If the first five weeks of this season has shown us anything, it’s that the Edmonton Oilers are more than one piece away from their roster being ready to truly compete for the Stanley Cup. That’s a problem. It’s also a problem that Ken Holland will have to go find multiple pieces with basically no cap space.
And I’ll stop you before we do the whole “keep Evander Kane on LTIR” song and dance. As of right now, that isn’t an option.
So who are the pieces out there that the Oilers could realistically acquire?
Frank Seravalli dropped his first trade targets list of the season earlier this week on Daily Faceoff and the first name that jumped off the page to me was Jonathan Toews. All this guy does is win and at a time when we’re all starting to wonder just how much this team is missing Duncan Keith’s presence on the blue line, it’s easy to daydream about the impact that a player like Toews could have on the forward group.
Imagine almost always having one of McDavid, Draisaitl, or Toews on the ice.
Now, I’m well aware that he is not the same player that he was when he was powering the Blackhawks to multiple Stanley Cups, he is having a tremendous bounceback season for the Hawks. He looks rejuvenated and I feel like a trade to a contender would spark him even more.
Is he truly a realistic trade target for the Oilers though? I asked Seravalli that the other day on my daily live show, Oilersnation Everyday.
“It’s not a pipe dream. It’s a realistic target. I think for Ken Holland and the Edmonton Oilers, ultimately at the end of the day we’ve talked about this team needing more punch in their bottom six and needing to get a little tougher. Potentially maybe a piece here or there but it’s really still a centre position that the Oilers are honed in on”.
Again, this is where I jump in to tell you that I believe this team needs to make 3 additions to their roster before the deadline. A defenseman, a centreman, and a hard-forechecking bottom-six winger.
Seravalli continued on to give a little bit more insight into the idea of acquiring Toews.
“March 3rd is a long time away. You could see some changes pop up between now and then. But Jonathan Toews is someone who’s really gotten teams excited again… he’s someone that not only has the experience but also has a little bit of edge and bite in his game. You could transform the Oilers lineup with him added to that group down the middle.”
I agree Mr. Seravalli. But would Toews be interested in coming to Edmonton?
“It’s a really interesting question. I don’t know the answer to that but I wonder if having someone like Duncan Keith in your organization to help tell you what it would be like helps you lay some of that groundwork to give you a leg up”.
He added that there will be other teams interested and listed the Colorado Avalanche as a team that will be sniffing around. That will increase the cost to get the Blackhawks Captain.
Earlier this season, I thought Toews could be had for a couple of mid-round picks. It felt like he would almost be a good buy-low candidate. His strong play this season has likely changed that though.
I don’t think he’ll command the type of return that Claude Giroux did at last season’s trade deadline, but I could see it taking at least one significant asset, or something close to it.
The other big hurdle is his cap hit. He carries a $10.5m AAV and that will be a challenge for any team that wants to acquire him. A third team will almost certainly have to get involved if the Oilers are going to acquire him, and that will mean Holland will have to part with another asset.
Toews = great fit. That’s the bottom line in my opinion.
You can find my full hit with Frank here:
There are some other names on Frank’s list that I like. Vlad Gavrikov in Columbus is a shutdown defenseman who I think could make this team better, although I’m still holding out hope for the Seattle Kraken to fall out of the race and make Carson Soucy available.
Jonathan Willis floated the idea of acquiring Kasperi Kapanen, who is also on Frank’s list.
I think the Oilers if they move Puljujarvi, should do it as part of a package deal where they get a proven player back. I’m not sure if I love the idea of flipping him for another struggling player who has more term on his deal. The idea of Kapanen finding his groove here would be very tempting though.
Finally, let’s talk about Ryan Reaves. The enforcer was flipped to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick yesterday and I know some of you would have loved to see him here, but it was never a fit in my opinion.
The Oilers need toughness, yes, but they need it in the form of players who skate fast, have a physical side to their game, and are difficult to play against. They also need players who can help out in the scoring department and on their penalty kill. Reaves doesn’t score or kill penalties.
On top of that, you wonder about his history with Evander Kane and how that would play out in the room.
And on top of THAT, he also carries a $1.75 million cap hit and the Oilers couldn’t afford to bring that in without money going out the door. It was just never a fit.
The other thing I should say here: things will get better if the player’s current players start playing up to their potential. I’ll have more on that today on my live show.