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Photo Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Finding a Third-Line Centre: The Trade Options

In my opinion, the Oiler’s two biggest needs heading into this coming offseason are upgrading their goaltending and finding a solid third-line centre who can give them a solid third scoring line. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been going through some of the players that could be available for them to acquire.

I started with the free-agent market for goaltenders and then looked into the trade market as well. Last week, I looked at the free-agent market for third-line centres, which is pretty thin, and now today, I’m going to look into some names that could be on the trading block.

MAX DOMI

I went in-depth on Domi last weekend so if you want to read more about the possibility of the Oilers trading him, you can head HERE. He would be a good fit on the Oilers. His best season came in 2018/19 when he posted 72 points as a centre on a line with Jonathan Drouin and Andrew Shaw, so he’s capable of producing offence as a centre.

There are some reasons to dislike Domi though. He’s a pending RFA and will make more than $3 million a season on his next deal, which is a little on the expensive side for a third-line centre. He also doesn’t have a history of playing on the penalty kill, which is something the Oilers should be looking for in a third-line centre.

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I’d imagine that there will be a lot of teams interested in Domi and that will drive up his trade price. There are plenty of reasons to think the Oilers should be interested in Domi, but when you consider the potential acquisition price and how much his next contract will be, I’ll be really surprised if they actually made a deal work.

JARRED MCCANN

I think McCann would be a great fit. He’s a pending RFA and there have been many reports that the Penguins are actively looking to move him. He’s coming off a year that saw him put up 35 points in 66 games, which proved he can produce offence when playing close to a full season (he suited up in 66 games, his most in the last three seasons). He did that while mostly playing with Dominik Kahun and Patric Hornqvist, so it wasn’t like he only played with Malkin or Crosby. In fact, he played with seven other forwards more than he played with either of the Penguin’s two stars.

He can play centre and he can score, the only downside to having McCann as a third-line centre is that he doesn’t play a lot on the penalty kill. He has some experience, but he wasn’t a regular.

As for his contract, he’s a pending RFA with arbitration rights and is coming off a deal that saw him make just $1.25 million a season. He’s due for a raise, but I don’t think he’ll cost nearly as much as someone like Max Domi will.

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I’m not sure what the Penguins would want for McCann, but I’m assuming it would be draft picks, which the Oilers do not have a lot of. That could make to difficult to acquire McCann but if Ken Holland can find a way to make it work, then I think he would be a very good fit.

ALEX KERFOOT

After two seasons in Colorado, where he hit the 40 point mark in both years, Kerfoot was dealt to Toronto and ended up having the worst offensive season of his career, posting just 28 points in 65 games. Now, there are rumours that the Maple Leafs would consider moving Kerfoot as they continue to try and free up cap space to improve their defence. 

You can see why the Oilers, and a lot of other teams, would be interested. Kerfoot is only 26-years-old, so his best hockey is likely still ahead of him. From an Oilers perspective, it would be interesting to add a young third-line centre who has shown in the past that he can produce offence. However, Kerfoot doesn’t have a history of killing penalties, is just average in the faceoff circle, and he shoots left. 

Now, you might sit there and say “well, he’s pretty much the exact same player as Jared McCann and you said he would be a good fit!”

The two of them are very similar but Kerfoot is under contract for three more years at $3.5 million while McCann could probably be signed for somewhere around $2-2.5 million. On top of that, McCann can probably be acquired for a mid-round pick or a late-round pick and a prospect. I would imagine that the Leafs will be looking to get back a defenseman if they trade Kerfoot and I’m not sure if I would part with Adam Larsson for him.

He’s an interesting option, but I’m not sure if he’ll be worth the cost.

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NICK BONINO

I haven’t heard a lot about Nick Bonino potentially being on the block this offseason, but his name has been thrown around before. Predators GM David Poile made some strong comments after the team was eliminated from the playoffs last month and made it sound like there could be some significant changes coming. On top of that, the Predators were one of 17 teams in the league who have made changes to how they’re paying employees during the pandemic. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were open to dealing the 32-year-old Bonino, who has one more year on a contract that carries a $4.1 million cap hit.

If the Predators are looking to cut costs while remaining competitive, I wonder if they would consider a Kris Russell for Nick Bonino swap. After the signing bonuses are paid, Bonino makes $900k more than Russell, so there is some financial incentive for them to consider this deal.

Bonino had 35 points in 67 games and played 174 minutes on the penalty kill this season. He would be a really interesting fit and if the Oilers could bring him in while moving out Russell’s contract, I think it’s a trade that would really improve the team. Would Nashville consider it? Well, that’s a question that I don’t have an answer to. But from an Oiler’s perspective, it’s an interesting idea.

Is there a name I missed? Does one stand out to you? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter! (@tyleryaremchuk)