In part 1, I examined the Oilers current roster situation and figured out how much cap space they have to work with if they want to acquire a scoring forward and be cap compliant upon activating Sekera from the LTIR. Here’s part 2 where I reveal who the Oilers can afford.
To review, the Oilers currently are $1.4625 million over the cap. In order to activate Sekera and add a scoring winger, they need to move two forwards and one defenceman (13 F and 8 D ratio). The goal of this exercise is to figure out how much cap space the Oilers can create to acquire a scoring forward, and to see which scoring forwards the Oilers could target.
There are few teams that are far enough out of the race that we can reasonably call them sellers. There are also some players being rumoured to be available from teams that are in the mix for a playoff spot still. Remember that the cap hit of a player going to a new team gets smaller by the day, which is why most teams wait until closer to the deadline to make their moves. However, time is not a luxury that the Oilers have in a tight playoff race. The Oilers would be smart to use the break wisely and wait until February 1 (the day before their first game after the break) to acquire their scoring winger.
Here is a list of the cap hits that each of the potential scoring winger acquisitions would have if the Oilers were to acquire them on February 1st:
Stone ($7.35M)- $2.569M
Duchene ($6M)- $2.097M
Panarin ($6M)- $2.097M
Nyqvist ($4.75M)- $1.660M
Johansson ($4.583M, M-NTC)- $1.602M
Zuccarello ($4.5M)- $1.573M
Simmonds ($3.975M)- $1.389M
Silfverberg ($3.75M)- $1.310M
Brassard ($5M – $3M for PIT)- $1.048M
Dzingel ($1.8M)- $0.629M
Ferland ($1.75M)- $0.612M
Wingers With Term:
Schenn (1x$5.125M)- $1.791M
Kreider (1x$4.625M, M-NTC)- $1.616M
Toffoli (1x$4.6M)- $1.608M
Bjugstad (2x$4.1M)- $1.433M
Coyle (1x$3.2M)- $1.118M
I speculated that the defenceman that would be most likely to move during the break would be Benning. The three forwards that are the most likely to move would be Spooner, Rieder, and Yamamoto. There are three combinations that involve two of those forwards being moved along with Benning. In order to see who could be acquired during the break, the transactions involving any players moving out will be calculated as if they were to occur on February 1. Here is how much cap space each of the three combinations would leave the Oilers with on February 1:
Yamamoto, Rieder, Benning: $0.7945 million
Spooner, Rieder, Benning: $0.9835 million
Spooner, Yamamoto, Benning: $1.1785 million
In any of the three scenarios, Dzingel would be the player with the highest cap hit that they could acquire on February 1st. The Oilers would have to make their trades a bit earlier in the break if they want to acquire Brassard or Coyle. The players that the Oilers could definitely take on before the break ends would be Dzingel or Ferland.
We know that the Oilers have been reportedly interested in Zuccarello. With $1.1785 million in cap space, the Oilers could acquire Zuccarello on February 18. In second scenario, they would have to move Benning one day earlier in order to acquire Zuccarello at the deadline. In the first scenario, they would have to move Manning on January 23 instead of Benning just to be able to acquire Zuccarello at the deadline.
My point is that if the Oilers want to acquire a scoring winger such as Zuccarello before the break, then the Oilers will need to trade Cam Talbot.
For the sake of simplicity, I will assume that the Oilers would open up the least amount of cap space possible based on the expected moves that I have laid out, which would leave the Oilers with $0.7945 million in cap space. Zuccarello’s cap hit on February 1 will be $1.573 million. Remember that trading Talbot would mean that the Oilers would need to acquire a back-up goalie. The net cap space gain from swapping goaltenders would need to be at least $0.7785 million. Trading Talbot on Febraury 1 would create $1.457 million in cap space. That would mean that their new back-up would need to carry a cap hit of $0.6785 million for the remainder of the season. In terms of a total cap hit, that would allow the Oilers to acquire a back-up goalie with a total cap hit of $1.94 million as of February 1. Chad Johnson is the most expensive impending UFA goaltender under that number ($1.75 million).
To recap, trading Talbot and replacing him with a goalie making as much as Chad Johnson or less would allow the Oilers to acquire Zuccarello during the break. That is without trading Spooner.
