While there are a couple of holes to fill, the Edmonton Oilers are a pretty good team. In a summer where the NHL Draft is deep, Edmonton should be picking later in the first round and in a typical year, that would be a pick worth moving if the player coming back in a deadline deal fell anywhere in the range of solid potential playoff performer to an impact piece that could help in a stretch run. Maybe not so much this season. This summer, moving that pick requires serious thought.
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With only a handful of names available at this year’s deadline that are real difference makers, and because he’s dealing with a tight salary cap situation, GM Ken Holland should be selective in what he considers trading his best (and maybe only valued) trade piece for. Names like Jakob Chychrun, Jonathan Toews, John Klingberg, Nick Bjugstad, Matt Dumba, Jake McCabe, and a host of other possible targets have been linked to the Oilers. Are any of them worth a first-rounder when looking at Edmonton’s specific situation? If not, is there anyone out there who is?
Your opinion will likely vary. Here’s my personal list:
A Salary-Retained Jakob Chychrun
Chychrun is the big-name defender worth looking at if Holland wants to make a move that will not only help this season but for the next two. He’s got a good value contract, he’s an offensive producer, he eats big minutes, and the Arizona Coyotes are willing to move him in the right deal. That said, the deal needs to be right for the Oilers too.
The right deal is one that doesn’t remove Philip Broberg from the lineup if Holland believes Broberg is a future top-four guy. Instead, Edmonton should deal Brett Kulak, Jesse Puljujarvi, their first-rounder, and maybe a mid-round pick in 2024. Along with an actual first, Puljujarvi is the second first-rounder Arizona might be seeking (the first-round equivalent). Kulak is on a good deal, but he’s expendable with Chychrun on the roster. The later pick is just about sweetening the deal and offering something other teams might not be.
Ideally, the Coyotes retain around $1 million and the Oilers move out $5.75 million in cap space, taking $3.5 back. It solves their cap issues this season and gives them a little money to seek a depth right-winger on a lower salary.
An Extended Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane in the Oilers’ top six sounds marvelous, but not purely as a rental if the ask is high. Sure, he’d be a fit for a playoff run and make the Oilers incredibly dangerous, but then what? Holland would need to know that Kane is willing to extend on a team-friendly deal for at least two more seasons. Unless he’s willing to pull a Paul Kariya, Kane is unlikely to give that commitment to anyone.
Kane was recently approached with a list of teams that were interested but he said he needs more time and will probably make his decision just before the deadline of March 3. Edmonton should stay curious but they’d need to have the ability to talk extension first. Kane is the flashy addition, but shiny and flashy are not always good.
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At 34 years old, if Kane agrees to a two-year extension at a fair value to play with Connor McDavid, he becomes worth giving up the first for. And, if the Oilers are at all worried about a lower-body injury that is said to have hampered Kane a bit this season, they should probably steer clear of this.
A Salary Retained Sam Reinhart
Consistent right-wingers with term on their deal might be hard to find. Targeting a team willing to move that player for pennies on the dollar might be even harder to pinpoint. The Florida Panthers might be one of the few exceptions, assuming they feel cornered by their salary cap situation or things go south for the club and they start to sell.
If the combination of cap issues and feeling a bit panicked with the way their season has gone makes for a prime buying opportunity, this is when the Oilers ought to reach out. If Florida is willing to move Sam Reinhart and retain salary in his deal, Reinhart is a player with huge value if he’s on your team for this and next season at a rate of $4 million or less. He’s got 39 points in 53 games this season and he’s coming off of an 82-point campaign with 33 goals. The trade might need to be bigger that a first for one player with salary retained because Edmonton needs to move money, but this would be the centerpiece of a deal between the two teams. The Oilers might need to make a second move with another club to dump salary.
In the end, many of these trade suggestions might not be feasible and they could be nonstarters for teams looking to sell at the deadline. That’s not the point. The idea here is for the Oilers to hold real value in their first-round pick this season and if they don’t get what they want or need, simply keep it. The Oilers are good. They can afford to be a bit picky.