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The Oilers interest in Connor Brown, the value of Blake Wheeler, and Taylor Hall

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Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
9 months ago
Connor Brown has to end up in an Oilers jersey, right?
It’s been over a year of rumours linking these two sides together and the fit is just too perfect. We know the Oilers are interested in him and that interest dates back to last summer when according to Bob McKenzie, a trade was close.
 
And now we have Brown himself talking about his interest in becoming an Oiler on Luke Gazdic’s podcast.
Now, in Frank Seravalli’s Top 50 Free Agents list, Brown’s AFP projection is a four-year deal worth $3.3 million per season. The Oilers likely couldn’t afford a deal that large this season, especially with the reports that the cap is staying at $83.5 million. So how can they make it work? The answer is a one-year deal with heavy bonuses.
Since Brown spent a lot of time on LTIR last season, he’s eligible to sign a one-year deal that comes with bonuses attached to it. The Oilers could hypothetically sign Brown for the league minimum and attach a bunch of bonuses to it and if he hits them, they would be applied to the 2024-25 salary cap, which could be north of $90 million according to Seravalli.
For Brown, if you’re looking to rebuild some value and then cash in next summer when the salary cap spikes, there’s no better spot to do it than in Edmonton. His personal relationship with McDavid should only help the Oilers in this situation as well.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Feb 25, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Taylor Hall (71) skates with the puck the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
I’m starting this conversation with some thoughts on the Winnipeg Jets. There are some rumblings that they may need to go the buyout route with former Captain Blake Wheeler. I find it hard to believe that if they were willing to eat 50%, they wouldn’t find a taker for him.
His cap hit is $8.25 million next season and a buyout would turn his cap hit to $2.75 for two more seasons. It would also cost the Jets $5.5 million in real dollars, so it’s a better all-around move for them to just keep 50% of it and find a taker.
I’m not sure if the Oilers are a good trade fit for Wheeler, even at 50% retained, but if for whatever reason the Jets were to buy him out, then I think there could be a fit in Edmonton.
The Oilers need help on the right side and we know that Ken Holland never shys away from a chance to add size to his teams. Wheeler is a 6’5, right-winger and while his best days are certainly behind him, if his cap hit was only $2-3 million, I think he could bring some value to the team. 
The reported locker room issues are a bit of a concern, but again, on a bargain contract, it would be interesting.
It also seems like the market for Connor Hellebuyck is starting to heat up and according to Insider Trading, there is mutual interest between the perennial Vezina Trophy finalist and the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils have Vitek Vanacek and Akira Schmid on their roster right now, so one would have to go the other way. They do have a bunch of really attractive future assets that the Jets should find appealing, so I could see this being a fit.
Mike McKenna also listed the Kings, Penguins, Hurricanes, and Senators as other potential destinations.
Now, I know some of you will be mad that the Oilers aren’t mentioned in that group, but it’s just not realistic. If Hellebuyck won’t sign in Winnipeg, then assuming he won’t sign in Edmonton isn’t a reach. On top of that, it would take serious future assets to bring him in and a boatload of cap space to get him signed. The Oilers really just can’t afford to do it.
Last, I’ll wrap up with a note on Taylor Hall. Seravalli said today on Daily Faceoff Live that there are rumblings that Bruins GM Don Sweeney has offered Hall around the league for nothing. They’re just trying to get rid of his contract, which carries a $6m cap hit and has two years remaining on it.
He scored 16 goals in 61 games this past season and I don’t think his contract is that terrible, but with a good portion of the league tight up against the cap, it’s easy to see why Boston could have a hard time finding a taker.
Here are some teams that I personally think could make sense: Buffalo, Detroit, Arizona, Chicago.
The first three teams have cap space, need scoring, and want to take a step forward next season. If Hall is available for next to nothing, they should jump.
Chicago isn’t looking to contend, but they need to surround Connor Bedard with experienced players who can score. Taylor Hall can do that.
As for a reunion with the Oilers, it’s not realistic. I would love it for the vibes alone, but they can’t afford a $6m winger sadly. Maybe next summer.

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