

The bad news? Pretty much everything to do with the Oilers 2017-18 season that doesn’t rhyme with Fawner McNavid. The good news? With the best player in the world leading the way and some solid secondary pieces already in place, Edmonton is not far away from once again being a force in the Pacific Division.

Look no further than the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils who, on the heels of career seasons from Nathan MacKinnon and he-who-shall-not-be-named, respectively, found their way back to the postseason after absolutely abysmal 2016-17 campaigns.

The Oilers have that cornerstone offensive piece in place, obviously, and this offseason presents the opportunity — maybe the last for Peter Chiarelli — to add the right personnel to the mix via trade and free agency, or potential offer sheets to some intriguing UFA’s.

Here’s a player from each Western Conference squad the Oilers’ front office should consider taking a run at (though it should be noted some of these ideas would require clearing out some cap space):

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Brandon Montour, RD, Ducks (RFA). The 24-year-old right-shot blueliner is a smooth skater, makes a great first pass, and has strong offensive upside with 32 points last season including five game-winning goals.

Darcy Kuemper, G, Coyotes. A very solid back up goaltender option if the Mikko Koskinen signing falls through which, at the time of this posting, has yet to be confirmed. Even if it does, Keumper comes with a cheap price tag and you can never have to much depth in goal.

Dougie Hamilton, RD, Flames. Another smooth-skating, right-handed blueliner who can push Adam Larsson down to the No. 2  slot on the right side while providing the ability to quarterback a top power play unit. Would the Flames let him land in Edmonton? Probably not, but maybe.

Anton Forsberg, G, Blackhawks. See Kuemper above.

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Duncan Siemens, LD/RD, Avalanche (RFA). The 24-year-old defenceman is a left-handed shot who can play comfortably on the right side of the ice. He proved himself to be one of the best of Colorado’s deep blue line prospect pool over the final month of the campaign and into the playoffs when injuries cannibalized the team’s defence corps down the stretch.

Antoine Roussel, LW, Stars (UFA). This guy sucks to play against, is a fantastic penalty killer (an area the team can desperately use some help in), and should come with a price tag no more than a couple million bucks per season.

Oscar Fantenberg, LD/RD, Kings (UFA). In my humblest of opinions, Fantenberg is a diamond in the rough — a late bloomer if you will — and has a potential to be a very low risk, high-reward blueliner if put in the right situation. He can play both sides of the ice and would pair well with Either Darnell Nurse or Adam Larsson.

Nino Niederreiter, LW, Wild. If the Wild are desperate enough to shake up their top six by retaining a bit of the 25-year-old’s salary, then of course Niederreiter would look great on the left side of the team’s second unit over Milan Lucic or Jujhar Khaira.

Calle Jarnkrok, C/RW, Predators. Currently a fourth-liner with top-six potential, the 26-year-old Swede put up 32 points in limited action last season on a very deep Predators team. Given an opportunity to play a more impactful role, Jarnkrok has a chance to be a steal.

Timo Meier, LW, Sharks. A very solid winger who may be hard to pluck away from a division rival, but the upside Meier has and what he can provide from the left side of the ice up front makes it an option definitely worth exploring.

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Vince Dunn, LD, Blues. Offensive upside, smart, cheap. Chiarelli would need to work some magic, but finding a way to acquire the 21-year-old left-handed blueliner from a ready-to-win-now team in St. Louis should be at the top of the front office’s priority list.

Chris Tanev, RD, Canucks. Rumours have been swirling on-and-off for months of Vancouver’s desire to flip Tanev, and the Oilers should pounce. Locked up for two more years at a relatively cheap $4.5 million per, the right side of the team’s defence would immediately improve drastically by plugging the 27-year-old in ahead of, or right behind, Larsson.

James Neal, LW/RW, Golden Knights (UFA). A perennial 25-30 goal scorer with the potential to tally 40, Neal loading up on McDavid one-timers from his off wing all season long would be a thing of beauty. Neal, alongside the captain and Nugent-Hopkins, could be one of the best top lines in the entire league. Unfortunately, the cap issues make this one unlikely unless a high priced player gets shipped out.

Paul Stastny, C, Jets (UFA). Literally a perfect third-line centre. Keep Nuge with McDavid, Draisaitl comfortably in the No. 2 slot, and Stastny — a very good two-way guy — can anchor the third unit and be a force on the penalty kill and in late-game defensive situations. The problem? Again, cap space.

    • puckle-head

      I like James Neal, but I think sinking big money into a 30 year-old whose best years are probably behind him would be a big mistake. This is probably Neal’s last chance to land a big contract, so he is going to demand term and $$$, and some team is going to give it to him. If it’s the Oilers, that means a whole lot of our cap will be dedicated to players steadily getting worse. I think whichever team signs Neal will regret that down the road.

