Offseason Mode, the Kassian Buyout, and NHL News Week
Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
3 months ago
The Oilers are in their Stanley Cup window. Whether you think the team as it’s currently constructed can get the job done is one thing, but the fact is that the goal right now is to win the Stanley Cup. Having future pieces and high-end prospects is nice, but this team’s main focus should be on surrounding Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl with as much help as possible for the next two seasons.
Now, the risk is that you could one day be in the position that a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins is in. That’s a team that has close to nothing in its system and is desperately trying to keep its competitive window open. But they have a handful of Stanley Cup rings and their risks were ultimately worth it.
If you’re the Oilers, even if the risks don’t pay off and you don’t win, wouldn’t you rather be sitting there knowing you did everything you could for this core versus wondering what could have happened if you made one more big trade?
Their top fix forwards are all locked up, they have young roster pieces like Dylan Holloway, Ryan McLeod, and Philip Broberg and their system isn’t exactly barren when it comes to prospects. They can afford to trade more picks in order to make next year’s team as competitive as possible.
That is a very longwinded way of me saying this: Ken Holland should be open to moving his second-round pick this year and his first-round pick next season to improve this team.
I don’t think that the mindset should be to just trade those picks for the best possible piece available next week at the draft, but there should be a willingness to engage. Those two pieces will still have value at the trade deadline and that’s something the Oilers need to keep in mind.
A player like Mattias Ekholm wasn’t available last summer, but he became available during the season. That same situation could play out again this year. Names like Brett Pesce and Travis Konecny are very tempting, but could there be an even bigger or better name available in season? It’s totally possible and that’s a read that Holland will have to make.
If Holland moves his first-round pick in 2024 this offseason, then they’ll probably have a tough time making a truly impactful trade at next year’s deadline. If they move the second-round pick on the draft floor, then there’s one less prospect in the cupboard that they can use as trade bait ahead of the deadline, as they did with Reid Schaefer this past season.
It really is a delicate balance. You can’t go out and just make the first trade that becomes available because you only have so many bullets that you can use. At the same time, the Oilers can’t be prospect huggers. They need to be willing to move on from basically anything in their system that isn’t bringing value to the NHL team in 2023 or 2024.
It may result in some lean years down the line, but they can’t afford to let these next two seasons pass by without being able to say that they did everything in their power to win a Stanley Cup.
A KASSIAN REUNION?
Mar 26, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers right wing Zack Kassian (44) against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
I knew this question would get floated out the second I saw the buyout news come across my Twitter feed. The answer is simple and it’s no.
In the last three seasons, Kassian has played in 136 regular season games and only has ten goals. His best days are behind him and while I understand that some people think it would be a risk-free move to bring him in at league minimum for a season, I don’t think the Oilers should risk clogging up their organizational depth chart.
Klim Kostin gives the team toughness and a scoring touch in their bottom six, so it’s not like the Oilers are really lacking all that much in that department. There isn’t a need for Kassian in Edmonton. Keep spots open for young players or simply find a player with more upside in free agency than Kassian would bring.
Dec 21, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Kailer Yamamoto (56) and left wing Warren Foegele (37) celebrate after Foegele scores a goal against the Dallas Stars during the third period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
There are a few things that we could see break in the next seven days leading up to the draft.
The first is a trade for Kailer Yamamoto, which seems like the most likely. Frank Seravalli says that the Oilers will be able to find a taker for Yamamoto if they want to give him up for nothing so it seems like it’s just a matter of time before they pull the trigger on that.
Frank also has Warren Foegele and Cody Ceci on his trade targets board.
The second thing would be deals for pending RFA’s. I think the most likely player that we see signed this week is Klim Kostin, simply because his contract should be the easiest to negotiate. I don’t believe any of the rumours that he will go back to the KHL. It’s my belief that if he wanted to do that, he would have already signed with a team in Russia.
Ryan McLeod’s deal is a little bit more complicated, but there should be enough mutual interest to get that deal done relatively quickly, but I wouldn’t be stunned if it bled into July.
Evan Bouchard is obviously the more complicated one. All signs point towards this being a one-year deal worth around $3 million but if the Oilers can clear up enough cap space, maybe they could offer Bouchard enough to reconsider a longer bridge deal.
Should be a wild week around the NHL and while the Oilers likely won’t be at the centre of any big moves, they still could make some headlines.
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