Expect a long, boring summer for the Edmonton Oilers. After three offseasons in which the team made a “blow-up” trade, you can rest assured that it won’t be the case this summer, writes The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell (subscription required). The team, who in each of the last three years made questionable trades in hopes of sparking the team, including the 2015 trade of acquiring defenseman Griffin Reinhart (for a first-round pick which turned out to be Matthew Barzal), the 2016 trade of sending off No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall and the 2017 trade of trading winger Jordan Eberle, should be quiet this season.
Mitchell writes that Oiler management has made it clear that the team will just be making quiet moves as they attempt to re-tool their roster to fix the teams’ struggles this season. He includes a list of team needs, which includes a first-line shooter, a top-four defenseman, a third-line center, a backup goaltender and a penalty-killing forward. He writes the team’s lack of cap space, after the extension of Connor McDavid kicks in, will not allow them to be big players in the free agent market, which will force the team to look for quality low-cost free agents and the young players from within their own organization.
Jesse Puljujarvi is the most likely candidate to continue to shoot next to McDavid, while Jujhar Khaira might make a quality third-line center if the team wants to keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as their second-line center and move Leon Draisaitl to the first line. Also, don’t forget about 2017 first-rounder Kailer Yamamoto, who played nine games for Edmonton this year. He continues to thrive with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs and might be ready to take a bigger role next season.
- Kevin Kurz of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that despite the injury to veteran center Joe Thornton, the San Jose Sharks’ top line continues to be highly efficient with winger Kevin Labanc in his place. The 22-year-old Lebanc has two goals and four assists in those four games since Thornton went down. He especially seems to be thriving on the power play. “Just feel confident,” Labanc said. “A lot of great players around me, too. … We break in cleanly, and I think that’s the big thing on our power play, is breaking in on the entry, settling things down, and once we do, just do our thing. We work well together.”
- The Vancouver Canucks are going to try to do everything they can to ink Northeastern star center Adam Gaudette after his season is over. While there is no guarantee that will happen, Ryan Biech of The Athletic (subscription required) goes into deep analysis of Gaudette’s game and says he sees similarities between him and former Canuck Ryan Kesler. Gaudette has already scored 57 goals and 64 assists in three seasons so far for Northeastern, could be a valuable piece to the team’s puzzle if the team can sign him.
- Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Potash tweets that Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford continues to make progress towards a return. The netminder worked out on the ice for the first time since suffering a head injury in December. Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford is expected to work out again Sunday. The team needs the veteran goalie more now than ever as they sit outside the playoffs and need a solid run if they want to get back in.
As much as it pains me to say, even if/when Crawford comes back, the Hawks aren’t going to get hot.
Jeff Glass has played well in Crawford’s absence. Far from great but well. I don’t think the Blackhawks issue is having their backup having to start for a couple weeks.