53

Wishful Thinking

At some point, Ken Holland will hire a head coach and then we can really turn our attention to the fun part of the off-season; trade speculation.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli dropped his first trade bait board of the off-season and it’s somewhat intriguing from an Oilers perspective.

It’s only fifteen players deep but the list does include Milan Lucic and a couple of guys I think the Oilers should have some interest in.

TSN TRADE BAIT BOARD

Phil Kessel
Jacob Trouba
Ryan Callahan
Jason Zucker
P.K. Subban
Michael Frolik
Connor Brown
Kyle Turris
Kevin Shattenkirk
Artemi Panarin
Travis Hamonic
Nikita Zaitsev
Olli Maatta
Colin Miller
Milan Lucic

MILAN LUCIC

I still don’t see a reasonable way for the Oilers to move Lucic without adding an asset to the deal that will end up looking like a major overpayment to move the contract.

CONNOR BROWN

I’ve mentioned Connor Brown in the past and I still like the idea of picking him up for a number of reasons. His junior history with McDavid is nice, he scored 20 goals as a rookie, his cap hit is a manageable $2,100,000 and I don’t think he’d cost you a significant piece in return.

Matt Benning for Connor Brown, who says no? Probably the Leafs but I do think it’s close to being a fair deal.

COLIN MILLER

The Oilers would probably have to move a d-man to free up both a roster spot and the cap space to put them in a spot to go after Miller. He could be a second pairing guy who could also handle some decent power-play minutes.

JASON ZUCKER

On Friday’s Morning Mandate TSN’s Ryan Rishaug suggested Zucker as a target but I’m not sure acquiring him is even a possibility for the Oilers. First of all, he has a modified no-trade clause so if the Oilers aren’t one of the teams he’d be willing to go to it’s dead in the water.

He has four years at $5,500,000 per season left on his deal. He has three 20-goal seasons and a 33-goal campaign in 2017-18. He most certainly skates well enough to not look out of place on a McDavid line but once again the Oilers would need to move some salary to fit him in or simply go super cheap filling other holes in free agency.

NOT ON THE LIST

J.T. MILLER

J.T. Miller isn’t on Seravalli’s trade bait board but Rishaug did bring his name up on the smash hit Nielson Show.

The first thing you need to realize is that the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to have to do something to help their current cap situation.

The Bolts have 10 forwards, five defenseman and two goaltenders under contract for 19-20 but only have $8.5 million left to work with in cap space. You could make the argument that $8.5 million won’t even be enough to get a deal done for Braydon Point.

They could buy out Ryan Callahan. The former Ranger has a cap hit of $5.8 million but a buyout would knock that down to $2.6 million this year and $1.5 million the following season. They’ll probably need to spend any money they save on a Callahan buyout on signing at least one veteran defenseman. They also need to get an extension done for Vasilevsky at some point as he’ll be an RFA at the end of the next year.

There were some rumours that the Lightning would like to go after Erik Karlsson in the off-season but at this point, that idea almost seems impossible.

Which brings us back around to J.T. Miller and why they may want to move his $5.25 million dollar cap hit.

If Miller produces at the same rate he did this year the $5.25 million would be a little pricey. He scored just 13 goals for the Lightning in 18-19 but was 8th among forwards in 5-on-5 ice-time playing 11:42 per game. He did get a pretty good look on the power-play with only Kucherov, Stamkos and Point playing more on the man advantage than Miller.

Miller’s 5-on-5 goals/60 was 0.62, placing him 10th among Lightning forwards. A .62 goals/60 would have ranked 9th among Oilers forwards right behind Zack Kassian and Josh Currie.

On the power play, Miller scored 1.25 goals/60 good enough for 7th on the Lightning and 5th on the Oilers behind Draisaitl, Chiasson, McDavid and Nuge. Quick side note, only five forwards scored power-play goals for the Oilers last season, that’s sad.

Like a few of the other guys discussed I don’t think the Oilers can pick up Miller unless they move salary out and I’d be shocked if the Lightning would be willing to accept sort of decent sized cap hit in return. So if Miller ends up being a target they’ll have to find some space before making a move.

He scored 20 goals in back to back seasons at the ages of 22 and 23 with the Rangers so it’s reasonable to think he could do that again in a top-six role with the Oilers.

