Oilers Should Target Avalanche In Big Blue Line Trade

The Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche could be a good fit in a trade, assuming there is some truth to the rumors that UFA forward Nazem Kadri would actually wind up back in Colorado. Kadri hasn’t signed with a new club in free agency yet, and talk of the Avs wanting to stay in the loop are out there.

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Should Kadri come back to the defending Stanley Cup Champions, it will be inevitable that GM Chris MacFarland will have to clear cap space, and that’s where the Oilers come in.

Oilers Might Want to Watch Situation Closely

If the Avalanche clear cap space, it could come in the form of Samuel Girard. Removing his $5 million contract for the next five seasons would give the Avalanche the room — or at least, get them close to what they need — to get Kadri back in the fold. The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla writes:

Girard is a sweet, puck-moving defenseman with dangerous offensive ability. But those skills are not as essential to the Avalanche’s defense of the Cup as what Kadri or another legit No. 2 center could provide this team in its quest to repeat.

source – ‘Kiszla: In quest for legit No. 2 center, Avs should consider trading Sam Girard’ – Mark Kiszla – Denver Post – 07/14/2022

Girard is the kind of defenseman Oilers GM Ken Holland should be looking for. While the Oilers did a good thing by re-signing Brett Kulak, and he looks to be projected as the second-pairing defenseman on the left side for the Oilers this coming season, Edmonton could use some insurance at that position. If Darnell Nurse has additional injury issues or Kulak struggles to play the extra minutes moving up to the second pair brings, Girard is a great option there. His cap hit is a bit higher than the Oilers would like, but it’s lower than Duncan Keith’s would have been and Girard is 24 years old and would mix in well with the Oilers nucleus, providing a solid top-four d-man during this four-year window to win.

Why Would the Avalanche Trade Girard?

Outside of the fact the Avs need cap space, the reality is, Girard isn’t the type of blueliner most teams would want to move. That said, the Avalanche aren’t most teams. They have an embarrassment of riches on their blue line, and their top four in the foreseeable future could be Devon Toews, Cale Makar Bowen Byram, and Josh Manson. The team also just signed Brad Hunt to a two-year deal, adding more depth at a position they are already stacked. As such, Girard becomes expendable.

Colorado Avalanche's Samuel Girard
Colorado Avalanche’s Samuel Girard (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)

Colorado can afford to make this deal and if he does officially hit the trade block, there will be multiple teams looking at him. Not every team has the room to make a move for a player who has $5 million left on his contract for multiple seasons, the Oilers can, and they can afford to give the Avs something decent back in return.

Why Would the Oilers Want Girard?

Edmonton has one real hole left to fill. Some are suggesting the team might add some forward depth and that the uncertain status of three RFAs means the Oilers should be cautious about adding too much money, but Girard is a talented left-hand shot defender who can play both sides and the Oilers could use a player like him.

Related: Oilers Inquired About Blockbuster Deal With Blackhawks [Report]

When Edmonton lost Keith to retirement, they created a hole on that left side. Kulak will fill it in some regards, but it would be extremely nice for the Oilers to have a serviceable defenseman who can play 20-plus minutes per night without even blinking. He’s a nice fit in the top four, he can move around in the event of an injury and he’s locked into a solid deal. He does not have any trade protection and the Oilers would just need to figure out the right terms of a trade that satisfies what Colorado needs.

Keep Kadri Out of Calgary

While not exclusively a reason to do the trade, there is a positive that could come from the Avs moving Girard because Kadri is sticking in Colorado. It’s an indirect plus for the Oilers, but it’s still a plus.

If Kadri goes back to Colorado, that means he isn’t going to Calgary, a team that is rumored to be interested in his services because they lost Johnny Gaudreau. Edmonton only plays Calgary a handful of times this coming season, but Kadri not being in the same division or on the rival Flames roster is good news for the Oilers.

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