As per a number of insiders, the Edmonton Oilers are unlikely to make a trade following news that Evander Kane is out for three to four months. The salary cap situation and Kane’s potential return in February means adding salary and then having room to bring Kane back on the roster creates complications for general manager Ken Holland. At the same time, if results like the 7-2 loss the Oilers suffered to the Carolina Hurricanes continue, the Oilers might be forced into a move.
Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets got terrible news on Friday. Zach Werenski is out for the rest of the season after suffering a shoulder injury and that potentially moves an already struggling Blue Jackets team into a position where they might have to take a long, hard look at where they sit this season after a less-than-stellar start.
If the Blue Jackets are dumping assets and the Oilers could use a couple, would they make for good trade partners?
The Blue Jackets Might Start Dumping Players
It’s too early to write off the season for any NHL franchise. But, the Blue Jackets losing Werenski stings. If they believe they’re doomed to miss the playoffs, there’s a chance the organization might try to miss in a major way and pick up more chances in an NHL lottery that will include the potential right to draft Connor Bedard. That means taking a closer look at pending free agents and potentially shipping them out before the NHL Trade Deadline.
The sooner the Blue Jackets know where they sit with their plans for the season, the better for the Oilers. While Edmonton was likely to be a deadline buyer, with Kane out, every game Edmonton has a replacement player in the lineup is a good day, because the biggest value will be delivered early. Kane will be back for the last few weeks of the season, and the Oilers need the help now.
The Oilers Are Struggling Defensively
While a replacement player for Kane might be a priority if the Oilers can’t find an internal solution, there’s the not-so-small issue on defense. The goaltending hasn’t been good, but the defense is allowing far too many chances against and the Oilers figured it might be a struggle before the season began. Now that they know it’s an issue, Holland might want to take a look around.
The Blue Jackets can’t afford to give up a defenseman with Weresnki out. That is, unless, they’re writing off the season and dumping assets with the expectation that losses will follow. If that’s the case, all bets are off and Columbus is best to acquire future assets for players that might not be a part of the roster long-term.
Who Might The Oilers and Blue Jackets Swap?
The two most obvious names in Columbus that Edmonton might want to eye up are Gustav Nyquist and Vladislav Gavrikov. Both players could potentially help the Oilers and both are pending free agents, meaning there’s no commitment for Edmonton beyond this season.
Nyquist is a winger with some history of production at the NHL level. He’s not playing terribly well to start this season, but he’s coming off a campaign where he scored 18 goals and posted 53 points. He’s older, but he’s experienced and has been a 20-goal guy multiple times. His price point is a touch higher than Kane’s, so the Blue Jackets would need to retain some salary if Edmonton doesn’t want a real issue in February. Holland would be looking to pay half, no more.
Gavrikov is a two-way, shutdown defenseman who is good on the second pair, but will likely be tasked as the defacto No. 1 d-man in Columbus with Werenski out. He has some offense, but not much. He’s the reliable type of player the Oilers could use and while the Blue Jackets have tried to sign him to an extension, that they’ve been unable to is telling. He could be on the move this season.
As for who Edmonton sends out, the Blue Jackets will want draft picks and prospects, but the Oilers will need to send a salary back. Edmonton has three middle-six wingers who have done virtually nothing this season and that’s around $9 million tied up in bodies that need to produce or they could be gone. If Holland is already wondering where names like Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Warren Foegele fit on this roster long-term, it might be worth throwing their names out there to see what that’s worth, if anything, to the Blue Jackets.