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Photo Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports

Weekly Rumours – Are the Oilers Interested in a Defenseman?

It’s June 30th, which in the past meant that the first official day of a new NHL season was coming up tomorrow and the first day that unrestricted free agents are open to sign with whatever team they’d like. That’s not the case this season, as the NHL’s adjusted calendar has free agency opening on July 28th.

We are also just under three weeks away from every team’s expansion list being due (July 17th), the expansion draft itself on July 21st, and the NHL Draft on July 23rd. We may not see very many moves in the next week or so, as the Canadiens and Lightning play out the Stanley Cup Final, but things will pick up almost immediately after the Cup is handed out. 

From an Oilers perspective, it’s important to remember that the buyout window also opens up after the final series ends. There is an expectation that the Oilers could be buying out one of Mikko Koskinen or James Neal to create some additional cap space.

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While there may not be any big moves soon, there are still some big rumours floating around. There will be some big names changing teams this summer and that’s where we’ll start with weekly rumours.

TARASENKO DONE IN ST. LOUIS?

In his most recent ‘Ice Breakers’ article, Frank Seravalli reported that Vladamir Tarasenko could be moved this summer. He has two years left on a deal that carries a cap hit of $7.5 million and he also has a full no-movement clause, so he will ultimately decide where he goes. Seravalli did say that he’s given the Blues a list of seven teams that he would waive his NMC for.

When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best goal-scoring forwards in the league. The risk for a team acquiring him is that he’s only played 34 games in the last two seasons due to a nagging shoulder injury. His high cap-hit combined with the injury concerns will really hurt his value.

Whenever a goal-scoring winger becomes available, I immediately wonder if the Oilers will be interested. There’s no denying Tarasenko’s talent, but I don’t see a fit here. I doubt the Oilers are on his list of teams he’d waive for and personally, I’d like to see the Oilers target a player with a lower cap hit.

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OILERS IN ON SOME BLUELINERS?

In his most recent ‘31 Thoughts’ blog, Elliotte Friedman brought up the idea of the Seattle Kraken selecting players in the expansion draft and then trading them at 50% retained to a different team. He specifically mentioned that potentially happening with Matt Dumba from the Wild and Mark Giordano from the Flames.

What’s even more interesting is that he specifically mentioned the Edmonton Oilers as potential targets.

Matt Dumba is a 26-year-old right-handed defenseman who can run a powerplay and give you solid minutes at even-strength. He’s already a valuable asset and if the Kraken retained half of $6 million cap hit, he would command a lot on the trade market.

As for Giordano, he’s got a cap hit of $6.75m for one more year and then he’s a UFA. If the Kraken were to take him and flip him either during the summer or at the deadline at 50% retained, they’d likely get a solid draft pick back for him.

The Oilers being connected to a pair of solid defenseman, albeit at very different points in their careers, is interesting. It might say something about either the health of Oscar Klefbom or their plans for some of their young defensemen. Holland may be more active on the trade market than we’re expecting.

We also got a very interesting report from Elliotte Friedman that the Chicago Blackhawks and Duncan Keith’s camp are working on finding the 37-year-old defenseman a new home. Keith has two more years left on a deal that carries a cap hit of $5.538 million and his play has really taken a dip the last few years.

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Friedman added that it’s a team in the Pacific Northwest or in Western Canada. That means Edmonton is a possibility. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seattle Kraken were interested as well.

From an Oilers perspective, I wouldn’t touch Keith at his current cap hit unless a bad contract like James Neal was going the other way. If the Hawks were to keep half of Keith’s deal and want very little in return, then I’d be a little bit more interested but even then, it’s a risky move. 

It sounds like a move is happening though and considering that Keith has a great reputation but is certainly well past his prime, it will be fascinating to see what the trade ends up looking like.

THE LATEST ON LARSSON

After agreeing to terms with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the next item on Ken Holland’s to-do list could very well be a new deal for Adam Larsson. We’ve really heard nothing but good things about this negotiation and it sounds like there will be a new deal done soon.

Frank Seravalli told TSN 1260 that it could be a three or four-year deal but he wasn’t sure of the money. TSN’s Darren Dreger also added the following on ‘Insider Trading’:

“I believe the Larsson negotiations are into the final stretch and will get done soon. Once Larsson’s deal gets done, then Holland will dive deeper into the off-season, looking for help upfront through free agency and obviously bolstering his goaltending as well.”

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I personally wish the Oilers would wait until after the expansion draft, but that doesn’t seem to be the route they’re going to go.

QUICK NOTES

  • Seravalli is also reporting that both Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Connor Garland of the Arizona Coyotes could be targets for the Boston Bruins. That would be a massive trade but the Bruins are looking for help in both of those areas.
  • Elliotte Friedman threw cold water on the idea of Matthew Tkachuk wanting out of Calgary. Seems like that was a rumour that won’t amount to much.
  • Friedman also mentioned that the New Jersey Devils could make the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft available if it would net them a quality young defenseman. Seth Jones could make sense there. With an asset like that on the block, their bar should be very high.
  • Agent JP Barry told Rick Dhaliwal that he expects Elias Petterson and Quinn Hughes to sign shorter deals with the Canucks this summer, potentially around the five-year range instead of full eight-year extensions.
  • This week on The DFO Rundown, Frank Seravalli said that the Minnesota Wild have interest in Jack Eichel and that interest may be growing. The Wild have the future assets to do it and I’m sure they’d love to get Eichel playing with Calder Trophy Winner Kirill Kaprizov.