As the Edmonton Oilers come to the end of their bye week, some immediate moves are going to need to be made. Oscar Klefbom is almost ready to return and speculation is that Andrej Sekera is not far off. The consensus seems to be that Sekera will head down to the AHL on a conditioning stint but while he’s there, his cap hit will count against the Oilers salary. That means both Klefbom and Sekera coming back create dollars and cents issues for Edmonton that will need to be immediately addressed.
With that in mind and the Oilers still potentially looking at making changes to the roster in an effort to keep themselves in the playoff conversation, there are a few trades fans can expect to happen almost immediately.
There’s no guarantee these moves are happening, but it’s logical to assume the Oilers are trying.
** These moves are listed in no particular order:
Trade Matt Benning
Benning has the potential to be a good NHL defenseman but he’s struggled with consistency this season. A $1.9 million hit against the Oilers cap, he may be the easiest defender on the roster to move before the trade deadline and moving him makes a dent to the team’s blue line depth, but not a large one.
The argument for keeping Benning is that he’s potentially a better player than Brandon Manning, Alex Petrovic and Kevin Gravel. He’s got a better shot than all three defenders and offers a few more options. He’s also less expensive than Petrovic and Manning and for the Oilers, that’s important.
The argument against keeping him is his inconsistency and that there might be teams interested in his services. If Edmonton can move him and his contract, they’re best served to do so. Even if the preference would be to move someone else, the Oilers might just have to move what they can if it doesn’t hurt their odds of making the post-season.
Trade Cam Talbot
Fans will be mixed on the idea of moving Talbot. He’s certainly not in the long-term plans for the Oilers now that Mikko Koskinen is sitting pretty on a new three-year deal and pegged as the starter for the team moving forward, but moving Talbot comes with some risk. If Koskinen falters over the stretch run or gets hurt, Edmonton is without a viable backup netminder.
The positive side of moving Talbot is that there seems to be a market opening up for him. The Flyers are rumored to have interest and the Chicago Blackhawks may be a team to watch for.
Darren Dreger had an update on the Talbot situation on TSN radio, “My information as of yesterday was that things are starting to heat up in Edmonton around Talbot. I wouldn’t say a deal is imminent, but the interest is developing.” Dreger went on to add that it is expected Talbot might fetch a young NHL roster player and a pick.
Where this also helps is that the Oilers then free up over $4 million in cap space depending on what comes back in return or whatever goaltender they need to acquire on the cheap to replace Talbot.
Trade Tobias Rieder
If they can, the Oilers will move Tobias Rieder before the trade deadline. A $2 million dollar cap hit, he’s yet to score a goal this season and while he has nine assists and kills penalties, he’s not offering much else to the team. His $2 million is not a luxury the Oilers can afford to have on the books and while it doesn’t solve all their problems, moving his $2 million does help.
Would a team like Arizona take him back? Or, could a contending team looking for depth on the roster and a rental who has an expiring contract take a chance he could rebound? It’s happened with Ryan Strome in New York and while it’s hard to imagine teams would line up for Rieder considering his lack of production but stranger things have happened.
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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.”