The Oilers are heading into a crucial offseason and the first big decision for General Manager Ken Holland will be what to do with the eighth overall selection. There will be some really quality players available when the Oilers are called to the draft table, but some could argue that there will be a similar quality player available in the middle of the first round between picks 11 and 14.
That brings up the question, could the Oilers move down a few spots and shed some salary in the process?
There will be 23 selections made after the Oilers pick at eighth later this month in Vancouver but really, I would say there are only five or six teams that are realistic fits for the Oilers if they want to move down. Obviously, the further you slide down the more value you’d get in return, or, the more money you could throw into the package.
The other wrinkle with this is that you need two to tango and I’m not sure how many teams would really be interested in trading up. I’m not even considering the Ducks or Canucks as possible trade partners simply because they’re right behind the Oilers in the draft order and I don’t think there would be a deal that makes sense between those sides, after that, it gets interesting.
|17.||Vegas Golden Knights|
|19.||Ottawa Senators (from CBJ)|
|20.||New York Rangers (From Jets)|
11. PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have a bunch of cap space, roughly $33 million, and a lot of important RFA’s to resign. Travis Sanheim, Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny, and Ivan Provorov are some notables. If there’s someone that the Flyers really want, but feel like they need to move up, maybe the Oilers could snag someone like Scott Laughton, who I think would be a solid third line centre, and shed some salary in a potential deal.
12. MINNESOTA: The Wild are in a weird spot. Most believe that they should be heading into a re-tool period, but their rumoured deal with Pittsburgh proved that they’re willing to bring in older players if they believe it will help them win right now. Could Phil Kessel turning them down change their mindset? Maybe. If it does, I could see the Wild wanting to move up in the draft to snag one of the players from the USNTDP.
13. FLORIDA: Considering that they’re probably going to be going all in on some big name free agents, I really can’t see the Panthers wanting to move up in the draft. Maybe if the two sides are negotiating a trade & the Oilers are bringing in a big name, the move up could be seen as a way to give the Panthers a bit of a sweetener, but still. I’d say these two aren’t a fit.
14. ARIZONA: This is an interesting idea for a few reasons. First, John Chayka has moved around in the draft before & he did it in a trade with Ken Holland a few years back when the Coyotes took on the dead contract of Pavel Datsyuk in order to move up four spots to take Jakob Chychrun. The Coyotes have some interesting forwards, four NHL quality right-handed defensemen, and a bunch of cap space. There might be a fit here and moving down six spots would still allow the Oilers to get a decent prospect.
I would be very hesitant to move down any more than six spots. Although the Oilers would benefit from acquiring some solid NHL talent or unloading some bad contracts, you don’t want to risk losing out on a really good high-end prospect altogether.
If Ken Holland gets really bold and trades down significantly, then there are a few other teams that are worth taking a look at.
17. VEGAS: After completing their second season in the league, the Golden Knights find themselves in a tough spot when it comes to the salary cap. They also have some players who would fill some holes on the Oilers roster. The Oilers need a third line centre and the Knights have Cody Eakin (one more year at $3.85m) and Erik Haula (one more year at $2.75m). They have a surplus down the middle and that’s an area the Oilers could look to add. On the back end, they have Colin Miller (three more years at $3.87m) who would inject some offence to the Oilers right side. All three of those names would be good fits, but the Oilers would need to clear out money to bring in either Eakin or Miller and honestly, given the fact that the Golden Knights are in “win-now” mode, I can’t see why they’d be interested in trading up in first round, unless they want to trade up and then flip the pick again. It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure if it’s realistic.
19. OTTAWA: There’s no doubt that the rebuilding Senators would love to move into the top ten and add to their growing list of bonafide prospects, but do they have enough to make it worthwhile for the Oilers? Doubtful. I really like Jean Gabriel-Pageau (one more year at $3.1 million) as a potential third line centre option, but he’s not worth sliding down 11 spots in the first round. I don’t like any of their defenseman that would likely be available either. Maybe there would be a deal if the Senators threw in a significant prospect and took on one of the Oilers really bad contracts. I’m reaching though and I don’t think this makes sense.
At the end of the day, moving down rarely happens because it requires a perfect storm. First, the Oilers would need to be comfortable sliding down at least three spots and still getting the prospect they want. Then, you would need a team that is so unsure about whether or not they’ll get the guy they want that they’re willing to give up assets to ensure they get the prospect they covet. Then, the two sides need to see eye-to-eye on a value.
Moving down and winning the trade seems unlikely for the Oilers but still, it remains an option for new GM Ken Holland as he embarks on a crucial offseason.