Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Dream Offseason Forward Targets for the Edmonton Oilers
9 months ago
If I had told you 12 months ago that the Oilers would acquire Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators, you would have called me insane. The veteran defenseman hadn’t even started his four-year extension with the club and the team didn’t look like they were heading towards a rebuild.
It was a total shock that he became available and honestly, it was a little bit surprising that Ken Holland was willing to pay the price for him. The deal has worked wonderfully so far. Ekholm came in and immediately made everyone around him better. Evan Bouchard suddenly started looking like an impact top-four defenseman and both Darnell Nurse and Brett Kulak got better as Ekholm took away some of their tough minutes.
Making a big splash worked out very well for Holland at the deadline and that has me thinking that he could be inspired to do it again this summer.
With this summer’s free agent class being as weak as it is, I would not be surprised if we see more trade activity this summer than we have in past offseasons. If team’s want to make big changes, they’ll need to move out money and trade players off their roster and there is no shortage of teams looking to shake things up.
So, let’s take a stab at identifying some ‘Ekholm-level’ players that the Oilers could target on the trade market this summer.
The cost may be high and these names may seem a tad unrealistic, but hey, anything is possible.
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I’ll start with Wilson because he’s the most famous of the names I’m going to mention. Wilson has a reputation of being one of those players that you hate to play against but would love to have on your team. He gets under the other teams skin, plays a very physical brand of hockey, and he can score.
In the last three seasons, he’s played in 158 games and has scored 50 goals. That’s solid production.
He’s heading into the final year of a deal that pays him $5.1 million against the cap and with the Capitals coming off a season where they missed the playoffs, it’s not crazy to think that they could be open to changing up the look of their aging forward group.
His $5.1 million cap hit would be tough to fit in but you can easily imagine how he would slide into this forward group. Imagine a Kane-Draisaitl-Wilson line. Nasty.
The Philadelphia Flyers are heading toward a long and likely painful rebuild. That means pretty much everyone on their roster is available and I think Ken Holland should be calling about Travis Konecny.
The undersized winger plays much bigger than he is and is a very capable goal scorer.
The guy scored 31 goals in 66 games on a Flyers team that was junk. Can you imagine the kind of success he could have in Edmonton? Also, only five of those goals came on the powerplay with another three coming shorthanded. He could potentially help Edmonton’s penalty kill as well.
He’s signed for two more years at $5.5 million per season, so squeezing that in could be tough and would require the Oilers to find new homes for both Kailer Yamamoto and Warren Foegele. But if Holland can make the money work, Konecny would be a truly unbelievable fit in this Oilers lineup.
Feb 19, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse (67) brings the puck up the ice against Los Angeles Kings left wing Viktor Arvidsson (33)during the second period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
This one is somewhat similar to Ekholm because Crouse signed a multi-year extension not too long ago and is now under contract for four more years with a cap hit of $4.3 million.
Crouse really does seem like a Ken Holland kind of player. He’s 6’4 and 215 pounds and he can score. He’s popped home 20 goals in back-to-back seasons and there’s plenty of reason to think that he could be a 30-goal scorer next to either McDavid or Draisaitl.
At $4.3 million, his cap hit would be the easiest to fit in of all the players on this list which is obviously very tempting. The downside here is that he shoots left. The Oilers are pretty loaded on the left side with Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman (who shoots right but plays the left side), Dylan Holloway, and Warren Foegele. Spending a lot of assets on another left winger doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The biggest hurdle is going to be cap space. If the Oilers want to add a player making more than $4 million next season, they’ll have to move both Foegele and Yamamoto and be okay with running out some cheaper or younger players in their bottom six. Even then, cap space will be very, very tight.
I think that trade-off is probably worth it though. Adding a piece like Wilson or Konecny to the top six would make this Oilers team a lot more dangerous.
It would hurt their ability to upgrade on the blueline and it may mean having to run back Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse as a pairing or having to replace Ceci for under $3 million. It could be worth it though.
What say you? Would you like to see Holland make an ‘Ekholm-style’ trade to bolster the team’s top six?
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