Trade Deadline Possibilities and What-If Scenarios for the Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers Jack Campbell
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
6 months ago
The NHL trade deadline is just under two months away and usually around this time is when speculation really starts to ramp up. That really doesn’t seem to be the case this year, and the parity across the league is a big reason why.
How many teams look like sellers at the moment? 
The Western Conference has three teams that appear down and out: the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks, and the Anaheim Ducks. Those three teams have all been sellers for the past couple of deadlines as well, so they don’t exactly have a lot of quality options that playoff teams would want to acquire.
Out in the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres are both close to the bottom of the conference but I don’t think they consider themselves true sellers at this point. They want to contend and show their fan bases that they’re coming out of their rebuilds. Still, a team like Ottawa will probably be open to moving some pending UFAs before the deadline.
The Montreal Canadiens will likely be a seller, but similar to the three teams I mentioned in the West, the Habs don’t have a lot of quality players to sell off. The Columbus Blue Jackets are probably the only other team in the Eastern Conference that look like guaranteed sellers.
So, right now, there are roughly five or six teams that you could call sellers. The rest of the league still thinks they have a shot at the playoffs and that’s given us a pretty dull start to rumour season.
Frank Seravalli put out his latest trade targets board over at DailyFaceoff.com and there aren’t any players on that list that would really get me excited if I were Oilers GM Ken Holland.
Calgary defenceman Chris Tanev would be an awesome fit in Edmonton, but who knows if the Flames would be willing to help the Oilers load up for a Stanley Cup run and if they were, the price would be very high. Sean Monahan would be a nice add as a third-line centre, and Nick Seeler would be a nice layer of depth to add to the blueline, but that’s about it among the list of around 20 options.
Most contenders around the league are probably going to have to wait until much closer to the deadline for the market to develop a little bit more.
For the Oilers, that’s not the worst thing right now because when you try to think about what their biggest needs are, there are a lot of things that remain unclear.
They could use another top-six winger, but what if Warren Foegele and Ryan McLeod keep on producing next to Leon Draisaitl for the next month? That may force the team to reconsider.
They could use a third-line centre, but if they move McLeod back to the third line and he starts playing well there, then maybe they don’t need to add a piece like that.
They will need to add a forward or two, but what exactly they need isn’t clear right now.
On the blueline, they’ll need to add some depth but do they just need a right-shot who can slot behind Vinny Desharnais on the depth chart and fill in if there’s an injury? Or do they need to go out and upgrade the spot on the top pairing that Cody Ceci currently occupies?
That depends on both the health of the blueline and the play of Ceci. He’s been totally fine next to Darnell Nurse for the bulk of this season and looks a lot more like the Ceci we saw in his first season with the Oilers compared to last year. If he slows down over the next month though, then there will be added pressure on the front office to go get a right-handed version of Mattias Ekholm.
And then there’s the goaltending situation. A lot of people think that finding a good veteran backup for Stuart Skinner should be the top priority but, what if Skinner keeps playing at the level he’s currently at and Calvin Pickard keeps giving them solid starts when needed?
You might laugh at that idea, but those two goalies have been very solid for the last six weeks, and if they continue this level of play, maybe the Oilers will roll the dice with their current duo for the remainder of the season.
Then there’s the biggest ‘what if’ of them all: what are they going to do with Jack Campbell?
As it stands right now, they can really only afford to add players making around $1 million, or close to it. Once they get closer to the deadline, it’ll be easier to add more expensive players since they aren’t operating in LTIR, but still, they’re pretty hamstrung by their cap situation.
If they find someone who is willing to take on Jack Campbell and they don’t need to give up multiple first-round picks to make the trade, then the Oilers could go out and make a major splash ahead of the deadline. 
Right now, there are more ‘what ifs’ than certainties around the league and the Oilers are a prime example of that. What they need and what they can afford to acquire is still unknown and the answers to those questions will become more clear over the next month or so.
Rumour season is just getting started, so buckle up.

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