3 Oilers Who are Top Trade Targets Highlight Offseason Moves Needed

The Edmonton Oilers are going to have a very busy offseason, starting with a number of contract extension talks and trade talks. At the top of Frank Seravalli’s Daily Faceoff’s trade target board are three Oilers in particular: First is Tyson Barrie, then one of Jesse Puljujarvi or Kailer Yamamoto, and finally, Oscar Klefbom.

Here’s a look at why these names have come up and if they are likely to be traded.

Tyson Barrie – Defenceman

I also believe that Barrie is the most likely trade candidate on the Oilers and maybe in the league. Edmonton just can’t justify holding onto a player who is being paid $4.5 million for two more seasons to play on the third pairing and the power play when they have a 22-year-old who can fill that spot on the top power-play unit, play more meaningful minutes higher in the lineup, and has a much lower cap hit.

Related: Oilers’ Re-Signing Kulak Should Be a High Priority This Offseason

It will be much easier to trade Barrie in the offseason considering there will be pieces moving around on other teams as well. Also, Barrie improved on the defensive side of the puck throughout the season and became more of an overall contributor than just the points or power-play points that he put up in his first season with the team.

Jesse Puljujarvi/Kailer Yamamoto – Right Wingers

Many people don’t want to see either of these young players go, but the Oilers may not have a choice since they are in win-now mode, and they can’t be paying and waiting for not-so-young players to break out. Puljujarvi may have had the better start to the season and was en route to a promising breakout campaign until he got derailed by an injury, and he just couldn’t find his scoring touch, even through playoffs.

Jesse Puljujarvi Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Yamamoto was the opposite in that he started off slow on the second line but got going when he got a chance to play alongside Connor McDavid on the top line. He scored seven goals in eight games during that time and finished his second full season with 20 goals and 41 points. He has the potential to be close to a point-per-game scorer, as he showed in 2019-20, though that seems unrealistic now.

Oilers’ reporter Ryan Rishaug stated that Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod are higher priorities for the team to sign than Puljujarvi, and Ken Holland said that he has yet to make a decision on the future after talking to Puljujarvi and his agent after the season ended.

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Yamamoto would fetch the better return, as Frank Seravalli stated, but if their signing price is similar, why would the Oilers choose the player who is proven to be less effective when they are trying to win a Stanley Cup? If one of these two is moved, it is more likely to be Puljujarvi, but the Oilers can also get a bargain on his contract in hopes he will return to a better version of himself next season.

Oscar Klefbom Contract

Unfortunately, it seems that Klefbom’s career is over. He hasn’t played a game since the 2020 Playoffs and has missed two full seasons after suffering from a chronic shoulder injury. Holland had hoped Klefbom would return in time for the 2021-22 season, but those plans went out the window.

Now the Oilers will be looking to trade his contract of $4.167 million that has one year left on it to open up salary-cap space throughout the season, and they can’t do that effectively with players on the LTIR (long-term injured reserve).

Klefbom used to be the Oilers’ number one defenceman who also filled that spot on the top power-play unit. His injury has caused a ripple effect that has put the Oilers in a bind cap-wise moving forward: they wouldn’t have had to go out and acquire Barrie to run the power play on a contract worth $4.5 million against the salary cap for two more seasons; Holland also wouldn’t have been able or willing to go out and acquire Duncan Keith to play on the second pairing since it wouldn’t have been affordable or necessary; and lastly, Darnell Nurse would have been sharing more of the top minutes with Klefbom, resulting in an extension that isn’t worth $9.25 million.

Zack Kassian Missed the Cut

Since there was only room for the top 25 trade targets in Seravalli’s piece, Zack Kassian didn’t make the cut, even though his contract and productivity show it’s time to move him, even if it costs the team a lower-round pick. There should be teams looking for his toughness, but they would need him to play at the level of a third-line player or higher in order for it to be worth it.

Zack Kassian Edmonton Oilers Quinton Byfield Los Angeles Kings
Edmonton Oilers Right Wing Zack Kassian (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Nevertheless, there are rebuilding teams that need contracts to hit the cap floor as they look to win the Connor Bedard sweepstakes in 2023. The Arizona Coyotes come to mind. They have a lot of free agents and will be looking to take on contracts. If not them, possibly contending teams that got banged around during the season or in the playoffs and want to add a player who isn’t afraid to throw the body around and fight. Kassian has shown he can elevate his intensity in the playoffs, but the downside is he can disappear for games at a time. He has played with skilled players and has the talent to be able to keep up.

I guarantee that the Oilers will pull off at least two trades this summer, given their cap space and all the moving pieces. But whatever happens, it’s time for Holland to prove himself and make more solid moves to help push the Oilers forward than questionable decisions.

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