With the All-Star break in the rear-view, the trade deadline looms large and is now less than a month away. Where does each team stand, and what moves should they be looking to make? We continue our look around the league with the Edmonton Oilers.
For the second consecutive season, the Oilers started slowly. The team started so poorly this season that it resulted in the firing of head coach Jay Woodcroft after just 13 games. Since their 3-9-1 start to the season, Edmonton has rebounded under Kris Knoblauch with a 27-7 record that includes a near-record 16-game winning streak. The Oilers now once again look like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and will no doubt be looking to add to their lineup at the trade deadline. The club has already been linked to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel and will surely be in on some of the other big names in the upcoming weeks. The Oilers don’t have much in the way of cap space and will need to get creative to fill in some of the remaining holes on their roster. But with the uncertainty around the futures of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they are likely to do everything they can to add to an already formidable lineup.
30-16-1, 3rd in the Pacific
Deadline Cap Space
$2.374MM on deadline day, 0/3 retention slots used, 46/50 contracts used, per CapFriendly.
Upcoming Draft Picks
2024: EDM 1st, EDM 2nd, EDM 5th, EDM 6th, NASH 6th
2025: EDM 1st, EDM 3rd, EDM 4th, EDM 5th, EDM 6th, EDM 7th
Edmonton probably isn’t looking to move much off of their NHL roster to facilitate a trade, however, they will likely need to shed some salary to acquire any high-priced talent. There have been rumors in recent weeks that they would like to shed Cody Ceci and his $3.25MM cap hit, and they also have Jack Campbell toiling in the AHL with his $5MM cap hit, but if Edmonton wanted to move on from either player it would require a sizeable asset to move the money out.
The Oilers do have some assets if they want to make a big move, as they still possess their first-round pick in the next few drafts and have most of their other draft capital as well. There will also be interest in defenseman Philip Broberg despite his lack of NHL success. The 22-year-old hasn’t exactly had a seamless transition to professional hockey, but he is having a strong season in the AHL.
Edmonton has one of the worst farm systems in the NHL, but it isn’t without a couple of intriguing players. Xavier Bourgault is not having the type of season he or the Oilers were hoping for with just six goals and 10 assists in 39 AHL games. The 2021 first-round pick is ranked by many as the Oilers’ top prospect and has shown that he is a great special teams player, but his scoring just isn’t there at even strength. He along with Broberg could be pieces of a bigger package to acquire a big-name player. But if they are the central pieces, it might require the Oilers to give up multiple first-round picks.
Another Oilers prospect is Raphael Lavoie whose size will certainly be alluring to teams who are looking for a big center with untapped potential. Lavoie is having a decent season in the AHL with 15 goals and 11 assists in 33 games, but at 23 years of age, it is hard to consider him a prospect at this point, especially one that can fetch to top-6 forward such as Guentzel.
If Edmonton does want to make a splash, it may require moving out young forward Dylan Holloway, who hasn’t found his offensive game in the NHL but does have good underlying numbers and will almost certainly be an NHL player. Holloway has posted good offensive numbers in the AHL but hasn’t spent of ton of time playing in Edmonton’s top-9 and could find that side of his game if given a chance.
One other intriguing prospect who could draw some interest is Matvei Petrov. The 20-year-old has had a slow start to his professional career with Bakersfield this season, and had a terrific, albeit brief OHL career with the North Bay Battalion. The former sixth-round pick has just five goals and three assists in 30 AHL games with the Condors but had 67 goals and 116 assists in 128 career OHL games. Petrov has good vision and hockey sense but is on the lighter side at the moment and could become much stronger on the puck if he could fill out his 6’2” frame.
1) Top-6 Forward: The Oilers shuffled their lines yesterday and moved Corey Perry onto their second line. While Perry still has a role in the NHL, his days of being a top-6 forward are well behind him. The Oilers have a considerable gap between their top five forwards and all the remaining ones. Therein lies the need for another top-six winger. The Oilers would probably love to get a right shot forward, however, the market may force them to look at the left side which is why Guentzel’s name is being thrown around. If Edmonton can’t land a top-six forward, they could opt for a top-9 forward as a fallback option. Something they thought they were getting last summer when they signed Connor Brown.
2) A Reliable Second Goaltender: An argument could be made for an additional defender, but goaltending has been problematic for the Oilers for quite some time, which is why they signed Campbell two summers ago. Stuart Skinner has performed admirably for the Oilers and has earned the starter net. However, Edmonton would do well to find a solid backup who could take the net if Skinner were to falter or be dealt an injury. Alex Nedeljkovic out of Pittsburgh could be a good option should the Penguins falter and opt to sell at the deadline. The Vegas Golden Knights showed last year that a team can never have too much reliable goaltending, and while the Oilers have three goaltenders who can play in the NHL, two of the three have a history of seeing their play fall off considerably. Something the Oilers can’t have as their contention window gets smaller and smaller.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.