Do you think Holland should have interest in Miller and what should he be willing to part with?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

    • NickL89

      I don’t think anyone with “negative value” makes it onto the trade bait list. Milan could bring size and toughness to one of the teams lacking in that area. Sure his contract sucks but remember when we were one of the wimpy teams getting pushed around?

  • CMG30

    Lucic is the biggest stumbling block to improving this team. His salary says he’s a top 6 forward and with the cap situation he’s essentially blocking the team from acquiring other legit top 6 forwards. His production dictates that he can’t play on the top 6 so that leaves him occupying a spot in the bottom 6. This blocks a spot that could be occupied by young player who is in the process of graduating to the NHL. Any way you cut it, moving on from Lucic is the single biggest move that opens up possibilities for the team to improve.

    Holland has a wealth of experience, lets see if he can get something done.

    • hagar

      We are conditioned to asinine moves from all the years of almost impossibly stupid decisions.
      If Ken can just work like an average or better gm, he will be able to repair enough damage quickly to make a huge difference in the overall ability of the team. If that happens, and the players pick up on the new vibe of the team and decide to play their best at all times instead of when they feel like it, I can see a few quick moves having us feeling great about next year.
      Moving lucic may or may not be possible, but the team can still as a whole get going in the right direction with 3 or 4 less significant moves.
      To me this is the most interesting offseason I can remember.

  • Ken Holland

    Preliminary Off Season Game Plan:

    Trades
    – Trade Benning to TOR for Brown
    – Trade Lucic to VAN for Eriksson
    – Trade Russell, JP and a 2nd to PIT for Kessel
    – Trade Brodziak and a 4th to OTT for Z Smith
    – Trade Gagner and a 3rd to OTT for Pageau

    Signings
    – Pirri for 1 year $1 mill
    – Tanev for 3 years $3 mill
    – Mrazek for 2 years $3 mill

    Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian
    Eriksson – Nuge – Kessel
    Pirri – Pageau – Tanev
    Smith – Khaira – Brown

    Klefbom – Larsson
    Nurse – Bouchard
    Sekera – Jones

  • Total Points

    The only way the Oilers get out of this mess is to have patience and play younger guys and wait. They will not be able to trade their way to a playoff team this year due to the heavy cap hit with McDavid, drai and nuge and the very bad cap hits with Lucic, Russel and Sekera.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The Oilers are in a tough spot. They can not take on money without moving some players out. If I am the Oilers I try and find a trade for Lucic or I talk with him and his agent and see if something can be worked out, unless someone want to swap bad contract for bad contract I dont see any other way to move Lucic. If I am the Oilers I try and maybe pair Gange and Benning up in a trade or trade Benning alone for a winger. I like Gange But I wouldn’t be inclined to keep him if the Oilers could manage to move him even if they had to eat some salary.

    The Oilers still have Manning to get rid of which I dont see happening, the guy couldnt get on the ice in the AHL and his contract will be tough to move so I think he is going to get buried in the minors and we are stuck with him. The Oilers still haven’t made any moves as to whether Chaisson was offered a contract ( which should have been done long ago ) so that could be 20 goals out of the line up and I would bet some other team will offer Chaisson 2.0 2.25 mil at a minimum to sign, I doubt Chaisson will be an Oiler next year.

    Otherwise the Oilers have to move a couple D-man. Russel contract starts to slide in dollars now, Larsson is still in the 4 mil range and Sekera is at 5.5. Benning is cheap at 2. I am Leary of moving Sekera right now because he is one of the better puck moving defencemen we have and he is good on the PP with quaterbacking the puck at the back end. I would move either Larsson or Russel and Benning out. Gravel could play in Russel’s and one of the guys from the AHL could play in Bennings spot ( not manning ) Gravel is cheap and he can shoot from the point and he isnt a liability on the back end. I like Larson little bit of a mean streak and I would miss Russell for his shot blocking. But moving Benning and either Russell or Larson would free up at least 5.5. to 6 mil in cap space.

    • The Whispererer

      The Oilers have exactly 2 RHD with any NHL experience ( Larsson and Benning ) and you propose to trade both of them ?
      Gravel isn’t on the Oilers roster for next year, and he is a #7 LHD, not a Russell replacement.

