After a long hiatus, thousands of miles of pilgrimage and months of flogging at the altar of shame that is university, my sorry-ass has returned to begin actively writing about the Oilers! I'll be writing a long series of posts detailing my ideal (and less-than-ideal-but-still-solid) offseason targets I believe the Oilers would do well to pursue. In the process of doing so, I'll choose one or two moves from each blog which I'll use to slowly piece together what my preferred Oilers offseason would look. It'll culminate in a final summary in the week leading up to the draft that lays out all my moves, why they (statistically) make sense and how they'd impact my approach to the upcoming Entry Draft!
To begin with, I've gone ahead and sorted my list by division and further into proven (NHLers) and unproven (AHL, SHL, CHL, etc). Up first is the Atlantic Division.
RW, Tommy Wingels
He would fill a 4th line wing position for cheaper than Kassian does and brings a similarly chippy and aggressive game on a more consistent basis. As he's also scored well at times in the past, there's some potential for more out of him.
G, Robin Lehner
This would likely constitute an overreaction to Talbot's struggles this year but he'd offer a competent 1B goalie to compete with Talbot for starts and could prove to be his long term replacement if he ends up beating Talbot for the starter role. Hell, maybe he's the next Dubnyk.
C/LW, Zemgus Girgensons
In an effort to save cap and bolster the bottom-6, I could see the Oilers target the Sabres as they aim to add talent to their blueline. Girgensons offers two-way ability, some admittedly-limited scoring touch and positional flexibility to a team that could certainly use some.
Cost: Andrej Sekera
LW/RW, Gustav Nyquist
Among the top choices for Draisaitl's wingman. While he's more of a playmaker, he has a deadly wrister, quick release, good shot generation and seems to be effective at penetrating the scoring areas.
Cost: Kailer Yamamoto/2019 1st and 2019 2nd
LW/C, Andreas Athanasiou
A solid back-up option if Nyquist's cost is too high. Ridiculous speed, great hands, solid two-way player but lacks some finish and playmaking creativity. I've said this since last year but he'd be the closest raw analog you could find to bring similar elements as McDavid to push back the defense and allow Leon a chance to work his magic.
Cost: Tyler Benson and a 2019 2nd
LW/C, Darren Helm
Excellent depth forward that brings a lot of what the Oilers could use to the table: speed, penalty killing and depth scoring. I don't anticipate he'll replicate this year's production so his contract will likely continue to be burdensome, but he'll act as an excellent compliment to the team and allow Khaira some time higher in the line-up.
Cost: Kris Russell
LD, Xavier Ouellet
Solid defensive numbers both in shot suppression and zone entry denial so he could be a great compliment to Benning and/or Bear on the 3rd pairing in the coming year. However, Detroit is already very short on D so they may be hard-pressed to trade away one of their few actually talented Dmen.
Cost: A 2020 2nd
RD, Alex Petrovic
Similar to Ouellet, solid defensive numbers in shot suppression and box protection so he could offer a solid depth option in the event that Klefbom is moved for a more offensively-talented defender. With Florida already having a pretty solid top-4, his time there may well be over.
Cost: Drake Caggiula and a 4th
RW, Brendan Gallagher
Unlikely to be available but if Montreal is desperate enough for a C that they'd add to Gallagher in exchange for Nuge, you'd have to look at it. A perfect compliment to either McDavid or Draisaitl in that he's among the league's best at attacking the slot and finishing in tight.
Cost: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
C/RW, Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Solid middle-6 forward with offense, speed and some two-way ability. Also brings another RC into the fold to allow for more options when taking faceoffs. Can likely be had for cheap as Ottawa's owner has expressed a desire to shed cap. Could offer a short term solution for Draisaitl's wingman
Cost: Drake Caggiula and a 2019 3rd
LW, Zack Smith
Solid but overpaid bottom-6 guy with good penalty-killing numbers and at least a little offense. Could likely be had for EVEN cheaper than Pageau but doesn't have the potential ceiling of production that Pageau could potentially offer. Would avoid him unless in exchange for a bad contract.
Cost: Kris Russell
RW, Bobby Ryan
Would only consider acquiring him if Lucic were headed the other way. We'd take on a bigger hit, but this is a more skilled player than Lucic who has recently had success in the playoffs and could see a revitalization alongside one of McDavid or Draisaitl. It's a longshot- and a potentially costly one at that- but it's likely better than watching Lucic play for another year.
Cost: Milan Lucic
LW, J.T. Miller
Might be a cap casualty in Tampa, though I imagine they'll do all they can to instead move Killorn or Callahan in order to keep him. Unlikely to be made available, but would be a worthy target if he is. Attacks the net well, provides a solid screen, has skill to work a give-n-go and has proven capable of playing with talent (Stamkos and Kucherov).
Cost: Kailer Yamamoto
If I'm pursuing my ideal, I'd take aim at combining two Detroit trade targets- Nyquist and Helm- to formulate a deal that would appeal to both sides. Something along the lines of Yamamoto, our 2019 2nd and Russell for Nyquist and Helm (perhaps a tad more going to Detroit). This move sees a net cap increase of ~4mil but would fill a major hole in the Oiler's roster right off the hop giving the team a stronger offensive punch on their 2nd line! Ideally, this deal would be made in July when an extension negotiation could take place between the Oilers and Nyquist prior to finalizing the trade.
Next time, I'll explore unproven targets from Atlantic division teams!