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Konecny is Not What Edmonton Needs Now

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Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
8 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers’ main need is not another $5.5m winger. Travis Konecny is a very good player, but scoring goals isn’t an issue in Edmonton. Limiting them is.
The Oilers’ main weakness during the Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl era has been the team’s inability to limit goals against at 5×5. Here’s how Edmonton has ranked in 5×5 GA between 2016 to 2023: 30th, ninth, 26th, 24th, 26th, 21st, 19th and 17th. They’ve been in the top half of the league once.
They have finished 20th, eighth, 11th, 25th, 16th, eighth, 11th and fifth in goals for 5×5 in the same span.
Scoring goals is not a problem in Edmonton and it won’t be with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the prime of their careers. The players outlined the main areas they need to improve after their disappointing six-game series loss to Vegas: Be more consistent defensively, be more comfortable winning low scoring games, and stop beating themselves with bad turnovers.
Offence was never mentioned, because it isn’t a concern.
I understand why some believe Konecny would help the Oilers. He scored 31 goals and 61 points in 60 games last season. He’s scored 24 goals in three other seasons. He’s been very consistent producing 47-61 points in each of the past six years. He would fill out their top six nicely, but having $42.25m tied up in your top-six forwards, when you’ve struggled to limit goals, wouldn’t be the ideal roster construction. Unless you feel the Oilers are going to be able to improve their blue line by adding players with low AAV, I don’t see why Konecny would be the first move you’d make.
Maybe at the trade deadline, after you’ve filled out the rest of the roster, and there is still a void on right wing, then I’d look at adding a top-six right winger. Maybe they could add a player similar to Ivan Barbashev at the deadline like Vegas did. They acquired him for Zachary Dean. Dean was the 30th pick in the 2021 draft. He will turn pro this season after a breakout 19-year-old campaign in the QMJHL where he had 33 goals and 70 points in 50 regular season games and added 26 points in 13 playoffs games. He might become a player, but Vegas will win the Cup, and Barbashev has 17 playoff points heading into game five tonight. Even if Dean pans out the trade was more than worth it for Vegas.
Right shot wingers who would currently be pending UFAs at the 2024 trade deadline include: Tom Wilson, Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Hartman, Blake Wheeler, Viktor Arvidsson, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Toffoli, Jordan Eberle.
There are others like William Nylander, Joe Pavelski, Sam Reinhart and Jonathan Marchessault, who today don’t seem likely to be available, but what if their team has an off year?
Or there are left shot forwards who can play the right side like Jake Debrusk, Anthony Beauvillier, Mats Zuccarello, Nino Niederreiter, Victor Olofsson, Teuvo Teravainen and Anthony Mantha.
There will be options at the trade deadline. There always are — how many people though Mattias Ekholm would be available this past deadline?
I like Konecny. He’s a solid player who scores at 5×5 and can kill penalties, but he doesn’t play defence. If Edmonton is looking to add a $5.5m player it should be on the blue line first.

NEWS AND NOTES…

  • The Oilers are having their pro scouting meetings this week in BC. They are meeting for a few days and then end the week with golf on Friday. One main topic will be Kailer Yamamoto. I think he can be a solid third line player, but his cap hit doesn’t match with that slot and the Oilers’ lineup right now. I’d expect Ryan McLeod to sign for $2m, maybe more, and if you played McLeod, Yamamoto and Warren Foegele as a third line it would be good. But it would be expensive at over $8m. Ideally the Oilers will trade Yamamoto, and not buy him out, but he’s only 24 and can be bought out at 1/3 of his salary, which means his cap hit would drop from $3.1m this season to $433K and then $533K of dead cap space next year. A buyout is a viable option, but not their first choice.
  • Derek Ryan wanted to remain in Edmonton and agreed to a $350k pay cut at $900,00. He did get a second year, but with his cap hit being that low he could be sent to the AHL and not count against the cap. Ryan is a very smart player. Good hands, versatile, can win faceoffs and he’s always in great shape. He was top-five in conditioning among Oilers players last year. I see very little downside to this signing.
  • It sounds more and more like Nick Bjugstad won’t be returning. He will test free agency and after scoring 17 goals he will likely command more than the Oilers want to spend for a fourth line centre. Devin Shore will also not be returning.
  • The Oilers are a legitimate Cup contending team. Veterans looking to sign for cheap on a team with a realistic chance to win will consider Edmonton. We’ve seen many players do that in the recently, and I wonder about players like Nick Foligno, Corey Perry or Zach Parise. Parise scored 21 goals last year with the Islanders with a $750K cap hit. He is still getting huge money from Minnesota. Edmonton doesn’t need to go big-game hunting in free agency. Ken Holland would like to find a few value contracts to fill out the bottom six.
  • Losing in consecutive seasons to the eventual Stanley Cup winner isn’t that rare. Since the league went to four seven-game series in 1987 there have been 25 teams who have lost in consecutive seasons to the Cup winner. The Islanders lost to Tampa in the third round in 2020 and 2021. Boston lost to St. Louis in the 2019 final and to Tampa in the second round in 2020. Edmonton is a contender, but don’t overrate the fact they lost two years in a row to the Cup winner. That means nothing when next season begins.
  • I don’t expect the Ottawa Senators sale to impact the Oilers and Steve Staios this summer. The deal likely won’t be completed until late in the summer or early fall. Ken Holland stated in his end of season press conference he expects Staios to take on more jobs of an assistant general manager this season. It makes sense. It allows Staios more on-the-job training. He is currently with the Oilers for their pro scout meetings in BC. Would he leave in September, for instance, if Michael Andlauer offers him the GM job. He might, but it would be an odd time to hire a GM.

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