Let’s go at this from another angle. In the best-case scenario that I’ve laid out, the Oilers would create $1.1785 million in cap space with moves made on February 1. Adding a potential Talbot trade on February 1 to that number, that would leave the Oilers with $2.636 million in cap space.
$2.636 million on February 1 is the equivalent of a player with a total cap hit of $7.54 million. Keep in mind that the Oilers would need to use that cap space to acquire a scoring forward and a back-up goalie. Tarasenko or Stone would fit on the roster in that case before acquiring a back-up goalie. The next most expensive available scoring forwards would be Duchene or Panarin. That would leave $1.54 million for a back-up goalie. Michael Hutchinson ($1.3 million) or Keith Kinkaid ($1.25 million) would be possible back-up goaltender targets.
The thing to keep in mind with that scenario is that all of the trades would be happening on February 1. The trades could happen earlier than that, which could allow the Oilers to get Tarasenko and a back-up goalie on the roster before their next game. They could create even more cap space than that! Manning could get traded instead of Benning for all I know. He would be the 4th or 5th LD once Sekera is back, and if Chiarelli is gone by the morning, then the issue of his affinity for the player would be gone. More on that at the end.
The beautiful thing about that scenario is that Rieder would not have to be moved. If they wanted to get REALLY creative, they could create the cap space to add Zuccarello AND Dzingel. Rieder’s cap hit is actually higher than Dzingel’s is. Moving Rieder out and bringing Dzingel in is a move that the Oilers should strongly consider even if nothing that I have outlined happens.
If trades start dropping tomorrow or by the end of the break, then basically anything will be possible for the Oilers over the break.
Now, here is the list of available targets with the date changed to the February 25th trade deadline:
Stone ($7.35M)- $1.620M
Duchene ($6M)- $1.323M
Panarin ($6M)- $1.323M
Johansson ($4.583M, M-NTC)- $1.010M
Nyqvist ($4.75M)- $1.047M
Zuccarello ($4.5M)- $0.992M
Simmonds ($3.975M)- $0.876M
Silfverberg ($3.75M)- $0.827M
Brassard ($5M – $3M for PIT)- $0.661M
Dzingel ($1.8M)- $0.397M
Ferland ($1.75M)- $0.386M
Wingers With Term:
Schenn (1x$5.125M)- $1.130M
Kreider (1x$4.625M, M-NTC)- $1.019M
Toffoli (1x$4.6M)- $1.014M
Bjugstad (2x$4.1M)- $0.904M
Coyle (1x$3.2M)- $0.705M
If they created the most amount of cap space possible on February 1 based on the scenarios I have presented, then they could acquire Johansson at the trade deadline. If they were to create the least amount of cap space on February 1 based on the scenarios that I presented, then they could only add Brassard, Coyle, Dzingel, or Ferland at the deadline. There’s no point in waiting until the deadline if you can get a scoring winger earlier by trading Talbot.
The take home message is that if the Oilers are really looking to add a scoring winger before the break is over, then Talbot is going to get traded. Waiting until closer to the deadline gives the Oilers absolutely no real advantage. The Oilers will be making moves during the break, that much I can assure you of. What I can’t tell you is who the GM making those moves will be. Ryan Rishaug and Mark Spector have both tweeted information suggesting that Chiarelli could be fired as soon as tonight since the game ended. Stay tuned for that development.
Buckle up Oilers fans, because it’s going to be an interesting All-Star break in Edmonton!
As always, all cap information was calculated using information found on CapFriendly.com.
*UPDATE: Ryan Spooner and Kailer Yamamoto have been sent to AHL Bakersfield. Spooner saves the Oilers $1.025 million on the cap, and Yamamoto savefs the Oilers $0.894 million. The Oilers currently have a total cap hit of $78.7735 million, which leaves $0.7265 million in cap space. They have 12 F and 7 D on the active roster. Activating Oscar Klefbom from the IR will make 8 D. They can add one forward freely before the break is over. They will have to move one defenceman to activate Sekera when that time comes. They could create more cap space by moving Cam Talbot during the break. As long as Sekera is on the LTIR, they can go over the salary cap. The Oilers are in a position where they can add a scoring forward before the break. Stay tuned.