3 Oilers Who Could Be Trade Candidates in 2022 Offseason

With 12 games to go in the 2021-22 season, things are going pretty well for the Edmonton Oilers. They have won four straight games to improve to 40-25-5, and as a result sit just one point shy of the Los Angeles Kings for second in the Pacific Division. Despite the great play as of late, however, their season has been far from perfect.

Related: 4 Takeaways as Oilers Continue Scoring Surge in Win Against Ducks

After starting out the 2021-22 campaign with a 16-5-0 record, they went into a massive skid, which not only saw them fall out of a playoff spot, but resulted in the firing of head coach Dave Tippett. They since have righted the ship with Jay Woodcroft at the helm, but it became evident that despite the top talent this team has, there are still holes in this roster. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of cap space for general manager Ken Holland to address that this summer, meaning some trades may be necessary. Here are three that he may look to move in the offseason.

Zack Kassian

Since signing a four-year, $12.8 million extension back in January 2020, Kassian has been a major disappointment for the Oilers. He has gone from a player who brought the energy on a nightly basis, to one that struggles to make an impact far too often. He was recently scratched in two straight games by Woodcroft due to his inconsistent and non-engaging play.

Zack Kassian Edmonton Oilers
Zack Kassian, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Through 46 games this season, Kassian has managed just five goals and 16 points. Even worse is that this season comes after a 2020-21 campaign in which he registered two goals and five points in 27 contests.

It is almost a foregone conclusion that Kassian will be wearing a different sweater next season, as his $3.2 million cap hit is far too much for a cap strapped team like the Oilers. The hope is that a team is willing to take on his deal, but if not, a buyout may be necessary. If that does end up being the case, it would save them a little over $2.53 million in cap space for the 2022-23 season.

Tyson Barrie

After a 2020-21 campaign in which he led all NHL blueliners with 48 points in 56 games, signing Barrie to a three-year, $13.5 million deal seemed like a wise move by Holland. Unfortunately, his offence has taken a big hit this season with just 35 points through 61 games, while his defensive play continues to cause headaches.

While Barrie remains a valuable NHL player, the Oilers have a nearly identical, much younger piece in Evan Bouchard who is very capable of becoming the teams defenceman on their first power-play unit. Because of that, the 30-year-old has become expendable in Edmonton.

Given his offensive abilities, particularly on the man advantage, there will be interest in Barrie this summer. If Holland is able to move his entire $4.5 million cap hit in a deal, that would be a massive win for the Oilers, who have a number of players to re-sign this summer and are in serious need of a goaltender.

Mike Smith

Many expected that signing a then-39-year-old Mike Smith to a two-year extension this summer would be a disaster, and that has certainly been the case. The now-40-year-old has had a very difficult time staying healthy this season, and when he has been healthy enough to play, he has struggled in a major way with a 3.36 goals-against average (GAA), along with a .897 save percentage (SV%).

Some may think that moving Smith and his $2.2 million cap hit for next season is impossible, but that may not be the case. Despite his struggles as of late, just last season he put up a very solid 2.31 GAA along with a .923 SV% and a 21-6-2 record. Perhaps a team desperate for a goalie is willing to take a chance on the 663-game veteran.

Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Another possibility is that a team looking to finish near the bottom of the standings to ensure a high draft pick could be interested in him as a filler for a season. His former team in the Arizona Coyotes may be an option, as they only have Karel Vejmelka under contract past this season.

All Three Contracts Need to Be Moved

In order for the Oilers to fix their holes for the 2022-23 campaign, Holland needs to find a way to get rid of all three of these contracts. The hope is that all can be traded, even if a sweetener is added for an incentive. Moving Barrie shouldn’t be overly difficult, though the other two may be. If there are no teams willing to make a trade for them, then Holland would be wise to buy out both. With time ticking on both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s contracts, this team needs every available dollar they can get to try and build a Stanley Cup winning roster.

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