The Edmonton Oilers are a team that has looked into a number of moves and have players making decent money that they need to move out. On the other side of things, the New Jersey Devils are a team that could be willing to make hockey trades or take on some money this season in order to shift their roster to be more competitive next season.
This is where these two teams could become trading partners and pull off a potentially big deadline deal to help both in the short and long run. Each has players and assets that the other could use, and in different positions in the standings and where they expect to be, it may work out for both. Let’s jump into the players who could be involved in a blockbuster between the Oilers and Devils before the 2022 Trade Deadline has passed.
Oilers Searching for Defence & Goaltending
The Oilers are looking to offload some of their players who are signed past this season while also potentially getting a player or two who can help them out immediately. The Devils aren’t in need of a short-term upgrade, but are looking to build for next season, seemingly having their name in on any potential player who could be an upgrade.
The Devils have two defenders that would be an upgrade in the areas of the game that the Oilers sorely need rather than more of the same: P.K. Subban and Ryan Graves. If any deal were to happen, do not expect both to be moved. They would have to go with one or the other. Going the other way to clear space would ideally be Tyson Barrie from the Oilers.
Ken Holland didn’t make a mistake in signing Barrie to a contract after Adam Larsson left to the Seattle Kraken, but he did make a mistake on the term. Barrie was signed for a couple of seasons too long and Holland didn’t anticipate the money that would be needed to sign the upcoming restricted free agents (RFA) that will be a part of the future. This makes moving money out for the Oilers so important.
Barrie and Evan Bouchard are very similar players who are both offensively-minded defencemen who struggle defensively. Bouchard is younger and has much more room to grow and become more effective in his zone, while making $3.64 million less this season and next. With one defence spot available on the power play and Bouchard ready to take the reins, the team can and needs to move on from Barrie (from ‘Lowetide: Evan Bouchard’s new role with Oilers and the promising early results’, The Athletic, Feb. 21, 2022).
There is a better argument to go for Subban in a deal rather than Graves because it allows the Oilers to have a clean slate for next season and all the money off the books, plus room for Philip Broberg or Markus Niemelainen to possibly step into the lineup in a full-time role.
What the Oilers need more of is physicality from the back end, and both Devils provide that. Barrie and Subban both play a third-line role on the right side and average just around 19 minutes a game. For a playoff-bound team in the Oilers, more physicality and playoff experience will do them well in Subban rather than Barrie. Graves can play both sides and is an ideal option, but the Oilers would be paying him $3.167 million next season, and that’s that much less room to work with for the RFAs.
Goaltending-wise for the Oilers, there’s no certainty that they will or will not try and add a netminder this season. It is difficult to do with one making $4.5 million and the other making $2.2 million for next season as well. If the Oilers are going to send off a goalie before the trade deadline, it would have to be to a non-contender like the Devils.
Moving Mikko Koskinen works better for the money in the short-term to get a deal done, but he has been the Oilers’ better goaltender. Mike Smith, on the other hand, would be more difficult to move because of his numbers, age, and term remaining on his contract. If they have their sights set on a goaltender that has been made available by the Devils in Mackenzie Blackwood, the money fits right to send Koskinen back and give Nico Daws a bit of support for the remainder of the season.
The Devils have the cap space to take on money, and the Oilers would have to ask them to retain half of Subban’s contract to make anything else work for them unless a piece like Zack Kassian is also headed their way, freeing up $3.2 million for the Oilers for two more seasons.
If not at the deadline, the Oilers are looking for a longer-term upgrade in net that can finally stabilize the position and put the team in shape to be real contenders. Blackwood’s early career numbers suggest he can provide that, and the new system instilled by Jay Woodcroft could help that along, and allow Blackwood to rediscover his game. The Oilers need to look at targets younger than a goaltender 30 years or older if they want stability for years to come.
Potential Trade Packages
A potential package for Blackwood and Subban would start with Barrie to make the money work and roster spot available. Then, a goaltender would also have to be added to the trade, more than likely Koskinen also due to the money, but because his contract is over at season’s end and he has been a better and healthier option in net than Smith.
I wouldn’t be surprised if another decent asset was also included, such as a piece like Dmitri Samorukov or Raphael Lavoie and a first-round pick to account for Blackwood. Lindy Ruff is a coach who likes his players tough. There’s not much of that combined with skill on the Devils, so a player like Kassian, who the Oilers are surely looking to move, could fit right in on that team.
With Oilers’ reporter Daniel Nugent-Bowman revealing that Philip Broberg suffered an injury in last night’s game, that should increase the chances the team acquires a defenceman for depth at the very least. This could be a huge move, but the more players added to one deal, the less likely it becomes. A couple things are certain: the Oilers need goaltending now and for the future, they have to move out money for this year and beyond, and they have assets who have to be in play.
Related: Oilers Should Avoid a Trade Deadline Deal With the Red Wings
These teams are no strangers in trading, as they produced a blockbuster when the Oilers sent Taylor Hall to the Devils for Larsson. A potential deal between these two this season wouldn’t cause as many waves and shouldn’t be so one-sided, but can be beneficial for both and solve a number of problems for the Oilers this season and next. Would you want a deal of this kind and magnitude to occur between the Oilers and Devils? Let me know in the comments.