      • Beer_League_Ringer

        I agree, but not for $$$ reasons. J. Neal is Slowwwwwww. Like, really slow. Even if he is a sniper, he is not a fit for Connor. Maybe on the PP, but not every shift

  • The Whispererer

    Although Tanev “only” makes $4.45, he has only played about half a season in each of the past 2 and has never played more than 70 in the NHL. Injured much ? Also, looking at his boxcars, isn’t he another Adam Larsson when the Oilers are looking for offense from the defense ?

        • Green Bastard

          Oh LASKID, trolling the Canucks on your home board. You oil fans discussing Tanev like you have any idea. You’re the same fans who believe trading Hall and signing Talbot “Had to be done”. Maybe your man Chia can trade for Justin Schutlz and Devin Dubnyk.

          • LAKID

            Are you saying Chia is a bad GM? Are you saying Linden and Benning will take the Knuckleheads to the playoffs in the next 5 season’s? You Bastard are you Trolling?

    • You Oilers fan can make fun of Tanev as much as you want but the bottom line is that he’s still a premiere defensive defenceman…which is why it’s unlikely we’re going to trade him unless we get a premium return.

      That being said, you should be looking to shore up as much of your core as possible, given how much value Chiarelli has bled out through trades. Personally, I think you should be looking to send RNH to Montreal for Galchenyuk plus a good young defenceman like Juulsen (a premium for a centre with an extra year of contract on Galchennyuk). That gives McDavid a decent scoring winger and brings in a RHD with youth and some offensive upside. If not Juulsen, some of those 2nd round picks that Montreal has.

  • Spydyr

    My Oilers core is pretty small:

    Connor,Drai, Nuge and Nurse.

    I would not look to trade:

    Larsson, Sekera, Khaira,Puljujarvi.

    Everyone else can or should be replaced.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      i think the Oilers very much need to get better NOW and for me at least, so our likely #9 pick and Pool, plus Yamamoto should very much be in play, especially if we were to for example flip RW Pool plus #9 to Minnesota for a more established and very good RW Nino 2nd rounder. now that former Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has been sacked, they might indeed be ripe for the plucking, that is *IF* Chia can make a big trade and actually *WIN* it?

      • Spydyr

        The Yamamoto pick made no sense to me. They knew they did not have a second round pick that year, so they take a flyer on a small forward? It could be a pretty barren draft year if Yamamoto does not pan out.

        • Redbird62

          Skinner, Samorukov, Safin, and Maksimov all had very good draft year +1. Under Keith Gretzky the draft selections are more focused on skill. Way too soon to be pessimistic about this draft class.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            i’m not pessimistic by any means about our kids, but if we want to stop the endless rebuild, then you have to give up young quality to get young but experienced quality. if anyone thinks that the Oilers young players are suddenly all going to become productive overnight and we’ll become contenders again well I AM going to win lotto 6/49 on Saturday too ! the time for endlessly waiting for kids to develop should be over for this team and sacrificing a few shouldn’t hurt us long term, even if they were to become productive down the road. Oiler fans have become accustomed to this kind of thinking and i think this organisation should make a few future sacrifices to make us stronger now, then add the remaining kids when we’re good so they can learn from a winner instead of always a loser !

    • Redbird62

      So does Klefbom not make your list because of his play, his inability to stay healthy or because you think someone else might value him high enough the Oilers could get a decent return?

  • Redbird62

    What kind of term do people think Neal would want? Neal is a year older than Lucic right now and is 3 years older that Lucic was when Lucic signed with the Oilers. Say what you want about Lucic, but unlike Neal, he plays full seasons. Neal’s playoff performances have generally not lived up to his regular seasons. And I watched him a lot with the Penguins (my sons favorite team – lucky him) and he takes a lot of stupid penalties. If you could swap out Lucic for Neal maybe that’s okay. He knows how to play with a skilled center (eg. Malkin) but for how much longer?

    • the dope $teez

      James Neal is infinitely better than Lucic. He has the hockey sense, speed and more importantly the shot to play alongside McDavid, whereas we’ve seen the results with Looch on the top line. Say what you want about replacing his ‘physicality’ and ‘presence in the room’ – which curiously evaporated during the second half of the season – but Neal would be a huge upgrade.
      Whether we could afford him, or if he would even come here is the bigger question. If Chia can work a miracle and ship out one or more of Sekera, Russell and Lucic I think we can call the off-season a success (assuming he uses that cap room for something)..