    • Lazarus

      Dilly Dally already threw his Lucic Jersey onto the ice years ago. And remember how happy you were when you saved up enough to buy it? How your tone has changed, speaking of which where is #27Train..didn’t take him long to dump that for #97Train did it?
      Never change Coiler fans..

  • Ken Holland

    Best time to trade Lucic is next July. His real salary will be 1, 5, 4 – 10 mil over 3 years with a 18 mil cap hit.

    If we trade Lucic this July 2, he makes 3,4,5,4 – 16 mil over 4 years with a 24 mil cal hit.

    Only scenerio in trading him is if we either retain 2 mil which makes him a positive asset or take salary back.

    Lucic would make 1,2,3,2 – total of 8 mil over 4 years if we retained 2 million and traded him.

    The salary back would be a player like Eriksson(18 mil) or a combo of players like Smith and Pageau(13 mil).

  • The Rookie

    5.25 M for a guy who puts up bottom 6 numbers? Pass. Even if you hope he puts up top 6 numbers, I’d rather have a better buy low option. Best case scenarios don’t often work out and you could end up looking at 2 guys in the bottom 6 combining for $11.25M. That’s not cool. The $2.1 M fill ins seem much more practical right now. Or here’s a thought, Even Chiason at $1.5 seems a smarter move. Top 6 of Drai-McD-Brown
    Benson-Nuge-Chiasson
    Would make a lot of sense to me. Nuge and Chia are very reliable guys who could mentor a young Rookie and cover any defensive blemishes. Benson is tough on the puck and is great on the cycle. That second line could eat A ton of minutes wearing down opponents in the offensive end, drawing penalties and contributing offensively. I think the oil really need to target a strong third line center. Of course Nuge could be that guy if you take Drai off the wing but then you need to find another elite winger for the top line. I believe it’s easier and cheaper to add a 3rd line center. But it has to be a proven guy. That guy that the coach loves to throw on the first line just for offensive draws, the guy who gets under people’s skin. Nazem Kadri has a $4.5 cap hit and a year over year improvement on face offs that so far topped off last year at 55%. Russell and a later pick? Although Toronto is more about the Stats than the eye. Maybe it will cost Nurse? Darnell is only on contract for one more year, but it’s a very cheap year, and I believe he’s still RFA so I think this could be done as a 1 for 1. What would a line with Kadri and Lucic look like? Physical for sure. Would you add JUhjar to them? Adds to the size, but has enough of a scoring touch that he and Kadri could connect for a few while Lucic Catches his breath. You could also have Kassian instead of Juhjar. So now my forward group is shaping up like this
    Drai-McD-Brown
    Benson-Nuge-Chiasson
    Lucic-Kadri-Kassian
    Juhjar-Brodziak-Gagner
    Cave -13th

    This of course means JJ and Chiason need contracts. This also leaves Puljujarvi and Ty Rattie still needing contracts. I don’t know if there is enough there to qualify Rattie. They may walk. And what to do with Jessie? Is there too much bad blood to ask him to play in The AHL for an entire year? Can he even do that or are waivers automatic now? I think it may be a case of sign and trade, or trade his rights. Which is a shame. I love this player. But there are things that need to be fixed and I completely put the blame on coaches/managment playing tug o war with this player. Perhaps it’s Jp and a pick that gets you Brown. Or JP, + conditional 2nd, + Nurse for Kadri + Brown.

    The plus side of trading nurse gives room on the back end for one of the young lefties who are pushing for a spot. The down side is that internally you are not replacing Nurse as a player. He is top 4 except when paired with Russell. When Klefbom was out Nurse was the best blue. Realistically Sekera can’t be relied on to play a full season, and that’s not anyone’s fault. But with 2 more years at a $5.5 M cap hit I think this is the most likely candidate for a buy out. That hit would be 2 years at $2.5 followed by 2 years at $1.5. In FA I would go after Anton Stralman. He is 32 and a right shot. He could be a perfect stop gap while the team waits for prospect Evan Bouchard. Could a 3 year deal work? I’m sure his camp would want 5. But I’m not sure he gets that anywhere.

