Oilers Working to Gain Leverage On 3 Teams In Substantial Trade

If the Edmonton Oilers make a big trade ahead of this season’s NHL Trade Deadline, it will probably be to add a left-shot defenseman. The names general manager Ken Holland has zeroed in on seem to change from week to week, but the strategy remains the same: make sure you know you want to pull the trigger on a trade and get the best deal you possibly can while moving money out for any money that comes in. To pull this off, Holland is going to need leverage, something he’s actively trying to gain in trade discussions.

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As per Pierre LeBrun, the Oilers are among the teams calling the Arizona Coyotes about Jakob Chychrun. He notes during the recent TSN Insider Trading report that the Oilers have also called the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens. The plan seems to be to grease multiple wheels, but he explains the Oilers aren’t the only ones shopping around, as the Los Angeles Kings are doing the same, with interest in similar players.

What Is Going On With the Oilers and Kings?

When it comes to the Canadiens and Blue Jackets, the targets there are Joel Edmundson and Vladislav Gavrikov. The NHL insider notes, “It’s an interesting sub-plot when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers and the Los Angeles Kings, Pacific Division rivals who played each other in the first round last year: they’re calling for a lot of left-handed shot defencemen.” He adds that Chychrun is at the top of both teams’ lists, but you can go down the list of franchises the Oilers and Kings have talked to.

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

LeBrun suggests the plan seems to be to try and play these sellers against each other. To date, the asking prices on all of these defensemen have been extremely high and LeBrun says both the Kings and Oilers are waiting for these prices to come down. “They don’t want to let emotions take control,” he notes.

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Is there a way for the Oilers and Kings to get the prices to come down?

How The Oilers Could Gain Leverage Here

If Arizona believes that Edmonton has a legitimate interest in Edmundson or Gavrikov and there’s a desire to move Chychrun, it could be the Coyotes who potentially blink first. Should their ask be two first-rounders and a second-rounder (or the equivalent) and the Oilers say ‘Sorry, that’s too much, we’ll just go to Plan B’, perhaps the Coyotes budge and get a bit more flexible as the days creep closer to March 3.

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Essentially, this is becoming a big game of chicken. Do the Coyotes, Kings, Oilers, or another team crumble first in their stance on a trade? In a manner of speaking, whoever does, loses. The best Holland can do is make the Coyotes think he’s equally interested in any of the defensemen available and if one of those teams comes back to Edmonton in a hurry and says, ‘OK, we’ll take this for the player’ Holland has a bit of control over how things unfold.

Is There a Downside to This Strategy?

If Holland is trying to wait out the Coyotes, Canadiens, and Blue Jackets, there is one wrinkle that could throw this strategy for a loop. Neither the Canadiens nor the Coyotes have to move Edmundson or Chychrun. Both players have term left on their deal, which means both teams still have contract control.

Only Gavrikov is a pending UFA that the Blue Jackets could potentially lose for nothing in the offseason and only they need to move the player. If there are two or more buyers and only one active or motivated seller, the demand becomes greater than the supply and the price goes up, not down.

At that point, it becomes a question of how badly the Oilers want to make an addition.