In an attempt to construct a roster that is devoid of holes in certain areas, one Edmonton Oilers journalist suggests he’s hearing whispers from those media members more closely connected to the franchise that there could be some changes this offseason for the team. Unfortunately, this journalist suggests the changes could be painful and unnecessary.
Most fans know the Oilers will have to do some salary-cap juggling to make everything work. That said, what does “painful and unnecessary changes” actually mean? He suggests that three separate long-time media members all came up with a similar conclusion that, in an attempt to better round out the roster, the Oilers might not go long-term with Jesse Puljujarvi, but they will with Evander Kane.
What All Do the Oilers Need to Do?
Allan Mitchell (Lowetide), wrote in a column on Wednesday that the Oilers may try to focus on securing a goaltender, improving their blue line, and locking in contracts for a few of the big players that need new deals. Perhaps not all of that gets accomplished, especially if GM Ken Holland tries to employ strategies that worked for him in the past and with other teams (signing proven, but older players) — in this case Kane.
Following a pretty bad loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, Mitchell writes that in trying to create fewer weak spots, Holland will have to address all areas and that comes with challenges.
A summer devoted to finding a goalie, shoring up defence and signing RFA’s Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod. I don’t know that you’ll get it, but grow your own worked for Ken Holland in Detroit and it can work here. Chasing free agency can work, but money will be too tight to mention this summer.
He adds, “I sense, based on what is being rolled out by the connected media, this summer will see some painful and unnecessary departures.” The storyline he focused on most heavily is that Kane has become the priority over Puljujarvi.
Importance of Re-Signing Evander Kane
There’s a lot to like about the player and the way he’s meshed with this team, but signing him might not be as simple as just getting the term and the dollar value figured out.
The Oilers would like to get him signed to an extension, but that won’t come cheap. Is Mitchell suggesting the team can’t afford it? Or, is he suggesting the Oilers will sign him no matter what, and in doing so, sacrifice other, younger assets, specifically Puljujarvi?
Kane is playing well and while he didn’t score against the Wild on Tuesday, he was one of the few players who showed up and was willing to engage physically with a Wild team that was very dogged on the forecheck. The Wild essentially outworked the Oilers, but Kane didn’t back off. At one point, he was willing to fight just about anyone (especially Ryan Hartman) after first targeting Kirill Kaprizov. Things like that resonate with management.
Most fans want Kane to stick around. The question is if he’s worth keeping should it mean Puljujarvi has to go?
Is Puljujarvi Not the Sum of His Parts?
Jesse Puljujarvi has been excellent at almost every facet of his game except actually scoring. He’s failed to finish off strong scoring chances and it’s difficult to value his importance to the team if what he brings each night never shows up on the scoreboard. Could Mitchell be suggesting the Oilers will trade him because he’s not scoring? If so, is he suggesting it would be a huge mistake? “Mitchell said, “If you trade him, you’d better be right.”
There are certainly going to be teams willing to trade for him if they feel they can jump on what the Oilers might be giving up. Of course, that leads to questions about whether the Oilers can fill some of the holes they need to and if they will get good value in a trade? Of course, that also means relying on Holland’s skills to pull off a deal where he’s moving a player with less-obvious attributes and dealing with another GM who understands the underlying numbers better than Holland does.
It’s going to be risky and there are certainly going to be fans who hate the idea that Edmonton might be willing to move on from The Bison King. Count me among the group of fans who think it would be a mistake.
There is chatter that Kane has taken a liking to Puljujarvi and that the two would like to keep playing together. Does one person leaving affect the other’s willingness to stay? Or, will Kane go for the biggest deal he can get and the Oilers are going to find a way to give it to him?
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.”