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First Round Targets

The first round left a number of very good teams that had high expectations looking for answers and that could be a good thing for the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers will eventually hire a new general manager and he probably wouldn’t have a lot of time to get things back on track for the franchise. Here is a look at all eight teams eliminated in the first round and a few assets the Oilers could target via trade or free agency.


Pat Verbeek: We know he has interviewed for the job and I’d be surprised if he’s not a top five candidate alongside the likes of McCrimmon, Hunter, Guerin and Mahoney.

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Tyler Johnson: The Lightning may have to end up moving a forward to make things work financially for Brayden Point’s extension. I think Johnson’s speed and experience would be an excellent fit on either one of the top two lines. He has five more years at $5,000,000 so the Oil would have to get creative but I like him.


Connor Brown: I think Brown’s a guy who will become very popular in the rumour mill this off-season. He spent time with McDavid in junior and manage to score 20 goals in his rookie season as a 22-year old. I think the price tag may be somewhat reasonable which is why I’d be opening to pursuing him.

Kasperi Kapanen: Kapanen would definitely be near the top of my list of off-season trade targets. The Leafs may be better off moving Kadri and Nylander to keep Marner, Kapanen, and Johnsson around.


Phil Kessel: As a selfish A.M. Radio host I’d love for the War Pig to become an Oiler. I only put him on the list because I think the Penguins would be more than willing to move him this off-season. Does anyone have an idea on how the Oilers could make this happen?

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Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett places seventh in Jack Adams voting

Bill Guerin: He’s been one of my favourite candidates for the GM job since the very beginning but at this point, I’d describe it as a long shot at best.


Brett Connolly: No trade required with Connolly. He’ll be a UFA on July 1st and I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to land three to four million bucks per year on the open market. He’s one of my top five free agent targets for the Oilers.

Andre Burakovsky: It might finally be time for a change of scenery for Burakovsky. His cap hit this season was $3,000,000 and he’ll be an RFA on July 1st. He spent his one-year in the OHL on the same Erie Otters club as a 16-year old Connor McDavid. He has had confidence issues but he also has an offensive upside that the Oilers may be able to take advantage of.


Nik Ehlers: He’s 23-years old and locked up through the prime of his career at $6,000,000 per season. You could put him with McDavid and he’d get 80 points, easy. The likely scenario would be Ehlers playing with Nuge on the second line. I’d be open to moving the 8th overall pick plus something else to get him.

Brandon Tanev: He’s going to be a UFA and with the way he played this season I’m confident in saying he’ll be pretty sought after. He’s the type of guy you can play on a third line and not have to worry about him at either end of the ice. A team with reasonable cap space will probably end up overpaying for him.

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PK Subban: I’m not sure how this would even be possible, but I’d love to see him on the power play with McDavid. Completely unreasonable but I had to mention him.

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Ryan Ellis: Ellis intrigues me a little bit because the Preds have signed elite prospect Dante Fabbro who will be ready for top four minutes by the second half of next season. If Nashville is ever going to move a blueliner it will happen this off-season.


Brandon Pirri: He’ll be up for grabs as a UFA on July 1st and could be a bargain for a team desperate for offence. He had 12 goals in 31 games for the Knights this season and absolutely torched the AHL. I’ve always thought he just needs a regular spot in the top six to produce but so far he’s been nothing more than the ultimate tweener.


Not happening.


I wonder how much it would cost the Oilers to bring in a couple of McDavid’s former teammates I’ve mentioned above. The Leafs and Caps will both be in positions where they will have to look at their cap situations long term this summer. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to see if you can bring in Brown and Burakovsky at somewhat of a discounted price.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • TKB2677

    Here is a question. Pretending the Oilers could fit in his salary, why does it make sense to bring in a 9 mill going to be 30 in less than 3 weeks dman in Subban? In most cases, players start to decline once they hit 30. A player, especially a dman, prime years are usually 25-30. So Subban’s best years are most likely behind him as I don’t see him being like Giordano.

