We’re going to have some fun today. TSN’s Trade Bait Board came out today, and trade speculation is ramping up across the league as we inch closer to the Conference Finals.
This is a follow-up to last week’s article where I talked about who the Oilers could realistically afford to trade this off-season. I have come up with several trade suggestions based on who I think the Oilers could move, who might have a need for those players, and what realistic returns could be. It is important for me to note that these trade suggestions are entirely based on my speculation and that I have absolutely no inside information. I’m just a fan like you. Anyway, let’s get after it.
PIT – They will likely let Schultz walk because of their desire to cut payroll this coming season. Marino is basically playing 2nd pairing minutes. He was 3rd on the team with 17:27 of even strength ice-time last season. Schultz’s assumed departure leaves their 3RD spot open. Enter Matt Benning? Schultz’s departure opens up PP time. Benning has an underrated shot and could be an option on 2nd unit behind Letang.
Jared McCann looks to be available according to Elliotte Friedman. He can play centre or LW. McCann could be a good fit as a scoring 3C with a reasonable cap hit. The Penguins have been looking for more jam in their line-up for a while now. I wonder if Benning and Khaira would be enough to land McCann. Khaira is signed through next season for $50k cheaper than McCann’s previous contract, and Benning would be significantly cheaper than Schultz was. Both teams stand to benefit from that trade.
Trade Suggestion: Benning and Khaira for McCann.
The Penguins could also think a bit bigger when looking to fill the assumedly vacated spot of Schultz by going after Adam Larsson. Larsson would be an upgrade defensively over Schultz, and he would be over $1 million cheaper. Nick Bjugstad did not play for the Penguins in the bubble, and he wasn’t exactly lighting it up for the Penguins before that. He has 16 points in 45 games for the Penguins since being acquired at the deadline in 2018. It’s not world beating production, but it’s not bad for 3C production. He’s a big, right-shot centre with some level of offensive pedigree. The money would essentially be a wash, and it would fill a need for both teams.
Trade Suggestion: Larsson for Bjugstad.
Using the asset that the Oilers got for Taylor Hall to acquire Bjugstad has absolutely no chance of going over well with the fans, even though it might represent a realistic return for Larsson at this point. However, the Oilers could choose to ask for one of the Penguins’ RFA goalies for Larsson instead. Matt Murray is a two-time Stanley Cup winner that has looked average in the regular season. Young Tristan Jarry took over the starting job from Murray in 2019-20, and he ended up at the All-Star game in 2020. It would be really cool to see the former Oil King back in Edmonton. Using the return for Hall to acquire a young goaltender would definitely be a more popular deal among fans than getting Bjugstad. Either way, the Oilers and Penguins could be potential trade partners.
Trade Suggestion: Larsson and a 2021 4th round pick for Murray.
TOR – While we’re on the subject of Larsson, Friedman also suggested that the Leafs will not look to move William Nylander unless a sure-fire top 4 RD is coming the other way. Larsson is definitely that. The Oilers would need to move out more salary to make that trade work. The Oilers could part with a winger if they were to get Nylander. With Puljujarvi potentially coming back and the right side being over-flowing, it could be a RW. Kassian makes sense because his contract is the richest on the right side, and Puljujarvi could fill his role as a RW that could jump up and down the line-up.
Trade Suggestion: Larsson and Kassian for Nylander and Nick Petan.
MTL – Who else do we know that has a young RFA scoring winger that had a down season in 2019-20 with approximately a $3 million cap hit? I wonder if a trade involving Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou would be possible. Domi is exactly the type of player the Oilers need. He’s got a bit of everything: speed, scoring, playmaking, and toughness. Athanasiou is a former 30-goal scorer that has a ton of speed. I see Domi as having more value in the trade market, but I don’t think the Oilers would have to add much to make that a fair trade.
MTL does have a need for a 3RD behind Weber and Petry. Matt Benning could be a great fit for them. If Benning gets added to the mix, then the Canadiens would need to add a little something. They have PLENTY of picks. They have 14 this year and 11 next year.
Trade Suggestion: Athanasiou and Benning for Domi and a 2020 4th round pick.
Montreal would get a young scoring winger and a solid 3RD, and the Oilers would get a scoring winger for McDavid or Leon along with a roster spot for Evan Bouchard. Win, win.
Also on Montreal, Philip Danault has been a gem for them. He came there as a young centre expected to fill a checking role, but he emerged as a viable option in their top 6. MTL has two young centres that may have passed him on the depth chart in Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki, and I’m guessing that he’s not pumped about that based on his comments about his role being uncertain going forward as outlined in 31 Thoughts this week. I don’t think there’s a fit in Edmonton because the Oilers would want him to be a 3C and that’s seemingly not what he wants, but he’s a player that should be of interest to Holland.
