The Milan Lucic trade has basically elevated Oilers President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland to saviour status. Holland could not make another move the rest of the off-season, and Oilers fans would probably still give him a passing grade for what’s done so far.
In my opinion there are still two pieces of business that need to be taken care of. The Jesse Puljujarvi situation needs to be figured out, and in a perfect world an experienced third line center would be brought in via trade or free agency. I fully expect something to happen with Puljujarvi, but I’m not so sure Holland will be in a hurry to find a third line center. The Oilers have brought in numerous bottom-six forwards and, as of right now, Holland is obviously hoping someone like Gaetan Haas, Jujhar Khaira, Markus Granlund or possibly even Cooper Marody can fill the roll.
I can’t help but wonder if Holland will find a way to kill two birds with one stone by moving Puljujarvi in exchange for a third line pivot. There may be some other ways to move JP, but for this exercise we’ll take a look at how they may be able to land a center for the third line.
$3,150,000 (1 year/UFA)
2019 Stats: 39gp – 4g – 8a – 12pts
Jean-Gabriel Pageau would be a perfect fit on the Oilers third line between the likes of Markus Granlund and Josh Archibald. The issue with a Pageau trade would be that Ken Holland most definitely would not be flipping JP for one year of JGP in a one for one deal.
The Senators would likely have to sweeten the deal with a draft pick or both teams could get a little more creative and the Oilers could include another contract to make sure the Sens are still above the cap floor. The Senators have three second round picks in each of the next two drafts.
To Ottawa: Jesse Puljujarvi, Sam Gagner and EDM 3rd in 2021
To Edmonton: JG Pageau and DAL 2nd in 2020
$4,100,000 (2 years/UFA)
2019 Stats: 64gp – 14g – 12a – 26pts
The Pittsburgh Penguins are right up against the cap so I’m wondering if they would be willing to retain a million bucks on Bjugstad to move him. Bjugstad would be a nice pick up for the Oilers as he could be their everyday third line center, but also play on the right side in the top six when needed.
The Penguins have been speculated as a team that may have interest in Jesse Puljujarvi, and it would make sense considering the moves they’ve already made this off-season. Pens GM Jim Rutherford has already traded Phil Kessel to bring in Alex Galchenyuk and also moved out Olli Maatta for Dominik Kahun.
I don’t love the idea of moving Puljujarvi with no long-term assets coming back in return, but two years of Bjugstad at $3,100,000 would be worth it. If you think there is no way the Penguins would do this deal you need to remember they are desperate for cap space and even without Bjugstad their top nine would still look pretty decent.
I am by no means a Penguins expert, but I’d ball park something like this. I’m not even sure JP would find a spot in the Pens top nine.
Guentzel – Crosby – Kahun
Galchenyuk – Malkin – Hornqvist
Tanev – McCann – Rust
To Pittsburgh: Jesse Puljujarvi and Ethan Bear
To Edmonton: Nick Bjugstad (1,000,000 retained)
The Oilers could afford to include Bear to get this deal done because they’ve got a number of other young d-men on the way. Is that too much? Not enough? I’m having a hard time getting my head around this deal.
Restricted Free Agent
2019 Stats: 58gp – 7g – 7a – 14pts
This would obviously be a different type of deal than the first two I proposed. Joel Eriksson Ek is a similar situation to Puljujarvi as a young player who hasn’t found his stride in the National Hockey League.
Both players have registered 37 points so far in their young NHL careers, Puljujarvi has played 139 games, Eriksson Ek a few more at 147. We know the Oilers were fans of Eriksson Ek at the 2015 draft and a few members of that staff are still around. It’s a simple trade. Two players who could use a fresh start; a center for a winger, no reason to read into it any further.
To Minnesota: Jesse Puljujarvi
To Edmonton: Joel Eriksson Ek
WHO DO YOU WANT?
If I had to rank these deals in order of attractiveness for the Oilers I’d go with the following.
- Bjugstad (1,000,000 retained) for Puljujarvi and Bear
- Pageau and a 2nd for Puljujarvi, Gagner and a 3rd
- Eriksson Ek for Puljujarvi
What Say You?