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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
THE MCDAVID CONNECTION
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.