Insiders, fans, and media are all saying the same thing: the Edmonton Oilers need a defenseman. Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci are playing too much, Brett Kulak might be too high in the rotation to be as effective as he needs to be, Evan Bouchard and Philip Broberg are struggling in elevated roles and Tyson Barrie is hit or miss when it comes to his effectiveness on a night-to-night basis.
It makes sense the organization would be linked in trade talks to a number of potential blueliners. That said, so many names have been tossed out there, it’s easy to get confused with what is a legit option for the Oilers and what probably isn’t. Let’s take a look at all of the major names that have been linked to the team in the rumor mill.
** Author’s Note: This is not a commentary on whether these are realistic trade options for the Oilers.
Jakob Chychrun is a player the Arizona Coyotes are open to trading and he has been linked by almost every insider to teams that need a defenseman, the Oilers included. He’s back on the ice in Arizona and he’s playing fairly well, which will up the number of teams that show interest in acquiring him this season.
The asking price is steep, so the Oilers would have to see him as a player that would fit into their core over the next two seasons and change. At a cap hit of $4.6 million, he’s a good value, but the Oilers don’t necessarily have that unless they trade money off the roster this season and then choose not to bring back a player or two next season.
All in all, Chychrun might be the best fit. There is a risk of injury however and that’s what has slowed teams from stepping up to make this deal.
Carson Soucy was apparently so close to becoming an Edmonton Oiler last season that the team made a jersey for him ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. Ultimately, Seattle decided not to move the player and that might be the case again considering their team is playing better than most insiders would have predicted.
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Soucy is an ideal fit for the Oilers. He offers shutdown capability, he’s on a reasonable contract ($2.75 million) and he’s got just this one year remaining which gives both sides options. He can play either side and while he doesn’t average of minutes, he could play up in the lineup from time to time. Of all these players on this list, he would make the most sense for the Oilers, but he might be the player teams compete for if Seattle elects to move him.
The Oilers have been linked to John Klingberg as far back as this past offseason when there were rumors Montreal might sign him and then trade him to Edmonton. As good as Klingberg is, he’s a lot more of what the Oilers already have, even if a slight upgrade. If the deal was to send Tyson Barrie back to Montreal, that would have made a bit more sense. As it is now, that’s not an option on the table.
There’s still speculation the Oilers might be a team that look at Klingberg ahead of Anaheim likely trading him before the deadline. The money is high ($7 million), so the Ducks would have to retain salary and the Oilers would have to give to get. Who do you lose in an attempt to land a player who offers you more of what someone like Barrie and Evan Bouchard is supposed to?
Some chatter recently is that Joel Edmundson might be the kind of player Edmonton is lacking in their defense corps and could offer the grit and nastiness they need as they work their way toward a playoff spot. The Canadiens are said to be open to moving salary and they are a rebuilding club, but it’s also said they like a lot of what Edmundson brings and their ask is likely to be a first-round pick.
It seems unlikely the Oilers would give up that kind of return for a player who projects to be a four or five d-man on a contract that only has one more season on it after this one. The money is right though. He makes $3.5 million and that’s a quick one-for-one trade if the Canadiens like a certain player on the Oilers’ roster.
The latest talk is that Edmonton might have eyes on Erik Karlsson out of San Jose. It’s not easy to see how the team would pull off a trade for someone making $11.5 million on the cap — especially when it would be tough to add some of the other players mentioned at their lower salaries — but he’s a player that would offer big production, leadership, and mentorship for a developing Bouchard.
This would be a massive trade if the Oilers were to seriously consider trying to make it, and Karlsson would have to agree. He’s got a full no-move clause and four more seasons on this deal. If the Oilers are looking at this, it’s because they’ve decided they need a top guy to take over running their defense corps and they’ve identified Karlsson as the man.
As for what the asking price would be, that’s debatable. Some think it would take a king’s ransom, including a couple of first-round picks. Others believe it wouldn’t be that expensive considering his age and the size of his contract.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”