The bad news: Last season was, in no way, one the Oilers were hoping for.
The good news: with arguably 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.
With Connor McDavid, the Oilers obviously have that cornerstone offensive piece in place and this offseason presents the opportunity 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 Eastern 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 and a shuffling of the roster — cue Mr. Chiarelli):
Brandon Carlo, RD, Bruins (Trade). A good, young right-handed blueliner who will have trouble cracking Boston’s top two pairings for another couple seasons. Still on a cheap, entry-level deal.
Sam Reinhart, RW/C, Sabres (RFA). A natural centreman who thrived on the wing this past season, he notched 25 goals and 50 points on a lowly Buffalo team. An offer sheet to the West Vancouver product wouldn’t be the worst idea.
Trevor Van Riemsdyk, RD, Hurricanes (RFA). Solid defensive, right-handed blue-line help. A perfect third-pairing guy who would come relatively cheap.
Ryan Murray, RD, Blue Jackets (RFA). Another affordable defence option on the right side.
Andreas Athanasiou, C, Red Wings (RFA). Speed, speed, speed. An ideal third-line centre who can play effectively on both the power play and penalty kill. Won’t come cheap, but won’t break the bank, either.
Mark Pysyk, RD, Panthers (Trade). The former Edmonton Oil King and first-rounder from Sherwood Park can be a second-pairing guy on the right side and is locked up for less than $3 million per year through 2020.
Daniel Carr, LW, Canadiens (RFA). Another Sherwood Park native who is an ideal fourth line, depth guy with high defensive upside.
Patrick Maroon, LW, Devils (UFA). Because McDavid loves him and the Oilers should do whatever makes Connor happy, TBH.
Calvin De Haan, LD, Islanders (UFA). He had injury issues this season but, when healthy, De Haan is a solid two-way, top-four defenceman and would be a younger upgrade over Kris Russell if Chia can somehow shed that contract. He’d likely come in around that same $4-million price tag, too.
Ryan Spooner, LW/C, Rangers (RFA). A versatile forward who can play multiple positions, Spooner posted 41 points in just 59 games last season and likely doesn’t fit into the Rangers ‘scorched earth’ rebuild. Would slot very nicely on the third line.
Magnus Paajarvi, LW, Senators (UFA). No idea where this guy would fit, but having a Paajarvi and a Puljujarvi on the same team would be glorious and make a return for Paajarvi worth it.
Jordan Weal, LW, Flyers (Trade). A third-line winger with (maybe) top-six potential, Weal adds speed, is solid in his own end and can step onto the power play when need be. He currently costs less than $2 million per season, too.
Bryan Rust, RW/LW, Penguins (RFA). Speedy, versatile forward who, for various reason including health, often gets lost in Pittsburgh’s deep-as-hell forward group. Edmonton needs fast wingers, and Rust is a fast winger. Makes sense.
Anton Stralman, RD, Lightning (Trade). Comes with a $4.5-million price tag for one more season, but on the other hand: He’s a good right-handed defenceman who can skate and move the puck. How much are consistently clean zone exits worth these days?
Josh Leivo, RW, Maple Leafs (Trade). This guy, for whatever reason, hasn’t found a spot in Mike Babcock’s regular lineup. Many agree he’s a solid top-nine guy on most teams, but when you fall out of favour with Lou and Babs, it’s hard to recover. A change of scenery and moving to a speedy Oilers team would do wonders for Leivo, who can be had for a couple million bucks per season.
Devante Smith-Pelly, RW/LW, Capitals (UFA). The 25-year-old is a cheap but excellent fourth-line option who can kill penalties and won’t screw you in the defensive end.