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Keeping an eye on Seattle

This coming offseason is expected to be a busy one around Edmonton. Once a new GM is hired, expect the trade rumours around the team to really heat up. There’s no doubt that the organization’s goal is to be a playoff team next year and for that to happen they will likely have to be active on the trade market.

Their forward group is desperately thin and I believe that will have to be priority number one. Their defence is below average and probably needs to be improved as well. They simply don’t have a lot of quality on their roster and really, the only way for the Oilers to hit the trade market and improve their team would be to deal future assets or draft picks.

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Part of the problem is that the NHL is expanding to Seattle and while the expansion draft isn’t until June of 2021, it’s something that current GM’s need to pay close attention to. When you’re trading away a draft pick or a prospect for an experienced NHLer, it’s important to remember that the future asset won’t need to be protected in the expansion draft.

It’s hard to envision what exactly the Oilers could look like after the 2020-2021 season, but we could do our best to project and see if the Oilers are indeed in a position to trade use draft picks as trade chips.

The rules for Seattle expansion will be the exact same as for Vegas. Teams will have the choice of two strategies. They can protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie or they can protect eight skaters and one goalie. Players with no-movement clauses will also need to be protected. Here are the players currently on the Oilers roster that they will have to protect in 2021.

FORWARDS: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2021 UFA), Milan Lucic (NMC), Cooper Marody (2021 RFA), Alex Chiasson, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto (2021 RFA), Tyler Benson (2021 RFA), Jujhar Khaira, Joseph Gambardella.

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It’s obvious that the Oilers would want to protect the big three forwards. After that, it’s a little unclear. Certainly, the organization is hoping that Puljujarvi, Benson, and Yamamoto progress to the point where they will be solid contributors and will warrant protection. Even if players like Chiasson, Khaira, Gambardella, and Marody are still here, I can’t see them being players that the organization would be terribly worried about losing.

Milan Lucic is going to be a story to follow as we head towards 2021. Obviously, the Oilers would ask Lucic to waive his NMC so they could free up another one of their forward slots. I honestly think Lucic would oblige, for a pair of reasons. First, I can’t see an expansion team in Vegas wanting to take on a 33-year-old forward making $6 million a year. If Lucic wanted to stay in Edmonton, I’m sure the Oilers could almost guarantee that Seattle wouldn’t take him. Also, part of me believes Lucic might actually be open to going to Seattle, which is close to his hometown of Vancouver. For those reasons, I believe we don’t need to worry about him counting towards the Oilers seven protected forwards.

Another thing to remember is that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be a free agent in the summer of 202. Nugent-Hopkins doesn’t need to do the Oilers any favours, but hypothetically he could stay as a free agent until after the expansion draft and then sign with the Oilers if they agree to a deal. I doubt that happens, but it’s possible.

DEFENSEMEN: Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Adam Larsson (2021 UFA), Andrej Sekera (2021 UFA), Kris Russell (2021 UFA), Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Matt Benning, Joel Persson.

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Klefbom and Nurse are locks to be protected, assuming they’re still in the organization. They have three veterans that will be UFAs that summer and I don’t think they will worry about protecting any of those three.

That means they have one spot to use on either Jones, Bear, or a third defenseman that they acquire at some point over the next few seasons. They have some wiggle room. It also helps that Evan Bouchard is exempt.

The expansion draft is a long ways away and obviously, lots can change in terms of roster composition. My final point is that while the Oilers do need to be mindful of the looming expansion draft, they have some wiggle room when it comes to acquiring players. In my opinion, they could squeeze in one or two forwards and a defenseman and still not be too concerned about losing a high-quality player.

Is giving up Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, or Jujhar Khaira for nothing ideal? No. But they shouldn’t let that get in the way of acquiring quality players this offseason. If anything, it might cement the fact that the Oilers could dangle one or two of their young defensemen like Bear, Jones, or Benning as a trade chip in their quest to acquire a scoring forward.



  • Dark Knight Returns

    Oilers hold on to your draft picks! As we have seen, drafting us has got us to be one of the most dynamic teams in the NHL. A dynasty. Plus we might lose someone like Marody. Who? Exactly.

    No. Not that we can with the salary cap but we need to trade, borrow or steal players that can WIN with McDavid NOW. Nobody is getting younger. If there’s a deal to be made trading prospects (even very good ones) and picks for players that can win now, you make those deals. End of the day, everyone is going to lose their 11th best player (or around there), last time this happened our 11th best player was Griffin Reinhardt .
    Do you miss him?

    • Freddie the fog

      @ Dark Knight ..I agree holding on to their picks is the way to go. However if a first , second line forward comes available because someone is in a cap crunch ( Ehlers ? as an example) , then you have to consider moving that first rounder. A kid going to school for a couple or more years does nothing to help this roster now. And the team needs help NOW

  • lee

    It’s easy to say don’t worry too much about the Seattle draft, but when it gets here, if some of those prospects turn out to be real players it will cause some heartache.
    I can see them trading the Nuge for a player that wont need protection, I can also see them moving 1 of the so called big 3 on defence.
    Bouchard gets all the hype as far as Junior players goes, but there are also a few other Junior players that might be of real value to the team in 2021. This is good because the team is going to need them.

