The Edmonton Oilers are very much in the race for the playoffs, and if they can get things turned around quickly after this extended break, they will definitely be looking to finish off addressing the needs for this season. The more glaring needs include a goaltender, left defenceman, and a third-line centre or scoring forward.
The Columbus Blue Jackets can offer the Oilers choices in everything except a defenceman, as the pool to choose from among the players who will be available wouldn’t be an upgrade. After a surprising and respectable start to the season, the Blue Jackets have started to fall down the standings and have gone 3-6-1 in their last 10. They are in possibly the toughest division in the NHL and would need to jump some serious contenders to get in.
Whether it’s closer to the trade deadline or sooner to get more value out of a pending free agent, the Oilers should have the Blue Jackets on their radar to look to improve this season. Frank Seravalli marks down all three of the following players as trade pieces for the Blue Jackets.
Of the three possibilities, Max Domi could make the most impact down the stretch with his physical style of play and the bounce-back season he’s putting together. Just three years removed from his 72-point season as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, he may not have the ability to reach that level again, but his scoring and confidence has returned.
Domi also may not be a top-six talent anymore and isn’t worth the $5.3 million he’s owed this season, but he’s proving to be a very effective third-line player who can score and provide toughness, something the Oilers lack throughout their lineup. Domi is tied for sixth on the team in points, playing over three minutes below his career average in ice time.
In Edmonton, Domi would have the fifth-most points among forwards (16) and the fifth-most goals on the team (eight). What makes this very appealing is that he’d done this all at even strength, another area the Oilers need to improve in since they have relied on their power play a ton and the overall power plays league-wide are decreasing.
Domi can play centre or the wing, and could be very effective in a middle-six role, presumably a third-line role in Edmonton. The Blue Jackets would have to retain salary, as the Oilers don’t have much to work with, but he could garner a higher draft pick or B-level prospect if he keeps up his play over the next couple months.
Jack Roslovic may be a surprise for anyone who doesn’t follow the Blue Jackets closely, but it’s been night and day from last season to this one for the young player. Last season we saw him stand out as the most impressive piece of the trade that also included Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois between the Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets.
Roslovic started 2020-21 with 29 points in the first 35 games before finishing the season with 34 points in 48. He played 16:54 of ice time per game compared to this season where he’s playing just 12:22, a huge drop. With that, he’s scored just five goals and 14 points in 32 games. Like Domi, Roslovic has recorded all of his points at even strength, so that’s a bonus if he were to join the Oilers.
Top-line minutes may have been a stretch so early in his career, but middle six is reasonable for Roslovic. In Edmonton, he could centre the third line with the ability to shift over to the wing. He is very affordable at around $1.838 million for the remainder of the season as a restricted free agent. Depending on how he performs if the Oilers were to acquire him, they have the option of re-upping him. Roslovic is only 24, so there’s still time to see what kind of player he settles into.
As for goaltending, any netminder that is on a possible seller has been brought up as a target for the Oilers, Joonas Korpisalo included. With the Blue Jackets making their decision on the future in net as Elvis Merzlikins by signing him to a five year, $5.4 million average annual value (AAV) contract, Korpisalo is the odd man out.
He has shown signs of being able to step up huge at big moments as his play in the 2020 Playoffs indicates. He started nine games and held a .941 save percentage (SV%), also making the most saves in a game in NHL history with 85.
This season could definitely be better, but you also have to take into account what kind of team is playing in front of him. At this point, there are better options in net out there that should be available, it’s just a matter of price and willingness to pay. Korpisalo’s .904 SV% is much better than this season indicates, and a change of scenery couldn’t hurt. It’s very likely they move him before the deadline, and the Oilers can buy low if nothing else presents itself.
The Oilers may be spending bigger on a high-end goaltender or a defence, which makes the cheaper options of the available forwards on the Blue Jackets a good go-to if they feel the need to address that situation down the line. With the recent statement from Ken Holland not wanting to trade for a rental, Domi or Korpisalo may have to turn into a sign and trade if he were to even consider them.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
You can find more of his work here.