Kris Letang: How Edmonton Can Strike Oil

Kris Letang

(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Lately, there has been speculation that Craig MacTavish and the Edmonton Oilers may traded the seventh overall pick. I am not a fan of the move. Well, I was not a fan of the move.

The Oilers need help on defense, everybody knows that, and there are a lot of talented defensemen in this draft. Players like Darnell Nurse and Nikita Zadorov, but what if you could just acquire an already proven, talented NHL blueliner. Well, that could be a decision that MacTavish should consider seeing at who is being shopped around.

Rumor has it that the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to ship defenseman Kris Letang elsewhere. That elsewhere could be to the Great White North in Edmonton. I think that would definitely shore up the defense, eh?

The Penguins are asking for Jeff Petry, the seventh overall pick, and a young forward in order to land the Norris Trophy finalist. A high asking price, sure, but it is something that MacTavish should seriously consider pulling the trigger on. Letang is a player in the prime of his game. He is 26 and was the only defenseman this season to average a point per game. In short, Letang is a top notch defenseman.

MacTavish’s reported draft strategy may be just drafting the best overall player on the board. That player may or may not be  a defenseman, something the Oilers desperately need. So, instead of drafting another young forward on a team rich with them, you might as well use that seventh pick as a chip to go after some proven players, i.e. Kris Letang.

The Oilers would have to give up Jeff Petry, the Oilers number four defenseman, but it’s only fair if you are receiving

Magnus Paajarvi Oilers

Could Magnus Paajarvi make this trade work?(Icon SMI)

Letang in return. The Penguins also want a young forward, but who exactly? If Ray Shero is talking about a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Nail Yakupov, then you call the deal off. You need defense, but not at the expense of mortgaging the future of the team. Even Sam Gagner would be too rich for my blood. If they want someone like Toni Rajala, the Oklahoma City Baron who really came on throughout the season, then by all means make the trade.

I’d also be willing to throw in a Magnus Paajarvi to make the trade work. Hey, it would help out both the Oilers and the Pittsburgh Penguins in this scenario.

Some arguments against Letang joining the Oilers are very valid. Letang would almost assuredly be paired with Justin Schultz as the top defensive pair in Edmonton. One problem though, Letang and Schultz’s skill set are almost identical. Both players are right sided defensemen with great offensive ability. That’s all fine and great, but you really don’t want another offensive defenseman on a team that really needs to shore up it’s defense.

It is a high asking price for getting another player of the same skill set, but the reported package offered would almost be too much for the Oilers to give up.

Too Rich for Edmonton’s Blood?

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin did not record a point in four games of the Eastern Conference Finals.(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

These guys could be the reason Letang leaves the Steel City (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Why would Pittsburgh be willing to give up a talented player in Kris Letang anyway? Well, money. Letang is looking for a big contract and the Penguins, who already have money invested in Sidney Crosby ($8.7MM), Evgeni Malkin ($9.5MM), James Neal, and Marc-Andre Fleury (both $5MM), just can’t give what Letang wants.

So, enter Edmonton. Edmonton has some problems with the cap as well. All of the young talent that the Oilers have comes at a price and the window is only open for so long before they are seriously strapped for cash and have to let go of some talent.

Pittsburgh is prepared to give Letang $6 million a year. If Letang doesn’t want that, how could the Oilers afford to give him a lucrative deal and still be conscious about the team’s future? This is something that MacTavish has to make a decision on, win now or set up for the future? I’d say the latter rather than the former simply because of the moves that the Oilers have made so far in coaching.

Dallas Eakins is a coach who is known for developing players given his great track record within the Maple Leafs organization. This move was made clearly for the future of the Edmonton Oilers rather than a “win-now” mindset. If the Oilers were a “win-now” type team, they would have gone after some big fish like Lindy Ruff, John Tortorella, or Alain Vigneault. Edmonton is building for the future and must be careful about future contracts.

Edmonton has the pieces to make a trade go through, but not necessarily the cash to make it work. Parts of the trade make sense, like trading the seventh pick for a proven stud in the NHL, and parts don’t make any sense, like the potential contract and having the same type of defenseman in the same pairing. Craig MacTavish I’m sure will make the best he feels is best for Edmonton and all I can say is, I’m glad I’m not making this decision.


What do you feel like the best move for Edmonton is? Comment or sent me a Tweet, @MarkWGraham

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  • BEn

    Oilers don’t do it, We don’t need anther offensive D. Petry is a good puck mover and second pairing guy, Schultz is a future top pairing offensive guy, just picked up Belov, Marincin in the wings. What we need is a big physically imposing number one to play alongside Schultz. I think the value is there though.


    Oilers fans don’t to hear it, but in all likelihood a deal for Letang would involve one of Hall, Eberle, or Yakupov. The idea that this would be mortgaging the Oilers future, as the author put it, is pretty absurd. Letang is a top 10 defenseman in the game and just turned 26. He is one of the most valuable assets in the league, and Edmonton is not going to be acquire him with heaps of unknown quantities like draft picks and prosects that, even if they pan out, won’t make an impact for several years down the road. That’s not the kind of deal an annual Stanley Cup contender makes.

    If Edmonton feels a deal involving one of their stars is too much, so be it. You have to give to get, and Pittsburgh can find a better deal that doesn’t handicap their short term outlook if Edmonton isn’t willing to put their most prized assets in play.

    • Jose

      Good comment. I don’t think the Oilers would do Yakupov, Petry and a 1st for Letang, but who knows. I’m pretty sure that they won’t be getting him for the package listed here. I wouldn’t be surprised with a deal like that, or a deal involving Smid++

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  • Jose

    It’s going to cost more than Petry, the 7th pick and a young forward. Think something along the lines of:

    Smid, Paajarvi, Musil and the #7 pick for Letang

    Don’t want to pay that? Fine, I’m pretty sure the Pens can find someone who will.

    • Jose

      That is, unless that young forward is Yakupov or someone like that. I doubt the Pens would ask for him though, too much.