    • OilerForLife

      It looks like they may trade the Nuge at some point, because someday a Oilers prospect will work out and I suspect it will be now based on the number of good prospects. Its a problem I’d welcome in a heartbeat.

  • El Oilero

    If we can only protect one of Jones or Bear then pick one and package the other to ship away Lucic. Bear + Lucic + some salary + a late pick for a bag of pucks from Ottawa.

    • Hooker

      Why can’t people get it thru their heads that Lucic is not going anywhere! There is no team that wants anything to do with him, even if the Oilers pick up his whole salary. He just can’t skate well enough to play in today’s NHL

  • KootenayDan

    Looks as though the team is in a fairly good position for the expansion draft as long as the next gm doesn’t screw that up. It also allows the team flexibility to improve the team in the next few years, other teams with depth will need to be cognizant of losing players for nothing. Again none of that matters if the Oiler management doesn’t make smart decisions. Chiarelli had lots to work with when he was hired but put the team in cap peril and didn’t provide enough depth.

  • FanBoy

    Oilers shouldn’t trade 1st and 2nd rounders ever until expansion draft happens. Our core is set. It’s the supporting cast that needs help. McDavid/Draisaitl/RNH/Klefbom/Nurse/Bouchard are absolute untouchables maybe Larsson if he played like 2016-2017 self

    • Kool-Aid Man

      It’s no longer about whom we need to protect. it’s about whom we have to protect because of NTC/NMC Vs. whom we need to protect, the team have some players and prospects whom will be eligible for the expansion draft that are far more valuable than players such as Lucic or Koskinen.

      Just another reason why the OBC shouldn’t be involved in this team at a management capacity. Stupid is, stupid does. Cheering for this team is super frustrating.

        • The Whispererer

          I am among the loudest critics of PC’s abysmal negotiating ability, including handing out trade protection. I do, however, want to express a word of caution to those who want Ken Holland for our next GM; be careful of what you wish for.
          The Oilers have 4 players with NM Clauses, 3 of which become modified NT Clauses this summer.
          Prior to this year’s trade deadline the Red Wings had 9 players with some form of trade protection; one of them ( Nyquist ) consented to a trade and two others go away as a result of reaching UFA this summer. Six of their current players go into next season with some form of trade protection.Further, Detroit had a worse Cap situation than the Oilers this year, exceeding the Cap limit by using over $6.9 million of LTIR relief.

        • The Whispererer

          I am among the loudest critics of PC’s abysmal negotiating ability, including handing out trade protection. I do, however, want to express a word of caution to those who want Ken Holland for our next GM; be careful of what you wish for.
          The Oilers have 4 players with NM Clauses, 3 of which become modified NT Clauses this summer.
          Prior to this year’s trade deadline the Red Wings had 9 players with some form of trade protection; one of them ( Nyquist ) consented to a trade and two others go away as a result of reaching UFA this summer. Six of their current players go into next season with some form of trade protection.Further, Detroit had a worse Cap situation than the Oilers this year, exceeding the Cap limit by using over $6.9 million of LTIR relief.

  • CMG30

    Every team is going to lose someone in the expansion draft. We need to decide who is the most expendible and make that lucky soul the most attractive to Seattle.

  • Die Hard Oiler Fan

    Good article Tyler, particularly your commentary with regards to
    a) Lucic waiving his NMC; and b) Nuge waiting to sign a new contract until after the expansion draft (Oilers would need to be sure they had an unofficial verbal agreement with Nuge, that he would in fact re-sign with them). IF guys like JP, Yamamoto and Benson do develop, successfully implementing theee two strategies could be key. That said the Seattle expansion is still two years away, during which lots can happen in terms of the team’s roster, and prospect development.

    In terms of what the Oilers should do with the #8 overall pick, I guess that depends who is left on the board. Remember last year, a lot of fans wanted to trade the #10 pick. (suspect many of those people didn’t think Bouchard would still be available at 10). I still say, keep the pick..draft and develop for another year or two, until we get the salary cap situation under control (in 2 years Sekera and Russell will be gone; Gagner and Manning will be gone; Pouliot’s buyout will be done; and the salary cap will likely be about $6-7 million higher than it is now). Bakersfield seems to have been fixed, so perhaps it is possible that propect development improves as well. I still support patience for another couple of years (as painful as that may be for most of us).

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    There was lots of wheeling and dealing with Vegas by GM’s from other teams to protect Vegas from plucking guys off a teams roster, some GM’s didnt want to lose certain guys and did some wheeling and dealing to keep them, other teams knew they were ging to lose a guy but were fine with it. This is why I say the Oilers need a GM who can wheel and deal, that can get rid of bad contracts, get decent guys and can navigate the waters when situation arise like some GM’s did with the expansion draft. Vegas used the expansion draft every smartly, they filled their team with a lot of good players and they stocked their farm team out of it and were still able to make some trades and acquire picks…you have to admire how they used it to their advantage for not only now but down the road

  • TKB2677

    I have seen people worrying about Seattle for awhile now. But when I look at that list assuming no moves are made, who exactly should I be worried about losing here? They Oilers might lose a 3rd or 4th liner or a bottom pairing dman. I fully agree that today, if they lost someone like that, it would hurt them BAD but I sure as hell hope that in 2 seasons, losing a 4th line winger or a #5 dman like say Benning doesn’t cripple them.