As with last week, I'll be breaking down trade and UFA targets from Atlantic division teams but this time the aim will be to feature some more "out-of-the-box" thinking. Without further verbal-meandering, let's get to it!
C/RW, Austin Czarnik
Small but talented playmaker with excellent playmaking ability. Plays with effort and has consistently produced offense at every level he has played at and just needs a chance with a team that isn't as deep at forward as Boston. Saw a spike in PP goal production this past year indicating that he put the work in to make himself more valuable on the man advantage. Teach him to PK and you're likely looking at a better Mark Letestu. Was brought in under Chiarelli's tenure.
LW/C, Alexander Khoklachev
Good ol' Khoko has done nothing but produce in every league (aside from tiny stints in the NHL) so I reckon he'd be worth a shot. A highly-skilled, strong skater with a capable shooting arsenal, he could be a solid depth add that could represent great value if given a shot with Draisaitl or Strome. Since his situation with Boston ended on sour terms, he could likely use a second opinion.
Cost: 2018 6th (after negotiating with him)
RD, Casey Nelson
Would fit the mold for the type of Dman Edmonton needs to pursue for their bottom pairing: low cost, two-way proclivity and an strong first-pass. His talents would help alleviate some of the puck-moving burden from the team's top-4 and facilitate a faster and more fluid transition that Edmonton needs to work towards. Knowing how bad teams are often run (by first-hand experience, of course), Buffalo will likely let him go because he struggled in a top-4 role to close out the season.
RW, Victor Olofsson
The SHL's top goal scorer is a top-notch skater with great edgework and excels at finding open space. While he's a tad small, his nose for the net is undeniable. Could be tough to acquire as shiny new toys are often overvalued, but he'd be a great target to purs-- what? He literally JUST signed as I was writing this? Well, that's a bummer...
Cost: Not going to happen now
RD, Vili Saarijarvi
Skilled right-shot blueliner with offensive pedigree is a prime example of the sort of player teams ought to target BEFORE they become all-world offensive dynamos. As of now, he's a silky smooth skater with playmaking talent oozing out of every bodily orifice. Even if he doesn't reach his ceiling, I'm confident in his defensive abilities enough to project him along the lines of what Enstrom is now- minus the disproportionately long stick. Issue becomes that Detroit wants and needs young Dmen now so convincing them to trade one of their best ones might prove difficult.
Cost: 2018 2nd (likely not enough)
LW/C, Dryden Hunt
A textbook example of a guy that thrives on the back of relentless work ethic. Only played 2 games in his draft year; bounced back and posted respectable numbers. Was told those weren't good enough; worked on his playmaking and came out with 50 assists the next year. Was then told he wasn't scoring enough; worked on his shot and his play around the net and scored 58 goals. Then gets told he wasn't a good enough skater-- you get the idea. He has done nothing but improve year-over-year and another year of that will see him in the NHL. Looks like he projects into a middle-6 anyway so why not grab him before he gets there?
Cost: Zack Kassian
LW, Adam Mascherin
After what seems to be some mismanagement on the part of the Panthers, Mascherin is resolved to not sign with the club that drafted him. He's a stocky (5'9, 200lbs) shooter that has some top speed issues but he could act as a solid depth add that could one day convert his nose for the net into an NHL career alongside all the Oilers' talented playmakers.
Cost: 2018 5th
C, Anthony Cirelli
If you've been following along in the Oilers threads at all this year, you'll recognize this name as I spouted off about him (among others) ad nauseum this past season. Fast, skilled two-way C with a brilliant mind for the game would've been our heir apparent for the 3C position and I'm not entirely convinced he couldn't eventually find his way higher on a team with lesser C depth.
Cost: Too high for us now
RW/LW, Mathieu Joseph
If we can learn anything from the Cirelli situation, it's to listen to me more and here we have a prime opportunity to do just that! Fast, quick, speedy, rapid, hasty, zooming, other synonyms for speed; that's what Joseph will bring. Along with his speed-driven power game, Joseph is among the best per-60 shot generators in the AHL and that proclivity for a shooter's mindset is precisely what Draisaitl needs on his flank. It doesn't hurt that his two-way play is what got him his spot on Canada's WJ team in 2017, either. If we act now, we can get him for much cheaper than I think he'll be a year or two from now.
Cost: Caleb Jones
C Matthew Peca:
Fast and skilled two-way C that would represent a solid depth addition for a team hurting for skill on it's minor league team. Adding Peca would reinforce a movement of skilled forwards (Yamamoto, Benson, Marody, Vesel, etc) joining the Condors this coming year and maybe lead to them actually making some noise for once. Wouldn't hurt to have a C that can step up and fill a role in the NHL, either!
A whole lot of really solid small-time additions here that could really pay dividends down the road, but two stand out for me. If I'm narrowing it down, I look at Jones for Joseph and Kassian for Hunt.
While I certainly love the game Jones brings, he's fighting an uphill battle with a roster full of LD ahead of him and William Lagesson and Dmitri Samorukov fast approaching. Tampa has crazy deep forward ranks and a strong set of Dmen so they'd only really be shuffling the deck chairs, but Jones is a Dman built to play their style of hockey. As for the second trade, sending Kassian to Florida makes sense because they seem to like the old timey balls-to-the-wall approach in their bottom-6 and their cap structure is better equipped to handle a 1.9mil 4th liner than Edmonton's.
For those not keeping track, this leaves us with three trades and a running "IN" and "OUT" list like this:
IN: Nyquist, Helm, Joseph and Hunt
OUT: Yamamoto, Russell, Kassian, Jones and a 2019 2nd
Speed, skill and two-way ability in; potential and crazy out!
Next week, I'll delve into the Metropolitan division to once again explore some proven targets that Edmonton- with a competent and forward-thinking management team- could exploit for their gain.