The Edmonton Oilers are expected to have a busy offseason, hoping to make changes to their roster but without much cap space to work with. As a result, several players have been caught up in the rumor mill. Although the Chicago Blackhawks are rebuilding, they should take advantage of this and engage in trade talks with the Oilers this summer. Here are three Oilers who the Blackhawks should be targeting.
Jesse Puljujarvi’s future with the Oilers is in jeopardy. The pending restricted free agent (RFA) has become a fixture in trade rumors and is expected to be moved this summer. Ryan Rishaug of TSN recently reported that four teams are “kicking tires” about the 2016 first-round pick, so a market is starting to form. So far, it hasn’t been confirmed that the Blackhawks are linked to him, but he’s the kind of winger they should take a run at.
Although the Blackhawks are rebuilding, Puljujarvi seems like a strong fit. He is coming off the best season of his five-year career, setting career-highs with 14 goals and 22 assists in 65 regular-season games. At just 24 years old, he can still improve as he gains more experience. He would fit marvelously in the top six of a weaker team like the Blackhawks. He has the potential to get first-line minutes and would certainly be utilized on their power play.
In terms of an offer for Puljujarvi, perhaps the Blackhawks could send Dominik Kubalik the other way. The Oilers were interested in Kubalik before this year’s trade deadline, and they could consider targeting him again. Although he had a down year in 2021-22, he is only two years removed from a 30-goal season, and a one-for-one swap could be beneficial for all parties involved.
Elliotte Friedman said in his most recent 32 Thoughts piece the Oilers might also consider trading Warren Foegele this offseason. Edmonton acquired the 26-year-old winger from the Carolina Hurricanes last summer and immediately signed him to a three-year, $8.25 million contract. The expectation was that the Unionville native would be a solid middle-six option; however, his first season with the team did not go well, and a move could be on the way because of it.
In 82 games during the 2021-22 regular season, Foegele scored 12 goals and 26 points. Those numbers were low for his standards, and things got far worse during the playoffs. In 13 postseason games, he had just one assist and was a healthy scratch.
Yet, even after a hard campaign, the Blackhawks should have Foegele on their radar. He is a prime bounce-back candidate for the 2022-23 campaign, and his past seasons show this; in 2019-20 with the Hurricanes, he recorded 30 points in 68 games. If he can get back to producing at that pace, he would be a very good secondary scorer for Chicago.
He also likely wouldn’t cost the Blackhawks too much to acquire him. Perhaps a fourth-round pick and prospect could get a deal done. If Foegele can rebound in 2022-23, it would be a move worth making.
Frank Seravalli recently reported that the Oilers are trying to trade Zack Kassian. They will have some trouble finding a trading partner, however, as the 31-year-old carries an expensive $3.2 million cap hit until the end of the 2023-24 season. They would need to include a sweetener or two in a hypothetical swap centered around Kassian, which is why the Blackhawks should consider bringing in the veteran winger.
With the Blackhawks rebuilding, they will try to add as many draft picks and prospects as possible. Taking on a contract like Kassian’s would likely net them the Oilers’ 2023 second-round pick and a mid-tier prospect. Although it would be a sizeable price to pay, Edmonton would gain cap space that they desperately need. Thus, this is a move that would benefit both parties.
Despite his contract, Kassian is still a decent bottom-six winger who can chip in offensively. In 58 games during the 2021-22 season, he scored six goals and 19 points. Yet, his physical style of play is what makes him so effective. This season, he had an impressive 154 hits to go along with 63 penalty minutes, and it wouldn’t be bad for the Blackhawks to bring in some toughness to protect their younger players.
We’ll have to wait and see if the Blackhawks end up dealing with the Oilers this offseason. Of these three players, Puljujarvi would, of course, be the biggest addition. However, Foegele and Kassian would be solid as well. Hopefully, on of them will be a Blackhawk by the start of the 2022-23 season.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.