The Edmonton Oilers will take on a red-hot Chicago Blackhawks team whose GM has already said the rebuild plan in Chicago doesn’t change, regardless of how much the team wins or loses. In other words, the Blackhawks could win 10 in a row (they’ve already won four) and general manager Kyle Davidson still intends to shop players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at the NHL Trade Deadline, assuming either is willing to move on.
This presents a potential opportunity for the Oilers, specifically GM Ken Holland. Edmonton has been linked to both Kane and Toews in trade rumors and while deals aren’t likely happening at this point in the season, these are two players the Oilers will be keeping a close eye on as the season rolls along. Tonight, they’ll get a much closer look.
Oilers Can See Kane and Toews In Action
Kane will be playing on the top line tonight, with Toews slotted in as the second-line center. Kane will be working alongside Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou (two players also likely on the move before the deadline) and Toews will center former Oilers Jujhar Khaira and winger Taylor Raddysh.
What the Oilers will be watching for is how both players push the river with less-than-stellar linemates and Holland will be taking notes considering each player comes with a hefty price tag. Both players are a $10.5 million cap hit and Holland will have to ask, is the dynamic skill of Kane worth the price? When you consider how deep the Oilers are at forward, one has to wonder if a winger is the best place Edmonton should spend the little money they have. Conversely, is Toews’ leadership, faceoff skill, and other intangibles worth the same cap hit? There’s a lot to like about what Toews can bring when he’s being effective.
Are Oilers Leaning More Toward Toews?
Early on, it was all about how Kane would look as part of the team’s already deep top-six. Imagine two lines that include Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman and Patrick Kane: it’s an embarrassment of riches. But, the Oilers could potentially find a better use for Toews, who is having a solid start to this 2022-23 season.
When asked by Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now Wednesday if the team should feel comfortable moving two second-round picks for a player like Toews, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector responded by listing off all the good qualities Toews brings. He added that if the Oilers believed he wasn’t necessarily just a rental, it would be worth it. He also noted, “It’s time, they’re here now. The good news is you’re not giving up a first-round pick which I like.”
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Spector is correct when he says it wouldn’t cost a first-rounder. Toews shouldn’t cost a lot, even if other teams like Colorado might show interest. That said, Kane will cost a first, plus some. Regardless of which team acquires the winger (the New York Rangers are the heavy favorites), that team will be giving up a first, a prospect, and a roster player contends Stauffer. For a rental, that’s a lot for Edmonton to part with.
What If It’s Not Either Of Those Players?
One other thing to consider is that Edmonton might want to take notes on a few other names in the Blackhawks’ lineup tonight. While Kane and Toews are the contracts and names fans are focused on, Domi has a lot to offer when he’s on his game. The Blackhawks also have Jack Johnson as a depth defenseman, and at $950K, he’s not the worst option the Oilers will inevitably consider this year.
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On the ice, the Oilers and head coach Jay Woodcroft will be trying to get a win and stop the Blackhawks’ win streak in its tracks. Off the ice, Holland will be closely watching the opposing team and how effective the players who are surely being shopped will be.