The Edmonton Oilers picked up their second win of the season in a strong performance against a really strong Carolina Hurricanes team on Thursday. But, a few late goals as the Hurricanes tried to push their way back into the contest was just more proof that the Oilers’ blue line could potentially still use some work.
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Playing 11-7 on most nights, the team is cycling through defensemen trying to find the right combination of shutdown pairings, but keeping teams from shooting repeatedly on their netminders has been a real issue in all four games this season. Sooner than later, the question will be, ‘How long can the Oilers keep allowing so many shots before it really starts to cost them points in the standings?’
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As such, GM Ken Holland might want to be on the lookout for a defenseman on the trade market. That’s where a team like the Montreal Canadiens comes in.
The Canadiens Overall Season Plans
It’s hard to know exactly what the Canadiens are up to. Is their intention to be competitive? Are they rebuilding? So far, the Habs have played well, going 3-2 on the season with two wins in a row. Players like Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj and Jordan Harris are stepping up nicely and that may change the way the Canadiens view their blue line.
Should the team start to struggle, or they feel these players can take another big step forward, with additional ice time and responsibility coming along with it, a player like Joel Edmundson might become available. This is a player the Oilers should have time for.
Edmundson Fits Edmonton’s Needs
A player with two seasons left on his current contract, Edmundson’s $3.5 million cap hit isn’t atrocious. If the Canadiens elect to take some salary back, it becomes an affordable deal for the Oilers, especially if the salary cap jumps as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman hinted might happen at the end of the season.
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Edmundson is a 29-year-old 6’5″ defender with size and shutdown ability. He’s got leadership skills, plenty of playoff experience, and while he doesn’t lay in many hits, he has a willingness to physically contribute and shut down a cycle. He averaged just under 20 minutes per game last season and could play a depth role for the Oilers, helping ease to load on a player like Brett Kulak (someone Edmundson would know quite well).
Has the size (6’4”) and strength that coaches love in a shutdown defenseman. Is a physical force in his own zone who is at his best when he keeps things single and does not try to do more than he is capable of. Will never be an offensive force but is an acceptable puck mover who can play 20-plus minutes per game and is a good match for an offensive partner.
One thing to consider is that health is a factor for Edmundson as he’s missed time each season and he’s on IR to start this season. Edmundson played just 24 games in 2021-22 and this could be a player that has issues moving forward.
What Does Edmonton Give Up?
What’s interesting about Edmundson likely moving on is that insiders believe the Canadiens are still in the market for a defenseman. But, it’s an offensive d-man that can run the Canadiens’ power play that the team really needs. Do the Oilers have that to give? They do, but it would take more than Edmundson.
Edmonton isn’t moving Tyson Barrie or Evan Bouchard for Edmundson. Barrie has proven to already be a major contributor again to the Oilers’ deadly power play. Bouchard is the future of the team in Barrie’s current role. That brings into the equation prospects or futures.
Most fans would immediately rule out Philip Broberg. Despite a number of setbacks for the defenseman, I would tend to agree that Broberg is a non-starter here. Would someone like Vincent Desharnais (Edmonton’s big-body prospect) and a draft pick get the conversation started? It doesn’t solve the Habs’ immediate need for a power-play quarterback and it doesn’t solve the Oilers’ cap issues, but throwing in a player like Derek Ryan on an expiring deal might make the money work.
The point here is that the Oilers and Canadiens might want to keep an eye on their respective situations. It’s too early to be pulling the trigger on a trade, but if the young guys on the Canadiens roster continue stepping up and the Oilers continue to allow shots against, adding an experienced blueliner who can handle offensive pressure might be in the cards and the Habs might be willing to talk reasonable trade.