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Weekly Rumours: Oilers staying out of the rental market?

We are another week closer to the trade deadline and we can scratch another big name off the list of players available as the Wild cashed in on Jason Zucker, trading him to Pittsburgh for a first-round pick, prospect Calen Addison, and forward Alex Galchenyuk.

Some people wanted the Oilers to be in on Zucker but wouldn’t be surprised if his no-movement clause was an issue. I had read/heard a few insiders say that there were Canadian teams on his list. Also, I wouldn’t blame Holland for not dealing a top defensive prospect and a first-round pick right now. I wouldn’t be too upset with the Oilers missing out on Zucker.

In fact, expecting the Oilers to be major players in the rental market seems foolish right now. I’ve been saying for a while that for Ken Holland to spend serious assets, the Oilers would have to be getting a player with term or team control. That’s something Elliotte Friedman also said in his most recent ‘31 Thoughts’ piece.

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Friedman brought up the fact that Holland wouldn’t pay the asking price for Taylor Hall and doesn’t want to move out a top defensive prospect (Broberg, Bouchard, or Samorukov) or trade the teams first or second-round pick in this June’s draft. The only way that could change is if the piece coming back could help them for more than just a few months.

Friedman also noted that he doesn’t believe Ken Holland would trade disgruntled prospect Jesse Puljujarvi in a deal for a rental either.

If what he is reporting is accurate, and Friedman is usually bang-on with this stuff, then you can take the Oilers out of the running for players like JG Pageau or Taylor Hall, should the Coyotes decide to deal him. 

The Hall story is an interesting one because while I could see Arizona wanting to recoup assets if they fall out of the race, I don’t think they would want the negative PR that comes with trading away the star winger just months after acquiring him. It would be a very difficult sell to ownership and the fan base.

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Chris Johnston, in a radio hit on the FAN 960, said it’s a viable idea but he couldn’t see the Coyotes doing it. 

For the Oilers, if you’re looking for names that the team could target, simply look at guys with term on their deals. If we go to Frank Seravalli’s Trade Bait Board, there are some interesting options.

Andreas Athanasiou is 8th on Frank’s list. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about him so I’ll move on to Pavel Buchnevich, who is 12th on the list and has one more year with a cap hit of $3.25m. He’s proven he can score goals at the NHL level. He got 20 last season and has 11 in 54 games so far this year. He would be a very interesting fit.

Senators forward Chris Tierney (17th on the list) is a pending RFA who can play both centre and wing. He has ten goals in 55 games this season and could look really good on the Oilers’ third line.

Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson from Toronto are both on the list but word is that Kyle Dubas would only move them for a piece that helps the Leafs right now and personally, I can’t see Ken Holland trading Adam Larsson at the deadline. I think they really value the toughness he could bring to a playoff series.

Ondrej Kase has struggled at times this season but he fits the description of being a young forward with team control and a history of being able to produce in a top six. The fact he’s on a division rival probably hurts the Oilers’ chances of acquiring him though. Josh Anderson and Ryan Donato are also lower down on the list. I’ve discussed them before and I think the Oilers would be interested, especially in a guy like Anderson.

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While many don’t expect the Oilers to be major players in the rental market, I wouldn’t be stunned if they added a low-cost pending UFA. Think of players like Derek Grant, Connor Sheary, or maybe even Joe Thornton. Players that wouldn’t cost more than a mid-round draft pick and a low-level prospect.

Expect more names to surface on the rumour mill between today and next Thursday, when things should really start to heat up. Until then, here are some other stories I’m keeping an eye on.

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  • The Calgary Flames are in an interesting spot. They’re far from a lock to be a playoff team, they’ve been hit hard with some key injuries, and they have a lot of cap space. I’m sure their fans want them to be buyers, but is it the smartest move for Brad Treliving to dangle significant assets for a player like Tyler Toffoli when the player could leave in July and the team hardly looks like a threat to go on a deep run?
  • The Leafs no doubt want to add, but injuries to Morgan Reilly and Cody Ceci really complicate things from a salary cap perspective. If they knew that Ceci was done for the regular season, they’d have some flexibility to add a piece but they might not get that answer anytime soon. For Reilly, if they won’t get him back for another six weeks after the deadline, that hurts there chances no matter who they add. Might discourage Kyle Dubas from spending big at the deadline.
  • Chris Johnston reported earlier in the week that there’s a chance the Canadiens hold on to Ilya Kovalchuk and sign him to an extension instead of trading him. What a wild turn of events the last six weeks have been for Kovy.
  • Pierre LeBrun is reporting that the Carolina Hurricanes are prepared to use one of the first-round picks they own in the upcoming draft to load up before the deadline. Word is that they want to add a defenseman. Anthony DeAngelo would look good on that blueline.