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Finding a Dance Partner

We’re still well over a month away from the NHL Trade Deadline and the rumour mill in Edmonton is already buzzing thanks to some tweets from Bob Stauffer and Ryan Rishaug.

If Stauffer or Rishaug tweet something, there’s usually a good amount of truth behind it. We all know that those two are very well connected.

So let’s assume that the Oilers are serious about getting some scoring help at some point over the next month. Where could they look and what should they be looking for?

I don’t think it matters if they acquire a left-winger or right-winger. They’re thin on either side and they have enough players that can play on both wings so I believe they should just go after the best possible player and not worry about what wing he plays best.

The price they’re willing to pay will also match the return they get. If they’re serious about dealing the first round pick, they better get a young player who isn’t a pending free agent. If they want to dangle a smaller asset, like a second or third round pick, then you should expect a smaller return. A rental could even be a possibility.

The other wrinkle in this is that if the Oilers want to acquire a good player, they’ll need to clear up the cap space to bring him in. Whatever team makes a deal with the Oilers will have to take back one of their more expensive contracts.

So which teams could be a fit?

THE EASTERN CONFERENCE

Nov 11, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers celebrate after scoring a goal against Edmonton Oilers during second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

My process for this will be pretty simple, I will go through each team that I believe will be a “seller” at this year’s trade deadline and look at which players on their roster could interest the Oilers.

CAROLINA HURRICANES: There has been chatter about moving Michael Ferland, who is a pending UFA. He would need a new deal, and I wouldn’t even think about moving the first rounder for him, but I do believe he would be a really good fit with the Oilers. Seems like a Chiarelli type as well.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: We got a good look at the Panthers last night. I wonder if Frank Vatrano would be a good buy low candidate. His goals/60 at even strength would be fourth on the Oilers and his points/60 at ES would be 6th. He wouldn’t cost a lot of assets, he’s at 925k this year, and he’s an RFA at seasons end. Might provide a spark, but I wouldn’t call him a difference maker. Not sure if Florida has another name available that would interest the Oilers.

NEW YORK RANGERS: The Rangers are rebuilding and will be definite sellers over the next month and a half. Mats Zuccarello would be a rental and has a history of being a reliable goal scorer, but he only has four of them this season. Wouldn’t cost the first rounder and would be one of their better wingers.

Chris Kreider is a name that I would love to see in Edmonton. He has one more year at $4.625m, which is a really nice number from an Oilers perspective. He’s on pace for 40 goals, so a package to get him would probably start with the 2019 first round pick and have to include a good prospect.

I’ve always like Pavel Buchnevich as well, but I view him as more of a lottery ticket. A young winger with some skill though.

DETROIT RED WINGS: Gustav Nyquist would be the high-end target out of Detroit. He’s scored 20 goals three times during his career and he’s on pace to get close to that again this year. He might not cost a first rounder, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if a contending team coughed that up. He’s a UFA after this season and comes with a $4.75m cap hit. He might be too rich for the Oilers blood, especially since he’s a pending free agent.

Detroit has guys like Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha who I’m sure the Oilers would love, but I highly doubt Detroit considers moving them for picks.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: The only name on Philly that would be a fit for the Oilers is Wayne Simmonds. He’s a big, strong forward who can play at even-strength and help a team on their powerplay. He’s a pending UFA and will no doubt be one of the most sought after rentals on the market if Philly moves him. Teams like Toronto would probably pay a lot for him, so I can’t see the Oilers being a realistic fit. Apart from Simmonds, I don’t see anyone on the Flyers roster that’s a realistic fit for the Oilers.

OTTAWA SENATORS: Mark Stone is exactly what the Oilers need. He’s big, he can score, he can skate, and his best years are still ahead of him. Every team in the NHL would love a guy like that and if he makes it to market, the list of suitors will be long. He’s also a pending UFA so I doubt the Oilers would move significant assets without being able to sign him. And even if it got that far, they likely couldn’t afford him.

Apart from Stone, I would be looking at two lower tier players on the Sens. Ryan Dzingel is just 26 years old and he has 17 goals already this season. He’s pretty much locked up a second straight 20 goal season. He’s a pending UFA, so I could see Ottawa moving him and I don’t think his next deal would be out of the Oilers price range. He isn’t worth a first rounder, but maybe a second round pick with a condition on him signing a new deal?