    The best way I look at it is if Subban was a UFA. He is 30 in May. Coming off a 31 pt in 63 games season. Since leaving Montreal, he’s been considered a real good dman but he hasn’t been a guy who is talked about as being a top end guy. If on July 1, the Oilers came out and said we just signed Subban for 3-4 yrs at 9 mill per season. Would anyone be dancing in the streets? I seriously doubt it. Most of us would be questioning the contract, looking at his injury plagued, down season production wise, worrying about him declining and breaking down and calling it an overpay in dollars. So if that is the case, why would it make sense to spend probably a lot of assets to trade for him if most of us wouldn’t sign him to what he is scheduled to make for the next 3 years?

    • billsbills

      I don’t see the post 30 decline of defencemen that you do. I would actually go as far to say most don’t hit their prime until about 27. If they can skate, they generally get better with age as they get better at reading plays etc.

      Having said that, I don’t see the value in Subban at his price. Better ways to solidify a defence than spending that much money on one player.

  • TKB2677

    I keep seeing over and over again that the Oilers need to get a big name dman. What does having all these “big name dman” do for Nashville?

    They have Josi – I would call him a legit top pairing dman. Scores over 50 pts a year.
    They have Subban – I would call him a legit top pairing dman.
    They have Ekholm – I would call him at worst a good #2 but a really, really, really good #3.
    They have Ellis- I would call him a good #3 dman.

    So Nashville has had I would say one of the best defenses in the league for 3 years now. They have 2 goalies who are really good but what has it got them? Nothing.

    So while I think the Oilers need to add to their defense and more correctly, change out a couple of guys for a few guys who skate better and move the puck more. Spending a wack of assets on a “top end guy” I don’t think is necessary.

    • Hemmercules

      Nashvilles defence gets them to the show every year with a shot at a cup run. I wouldn’t call that nothing. I would take their defensive line any day of the week over anything the Oilers could ever build.

    • Speaking Cleary

      Nashville’s strength is their Defense men. Their problem is that their forwards don’t produce offence and their power play stinks.
      I would suggest that they would be even more worse off with a lesser Defense core.

    • Speaking Cleary

      Nashville’s Defense is their strength and because of it they are a perennial playoff team.
      Most of their offense is generated from their Defense men. Their problem is lack of scoring depth and especially on the pp this year.

  • OilFarmer

    What does Kapanen get for a deal? Wouldn’t he be a perfect offersheet target.
    Anything less then $4.05 million and all it costs is a 2nd round pick. The leafs are going to be negotiating with Marner at over 10 or 11 million and I don’t think they could match with Nathan Horton still on the books during the summer and not getting LTIR relieve until the season starts.

  • Oilman99

    Ehlers is over rated, and too fragile. Subban is over priced, and over rated, a player at his salary should be dominating the play for your team, and he was not even the best d-man on his team during the playoffs. Kessel is too long in tooth, his play is on a downward trajectory.

  • BobbyCanuck

    During our dog days of an anticipated summer, because snow is forecast for tonight, has me wondering about article fodder

    Would one of our fine writers be interested in writing an article about UFA price, and return on team investment in said UFA. The league appears to be going younger and faster, as UFA are 28yrs or older, and all of them want NTC, MNC, and 7 yr deals. Are they really worth it?

    For example, and I hate using this one, because I really like the player, and am still glad he is an Oiler.

    Lucic shows to be costing about $1 Million per goal, not a really good return on investment

    So, I wonder from a historic point of view, say the last 5 years of ‘big ticket’ UFA’s and what did they return?

  • jesse says yep

    Ehlers would be a nice boost in offensive and bring some long term stability to the top 6. Add Chiasson and one more winger who can produce for cheap. Then move on to upgrade the right side of the Defense. They would have to find a way to unload Lucic to make this happen would they not?

  • NickL89

    Tyler Johnson would be a great addition. Tampa isn’t completely screwed yet but will definitely need some help staying under the cap so this is a player I would definitely ask about.

