The Edmonton Oilers have been heavily linked to the Montreal Canadiens in multiple ways regarding two defencemen, a winger, and a centerman. The Canadiens have a lot to offer and will be moving more than one player before the trade deadline this season as they are not yet ready to compete. As for the Oilers, they have some needs they should address. They have started to play better overall, but have to get to another level to be a Stanley Cup competitor this season.
One of the most likely trade partners for the Oilers this season is Montreal considering they have a number of players at every position that Edmonton could benefit from acquiring for the right price. As of now, the price to acquire most of these Canadiens’ players is steep, so it may be a bit of a wait until something is done, if it is.
It’s no secret the Oilers have interest in adding a defenceman who is strong defensively. They already have a few players on the back end who are gifted offensively and need help in keeping more pucks out of their net and high-danger scoring chances to a minimum. A player like Joel Edmundson would help with that.
The problem with a trade for Edmundson is that the asking price is far too high for a player who was acquired for just a fifth-round pick, though it was for the rights to sign him. The defenceman has one more season under contract after this one and the asking price is a first-round pick or a high pick and a prospect. Edmundson can play in the top four but isn’t the entire package of what the Oilers need if they are going to give up a high pick and someone like Xavier Bourgault.
Some may argue that Bourgault doesn’t help Edmonton win this season while Edmundson could, but it’s not wise to lose a trade or overpay to acquire someone who isn’t a complete gamechanger. Some of Edmundson’s salary would have to be retained, which would drive up the price a bit, but for now, the Oilers are complacent seeing what Philip Broberg can do in the NHL this time around before making a big decision.
David Savard has the same cap hit Edmundson does except he is under contract for one season longer. He is also a few years older but is exactly what the Oilers would be looking to bring in to play a shutdown role on their top pairing. Savard plays on the Canadiens’ top pair and has long shut top players down. He did so in Columbus for a number of seasons before also contributing to the Stanley Cup run the Tampa Bay Lightning went on in 2020-21.
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Savard can play the right side alongside Darnell Nurse to form a top pairing no line would want to go up against. In acquiring Savard, the Oilers would have to free up a spot on their right side and clear cap space. The most likely scenario here would be trading Tyson Barrie back as the Canadiens could still use a power-play specialist on their defence. Not only that, with Evan Bouchard needing a new contract in the offseason and developing into the offensive defenceman who can permanently run the power play, Barrie is on his way out, anyways.
The cost for Savard will be even higher than Edmundson and would surely cost a first-round pick and more seeing as the team got a first-round pick for a rental in Ben Chiarot. If the Oilers are looking to add a fix to their back end, Savard is the way to go if the price isn’t outrageous.
The Canadiens have outdone themselves by acquiring Sean Monahan this past offseason. Not only did they get a first-round pick to take on a contract the Calgary Flames didn’t want anymore, but he has somewhat resurrected his career and become one of the team’s most valuable assets to deal before the deadline.
General manager of the Canadiens, Kent Hughes, continues to have interest in the Oilers’ prospect Bourgault. Sean Panganiban of The Hockey Writers goes into great detail as to why the Oilers should shy away from dealing Bourgault for Monahan this season. Among some great points is the cap hit and price to acquire Monahan. He earns $6.375 million and is currently dealing with an injury.
Though Bourgault may not help the Oilers this season like Monahan will, Bourgault appears to be primed to take his place on the Oilers soon enough in place of Jesse Puljujarvi who is almost guaranteed to be on his way out. As a team right against the cap, players contributing on entry-level contracts are key to success. A 22nd-overall pick who is a couple of years into his development and close to entering the NHL is too steep of a price to pay for a rental. It was also brought up by Panganiban that someone like Max Domi is available and can provide the same value for cheaper.
Yet another player who is linked to Edmonton that has Bourgault as the main interest by the Canadiens is Josh Anderson. Seeing as Evander Kane is out for a while and the Oilers had been missing that power forward in the lineup, it was understandable that they would have had a conversation about acquiring Anderson. He doesn’t really fit into the system that Martin St. Louis coaches and could very well be on his way out. He is currently playing on the third line and has seven goals and nine points in 24 games this season. Somehow that happens to be the third-most goals on the team.
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Anderson hasn’t exactly done a whole lot to raise his value for the Canadiens and his contract isn’t the greatest if he can’t provide all the elements needed from a power forward. But interest should have gone away from him since the Oilers have found a gem in Klim Kostin that is providing the same value for Edmonton. He has scored two goals and four points to go along with nine hits and a fight in his past five games, all while playing bottom-six minutes. The Oilers would have to move multiple pieces if they wanted to bring in Anderson as well as making a risky commitment to him for four more seasons after this one.
To sum up these four potential targets for the Oilers, I would remove Anderson completely from the conversation. The Oilers should be cautious about acquiring Edmundson unless Broberg isn’t working out this season and the price to acquire the Canadiens’ defencemen dips significantly. As for Monahan, the Oilers may not even need someone like him if Derek Ryan, Kostin, and Dylan Holloway continue to pick up their play and Warren Foegele and Ryan McLeod produce when they return to the lineup. The number of injuries have really tested the Oilers’ depth and shown them what they have. As for Savard, he would be the player the Oilers should be most interested in and worth it if they have to pay up to acquire him.