TSN’s Ryan Rishaug offered a lengthy update on what the Oilers might have on the go heading into the NHL Trade Deadline. Suggesting the team is done adding at the forward position and will stick with the centers and wingers they have, their priority is defense and a goaltender, the latter of which isn’t likely a position in which the team will make improvements.
There’s only so much the Oilers can do and there’s no way to accomplish everything they’d like. What is the priority and how realistic is it that anything gets done in the next few days?
Oilers Want Depth Right-Shot Defenseman
Rishaug notes that there’s a better chance the Oilers add a depth right-shot defenseman than someone who would play higher in the lineup than Evan Bouchard or Tyson Barrie. He explains, “Cap situation is tight and that may be more an off-season deal… I believe they’re open to upgrading but not going to force it.” Suggesting the Oilers might be targeting either Carson Soucy out of Seattle or Justin Braun out of Philadelphia, these two players are the type of defenseman GM Ken Holland might be looking at.
Braun is likely on the move out of Philadelphia and carries a $1.8 million cap hit as a pending UFA. Soucy is also a pending UFA, making $2.75 million on the cap. Both teams are sellers and both names have come up in the rumor mill of late. Both are different types of players than Barrie and Bouchard and this type of move could be about better rounding out the roster with different skill sets.
When it comes to the left side of the Oilers blue line — a unit that includes Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith, and a host of rookies filling in the depth positions, Rishaug notes an “upgrade to their every night 3rd LSD is a possibility, but they have a pile of lefties already.” He mentions William Laggesson, Markus Niemelainen, Philip Broberg, Kris Russel, and Slater Koekkoek as options, even though Russell is on LTIR.
Holland Will Keep Looking For Goaltender
The Oilers’ need for a goaltender has been well documented and Rishaug contends the team will keep looking around with a keen eye on the goaltending market. While Mike Smith has been injured and or ill, the Oilers are fortunate to have Mikko Koskinen playing some sound hockey of late.
The book on Koskinen seems to be that he shouldn’t be overworked, but he commented on that narrative and noted, “That’s something you guys have made up in your heads.” Holland may feel confident in Koskinen right now, but Rishaug believes there could be a scenario where the Oilers run with three goalies if the team can’t find an obvious and affordable upgrade.
Rishaug writes that Edmonton will be watching Smith closely and the leash to let his game pick up is probably not very long. Skinner would need to get a look soon if Edmonton feels the tandem of Smith and Koskinen isn’t enough.
Oilers Done at Forward
Rishaugh doesn’t see much being added upfront. The main reason is that Edmonton made their big acquisition in Evander Kane a few weeks back and he’s come in and given the team everything they could have asked for. The Oilers also recently got Josh Archibald (who can really only play home games) and Zack Kassian back and Jesse Puljujarvi isn’t far behind.
The depth at forward isn’t bad for this team and when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is good to go — and if everyone else remains healthy — this is a fairly strong team in the top three lines. Rishaug also wonders if prospect Dylan Holloway will get a look and should he make a successful jump, that could be a big boost, one more cost-effective and impactful than most deadline trades Holland could make.
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.”