If the Edmonton Oilers aren’t willing to trade their first-round pick or a high-end prospect for a rental, the likelihood the team makes a trade before the NHL deadline goes down. If the Oilers aren’t open to trading for anyone but a player with term; but even then, are hesitant to move their first in a package for someone like Jakob Chychrun, one has to start wondering what the Oilers are willing to trade?
Holland Has Limited the Oilers’ Options
Just by saying the “I’m not doing that” in recent media avail about the Oilers being open to improving the team with a short-term addition, the general manager has made it so that teams who deal with Edmonton can only deal players with term. That won’t include a number of franchises and the ones who are open to it, will inevitably try to dump bad contracts on the veteran GM.
Both Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talked about Holland’s comments and Marek said he couldn’t wrap his head around some of the things he’s hearing out of Edmonton. While Friedman did admit that Holland wasn’t ruling out a trade altogether, the NHL insider believed Holland was simply saying they’ll be no short-term fixes for the Oilers this season (a possible Evander Kane signing notwithstanding). Both said they’d heard the Oilers were hesitant to include a first-rounder in a package for Chychrun and that left the hosts scratching their heads about what the plan is for the Oilers — a team that cannot afford to miss the playoffs this season.
So What Would the Oilers Trade?
If the first-rounder is off the table and high-end prospects like Philip Broberg, Dylan Holloway, Ryan McLeod, Markus, Niemeläinen, and others aren’t available, what is? An argument can be made the team would be willing to move Kailer Yamamoto, but he might not fetch enough in return as an inconsistent pending RFA to make it worth moving him alone. The Oilers would love to trade a player like Mikko Koskinen if they could get a better goaltender, but who is biting on that trade? Edmonton isn’t moving Jesse Puljujarvi and they certainly won’t be trading one of their top stars.
That leaves a player like Tyson Barrie.
Barrie is a productive offensive defenseman on a decent contract with term remaining. If the Oilers wanted to make a “hockey trade”, he’s the most likely candidate because an acquiring team knows what they’ll be getting. Not every team will be interested, but there would be a market for the blueliner if a team that has a need can move another player at a position they have a surplus.
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Barrie has often been a whipping boy by the analytics community, but he’s also been more reliable defensively than he’s often given credit for and in the right situation, he could be a big addition for a team that has plans to use him in a top-four role. For Holland, it’s simply about finding the right team where a player like Barrie makes sense.
Bouchard Made Barrie Expendable
Barrie has posted an extremely quiet 17 points in 33 games this season. Part of the reason few have noticed Barrie is playing at a 43-point pace is because of the play of Evan Bouchard. No longer a rookie, Bouchard is about as close as it gets. He was kept in the system last season when the pandemic wreaked havoc on the rosters and the Oilers couldn’t find a way to get him regular action. Because the team wasn’t completely sure how he’d fare in the NHL, Holland signed Barrie to a team-friendly, but longer-term extension.
Bouchard has been everything the Oilers could have asked for and more. With 19 points in 34 games, his strong play has pushed Barrie way down the lineup as the two players have similar skill sets and while there’s still reason to hold onto Barrie in a season where any player could go down at any time, Bouchard is the reason Barrie could be moved in a deal that fills a hole for this team.
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Like Barrie, Bouchard is under team control for a while and the Oilers will eventually need to come up with a long-term offer for the player. That alone makes Barrie an asset the Oilers will eventually have to move. Edmonton could try to sell a bridge deal to Bouchard at the end of the 2022-23 season, but there’s an argument to be made for pitching a longer-term contract before the NHL salary cap dramatically increases.
What Would the Oilers Want?
As for what Holland could get for Barrie… that’s another story. Part of it would depend on the team(s) he’s talking to. Part of it would depend on when the trade takes place. If there are more pieces, there are more options and if Holland can locate a reclamation project or player who needs a fresh start, perhaps there’s a deal to be made that offers the Oilers a valued piece moving forward.
Keep in mind, the deal would likely have to be for a player making $4.5 million or less. The Oilers don’t have the room on their salary cap to add a player making any more than that.