Every day I log onto Twitter, like most of you do, and I read all the tweets about the Oilers potentially acquiring Duncan Keith. Sometimes it’s tiring but for the most part, I’ll be honest, I like it. This is the kind of stuff that drove me to want to work in hockey media. Debating potential trades, looking for juicy rumours about who could be going where, and thinking up hypothetical trade scenarios is the kind of stuff I just eat up. The offseason is so much fun.
The idea of the team using $5.5 million of next season’s cap space on Keith is worrisome, but I also get a little bit of a chuckle out of the fans who are already LIVID about the trade, like it already happened. I’m willing to wait until the move is announced before I decide how I feel about Ken Holland.
Still, the talk that the Oilers are going to give up Caleb Jones and another asset to get this deal done is insanity. If Keith comes over, with his cap hit at $5.5 million, and the Oilers give up pieces to get it done, that’s a terrible trade.
Keith has asked Chicago for a trade, has only listed four teams that he’d be interested in going to, and two of those teams aren’t interested. It’s basically either the Oilers or the Kraken. Holland should be making the Hawks bend over backward to get this deal done, not giving up assets in a trade for a player with very little left in the tank.
There is no reason for the Oilers to make a trade that isn’t a clear-cut, slam dunk win in this scenario. It’s really as simple as that.
Now, I also don’t buy that Keith is suddenly a terrible defenseman. He’s just past his prime and needs to play a reduced role. The Oilers could certainly give him that. I also believe a fresh start after a long offseason could be a really good thing for Keith. There is value in having a guy like that on your team and in your locker room, that value is just nowhere close to $5.5 million.
I can see why Ken Holland would want to bring in a player like Keith, he just needs to be very careful when it comes to putting together this trade.
If they don’t get Keith, there are other left-shot options available. Jamie Oleksiak and Alec Martinez are both unrestricted free agents and in the case of Oleksiak specifically, he could be had for much less than $5.5 million. Nik Hjalmarsson is also a free agent and fits the description of a defensively responsible veteran defender who has won a Stanley Cup.
Now, there’s no guarantee that those free agents would come here, which is the risk in going the free-agent route. The point stands though: there are options outside of Duncan Keith, which is another reason why Holland should not overpay here.
The buyout window will open 24 hours after the Stanley Cup is handed out and I believe the Oilers will be active. Ken Holland made it clear at his year-end press conference that a buyout was a possibility. In his most recent article on Daily Faceoff, Frank Seravalli listed James Neal as a buyout possibility for the Oilers. It would come with a penalty of $1.9 million for the next four seasons, but that means the Oilers would save close to $4 million for the next two years. That’s good money to get off the books considering Neal struggled to crack the lineup last season.
That $4 million could get you a lot on the free-agent market.
One other name that Frank listed that really caught my attention was Ben Bishop. The 34-year-old goaltender has battled some injuries for the past year but when he’s been healthy, he’s been very good. He had a save percentage of .916 or better in each of his last three seasons while playing a total of 143 regular-season games over that span.
Now there is risk in acquiring a goalie in his mid-thirties who just missed an entire season, but it’s an idea worth exploring if he hits the market.
While I’m on the topics of goaltending, I would hope that the Oilers are also making a call to the Arizona Coyotes for Darcy Kuemper. The Coyotes are reportedly open to moving him and he comes with a reasonable cap hit of just $4.5 million. If the Coyotes just want prospects or picks, then Edmonton should be interested
Like Bishop, he has battled injuries recently but when he’s in the net, he’s been very good. He also went over and played with Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships this spring, so it would appear as though he is 100% healthy.
One interesting element to this deal is the fact that while Kuemper’s cap hit is $4.5 million, his actual salary is $5.5 million. If the Oilers were to send a draft pick or a prospect along with Mikko Koskinen, the Coyotes would actually save $1 million in real money. There could be a fit here.