Oilers News & Rumors: McDavid’s Message, Trade Chips, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, Connor McDavid is sending out an important message to his fans, there’s speculation as to how closely the Oilers are watching the salary cap changes and more questions about who might be possible trade chips, talk that may or may not include flipping restricted free agent and newly acquired forward Andreas Athanasiou.

McDavid Reaches Out to Fans

In the midst of this COVID-19 outbreak, NHL players have been told that should they have words they want to share with fans or messages they want to send, the NHL is open to that, as they are to helping players get that message out. One player from the Edmonton Oilers to reach out is captain Connor McDavid.

Perhaps this isn’t being done through the NHL, but the messaging is the kind that the NHL would likely support. McDavid said, “Like a lot of you, I’m stuck inside, practicing my social distancing, trying to control this thing before it gets out of hand.” He adds, “What one person does affects the other. We need to make sure that we’re all being safe and taking the steps needed to stop the spread of this thing.” He then reminded everyone to take care of themselves and told his fans he was looking forward to getting on the ice soon.

Related: What Ever Happened To Rob Schremp?

Oilers Possible Trade Chips

Lowetide (aka Allan Mitchell) wrote on The Athletic this week that the Oilers will be keeping a close eye on any changes to the salary cap projections for next season as delays to the NHL season might be longer than expected.

He writes:

More recently, Pierre LeBrun wrote about next year’s cap for The Athletic, saying “the NHL and NHLPA will need to come up with ‘transition rules’ to get through this unforeseen time involving the salary cap and other things” which implies next season’s outer marker might be very similar to the 2019-20 number in order to keep the integrity of the cap system. 

source ‘ – Lowetide: Oilers’ challenge could be finding relief with a low cap ceiling’ – Allan Mitchell – The Athletic – 03/16/2020

If so, this could create some issues for the Oilers who have — if you factor in contracts signed for 2020-21, buyouts and retained dollars — most of the $81.5 million tied up already. Among the names that would be on Ken Holland’s “to-sign” list are Ethan Bear, Andreas Athanasiou and Matt Benning (RFAs), plus Mike Smith, Mike Green, Tyler Ennis, Riley Sheahan, Patrick Russell and Gaetan Haas (UFAs).

Andreas Athanasiou Detroit Red Wings
Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Mitchell suggests some of the names that could pop up in trade talks are Adam Larsson, Alex Chiasson, Kris Russell and James Neal. All make fair but good money and can be replaced by players on the roster who can fill slots at a better price-point. If Holland can move these players to free up money, he may try.

Related: Oilers’ Roster Is Their Best Since 2005-06

Athanasiou to Be Flipped?

One other player that could be moved is Andreas Athanasiou. He’s an RFA and his extension won’t come cheap for the Oilers. If an easy negotiation is expected between both sides, maybe there’s a way to get him on another short-term deal and one that won’t handcuff the team. If not, Holland may choose to move him.

Should Holland do so (it would hurt taking a hit on the draft picks given up to acquire him) and the GM also move some of the above mentioned pieces, Mitchell says, “Holland could emerge as a major player in the race for top scoring wingers, quality goaltenders and capable No. 3 centres.”

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