As Daniel Nugent-Bowman writes in a recent article for The Athletic, pro scouts for the Edmonton Oilers are meeting Las Vegas on Sunday and making determinations about what the team needs ahead of the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline. He writes, “Much depends on the development of rookies Dylan Holloway, Vincent Desharnais, and Philip Broberg.”
Nugent-Bowman notes that the play of these three rookies will factor in heavily to what GM Ken Holland eventually does, (or does not do) in terms of trades. He writes:
If these three green and cheap players continue their positive development, the Oilers could go forward with them in prominent positions — or at least regular ones — for the duration of the season and beyond. These three players are quite different and could require vastly different types of replacements in the form of veteran players on the trade market.source – ‘Bo Horvat? Jonathan Toews? What I’m hearing on Oilers’ trade deadline plans’ – Daniel Nugent-Bowman – The Athletic – 01/21/2023
Oilers Must Protect the Development of Philip Broberg
Unless the team decides to use Broberg (their best prospect on defense) as trade bait to land the player they’ve identified as a need, Holland must do everything in his power to protect the development of the young defenseman. The Oilers believe he’s got a high ceiling and Nugent-Bowman points out that many in the organization projected he could be as good as Jakob Chychrun by the time this season was over. He’s healthy now and has improved his play and if the team is going to keep him, they need to ensure he plays or is in a position to play next season.
This means not trading for a player like Chychrun if Broberg isn’t going the other way. It means not adding Joel Edmundson from the Montreal Canadiens and burying Broberg because Edmonton needs to find space to accommodate the player’s contract.
It makes sense (if the Oilers intend to use Broberg) that they’ve prioritized a player like Vladislav Gavrikov from the Columbus Blue Jackets. As a pending UFA that is going to be too expensive for the Oilers to keep long-term, he’s an ideal rental and great backup insurance should Broberg falter down the stretch this year.
Oilers Should Prioritize the Homegrown Desharnais
All things being equal, if the Oilers are looking at an inexpensive depth defender with size, they might as well delay a trade as long as they can before the trade deadline and watch closely to see how Vincent Deharnais fares. He’s shown well in a small sample size and, on paper, he is exactly what the Oilers need. That said, he’s still fresh into the NHL and there’s a chance his play could slip.
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He’s playing an elevated role compared to expectations when he was called up and that leaves room for the Oilers to knock him back a couple of minutes per game to see how a reduced role impacts his game. That may not be required, however, as he’s shown how ready he is, has kept his game simple and his size and physicality are something the Oilers are absolutely digging right now.
Dylan Holloway is the Big Question Mark
It’s not so much that Dylan Holloway’s future is in question in Edmonton. The question is how much he can impact the roster this season. He’s shown signs of late that he’s figuring out the game and at times, he’s looked dangerous in limited minutes. If he can elevate his game even more, there might not be as dire a need to add depth in the top nine.
Holloway’s play, in a manner of speaking, gives the Oilers an opportunity to make a bigger deadline splash. If Broberg can continue to play at a high level, Nugent-Bowman notes that the team’s priority switches to finding a strong “brand-name” center. Even though the team has what many consider the top-three centers in the NHL, the Oilers see an opportunity to potentially grab another impact pivot and names like Bo Horvat and Jonathan Toews have popped up.
The reason this potentially impacts Hollway is that Edmonton only pulls the trigger on center if they feel the need to keep Leon Draisailt and Connor McDavid on the same line. Moving Draisailt to the wing opens a spot for another center and adding one means another winger stands in the way of Holloway’s progression this season. That is, unless the Oilers trade a player like Warren Foegele.
Moving Foegele to free up cap space opens up a winger spot that Holloway could fill. The Oilers might want to know that he can do so with regularity.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”