NYR – The Rangers are an uber interesting team to watch right now. Their rebuild has been fast and furious. They went from sending a letter to fans indicating they were starting a rebuild at the deadline in 2018 to a play-in series berth in 2020. They are in the unique situation of being a team on the rise with an upcoming number 1 overall pick. Alexis Lafreniere will be a Ranger next season barring any unforeseen circumstances, and they will likely want him in their top 6.
Lafreniere is a LW. They already have Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin and long-time Ranger Chris Kreider playing LW in their top 6. They’ve got Kappo Kaako at RW, and he’s not going anywhere. The other top-6 winger for the Rangers is Pavel Buchnevich. He’s a lefty playing RW for the time being, and he appears to be the odd-man out in the Rangers top 6. This is, of course, speculation on my part; but we have been hearing Buchnevich’s name in trade rumours for years now.
The Rangers also have an intriguing RFA goalie in Alex Georgiev. King Henrik has one-year left in his contract, and Ilya Shesterkin is now NHL-ready. Georgiev is definitely available. The question is what would they want in return.
They’ve got a little bit of cap space, but they also need to pay RFA Tony DeAngelo after a breakout season. I’m guessing that they don’t want to take on a whole bunch of salary. As a team that is still trying to build with limited cap space, they would probably want draft capital and prospects. However, the Oilers don’t have a lot of those assets to move.
The spot on the Rangers roster that could probably use a little attention is LD. They might like to add a veteran LD to play on their 3rd pairing. Kris Russell fits that mold. The Oilers could also part with William Lagesson. Niether name is admittedly super likely to be appealing to the Rangers, but they could be good fits there. The Rangers could also use a bit more of a veteran presence at RW in their bottom 6. Alex Chiasson could fill that need.
Trade Suggestion: Buchnevich for Russell ($1 million retained) and Chiasson.
Trade Suggestion: Georgiev for Russell ($2 million retained), Marody, and a 2021 4th round pick.
These trade suggestions are probably stretches, but I don’t see the Oilers giving up the likes of Nurse or Klefbom for either Buchnevich or Georgiev. The Rangers are an interesting team, but they aren’t likely trade partners for the Oilers.
LA – If there’s one team out there with cap space and a need for LD, it’s the LA Kings. The Kings also happen to be coached by former Oilers coach Todd McLellan, who had a certain adoration for his veteran defenders like Russell while he was coaching in Edmonton. The Kings currently have Ben Hutton as their top LD. They are HURTING at that position. They have Kale Clague and Tomas Bjornfot coming up the pipeline, but neither will make the Kings more competitive next season. Russell makes a lot of sense as a potential fit in LA, but we don’t know if LA is on Russell’s list of approved trade destinations or not. Given how awful they are, they probably aren’t on that list.
Assuming Russell would be willing to go to LA, the Kings have a boatload of draft picks. They have 11 this year and 10 next year. If there is one team that could possibly pull off the Russell for draft picks or prospects trade that many Oilers fans have been wishing for ever since he signed here, it’s the Kings.
Trade Suggestion: Russell for anything the Kings would be willing to move. The real gains for the Oilers here would be cap space and a roster spot for Caleb Jones.
OTT – If there’s another team with cap space and a need at LD, it’s the Sens. The Sens allowed the 2nd most goals in the NHL last season. They have a young team and a struggling defence. Beyond Thomas Chabot, they have nothing at LD. They could use a veteran shot blocking LD. They have the cap space to take Russell’s contract, and Eugene Melnyk would likely appreciate the fact that Russell is only owed $1.5 million in real dollars next season. Once again, a potential road block here would be Russell’s desire to leave the Oilers to go and play for a bottom feeding Ottawa team.
The Sens are not in a position to be unloading top players and prospects right now. If the Sens were to take Russell, then Russell would be the best player in the trade. That would be fine for the Oilers given the fact that they already have Russell’s replacement in house. The Sens could give the Oilers Mike Reilly, a fringe defenceman with a $1.5 million cap hit. That equals Russell’s real dollars owed, and it would be an upgrade to their roster. Meanwhile, it would give the Oilers a serviceable 7D, which is positive because defence depth is always important and it would prevent a prospect from being stuck in that role not being able to play.
Trade Suggestion: Russell for Reilly and whatever else OTT would be willing to move.
CBJ – Like the Penguins, the Blue Jackets are in a goaltending quandry going into this season. They have two great young goaltenders, and the Seattle Kraken expansion draft is drawing near. They will only be able to protect one of them, and they risk losing one for nothing next summer if they don’t trade one before next season’s trade deadline.
They don’t HAVE to move one. They could simply expose one and make a side deal with Seattle where they give up draft capital and/or another roster player in exchange for mercy.
They could also trade one of their goalies to make their team stronger in other areas. They have cap space and no RFAs or UFAs of any real significance to re-sign. The Blue Jackets need more players that can score, and they have an identity of playing hard nosed, physical hockey. They could also use more playoff experience and leadership. James Neal seems like a potential fit there.
