Which forward should the Edmonton Oilers include in a potential Erik Karlsson trade?

Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
7 months ago
Welcome back to ̶O̶i̶l̶e̶r̶s̶ Karlssonnation!
I’ve pledged to write an article every day this week (and maybe next week, too) about Erik Karlsson and the Edmonton Oilers. Yesterday, I looked at if Evan Bouchard should be included in a deal. Today, we’ll take a look about which forward the Oilers should include in a deal. 
For the Oilers to make this trade work, they have to move out salary cap. Even with Erik Karlsson retained at 40%, the Oilers would need to move out $7-million in order to make it work.
Tyson Barrie is the logical option on the backend, but it also means the Oilers need to move out a forward, too. Jesse Puljujarvi is the sensible option here for many reasons namely the fact the Oilers are already looking to move on from him and give him some fresh scenery. San Jose would provide that where he could slide in and play a bunch of top-nine minutes. I’m still a fan of Puljujarvi’s game and even with the offence not coming this season, he’s remained a very effective disruptor providing defence at a 10 percent rate above league average, according to hockeyviz.com. A UFA at the end of the year, San Jose could then decide if they want to re-sign him, or let him walk. The truth is Puljujarvi just might not have a ton of value right now. It’s worth considering.
Another option would be Warren Foegele and his $2.75-million deal. Signed through next season, Foegele’s been a fairly disappointing player since he arrived in a trade ahead of the 2021-22 season. He’s drawn in for 39 games this year scoring seven goals and 12 points but this is, after all, a guy who has put up 30 points before. According to hockeyviz.com, he’s provided offence at a five percent rate above league average and defence at a three percent rate above league average. He’s a decent player, but doesn’t overly excel in any area. He’s probably a bit overpaid, and has another year left on his deal. He’d fill a similar role to Puljujarvi, so let’s theorize the interest is tepid.
One player, however, that I think would be of interest to the San Jose Sharks more than these two is Kailer Yamamoto. From an Oilers’ perspective, this might make the most sense for them. To summarize what Jason Gregor wrote the other day, moving Yamamoto with Puljujarvi leaving in a separate deal, or in free agency, would open up $6.1-million in cap space for the Oilers this offseason. Yamamoto’s a tough player to get a read on for me. He’s dogged on pucks, but he’s not an overly skilled player. His strength is in getting loose pucks to his teammates, but he isn’t a strong finisher nor is he particularly strong at setting his teammates up. He did score 41 points last year, but was a very streaky player. On a 5×5 points per hour base this season, Yamamoto (1.54) is being outscored by other depth pieces in Ryan McLeod (1.78) and Klim Kostin (1.85) — the latter of whom who has gone pointless in eight games. For the Sharks, Yamamoto would be an interesting addition. He’s shown an ability to produce in the past and would be able to step into their top-six and play big minutes.
From an Oilers perspective, I think the Sharks would value Yamamoto over the other two. Puljujarvi could either be traded for other depth pieces or retained through the rest of the year as a rental player of their own. I still think he can play. It would also free up a good amount of cap space for the Oilers to fill holes in the offseason and could help lower the cost for Karlsson. They’ve had moderate success finding players to play in depth roles, and there are some bigger name veteran players hitting free agency this offseason.
Could Ken Holland convince any to come to Edmonton on a cheap deal?
Got any Erik Karlsson related questions? I’m doing a Karlsson Q&A on Thursday where I’ll answer your questions. You can reply to me on Twitter, here, or drop a note in the comment section below. 

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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