    • jesse says yep

      Your not entirely wrong but at this point the Oilers need more Cost controlled NHL players vs prospects. This isn’t the beginning of a rebuild but the point (this year and next) where they need to make changes to fix the team now and for the next 5-7 years. The prospect pool can be built up using the college draft and Euro markets.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        exactly. It is why I have been saying they needs to find some diamonds in the rough, guys who are hungey and have something to prove. The Oilers are going to have next to no mey to spend on signing 4 or 5 million dollar guys unless they movie bodies and contracts out, and we will still have guys and contracts we arent going to get to move… they have to watch the numbers ion how many guy they have on the books too

  • El Oilero

    The first line of Drai-McD-Kass seems solid. McD has always well with big fast wingers (Maroon, Chaisson, Kass). Lucic is too damn slow to keep up.
    What we need is a solid winger to work with RNH. After that a 3C (Strome could have worked here).

    Our LD is solid with lots of prospects in the pipeline. We need a 2RD so Benning/Bouchard/Bear can compete for 3RD. And of course we need a Goalie.

    What we have (surplus-ish) is LD (Russell, Sekera and keep Klef and Nurse).

    Our second line winger problem can be solved if Yamamoto or JP make the jump (but I wouldn’t bet on that). Bakersfield should round out the bottom 6.

    Drai – McD – Kass
    New guy – RNH – Chaisson
    Khaira – Gagner – ?
    Lucic – ? – ?

  • FanBoy

    Trade1: Puljujarvi, Gambardella, Lagesson for Ehlers, Copp
    Trade2: Russell, Manning for Reimer, Pysyk




  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Well this is more a wish list but I doubt if it was mine Kessel would be on it. Otherwise I would see the Oilers having to move out awhack of contracts to make one of those moves happen, as it is they are going to need to move a player or two to free up some money because there are players with contracts we cant get rid of .

    Its why I say we need a GM who can wheel and deal and knows the NHL and what teams need and dont need and has his finger on the pulse of whats going on in the NHL and can read the tea leaves so to speak on where a potential deal could be had.Whoever the Oilers hire needs to be on their game, cause we are a mess, and this is going to take some work to straighten out. Does anyone know how mnay contracts we are sitting at right now after they guys that are more than likely to not be back are subtracted from it?

  • Copper

    I like Subban as a player, person (as I’ve seen reported) and his character but…$9M?? Not a chance at anytime in his career. Wasn’t he just voted as the most over rated player by his peers? Also, he is 4th on Preds in points and time on ice. Let someone else take that contract on

  • RJ

    There was a possible Nuge-Seth Jones trade a while back, and ON lost their minds about losing Nuge.

    The Oilers would have been a stronger team with Jones at 1RD, but everyone and their dog expressed their anger at losing Nuge.

    Point being, you’re going to give up something of quality to get quality, and it’s all going to have to work underneath the cap.

    The Lightning are not going to take Lucic+ for Tyler Johnson.

    As much as it’s nice to dream about dream about adding quality players, there has to be a realistic situation to add good players while recognizing that you’re going to have to surrender good assets to get them. And make it work on a team with entirely too many bad contracts.

  • Hockey Bunker

    Without a salary dump the Oil have about a million per player to complete their roster. That’s 8 mil for 8 spots.
    So all the great ideas are impossible without trading RNH and or finding a team crazy enough to take Lucic.
    The team needs another NHL lockout to reset the salaries. Raises for current UFAs or RFAs are off the table.

  • Oil9744

    Why wouldn’t Subban be possible? He’s probably the number 1 guy Nashville is going to move cause he’s making 9 mill and they will need that cap space to sign Josi after this season. They are not moving Ellis at 6 mill. I’d rather have Subban anyways. Klefbomb, Puljujarvi, 1st round pick for Subban. Nurse and Subban is our new top line. Nashville gets cap space and a good deal in return with a Dman who can play in there top 4 right away.