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Weekly Rumours – Oilers Unlikely To Make A Big Splash?

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for another edition of Weekly Rumours! We are inching closer and closer to what my good friend Baggedmilk calls “silly season” and this offseason could just be the silliest we’ve seen in a while.

While there is a lot of speculation around whether or not the Edmonton Oilers will make any big splashes, OEG President Bob Nicholson told Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer the team might not make any big splashes this coming offseason.

“We’ve got two of the best players in the world and we’re not going to make huge changes but Ken will tinker with this line-up and make us a better hockey club and maybe, more importantly, get us to where we’re more consistent, so maybe not just one year but a number of years ahead of us,” said Nicholson.

To me, I don’t think this means that the Oilers won’t be trying to improve their team this offseason, I think this just means that GM Ken Holland doesn’t feel pressured to make a big swing. The team has been connected to Oliver Ekman-Larsson and some fans are wondering whether or not they can squeeze in a free agent like Alex Pietrangelo or Taylor Hall. This quote from Nicholson makes me think it’s very unlikely that the Oilers bring in a big-money player this offseason and honestly, I think that’s for the best.

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The cap is going to be staying flat for the next couple of years and the Oilers don’t have a lot of flexibility, I think it’s best for them to stay away from some of the really expensive names on the market. 

Here are some other big pieces of news and interesting rumours from around the NHL:

NEW HOME FOR PIETRANGELO?

Dec 18, 2019; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) and Edmonton Oilers right wing Zack Kassian (44) fight during the third period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after I posted last week’s rumours blog, news came out that the Blues and Pietrangelo had hit a wall in their negotiations and that the star defenseman was going to be hitting the open market.

First, let me say that I don’t think he’ll be coming to Edmonton. The Oilers would have to move out a lot of salary and I’m not sure if I’d like to see them pay Pietrangelo over $8 million a season into his mid-thirties. With that being said, there is reportedly a chance that he comes to western Canada.

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Pierre LeBrun was asked which teams could be most aggressive in their pursuit of Pietrangelo and he mentioned the Flames, Leafs, and Golden Knights. The Flames have the most cap space out of those three teams and when you consider the fact that Travis Hamonic and TJ Brodie are both currently unrestricted free agents, it’s easy to see why the Flames could go hard after Pietrangelo.

The Leafs would need to clear out some money to make it work and honestly, I wonder if Pietrangelo is good enough to make them consider moving William Nylander. That would solve their money problems very quickly and they would get a very good haul. If they don’t want to move Nylander, they would probably have to trade both Andreas Johnsson and Alex Kerfoot to make room for Pietrangelo.

As for the Golden Knights, I can’t see them finding the money to sign Pietrangelo. They’re going to have a hard enough time re-signing Robin Lehner. For them to sign another free agent to a big money contract, they would have to find someone to take Marc-Andre Fluery’s entire $7 million cap hit and would probably have to find a new home for Paul Stastny and his $6.5 million price tag.

Calgary makes a lot of sense and that is not good news for the Oilers. I could also see the Philadelphia Flyers being interested in Pietrangelo.

DEFENSEMAN ON THE MARKET

Aside from Pietrangelo, there are a handful of other quality defensemen on the market. Matt Dumba is near the top of the list. The Wild just signed Jonas Brodin to a long-term extension and now there’s talk that Dumba could be on the move.

Winnipeg needs to add a defenseman and they have some quality forward they could move to make that happen. The Jets and Wild could be a really nice fit.

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We’ve heard that Vancouver could be interested but earlier in the week, Ray Ferraro connected them to another name. When asked about the possibility of adding Dumba, Ferraro wondered if someone like Damon Severson might make a little bit more sense. He’s under contract for three more years at a cap hit of $4.166 million and wouldn’t cost as much to acquire as Dumba. If the Devils are actually open to moving him, there will be no shortage of suitors.

Shayne Gostisbehere has had his name thrown around the rumour mill a bit this week. He’s under contract for three more years at $4.5 million and while a 27-year-old offensive defenseman usually generates a lot of interest, Gostisbehere has been inconsistent over the last few seasons and that hurts his trade value. If they want a shot at Pietrangelo though, they might need to just take what they can get for ‘Ghost’.

All these defensemen on the market tells me that the Oilers would be wise to hold on to the likes of Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, and Adam Larsson. There are just too many options on the market and I don’t think this offseason is a good time to be moving a defenseman. 

QUICK NOTES

  • The Penguins have been very busy over the last few weeks and it doesn’t sound like they’re going to slow down. They signed Jarred McCann last week but there is still chatter that they could still move him. There is also talk that Jim Rutherford wants to explore adding pending free agent defenseman Chris Tanev and if he wants to do that, he’ll need to continue shedding salary.
  • There have been a few reports of the Penguins being willing to move Bryan Rust. He’s a legitimate top-six winger who has two more years with a cap hit of $3.5 million. If he’s available, Ken Holland should make a call. If the Penguins are looking to get a cheap young forward in return, would they be interested in Jesse Puljujarvi?
  • Elliotte Friedman says there are legitimate issues between the Jets and Laine. There’s a real chance that the young winger gets moved this offseason and that’s really hard for me to believe. He’s only 22-years-old and he’s proven already that he can be an elite goal scorer. That’s the type of player organizations should be keeping around. The Jets reportedly think it could be difficult to sign him once his current deal expires which makes sense considering how the last negotiation went. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Islanders and Canadiens were among the many teams interested in him.