Eklund is running a rumor that the Oilers and Canadiens are talking trade moving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to Montreal. I thought I might spell out what that would look like, because I think some Oilers fans are going to get the wrong impression.
The only reason the Oilers would move Nugent-Hopkins is for long-term contract reasons. Edmonton does not have a salary cap issue this season. They will next season. They probably need to move $6 or $7 million off the books for 2018/2019. Not only does this mean Nugent-Hopkins is the most likely player to go, but it also means the Oilers cannot take immediate contracts back in a trade. I’ve heard Brendan Gallagher’s name thrown into trade rumors. I’ve heard Alex Galchenyuk’s name thrown into trade rumors. Neither guy is coming to Edmonton as part of a Nugent-Hopkins deal.
The Oilers do not need to trade for defensemen. Between Zygat Paigin, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and Ryan Mantha, the Oilers have four quality defensive prospects to go along with the still-quite young Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning. The prospect depth issue in Edmonton is at center more than any other position. The Oil have plenty of young goalies and two future star right-winger prospects.
If the Oilers make a trade with the Montreal Canadiens, they will ask for Ryan Poehling + Montreal’s first round pick in 2017 for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. No other trade scenario makes sense.
As far as Eklund’s second Oilers comment, that the Oil are thinking about signing Thomas Vanek, he could definitely fit into the roster if Nugent-Hopkins is moved out. The trade scenario mentioned above leaves the Oilers short a forward for this season. Ryan Strome can absolutely be the third line center, making it so the Oilers are best to acquire a free agent winger. Vanek probably has more game left in him than other available UFAs including Jarome Iginla and Jaromir Jagr. Maybe a Vanek is a $2.5 million per season re-signing, which would work fine this season.
This being said, Oilers GM and President of Hockey Operations Peter Chiarelli just said recently that Oilers fans should not expect anything and he’s likely done for the summer.
I don’t think Nugent-Hopkins is going anywhere, especially Montreal. The Canadiens just don't have good enough prospects to make this sort of deal.