Apart from the teams I just mentioned, there are players I like on teams like Tampa Bay, Washington, and the New York Islanders but those are all deals that would have to be done in the offseason. Teams won’t give up young talent during a playoff race.

THE WESTERN CONFERENCE

Nov 25, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Alex Chiasson (39) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

There are only four teams in the West who are already in “sell” mode and I’m not even going to mention the Chicago Blackhawks simply because I don’t see them as a fit. I don’t think they’ll move any of their young wingers. There are some decent fits on the other three teams.

ARIZONA COYOTES: Richard Panik only has seven goals this season but he’s had success at times in his career playing with skilled players, mainly in Chicago. He’s a pending UFA, so if the Oilers are looking at the rental market, he should be a name of interest.

If they’re looking for a young player who’s under team control, what about Lawson Crouse? I’m not the biggest fan of him but he’s a big body and he has 12 goals in his first 125 career NHL games. He has skill but speed might be an issue with him. Not sure if he’s a perfect fit, but it’s a name to consider and someone I could see Chiarelli being interested in.

ST. LOUIS BLUES: Of course, I would love to see Vladimir Tarasenko in an Oilers jersey but I don’t think it’s realistic when you consider his $7.5m cap hit and the acquisition cost. I like Robby Fabbri, but I don’t think the Blues are going to move any of their young wingers unless you overpay. Alex Steen might be nice right now because he knows how to score goals, but he has a huge cap hit and he’s on the downside of his career. Not a fit either.

I’ve been asked about Brayden Schenn too. He has one more year at $5.125m and he’s currently having a bit of a down year. After three straight seasons of 20+ goals, he isn’t on pace for that this season. St. Louis is apparently considering moving him and although it would cost a lot, he’s a guy who could help the Oilers scoring depth. Although he shoots left, he can play centre and wing. I like that versatility.

LA KINGS: Tyler Toffoli really intrigues me from an Oilers perspective. He’s scored at a 20 goals pace in each of the last four seasons and I believe his best years are still ahead of him. I’m not sure if he’s worth a first-round pick, but that’s what it would take to get him from a division rival.

They have lower tier players like Kyle Clifford or Carl Hagelin, but I don’t think either of those players would be difference makers in the Oilers lineup.

After looking through all these teams, I really don’t feel like there is a winger available who is worth the Oilers first round pick. There are lots of names who I would consider moving a second or third rounder for or even both, but I’m not sure if any teams will be a making a skilled winger, who’s under team control, available mid-season. The time to get those guys is at the Draft when the value of a pick is at it’s highest. Unfortunately for Peter Chiarelli, he can’t really wait until the Draft to fix this team.

What say you Oilers fans? Was there a name I missed? Let me know!

  • Big Jacks Meat

    What good does the 1st do us ? Unless its 1ST Overall ? The Oilers cant get it right with a first round pick unless it
    was gifted Like Connor.; Other than him , they rarely get it right or if they do they trade him. Im sick of the first rounders not being in play. How many first rounders [ early ] have the Red wings, Penguins etc had ? exactly , they are always picking from 25-30th. But they get it right.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Tarasenko or bust!

    If a 3 team trade could be involved and get Lucic or Sekera’s contract involved for clearing cap, moving out Puljujarvi and this year’s 1st rounder plus a sweetener…..

    $7.5 for a (usually) perennial 40 goal guy would change the entire complexion of the team. Playing with 97, he could be a 50 goal guy.

    Would need Bouchard to step in next year and play top 4 minutes unfortuately, but the time to win is now. This tire fire has gone on too long.
    This year’s 1st rounder isnt guaranteed to help anytime soon. 97 is in year 4 and will be sick of carrying an entire organization on his back

  • A-co

    This has nothing to do with this article BUT I think it would be cool to see a giant Alberta flag go around the rink the next home game with a small canadian flag attached to it during the national anthem…

  • Mitch64

    I feel that maroon could be got at a real low cost and is someone that possibly reunites with McDavid and driasaitl or could form a line with chaisson and nuge. Perception is key here because we have had him as a top6 winger while the blues see him as 4th line guy, this too me is a really cheap add that could still work even if maroon plays bottom 6 for us

