The Edmonton Oilers have an exceptionally hectic off-season ahead of them, of this there is no doubt.
A perennial pretender, the Oilers, led by new General Manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Todd McLellan, are tasked with turning a young and talented, yet highly unsuccessful team into a legitimate contender, a state which Edmonton and it’s fans have not enjoyed since the their magical cup run in 2005-06.
In order to do achieve this, Oilers brass will need to make a number of substantial and potentially risky moves. One of which will likely include trading one of the teams talented young players. There is much debate as to who exactly this player will be, however, the consensus is that such a move must be made in order to adequately upgrade the Oilers’ many areas of need.
One player whose name frequently comes up in discussion is Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers’ third overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
With the arrival of future franchise centre Connor McDavid set to become official on the 26th of June, and former first overall selection Ryan Nugent-Hopkins steadily developing his NHL game, Draisaitl could be the odd man out, as Draisaitl projects to be an impact player rather than a third line centre-man.
Mantha Moving On?
Trading Draisaitl to the Detroit Red Wings could be a monumental move in the right direction for the Edmonton Oilers, especially so if the Oilers were able to secure top prospect Anthony Mantha, among others.
According to Damien Cox of Sportsnet, the Red Wings are willing to trade Anthony Mantha, as well as their 2015 first round pick if the right deal presents itself. This stance is much different than that taken by Red Wings GM Ken Holland at the trade deadline, who was then unwilling to part ways with either asset at the time in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Mantha, a highly touted prospect and former first round pick, completed his first professional season in the American Hockey League in 2014-15, a season which some, including Detroit’s Senior Vice President Jim Devellano, found “very, very, very disappointing”.
Despite many citing a lack of consistent work ethic, the Red Wings aren’t in a rush to move Mantha, who at 6 foot 5, 215 pounds, is a tremendously talented winger with offensive flair, as illustrated by his 57 goal, 120 point final season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
If such a trade between the Oilers and Red Wings was to be agreed to, it would address the needs of both teams.
In Draisaitl, the Red Wings would acquire a potential number one center-man of incredible potential.
Not only does Draisaitl have solid size at 6 foot 1, 210 pounds, but he is also an excellent offensive player. In 160 games in the Western Hockey League, Draisaitl accumulated an impressive 78 goals and 216 points, while he scored an additional 11 goals and 35 points in 27 playoff games. Further, Draisaitl played 37 games with the Oilers in 2014-15, scoring two goals and nine points.
Check out these pre-draft highlights of Draisaitl in the WHL, especially his goal at 0:44.
At the moment, the Red Wings have a number of capable NHL center-men on their roster. These players include Pavel Datsyuk, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Stephen Weiss and Joakim Andersson. However, it is clear that there is a significant drop off in skill following Datsyuk, whose contract is set to expire following the 2016-17 NHL season.
Yes, the Red Wings do have a number of quality center ice prospects in the pipeline, however none of which retain the elite skill, vision and play-making ability which made Draisaitl a third overall draft selection.
If acquired, it is likely that the Red Wings, as they have done so well over the years, would allow Draisaitl to further develop his game outside of the NHL. Known league wide for their exceptional development of prospects, the Detroit Red Wings would add a long term star and potentially franchise center-ice man in Draisaitl who could spearhead a revitalization of the Red Wings’ aging core.
Although Edmonton would be parting with a center of exceptional value, the Oilers would land a potential first line winger in Anthony Mantha.
Known for his rare combination of size and skill, Mantha would be a great addition to a young Oilers team which is in need of greater size in the big, bad Western Conference.
As previously mentioned, through the use of his 6 foot 5, 215 pound frame, Mantha has been an elite producer throughout his hockey career. Over his four year career with the Val d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL, Mantha recorded 129 goals and 260 points in 189 regular season games, including two 50 goal seasons. Further, Mantha added 31 goals and 54 points in 37 QMJHL playoff games, while he scored 24 goals in 24 games in his final playoff appearance.
Check out this terrific video regarding Mantha’s development with insight from Mike Babcock and Ken Holland.
In Edmonton, the Oilers would do well to add a young, skilled winger to their organization.
Of course, the Oilers already possess wingers Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot, however a select few of the players were out of their comfort level playing top-6 minutes this past season. As a result, the addition of Mantha to the Oilers’ second line alongside Pouliot would be an amazing combination of both size and skill, especially so considering they could be centered by either Nugent-Hopkins or McDavid.
In addition to Mantha, the Oilers could also demand a young defenseman such as Brendan Smith, who the Red Wings were willing to part ways with this past trade deadline. On the other hand, the Oilers could move a defender to the Red Wings in return, as according to Elliotte Friedman, Detroit is looking for a mean, rugged defenseman who could take some of the physical responsibility away from Niklas Kronwall.