There is a general belief that the Oilers will be aggressive in pursuing a dynamic offensive defenseman this summer. The most talked about targets include Justin Faulk, Torey Krug, Tyson Barrie, and Erik Karlsson.
My best guess is that the price on the last two names is far too rich for the Oilers, and honestly, I get the sense that the ask for the first two players likely involves one of Jesse Puljujarvi, Oscar Klefbom, or the 10th overall pick.
The other problem with the list of players that are reportedly available is that none of them are signed later than 2020-21. The Oilers will have to give up assets without any guarantee they have the player for more than two years.
If the Oilers want to add an offensive defenseman, they might need to find a more creative way to get that done. One option might be dipping into the RFA market.
Before you yell at me in the comments: no, I’m not suggesting an off sheet. No one should ever be suggesting an offer sheet because offer sheets simply don’t happen and it’s a massive waste of everyone’s time to even consider it. My thought is that they could acquire a young RFA d-man via trade, and there are some candidates.
MATT DUMBA – Minnesota Wild
- He’s coming off a 2 year/$2.55 million deal and could command upwards of $4.0 million on a long-term contract.
- His 50 pts was 19th amongst NHL d-men. He can also anchor a top powerplay unit.
- The Wild have $7.5 million in cap space, but still have to sign Jason Zucker, who is coming off a 30 goal campaign.
- Paul Fenton is now the GM and there are rumblings he wants to shake things up.
- Minnesota can probably squeeze Dumba in, especially if the cap goes up to $80 million as expected.
- If they do move him, the cost would likely be very high.
COLIN MILLER – Vegas Golden Knights
- Finished last year with 41 points in 81gp, more than double his previous career high of 16 points.
- Vegas has to sign Shea Theodore and they’re also rumoured to be interested in one of Erik Karlsson or John Carlson. If they add a big name, Miller might shake loose.
- For those saying this year was a one-off: he still had a shooting percentage of just 5.6% in the regular season and his 0.88 primary points/60 was better than any Oilers d-man this year. He can generate offence.
- His 3.83 primary points/60 on the powerplay was top-20 among NHL d-men who played 100 minutes on the PP.
- It might be tough to pry him from a division opponent.
RYAN PULOCK – New York Islanders
- The Islanders are focusing on bringing back John Tavares, finding support for him up front, and fixing their problems between the pipes. Once they do all of that, they’ll need to look at their four free agent d-men (Hickey, De Haan, Pulock, Davidson).
- His 3.33 primary points/60 on the PP is incredible and ranks top-20 among NHL d-men who played at least 100 minutes on the PP. I think he’s a good bet to become a premier PP quarterback.
- At even strength, he produced pretty well (10 goals and 22 assists) and kept his GF% over 50%.
- Might be the most inexpensive option both in terms of trade value and money needed to sign on this list.
NOAH HANIFIN – Carolina Hurricanes
- We know Carolina is open for business on pretty much anybody, and Hanifin’s name has been brought up in trade rumours.
- He was an all-star last year, so the acquisition cost could be very high.
- He usually plays the left side so he doesn’t really help even out the Oilers lefty/righty situation.
- He’s topped 30 points once in his career, but I think he has a much much higher offensive ceiling. Heis primary points/60 was tops amongst Hurricanes d-men at 5v5 last season.
- His powerplay numbers aren’t great, but he hasn’t had the best opportunities in Carolina. I would be interested to see what he could do in Edmonton.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Columbus ship out Ryan Murray this summer. He shoots left but can play the right side. I don’t think he’s a fit with the Oilers simply because Murray doesn’t bring the offence that the Oilers need. That being said, I don’t think it would take much to get him out of Columbus.
Brandon Montour of the Anaheim Ducks is an RFA as well. He would be a dream fit but Anaheim has the cap space to lock him up, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they will do that.
I also mentioned Shea Theodore briefly but, similar to Montour in Anaheim, I can’t see Vegas even thinking about moving him.
The Winnipeg Jets have to be careful with the salary cap, but I can’t see them shipping out either of Josh Morrissey or Jacob Trouba this summer. If they did, the price would likely be sky high.
Brady Skjei is an interesting name as well. But I’d imagine the Rangers would like to hang on to their budding blueliner as they head into their rebuilding years.
With Matt Benning signed, and a Darnell Nurse deal not that away, the Oilers already have six solid NHL defensemen. If they spend assets to acquire an RFA d-man, and then cap space to lock him up, they’ll need to get rid of a d-man.
Kris Russell won’t go anywhere until next summer at the earliest, there’s no way they ship off Adam Larsson, and it’s doubtful the team deals Benning or Nurse right after signing them
That leaves us with either Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom. If the team goes out to get a dynamic offensive d-man, they will need to make sure the player is coming in is a significant upgrade on either Sekera or Klefbom, since one of them will also need to be shipped out.
The price on pretty much every name I listed will be high, but if the Oilers could bring in a young offensive-minded defenseman who’s under team control, they should think long and hard about paying a significant price for it.