The Edmonton Oilers have made it known that they will be very busy at the NHL Draft in a few weeks. Edmonton desperately needs to improve their roster or find themselves once again a basement dweller.
The Oilers, particularly GM Peter Chiarelli, have already made it public that they were openly shopping the 4th overall pick in hopes to land a top pairing defenseman. Still, the Oilers find themselves in the thick of things with the draft day quickly approaching where a flurry of deals are expected to take place.
With the salary cap either dropping or staying the same in 2016-17, and the possibility of expansion, will cause a busier off-season than usual, or at least that’s the expectation. The Oilers have been rumored to be linked to multiple players, including defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Justin Faulk. According to Oilers Now radio host Bob Stauffer, it’s highly unlikely that Shattenkirk and/or Faulk end up in Edmonton as neither are in play, at least not for the Oilers.
The speculation swirling around Shattenkirk has him tied to an Eastern Conference team. The 27-year-old St. Louis defenseman currently has one year remaining at $4.25 million before becoming a UFA. As it is with defenders, the Blues will name their price and sell accordingly. Shattenkirk is without a no trade/movement clause so it’ll be to the highest bidder outside the Western Conference.
Lyle Richarson of Spectors Hockey believes Arizona, Boston, Buffalo and Edmonton are just a handful of the six or seven teams that have spoken to the Blues about the defenseman. There are several teams in the market for a top-six forward, and teams have called regarding the availability of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Jeremy Rutherford, St. Louis Today, believes the Blues are opposed to taking back a bad contract or adding salary that would prevent them from re-signing captain David Backes.
He also quashed the rumored Shattenkirk and Brian Elliott to Edmonton for RNH and the 4th overall pick, speculating that the Blues wouldn’t want to move the goalie. Rutherford believes the return would have to be a combination of draft picks and prospects so the Blues could use the $4.25M of Shattenkirk’s departure to re-sign Backes, and possibly even another pending UFA in Troy Brouwer.
So would you comfortably give up the 4th overall pick in the draft for a guy like Shattenkirk unless you were able to get a trade and signing scenario orchestrated prior to making the move? It just doesn’t make sense. Especially considering bluechip defense prospects like Jakob Chychrun, Mikhail Sergachev and Olli Juolevi are available in the top ten.
The Oilers hold several picks in the Top 90 of the draft; 4th, 32nd, 62nd, 83rd and 90th. It’s hard to imagine the Oilers using all five of those picks come draft day. Could Chiarelli leverage a combination of those picks, plus some of their top ten prospects below, to entice the Blues to part with Shattenkirk?
It would hold up to Rutherford’s speculation without adding a dire amount of return salary that could hamper the Blues ability to re-sign a Backes or Brouwer.
|10||L Anton Slepyshev||Drafted 2013|
|9||D Caleb Jones||Drafted 2015|
|8||D Jordan Oesterle||Signed FA|
|7||R Patrick Russell||Signed FA|
|6||G Nick Ellis||Signed FA|
|5||D Ethan Bear||Drafted 2015|
|4||L Jujhar Khaira||Drafted 2012|
|3||C Drake Caggiula||Signed FA|
|2||G Laurent Brossoit||Trade from CGY|
|1||D Griffin Reinhart||Trade from NYI|
Faulk had a tough second half of the year, but all things considered, he’s still the best defenseman among the Carolina Hurricanes young crop. Long-term the club still believes he’ll be a solid top pairing defenseman.
There are two things fueling the speculation of a Faulk trade and they are: 1) financial constraints within the organization, and 2) the need for a No. 1 center. It’s no secret that the Hurricanes are dealing with some financial issues behind the scenes, on top of the team being a small market US team. Carolina currently has $32 million in cap space with 13 players on their 2016-17 roster.
The Hurricanes need to add another goaltender, preferably either re-signing No. 1 Cam Ward or going to the UFA market. They also need to add several forwards, and by the time all that is done, the team will be close to their internal cap.
The other part to this is the need for a new No. 1 center after Eric Staal was traded to the New York Rangers. The Oilers were rumored to be shopping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who would’ve been a fit for the Hurricanes. It’s still entirely possible that Staal returns to Carolina on a more cap friendly deal than his last $8.2M AAV.
