3 Trade Options the Oilers Could Target From the Florida Panthers

When it becomes time to activate their injured players and as the Florida Panthers try to find room on their salary cap to ice their healthy roster, questions about who the team will inevitably trade are out there. Insiders suggest someone has to go as there’s going to be an inevitable need for the Panthers to clear salary cap space. That creates a potential opportunity for other teams, even the Edmonton Oilers.

While the Oilers have their own cap concerns, there is chatter GM Ken Holland is looking for toughness and grit, while trying to update his blue line. Is there anything the Panthers have that the Oilers might want? Ideally, Radko Gudas would be a nice fit, but the Panthers aren’t likely to move him. Who else could be on Edmonton’s radar?

Anthony Ducalir Could Be Simplest Solution

Most of the problems the Panthers are about to face stem from the fact that Anthony Duclair is nearly ready to return to the lineup after suffering an Achilles injury. It’s his $3 million salary that the Panthers need to make room for and the easiest solution might be to simply trade him. It’s not necessarily what the Panthers want to do, but with another year on his contract after this one, there would be teams that like what he can bring if acquired.

Anthony Duclair Florida Panthers
Anthony Duclair, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Frank Seravalli listed Duclair on his trade bait board but put an asterisk beside his name. Seravalli writes:

One option, may be one of the easiest options, would be to take Duclair and unload him somewhere for free, have someone take him off your hands, you might even have to pay given the scenario that the Florida Panthers are in, to have someone bail you out in order to make that happen. But the reason Duclair has the asterisk and I call him a placeholder is I believe at this point he’s just as likely as some of the other players on the Florida Panthers roster that could be moved.

If the Panthers were willing to eat a little salary or take another smaller salary in return, the Oilers could be an option here. Duclair has speed, the proven ability to play with elite talent and he’s a proven goal scorer, with 31 goals last season. He would immediately slot into the Oilers’ top six and provide some scoring help where, to this point in the season, the Oilers haven’t had a ton of help outside their top stars.

Sam Bennett Would Add Some Bite to Oilers

Another player the Panthers would probably rather not move, but might feel the need to is Sam Bennett. He’s a player Seravalli believes could be discussed in trade talks if the Panthers prefer to hang onto Duclair. He too knows how to score, potting 28 goals for the Panthers last season, but he plays with more of an edge. That’s what the Oilers are looking for and it would be intriguing to see if Holland would be willing to part with a player making some money in his top nine.

Sam Bennett Florida Panthers
Sam Bennett, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Edmonton can’t take on Bennett’s $4.25 million salary for the next three seasons, so there would have to be a piece going the other way.

Patric Hornqvist Could Be a Rental Option

One of the reasons Patric Hornqvist wouldn’t be a top target for the Oilers is that the word is he doesn’t want to go anywhere and the Panthers made an unofficial promise not to trade him.  Elliotte Friedman pointed out in his latest 32 Thoughts Podcast, that GM Bill Zito gave the forward his word when he was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins that he’d be staying put. Zito doesn’t plan to break that promise.

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But, what if Hornqvist is alright with going?

Yes, I understand all the ‘why would he leave Florida for Edmonton?’ talk. On the surface, that’s fair. He’s also a pending UFA and the Panthers aren’t likely to keep him. If he knows he’s going to have to find a new home next season anyway, why not go to a team that really wants him and where he has an opportunity to play with two of the best centers in the NHL? There are worse places he can be for a few months and he could provide some middle-six scoring for the Oilers.

Patric Hornqvist Florida Panthers Brett Pesce Carolina Hurricanes Panthers
Patric Hornqvist, Florida Panthers and Brett Pesce, Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The trick here is that the Panthers will have to retain salary because he’s overpaid and the Oilers simply can’t afford to bring him in at a cap hit of $5.3 million. Could Edmonton pick him up for $3 million? Would it be worth it to do so?

Something Has to Give in Florida

As Servalli puts it, “Because the Florida Panthers have been flying incredibly close to the sun with the salary cap this season” they’ll need to do something to clear out space. They’re already dressing the league minimum when it comes to players and has already played a game one player short.

Seravalli points out they don’t really have a player they can send down when Duclair is ready to slot back in. “They absolutely must make a trade” says the NHL insider. Perhaps the Oilers can use that leverage to pick up a useful player.