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Photo Credit: Jason Franson/Canadian Press

Weekly Rumours – Big Changes in the Pacific Division?

We got a trade this week! Nothing gets the rumour mill going like an actual trade and the one we got on Thursday was actually a pretty big one. The Penguins picked up a potential top-six forward but they did deal away a first-round pick, which makes me wonder if that’s what they’ll be looking for in return for one of their two goaltenders. As for the Leafs, they recouped a first-round pick while shedding over $3 million in cap space. That will certainly help Kyle Dubas this offseason. Hopefully, this is the first of many big trades throughout a busy offseason.

How does this connect to the Oilers? Well, both the Penguins and Maple Leafs could be trade partners for Ken Holland this offseason and this trade changes two things. I think it will make the Leafs more reluctant to move on from Andreas Johnsson since they have already moved out a young winger. I also think the Penguins might be interested in the Oilers 14th overall pick in this year’s Draft considering they no longer have a first-rounder. 

I wonder if there’s a way for the Oilers to flip their first-round pick to Pittsburgh for a goaltender and then deal a defenseman to Toronto in exchange for the pick they just got from the Penguins. Obviously I’m just spitballing and some other pieces would have to be involved to make that deal work but it’s interesting.

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So that’s the big news from this week, now, let’s get to some of the big rumours.

CHANGES IN CALGARY?

Since the last time I posted a rumours blog, the Calgary Flames have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs and just like last season, they lost in the first round and their biggest star, Johnny Gaudreau, failed to produce. On top of that, they only have three defensemen, one goalie, and nine forwards signed for next season. They have $16 million to fill out their roster and most of their key players are locked up already. They have the cap space to make some significant changes.

The big change everyone is talking about is centred around Johnny Gaudreau. After back-to-back early playoff exits, and back-to-back poor playoff performances from Gaudreau, it feels more likely than ever that the Flames move on from their star forward. 

There were rumours earlier in the season that they were interested in Taylor Hall, so could the Flames move Gaudreau for other pieces and then sign Hall to fill the void? I could see that happening. 

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If they do decide to move on from ‘Johnny Hockey’ they shouldn’t have an issue finding a taker either. In the regular season, he’s been one of the most consistent scorers in the league over the last three seasons. 

EKMAN-LARSSON ON THE MOVE?

Speaking of potential big moves in the Pacific Division, Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s name continues to pop up. Elliotte Friedman briefly mentioned his name a few weeks ago, and I didn’t think much of it, but it seems like there might be some weight behind these rumours.

With all the changes happening in the organization, you can see why they might want to re-work some things and considering the fact that they’re the Arizona Coyotes and Ekman-Larsson makes over $8 million per season for the next seven years, you can see why they might be looking to move him.

Should the Oilers be interested? Well, anytime an elite, puck-moving defenseman comes of the market, they should be interested but the asking price is likely going to be sky-high. On his popular Edmonton radio show, Dustin Nielson said it might cost the Oilers Darnell Nurse and one of Evan Bouchard or Philip Broberg. If that’s the asking price, then the Oilers need to steer clear.

Ekman-Larsson is still very good, but he’s 29-years-old and his contract is going to take him until he is in his late 30’s. Do the Oilers really want to make be tied to that deal when OEL’s play dips? I wouldn’t. On top of that, one of Broberg or Bouchard could end up being a very good top-four defenseman and the Oilers have the ability to sign them to a more team-friendly deal. Considering the Oilers cap situation and the probable asking price for Ekman-Larsson, I just don’t see this making sense for Edmonton.

QUICK NOTES

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  • There are some very interesting trade pieces in Columbus. Jarmo Kekalainen is reportedly willing to move a defenseman like Ryan Murray or David Savard, winger Josh Anderson, or a goaltender like Elvis Merzlikins. All of those players would be interesting fits in Edmonton, the problem is that Columbus is looking to add a top-six forward and I don’t think the Oilers can trade away one of those.
  • The Marc-Andre Fleury story is going to be interesting to track as we head into the offseason. It’s clear that he’s not happy being in a backup role to Robin Lehner, but it will be very difficult for Vegas to find him a new home and they’ll need to if they want to keep Lehner with the team. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Fluery is back with the Golden Knights next season.
  • Max Domi removed the ‘MTL’ from both his Twitter and Instagram bios, which only added to the speculation that the pending RFA will be dealt this offseason. If he is on the block, the Oilers should be interested. He can play centre or left-wing, which are both positions where the Oilers could use help.
  • James Mirtle from The Athletic in Toronto brought up the idea of the Leafs trading goaltender Frederick Andersen and mentioned Edmonton as a possible landing spot if they can make the money work. That’s certainly something to keep an eye on.