      • Redbird62

        I agree that Neal would be better right now as a winger for McDavid. My main point is how can people say Lucic will decline rapidly over 30 but Neal will not when Lucic has been far more durable and is younger. If Neal would do a 2 year deal, great but unlikely – and it would only work if Lucic were not on the team, but there’s is the little matter of a NMC. Besides Nuge should be an excellent LW with McDavid, and they can bring along a cheaper RW.

        • the dope $teez

          All I’m saying is if you’re stuck with a crappy, long term contract would you rather have Neal on the team or Lucic?

          Neal all day, Lucic has proven nothing, which means even if we can trade him we’ll be retaining 3/4 of his salary anyways

  • James Neil is the flavor of the day, which means he will get top $$$.

    “Vancouver’s desire to flip Tanev” I haven’t heard that at all. The minute Van does this, the search for a right shot top pairing defenseman starts. Just silly.

    Dougie Hamilton? Never. Brian Burke would drink BC wine before he trades Hamilton to Edmonton.

      • RJ

        One of those players that they maybe would listen to offers on.

        Kind of like Larsson when you think about it. They weren’t planning to trade him but someone offers you a potential MVP type player in trade, you definitely consider it.

  • cmandev77

    I have been saying the Oilers should have gone after Kuemper for 2 years now. We could have had him cheap as a back-up last season but we decided to go with Broissoit. When I suggested this everyone laughed and down voted the comment. Would Kuemper have helped make our season a bit better by pushing Talbot and allowing him more of a rest? Don’t know but I do not think he would have been worse than Broissoit or Montoya.

  • ubermiguel

    Jarnkrok would be interesting to fill out the bottom-6 and he’s got a great contract ($2mill/year until 2022). The rest will be too expensive or don’t actually improve on the current options.

  • Redbird62

    I am guessing Stasny will be too expensive to be anybody’s 3rd line Center. If the Oilers don’t sign or sign and trade Strome, free agents like Riley Nash or Tyler Bozak might fit that role better.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    I have never understood why the Hockey world thinks the Flames “might” part with Dougie. He’s in the top five offensive defenceman in the league, his point totals have increased every year with the Flames and his contract is phenomenal. In the words of Brian Burke (his emphasis):

    “Yeah. Let’s trade HIM.”

  • Cambridge

    You talk about acquiring Hamilton or Tanev so that Larsson can be bumped down to the second pairing. Larsson has a plus/minus over the last two seasons of +31. Hamilton is +13 and Tanev is +10. In fact, only one of the three Norris Trophy nominees has a better plus/minus than Larsson over the last two seasons. The guy doesn’t need to be replaced.

    • @S_2_H

      I’m guessing his thinking is to “bump” Larsson in favor of someone who contributes more of a two way game so Larsson can focus on a shutdown role and pk. I like Larsson but I’m a bit disappointed we don’t see more of him jumping into the play – he’s shown he has a knack for it and has displayed a pretty accurate wrist shot on the occasion that he holds the puck and finds some space.

      • crabman

        Last year Larsson played a big part in Klefbom’s offense. Klefbom said himself playing with someone as good defensively as Larsson gave him the confidence to just into the play. If the Oilers were able to add a strong offensive RHD that player could play with Nurse and that would give the Oilers 2 strong d lined that can contribute and defend. Whether that would move Larsson to 2RHD or 1RHD I would imagine both lines would get similar ice time at 5×5. Not necessarily pushing Larsson down but definitely giving him more support.

  • puckle-head

    I can’t see why the Flames would part with Hamilton, but I did hear they were unhappy with Hamonic… He might be a more realistic target (as realistic as a high profile trade between 2 division rivals is, anyway).

  • TKB2677

    When I read articles like this, they always make me wonder if the author actually knows anything about hockey.
    Would I like Montour on the Oilers? Hell yeah I would. He would bring a ton of the things the Oilers need but why on earth would the Ducks get rid of him? The Ducks problem wasn’t Montour, it was they are getting old and their old guy sucked. So keeping a 24 yr old Montour are the guys they would want
    Would I like Hamilton on the Oilers? A young, right handed, high teens in goals, 50 pt dman. YES PLEASE. But again, why on earth would the Flames get rid of him? Their problem was they have crappy forward depth and their goaltending sucked. Hamilton wasn’t a problem, he had a good year.
    Would I like Mier on the Oilers? Hell yeah. A big forward, can skate, just scored 21 goals this past season. Why the hell would the Sharks get rid of him? Do they not need a guy like him? I would think so.
    So any of the really good RFA’s, I don’t see a reason why their team would get rid of them. I supposed if you offer up a insanely good overpay package for one of them, then anything is possible but are you not screwing your team if you do that?

  • oilerjed

    Tanev should be crossed off the list. He is suffering from CIS, chronic Injury Syndrome. With Klefbom already suffering from this ailment do the Oilers really need another defenseman that is lucky to play half of the season.