Rumors Resurface Of Trade Talks Between Oilers and Blackhawks

Not much is expected out of the Edmonton Oilers heading into this year’s NHL Trade Deadline. There’s talk of a couple of potential moves and I focused on one yesterday when I noted that the Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers could make for good partners. Almost immediately after I wrote that piece, a trade rumor between the Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks resurfaced.

The rumor coming out of Chicago is that the Oilers might have an interest in is Dominik Kubalik. Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the Blackhawks are making progress on a Kubalik trade and that the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers were frontrunners. He later added the Winnipeg Jets have joined the conversation.

Why Kubalik Is Interesting for Oilers

If you look at all of the Oilers’ needs heading into the deadline, another middle-six winger might not be high up on the priority list. With Jesse Puljujarvi coming back and a decent top-nine when everyone is healthy, Kubalik seems like a luxury the Oilers potentially can’t afford. When you factor in that Kubalik is also due a big qualifying offer next season, it’s a financial commitment the Oilers would be making to the player if they give up anything to acquire him, simply because it makes little sense to spend assets on a player you have no intention of keeping.

Dominik Kubalik Chicago Blackhawks
Dominik Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The counter-argument might be that if the Oilers are in this, perhaps Chicago is dumping the player. If the Blackhawks are willing to retain salary in the deal and is taking on half of Kublaik’s $3.7 million contract, acquiring someone with Kubalik’s skill set for just over $1.8 million is a calculated risk that could make some sense.

Could Kubalik Get Hot?

A former 30-goal guy, Kubalik is going through an inexplicable stretch of poor production. His lack of goal-scoring has been puzzling for the Blackhawks and for the player who has mentioned he’s not sure what is wrong with his game. He’s studied video with the team and tried to find ways to get back to his old self, but nothing has worked and he’s sitting on 11 goals and 21 points in 61 games.

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At the same time, if he does get hot, he could be an extremely dangerous player for a team. As Pope points out in a recent article:

He’s unquestionably a talented player, too. His off-the-charts surge on Jonathan Toews’ wing in January 2020 won’t be forgotten for a while, as it demonstrated all the best parts of his game: a knack for finding scoring areas, underrated upper-body strength used to create space to shoot and, of course, a bullet of a shot.

source – ‘If trade happens, Dominik Kubalik’s Blackhawks tenure will come to unsatisfying end’ Ben Pope – Chicago Sun Times – 03/16/2022

The Oilers took a chance on Evander Kane and he’s paid off in spades over a short window with the team. Could Holland potentially find lightning in a bottle twice?

Rumors Could Be a Lot of Nothing

TSN’s Ryan Rishaug responded to Pope’s tweet and posted a comment on the Kubalik rumors. He writes, “I suppose things can change quickly, but it is my sense that Kubalik is not on the Oilers radar at this moment in a meaningful way.” He added, “I believe the focus remains on some blue-line help. A depth F is a possibility but not at or near top of the list.”

As mentioned when this article started, it seems odd that the Oilers would be keying in on another forward ahead of the deadline, which either means Pope overstated how much the Oilers are in these trade talks or he knows something Rishaug doesn’t.

Now, if only the Oilers could capture Marc-Andre Fleury‘s attention if they’re already talking to Chicago. That’s the player Edmonton really needs coming out of that organization.