Still we’ll see if this deal comes about, but it’s more likely than not. The Hurricanes are a better team with Faulk than without him. He put up 16 goals and 37 points in 64 games, the next best was Noah Hanifin at 22 points in 79 games. No one played more minutes than Faulk for the Hurricanes last year at 24:02 average TOI.
Jon Rosen, an LA Kings insider, recently stated that the Kings are still very much interested in retaining the services of Lucic, and the feeling is still mutual. Rosen believes the Kings will look at possibly moving a bad contract out to make space to re-sign Lucic. The Kings currently have $65M tied in 19 players for next season and several key RFA’s will need extensions. It’ll be difficult to do so if the cap slides or decreases next season.
Could that mean the Kings will try to move out Dustin Brown who was just stripped of his captaincy? Brown, 31, has the second highest cap hit among LA forwards at $5.87M, and is on the books for another six seasons. Arguably one of the worst contracts in the NHL, it’ll be very difficult to move unless the Kings give up a sweetener.
The Kings are up against the salary cap now, next season Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will be up for RFA status, Trevor Lewis is a UFA this summer, as is defenseman Luke Schenn and goaltender Jhonas Enroth. Put all this together and it’s going to be very difficult for the Kings to realistically re-sign Lucic.
Now read into that what you will considering Lucic’s agent Gerry Johannson made some comments about him heading to Vancouver or Edmonton.
Rosen believes that Lucic is seeking a six year deal, and considering Lucic is 28, that deal will take him until he’s 34. That means it’ll be Lucic’s most financially lucrative deal and he’ll want to cash in. The power forward would love to stay in Los Angeles as admitted by Johannson but it’s unrealistic.
Who wouldn’t want Milan Lucic? I don’t think there’s anybody like him. I always say, a deal can get made in one day if you really try. Milan certainly likes L.A. Who doesn’t? – Gerry Johannson (Lucic’s agent)
Back to Stauffer, he believes that the Oilers would automatically become a top three suitor for Lucic. This is also supported by Johansson addressing the mutual respect his client has for the Chiarelli, going back to their days together in Boston.
If he ends up in Edmonton it’ll create a logjam on the left side which could make Benoit Pouliot possibly expendable. The top-six would be comprised of Taylor Hall and Lucic. Patrick Maroon, acquired from the Anaheim Ducks prior to the trade deadline, established some great chemistry alongside Connor McDavid and endeared himself as a fan favourite.
I don’t know of anybody who wouldn’t want to play in Edmonton. I know Peter and Milan really like each other from their Bruins’ days. – Gerry Johannson (Lucic’s agent)
The other obvious team is Vancouver, Lucic’s hometown. However, as a naturally LW, he’d have to switch to the RW to play alongside the Sedin twins on the top line, or he’d end up on the second-line with the likes of Bo Horvat and possibly Jake Virtanen.
If Canucks GM Jim Benning can find a way to move out Alex Burrows and his $4.5M cap hit, he’ll have enough cap space to realistically go after both his prized targets in Loui Eriksson and Lucic himself. Remember Vancouver needs to replace the pending loss of Radim Vrbata in the top six as well.
If not the Canucks or Oilers, the best bet, honestly speaking, might be with the rival Calgary Flames who had to trade Jiri Hudler after they couldn’t come to terms on an extension and GM Brad Treliving decided to ship him out at the deadline. There is a hole on the Flames top line next to Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, currently being filled by Hunter Shinkaruk in the interim.
It’s no secret the Flames are looking to get bigger, more physical and be a difficult team to play against. Lucic would be that player. Calgary already has a strong blueline with the likes of Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Wideman. They need another impact forward and a No. 1 goalie. Lucic would help solve half the problem.
The last thing to consider is the shelf-life of a power forward in today’s NHL. Look no further than Brown (31) who’s best playing days are behind him. Ditto can be said for Columbus forwards David Clarkson (32) and Scott Hartnell (34). All three make between $4.75 – $5.87M and are difficult to move contracts. Clarkson’s has already been moved once by the Leafs after some heavy, heavy sweetening. Is it worth it to go six years with a gritty player like Lucic?
This will become an interesting bidding war come July 1, but the Oilers have a realistic shot at getting one of the more prized UFA’s on the market outside of Steven Stamkos.