    Klefbom-Larsson
    Jones-Stralman
    Russell-Benning

    By mid season we could see Russell (now playing his proper side and in limited minutes) as another trade chip if Bear or even Samorukov continue to push, but I wouldn’t rush it. Same could be said for Bouchard in place of Benning. Benning could also realistically be transferred to 7D but I think he loses value as soon as you do that.

    My big question is goaltending. I can’t even begin to wager a guess. Add one of the 2 Hurricanes and hope that guy, and perhaps better goaltending coaching, pushes Koskinen to be more consistent if nothing else?

    I haven’t done the math, but I’m pretty sure all of this fits under the cap. Of course should they decide to go after a Anders Lee or Ryan Dzingel then all of this changes drastically.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Hey your back, good to see you got over your Lamers first round exit… yet again… you would know a lot about wishful thinking like that your Lamers were going to make it past the first round, but we all knew they wouldnt…lol

  • Wadentheshade

    Ask Calgary and Tampa about lacking grit and toughness come playoff time. With any luck we can find someone willing to take a chance on him. He openly talked about playing in his home town of Vancouver. Let’s hope Holland can bring some solid moves.

  • Total Points

    It would be very difficult to get more top 6 forwards. The Oilers need to revise their bottom 6 forwards, They were the problem. The top 2 lines were as good as the top 2 lines on other teams.
    They need to revamp the bottom 2 lines and they will have a chance to make playoffs.

    Besides that is the only forwards they can afford

  • Lazarus

    Trading Lucic?!?! Bahahahaha
    Wishful thinking indeed. Everyone was pining for him for years..you wanted him you got him.
    Lol – the very definition of wishful thinking.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Whatever we do, DON’T TRADE Nurse or Larsson!

    I think we may have to hang onto (most of) our bad contracts until next year (Lucic is a lot more manageable beginning next year to trade), Sekera to buy out, etc. It will be another tough year slugging through the salary cap hell we are in. The good news is if we don’t take on any more big contracts with older players we should be able to improve in 2-3 years. I hate to say it but it will take that long to be out from under a lot of those contracts.

    We also have to be out from under Sekera and Russell contracts before the expansion draft or we lose a core defenceman.

    I would make this offseason about shedding as much contracts as possible, dealing as many overpriced players as possible, and keeping as much of our core as we can – eg. Chiasson.

    Do not trade Nurse, Larsson, McDavid, Draisaitl, Kassian (cheap as a top-line winger). I don’t include Klefbom on that list as I think he’s too fragile to be counted on to consistently be in our line-up, sadly.

    I would try to rid ourselves of bad contracts, Russell included, but just not be too surprised if it takes another year – thankfully then we will then be done with Brandon Manning’s. Bit by bit it should improve by next year and keep improving after that. One note, Dustin, is that you have us picking up a lot of older, expensive free agents. I say stay away and just improve by lowering the cap hit every year, playing young players and getting out of cap hell instead of getting right back into it through high-priced additions. My two cents…

  • Hockey Bunker

    To clean up the cap mess quickly and improve the team right away, Holland will have to deal a good prospect along with any boat anchor like Lucic or Russell or Sekera.
    Holland is a go slow kind of guy so I suspect he will take his time to get is right. Maybe one significant deal this summer, another dump or two at the deadline to give him roomm 2020-21.
    The mess he has inherited is one for the record books.

  • TKB2677

    I don’t know if trading Lucic is possible and if it is, the sweetner might a hell of a lot and make it not worth it. So if I am Holland, I call Lucic and tell him if he wants out to help Holland by playing better. If Lucic wants out which apparently he asked for a trade, he needs to do some serious looking in the mirror and decide to do what it takes to get better. 2 years ago, he laughed when Gregor asked him about a skills coach. This past end of year interview he made a comment about how most players are skating in June working on their games and he doesn’t do that. Get a skills coach and get on the ice in June like others do. Then maybe he will play better. I doubt it. But Dustin Brown sucked for 4 years in a row then he did something different and has 28 and 22 goals. So there is a small chance that Lucic could return to respectable numbers IF he trains properly.

    So if Lucic actually trains properly maybe he can get back to scoring low teens in goals. Then if you look at his contract, after this season, he would have 3 yrs at 6 mill cap hit so 18 mill but actual dollars paid out are 13 mill. You could make a trade for Lucic after the Oilers pay his next 3 mill bonus so actual dollars paid would be 10 mil.