      • NickL89

        I disagree Gord. He had great chemistry with McDavid. How many players do we have who can say that? I’ll answer for you. Three. Draisaitl who is already on the same line as him. Nuge but you can’t have all three together or lines 2-4 would be even more of a liability so he stays on the second line. And Chiasson. Ideally he could stay on the second line with Nuge and whoever else. Maroon is a proven option and will come cheap. It would add to depth and no he isn’t a 60pt guy but the value of his contract would be amazing. I could be wrong so I’ll change that and say “could be amazing”

  • ed from edmonton

    The Oil must make the salary of any trade acquisition fit. For an even moderate add either some salary must go out and as JP won’t be getting a lot of bonus cash his ticket isn’t that significant. That pretty much leaves Talbot as the mots likely out. Unless Sekera is LTIRed for the rest of the year. A month ago many “experts” were thinking he would be in the NHL by now. Now we get almost no info on his rehab. Have we seen the last of Sekera?

    • Axe

      Yeah the lack of info regarding his progress and the fact that they went ahead and dipped into the LTIR money and added two defencemen doesn’t bode well for him returning anytime soon

    • OriginalPouzar

      Sekera was on the ice at practice today – as he has been. He’s still working on strengthening the achillies.

      Remember, a conditioning stint is a 3-game max venture (an application can be made to the league for a short extension) so, once he’s activated, he doesn’t have much time to get up to speed – he needs the achillies to be strong.

      Also, even when on the conditioning stint, he counts against the 23 man roster so that will need to be managed.

  • Axe

    Outside of tarasenko I would have to agree I don’t see anyone worth the package that’s being discussed as a possibility (first rounder + top prospect +goalie)… I am all for going after someone like Pat maroon instead.. A couple of these guys can make a difference.. I also would wait till after all star break.. The fact that Chiarelli (a GM who has proven he is incapable of cap and asset management) is still the one making these decisions is just insane

  • grumpyKoala

    I swear I wont watch that infuriating team play anymore… then here I am watching the Minnesota game in hope they blow up and we get a crack at a loser berth, that low… Go Kings!

  • Moneyball

    Just out of curiosity has anyone ever seen puljujarvi score a goal scorers goal? You know something that you look at and go “that took skill”. I personally haven’t ever seen him put away lucky bounces and grinder goals where you bang home a rebound. Has he ever been on a breakaway? How many 2 on 1’s? Time for a trade!

    • FlamesFan27

      I know some Oiler fans don’t like the Calgary perspective. But, I’m going to give it anyway. I see him a lot like Bennett in Calgary. Great physical attributes that dominated in junior. And drafted 4th overall. But, the hockey IQ doesn’t match the physical attributes, and neither one of them beats anyone one on one ever. Bennett seems to be making a career out of what he has, but not at the level of a 4th overall pick. I think Puljujarvi could do the same. Just reset expectations, realize he is a depth player and move forward. PS: It took me 4 years to realize Bennett wasn’t ever going to live up to 4th overall pick (Calgary’s highest ever) – I always thought “This is the breakout year!”.

      • Moneyball

        Big o Flames fan! I have thought that for 2+ years now, puljujarvi is what he is a nominal 3rd line grinder. That being said I have called for a trade of him for 2+ years because he has more value to other teams than he does on the ice. All the intangibles are there big, hard shot, young, high draft pedigree. He could have been traded for duchene 2 years ago now he could fetch you a #4 dman or a 15 goal 40 point winger which we need. Next year his value is 0, which is why I say trade puljujarvi.

    • 3 Little Birds

      Terrible trade. I get sick of people talking about the 2 picks for Rienhart, as that was the org’s choice. 5 scorer on the tea, that showed up every night for a popcorn eater….at 1M+ more.
      ~pukes in mouth

  • Bag of pucks

    How about this – Tornto is looking for D, is going to come up against the cap and Ģardiner may not be back next year so…
    Leafs – Sekera
    Bear (seems to have dropped
    behind Jones and Bouchard)
    1st rounder (lottery protected –
    – if oil miss playoffs they 2020
    1st)

    Oilers – Kadri (wing or centre)
    3rd round pick

  • Ron Burgundyz

    Nick Bjugstad is someone Chia should be looking into. 26 years old, huge, right shot, signed through 20-21 on a reasonable-ish contract at a cap hit of $4.1MM. He’s bounced around the lineup in Florida the past few years but can play with skill and could flourish next to Nugey/Drai on the 2nd line. I bet could be had for a 2nd rounder and a prospect (or in an ideal world Spooner or Kassian).