Name a top trade target or impending free agent and they seem to be linked to the Edmonton Oilers. While the team clearly needs to help superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they have cap constraints because of those players as well and holes to fill all over the roster. The team must be confident that they can perform some cap magic, as they have their sights set on making a big splash this off-season. TSN’s Darren Dreger backed up previous rumors today that the Oilers have been talking to the Arizona Coyotes about elite defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. In fact, Dreger notes that discussions have been preliminary, but the interest is serious. It’s a complex situation given the cap situations in both Edmonton and Arizona, but the teams appear to be working through their options when it comes to moving Ekman-Larsson, a proven top-pair commodity. Of course, it’s worth noting that Ekman-Larsson has a full No-Movement Clause and could nix a deal to Edmonton if he chooses. Dreger adds that the Boston Bruins also remain interested; Ekman-Larsson may very well prefer landing alongside Charlie McAvoy on the top pair of a perennial contender.
- The Oilers are also known to be eyeing an addition in goal and have kicked the tires on a number of netminders on the trade block. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the latest name on that list is the Carolina Hurricanes’ Petr Mrazek. LeBrun believes that Mrazek could be more of a fallback option if Edmonton cannot add Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper or can’t woo Jacob Markstrom in free agency. Of course, if Mrazek is even available for trade, it may mean that Carolina has already landed one of those three Oilers targets for themselves. Mrazek had a fine season for the ’Canes, but the team is looking to upgrade at starter. Unfortunately for Edmonton, Carolina’s castoff would still be an upgrade for them.
- From GM Jim Benning’s comments since his Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the postseason, it should come as no surprise that he is listening to offers for restricted free agent forward Jake Virtanen, according to Dreger. Virtanen has failed to live up to the expectations of being the 2014 sixth overall pick, but is still due a significant upgrade over his expiring $1.25MM AAV. The cap-strapped Canucks have greater needs than Virtanen’s third-line scoring totals and may be able to put his cap space to greater use via trade. Dreger reports that there is plenty of interest in the 24-year-old power forward, who could still grow into the dangerous scorer that he was in junior.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning are less than a day removed from taking home the 2020 Stanley Cup title, but GM Julien BriseBois is already back at work. LeBrun speculates that Tampa must clear at least $10MM in cap space in order to re-sign RFA’s Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev, and Erik Cernak and to rebuild a defense with numerous pending UFA’s. As such, BriseBois can’t afford to waste any time with free agency approaching. LeBrun notes that the two most talked-about names on the Lightning roster right now are forwards Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde. However, he notes that both players have full No-Trade Clauses and would have to accept any trade. As a result, LeBrun believes there is a growing suspicion that the Bolts may trade a player or two that no one is suspecting in order to clear cap space. That could mean one of the RFA’s themselves is dealt, or perhaps it could be a player lacking trade protection, such as Brayden Point or Andrei Vasilevskiy. One way or another, the Cup-winning roster will look very different next season.