This time of year, friends and family often gather round to celebrate the holidays, some of them watching the Edmonton Oilers. Currently, the team is two points back of first place in the Pacific Division heading into a game against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.
A win over Vancouver would go a long way prior to the short NHL holiday break. For all intents and purposes, that should be item one on the holiday wish list — a win over the Canucks.
What else would the Oilers like under their figurative tree if they’re to see any short-term and long-term success?
A Third-Line Center
The experiment that is splitting up Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid doesn’t seem to be working. As such, that slots Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the No. 2 pivot and Riley Sheahan playing above where he should be. If the Oilers could keep Sheahan on the fourth line and bring in a third-line center, that would be a nice gift.
The early rumblings are that Edmonton has their eyes on Jean-Gabriel Pageau out of Ottawa. This wouldn’t be a long-term fix but more a rental if the Oilers can stay in the hunt. Speculation is that Pageau is going to get extremely overpaid in free agency so the Oilers are best to steer clear of an extension.
Still, Pageau is having a great season and there will likely be other teams in the race. Perhaps he doesn’t move until February, but the Oilers might be in the conversation.
A Fair Contract For Kassian
Recent conversation revolves around the Edmonton Oilers talking to Zack Kassian’s representatives and beginning preliminary talks around a contract extension. Kassian has every right to try and swing for the fences during a record-breaking season.
It would be nice if Kassian decided his best course of action was not to try and land a $4 million-plus deal and find a three-year term around the $3 million mark. The idea here is that Kassian understands how lucky he is to be playing where he’s playing in Edmonton.
Three years by three million would make the Oilers comfortable retaining him while not regretting it down the line if it turns out this season is his only really productive one.
Mike Smith To Find His Game
Mikko Koskinen is winning the battle in net and has likely become the Oilers starter. That said, the Oilers won’t be successful if they need to rely solely on Koskinen staying hot. Mike Smith needs to get back to the Smith that was so effective to start the season.
Smith is struggling. His frustrations boiled over in the game against Pittsburgh where he went after Evgeni Malkin and clearly he’s frustrated. As a known battler, the hope is that he can work his way out of a short-term funk. It would be a nice holiday gift if he could do so sooner than later.
Plan B Behind Taylor Hall
It would have been nice to see the Oilers land Taylor Hall. Considering what the Coyotes gave up in terms of draft picks, it’s not surprising Edmonton wasn’t the team to acquire him. It doesn’t mean the Oilers shouldn’t look at other options.
There are plenty of names out there in the trade mill. From Chris Kreider to Tyler Toffoli or Andreas Athanasiou, Edmonton can improve their team this season without giving up a king’s ransom to do so.
For the fan base who has been patiently waiting and for the players who want the best odds at making this year’s playoffs, it would be nice if Edmonton could make one or two additions down the stretch. Our top holiday wish-list item is that GM Ken Holland has a plan to do just that.
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.”