The Oilers would certainly have to add to this deal to make it worthwhile for CBJ. That could mean giving up draft picks. It could also mean taking a poison pill off of their hands such as Alex Wennberg. He’s being paid $4.9 million for bottom 6 production; but he’s a skilled potential 3C for the Oilers, and the Oilers could afford that contract if Neal’s were to go the other way. Wennberg’s contract is also even more buyout friendly than Neal’s. His cap hit would be $441,667 per season, as opposed to Neal’s $1,916,667 per season. The savings on a potential Wennberg buyout would be in excess of $4 million, whereas the savings on a Neal buyout are just over $3 million. They both have 3 years left on their deals.
Trade Suggestion: Neal and the 2021 1st round pick for Korpisalo and Wennberg.
The Oilers would have to give up the first rounder because they be getting the best player in the trade in Korpisalo, and the Oilers would be getting a cheaper contract with a less severe buyout penalty in Wennberg. I’d spend a first rounder on that type of value in goal for the next couple of seasons and potentially beyond, especially if it were to help fill the 3C position with a skilled player as well.
WPG – This is the controversial stuff that you came for. The Jets might be looking to move a winger this off-season, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli. The Trade Bait Board came out today, and two Jets scoring wingers made the list. Patrik Laine is one of the best young snipers in the league, and Nikolaj Ehlers can absolutely fly. Both players should be of interest to Holland and the Oilers… but at what cost?
The Jets have two obvious holes on their roster. Josh Morrisey is their top defenceman, but they don’t have much behind him, especially on the left side. Dmitry Kulikov is an UFA. They have nobody else of consequence on the left side. Meanwhile, the Oilers are swimming in LDs.
Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse are borderline top pairing/second pairing LDs. Winnipeg would be interested in either one of Klefbom or Nurse to play in their top 4 in conjunction with Morrisey.
Caleb Jones appears to be ready for a full-time NHL job, so he could be an internal replacement. The Oilers also have William Lagesson, Philip Broberg, and Dmitri Samorukov coming up the pipeline on the left side.
The other hole on Winnipeg’s roster is the 2C spot. Bryan Little has been that guy for a while, but he can’t stay healthy anymore and his career is in jeopardy after suffering a serious head injury this past season. I like Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp, but they are not top 2 centers on any team. Mathieu Perrault leaves a lot to be desired as well. I shudder at the thought of having to even suggest this, but a move involving Laine or Ehlers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could make sense. Nugent-Hopkins has been forced to become a LW instead of playing his natural centre position because of the need to have McDavid and Draisaitl on separate lines. Moving Nuge for Laine or Ehlers would give the Oilers superstar centres a true winger to play with, and it would allow Nuge to play centre with skilled wingers for the first time in a long time in Winnipeg.
Laine is an RFA after next season. He will command BIG money I’m sure. It makes sense that the Jets won’t want to spend the money on Laine’s next contract given the fact that they have Kyle Connor, who scored 10 more goals than Laine this past season, signed long-term. The acquisition cost for Laine will be higher than it will be for Ehlers, and Laine’s next contract will be pricey. Laine’s next deal would likely force the Oilers to bleed depth over the next few seasons just like the Leafs have… we see how well it’s working out for them. I think it would be fiscally irresponsible to trade for Laine.
From a hockey standpoint, I’d rather have Laine’s right shot and sniping ability alongside McDavid. From a cap standpoint, I’d rather have Ehlers. Ehlers has cost certainty at a reasonable $6 million cap hit for the next 5 seasons. Ehlers makes so much more sense for that reason, even though he isn’t as exciting as Laine. Either one would be a nice fit in Edmonton though.
Trade Suggestion: Nurse or Nuge for Ehlers.
Trade Suggestion: Nurse or Nuge and the 2021 1st round pick for Laine.
I personally don’t think that this is the time to trade a top 4 D. We’ve seen how awful the team has been with Klefbom out of the lineup over the last couple of seasons, and I’m bullish on Nurse’s importance to a future Stanley Cup championship team in Edmonton. One of the lefties will likely have to be moved once Broberg emerges, but not yet. If one of the top 4 D has to be moved now, it should be Larsson; but I’m not sold on a Bear, Jones, Benning right side for next season. I’m also not sold on a Bear, Bouchard, and Benning or Jones right side. It’s too inexperienced and it will get exposed in the playoffs. The current group just got exposed against CHI, but I like the odds of the current group being better next season than the younger version post-Larsson trade that I just suggested.
We have to look at these trade suggestions for what they are. They are purely speculation meant to create fun conversation among us pretend GMs. The odds of Holland making any of the deals that I suggested are beyond low, but there are definitely trade partners available, and there are trades that could make the team better.
Next week, I’ll dive in and take a closer look at Holland’s potential UFA targets.