Moving the First?

Ken Holland has yet to pull the trigger on any deadline deals but that doesn’t mean he’s not trying. I wrote earlier in the month how Blake Coleman and a few other players on the Devils could be a fit. According to Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Oilers may have been willing to part with a first-round pick to acquire Coleman.

What this does show us is that the Oilers 1st round pick is not completely untouchable and could be moved in a deal for a forward with term. In a perfect world, I think Holland would prefer a player with at least two years left on his deal after this season.

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Coleman will be a UFA at the end of next season but Holland was probably interested in him because his cap hit is only $1,800,000. Would the Oilers be willing to give up a 1st rounder for a player in the three to five million range? They would have to send Sam Gagner or Kris Russell back the other way but it may be possible.

These are highly unlikely scenarios but the Oilers may be able to entice a team to take Gagner or Russell in return if they are willing to part with a 1st rounder and Jesse Puljujarvi.

Here are some players who are under control next year or beyond that could possibly be available and may be worth a package involving a 1st rounder, Jesse Puljujarvi or a conditional 2nd that could become a first depending on how deep the Oilers go in the post-season.

Tomas Tatar (LW/RW) – $4,850,000 (UFA 2021)

Tatar has been excellent since joining the Habs after a failed experiment in Vegas. Last year he finished with 25 goals and 58 points and this season he’s scored 21 times and already has 54 points. If Tatar was under contract until the summer of 2022, I wouldn’t hesitate to part with a 1st rounder and Puljujarvi to have them take a contract in return.

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The funny thing in all of this is that Tatar isn’t anywhere to be seen on TSN’s Trade Bait board and that list is running 50 players deep right now.

Would the Habs consider Puljujarvi, Gagner and a conditional 2nd that becomes a 1st if the Oilers make the conference finals for Tatar? Would you pull the trigger on that if you are Holland? I’m still on the fence.

KYLE PALMIERI (LW/RW) – $4,650,000 (UFA 2021)

Palmieri, unlike Tatar, is on the TSN Trade Bait list, he currently sits 20th. He has scored at least 24 goals in each of the last four seasons, topping out at 30 in 15-16. Palmieri has 22 goals this season and would be an excellent fit on the Oilers top line with McDavid. He has one year left on his deal so you would have a year and a half to try and convince him to stay here in Edmonton. He would cost a 1st, Puljujarvi and possible something else in addition to sending Gagner back the other way to make the money work.

VINCENT TROCHECK (C/RW) – $4,750,000 (UFA 2022)

The Florida Panthers are right in the thick of a playoff race so they certainly won’t be sellers but there has been some speculation that they are looking to shake things up a bit and could be looking for some help on the blueline. Mike Hoffman and Evgeni Dadonov are both UFA’s this summer so they may be looking to save a bit of money in hopes of resigning one of them. The Panthers also have a couple of young forwards in the system they are pretty high on, making it easier to move Trocheck.

He scored 31 goals in 17-18 but struggled last year dealing with some injuries and has just nine goals so far this year. If the Oilers could convince Florida that Kris Russell could help their blueline you have to think they’d be willing to add a 1st and Puljujarvi into that trade. I know some of you think that’s a high price to pay but the ability to flip Russell’s contract for a forward would be huge for the team heading into the off-season.

Kasperi Kapanen (RW) – $3,200,000 (RFA 2022)

The sky is falling in Toronto right now and Kyle Dubas needs to do something to help his blueline. Matt Benning has solid underlying numbers and you know who loves numbers? Dubas. What would the Oilers have to add to Benning to get Kapanen? The Leafs don’t have a 1st rounder in this year’s draft, maybe they want to recoup one.

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The best thing about acquiring Kapanen is that he’d be a big part of your top six for a long time as the team would have control with him only being an RFA in 2022.

Ryan Strome (C/RW) – $3,100,000 (RFA 2021)

“A chance to put right what once went wrong” – Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, the greatest television show of all-time. Strome is having a career year and while I don’t think you can expect him to repeat it, he would be a perfect fit as a third line centre who can play wing in the top six when needed. Chiarelli trading him never made sense and with a new coaching staff around I’d be more than willing to give him another look. The Rangers are likely going to keep him but if they can come to terms with Chris Kreider, they may be willing to move Strome.

The Rangers don’t have a 2nd rounder this year and have shown some interest in Puljujarvi in the past. Just saying.

Andreas Athanasiou (C/LW/RW) – $3,000,000 (RFA 2021)

Athanasiou fits the bill as a piece you could slot into, at worst, the top nine for the next few years. He makes $3,000,000 right now and isn’t having the type of season that should require a huge raise on his next deal. Once again, we come back around to the most burning question, would you be willing to part with a 1st rounder to get Athanasiou?

Previously by Dustin Nielson: