Oilers’ List of Blue Line Trade Targets Includes Surprising Names

The Edmonton Oilers have been linked to a few different names, specifically defensemen heading into the NHL Trade Deadline. Among the players most commonly associated with what the Oilers might be looking to add, Joel Edmundson and Jakob Chychrun have been thrown out there more often than most. But, one source close to the Oilers suggests the team isn’t likely to add a big name and probably won’t lean in the direction most anticipate.

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Noting that the prices on some of the names floating out there in the rumor mill are extremely high, former Oilers Host and now TSN radio broadcaster Tom Gazzola says he’s not sure the Oilers are going to go in the direction most fans and insiders might be projecting. Noting that not even packing up prospects and mid-round picks would get the Oilers one of the names that are commonly mentioned in the rumor mill, the organization may have another plan.

During his Oil Stream podcast with Dustin Nielson, Gazzola said he would personally move two firsts for a player like Chychrun, but also noted:

“I was told that the list they are compiling is pretty big, there’s names on there that haven’t been thrown out there yet, and there’s guys that might shake loose when teams start to fall out of the playoff race, or when teams start to decide that they’re sellers and not buyers that the Oilers might make a run at, and people were like ‘Oh, I didn’t know he was available!?’, and they get a guy like that.”

What Does This Mean for the Oilers?

We can likely deduce a few things from Gazzola’s comments. First, the Oilers are definitely looking around the league for a defenseman. They’re doing their homework (as has been reported by other insiders) and finding out what the market looks like. Not only are they seeing what the prices will be, it sounds like Ken Holland is asking teams that are not yet officially sellers which players might be available, should these teams become sellers.

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Second, Gazzola seems to suggest that while rumors will still surround the Oilers and names like Chychrun, it’s unlikely the Oilers pull the trigger on a deal like that. Instead, Holland may elect to go with a lesser-known player or someone most insiders didn’t associate with Edmonton as the trade deadline creeps closer.

As for who the Oilers might be targeting, that may only be learned as teams start falling out of the playoff race.

Is This the Right Option For the Oilers?

The names linked to Edmonton so far have been all over the map. From Erik Karlsson — who, according to Bob Stauffer is worth three first-round picks to the San Jose Sharks — to John Klingberg (who might not even be worth a first), it feels like there is no name that hasn’t been connected to Edmonton in some form or fashion. Perhaps the best play is to go off the board and shop in a place where not a lot of teams are shopping.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland
Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Holland has to have identified what it is this team needs. While he waits for that player either to present himself internally or it is learned the Oilers don’t have that player in-house, Holland will continue to look and formulate a plan. And, from what Gazzola suggests, that plan might come as a surprise to many.

Is there a defenseman out there that no one is looking at? Are there teams on the verge of falling out of the playoff race that could have someone of interest to Edmonton? Bubble teams right now include the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, and Nashville Predators. Some of those teams might jump up in the standings and become buyers. A few more losses and they may start calling Holland.

This is just a guess, but might a player like Nick Leddy, Marc Staal, or Mattias Ekholm be of interest?