The Edmonton Oilers have reached the unofficial halfway point in the 2017-2018 season. The All-Star break is a good time for every hockey to take a step back and evaluate their situation. The Oilers are no exception to this behaviour. The team owns a middling record of 22-24-3 which leaves them mired in sixth place in the Pacific Division. Rival clubs above Edmonton in the standings are pulling away causing playoff hopes to slip faster than the frozen streets of their beloved city. If general manager Peter Chiarelli and company plan to move this team in a positive direction they have tough decisions to make. Below are some possible Edmonton Oilers trade targets.
Potential Edmonton Oilers Trades
Talent Deficit on Wing
While the Oilers have depth at centre and a legitimate starter in goal, they lack scoring help on the wing. The trades that subtracted Jordan Eberle and all-star Taylor Hall from Edmonton did not bring back sufficient returns to offset their loss of offensive production. Other forwards, like Patrick Maroon, have seen their contributions dry up and their ice time diminish. Newly minted forward Jesse Puljujarvi has shown flashes of scoring ability on the top line. To pin the team’s hopes on a 19-year-old rookie is a dicey proposition at best. The team needs a fresh infusion of talent on the wing. Fortunately, there might be some available for the right price.
Oilers Willing To Move Assets
Peter Chiarelli is on record stating he can feel the heat from the Edmonton Oilers mounting losses. Another losing season puts a very uncomfortable microscope on both the management and coaching staff. This puts some pressure on the team to make a deal and improve their on-ice product. The only players Edmonton should ignore all calls on are Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Darnell Nurse. All other assets should be on the table for the right return. A smart trade, one the Edmonton Oilers can rightfully claim they won, would go a long way to restoring confidence in the vision Chiarelli has for the franchise. To that end, the Oilers can dangle some decent assets to their trading partners.
Trade Target: Michael Grabner, LW RW
Although it may seem counter-intuitive to move for a pending unrestricted free agent, Michael Grabner would make an ideal target for Edmonton Oilers trade aspirations. A natural goal scorer with blistering speed Grabner is one of the few forwards available who could keep up to Connor McDavid. Michael Grabner also comes with a bargain contract with a $1.65 million cap hit that expires at the end of the year. A trade to pry Grabner from the New York Rangers would have to involve a player who could contribute right away, possible an equally inexpensive Patrick Maroon, Matt Benning or Ryan Strome. If Edmonton and New York complete a trade before the deadline, there should be enough time to fully evaluate Grabner’s chemistry with McDavid. An extension can be negotiated before July 1st if both parties are amenable. This makes Michael Grabner an excellent Edmonton Oilers trade target.
Trade Target: Brendan Gallagher, RW
Another Edmonton Oilers trade target would be talented winger Brendan Gallagher, currently languishing with the Montreal Canadians. If there is another team as desperate as the Oilers to shake things up and change direction it is Les Habitants. Moving Gallagher would be difficult for Habs general manager Marc Bergevin. Brendan Gallagher is highly valued because of his consistent play and strong leadership qualities. This year he has tallied 18 goals and 8 assists in 49 games. He is also currently signed to a reasonable $3.75 Million contract until 2021. However, if the return was worth it, the 25-year-old forward might be available. Peter Chiarelli would have to offer something Montreal desperately needs: a centre. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, while a tough player to part with, could bring back Gallagher and a smaller piece like Paul Byron. Getting two talented wingers on bargain deals could help alleviate any future Oilers salary cap issues.
Trade Target: Justin Faulk, D
Although unthinkable only a year ago, Justin Faulk may be made available by the Carolina Hurricanes. Faulk has struggled mightily this year putting up lethargic numbers of four goals, 13 assists, and 17 points in 49 games. Still, the 25-year-old puck-moving, right-handed defenceman is exactly what the Edmonton Oilers need on the back end. Acquiring Faulk would likely cost Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but doing so would permit Chiarelli to move out another defender for a coveted winger. Faulk’s cap hit is a very reasonable $4.8 Million per year and he is signed until the 2020 season. This makes him a highly desirable trade target.
Edmonton and Ottawa?
If Edmonton could acquire Justin Faulk it would free up another defenseman for a trade involving a scoring winger. Although mired in a scoring slump, Oscar Klefbom is one season removed from a 38 point campaign in 2016-17. He is also signed to a desirable $4.167 million AAV contract until 2023. Andrej Sekera, on the other hand, is still trying to find his game after coming back from an injury in December. Coupled with his $5.5 million a year contract, Sekera would command less on the trade market. Adding Faulk to the mix would make both players expendable. General managers are always looking to improve their blueline. Peter Chiarelli’s counterpart, Pierre Dorion in Ottawa, is reportedly shopping players and looking to make a deal.
Trade Target: Mike Hoffman, LW
There are rumors abound that the Ottawa Senators are listening to offers on goal scorer Mike Hoffman. The 28-year-old is living up to the dollar contract he signed in 2016, which carries a cap hit of $5.187 million per year. Hoffman has been the model of consistency when it comes to performance season after season. He is on pace for another 55+ point campaign, currently recording 12 goals and 18 assists in 47 games. Consistent scoring like that is exactly what the offensively challengedOilers sorely need. While Hoffman is the best Edmonton Oiler trade target available this year he would also be the most expensive to acquire. Peter Chiarelli would have to pay dearly to gain Hoffman’s services as several teams are said to be interested. Edmonton would have to be willing to part with a value contract like Oscar Kelfbom, a prospect like Kailer Yamamoto and a pick, probably in 2019.
Good Trades Do Not Have To Be Blockbusters
The Edmonton Oilers can and should make a deal to improve the team. General Manager Peter Chiarelli may take heart in knowing that filling a need on the wing is a great deal easier than finding top pairing defensemen or top six centres. Wingers are historically cheaper to acquire than the former and are found in greater quantities than the latter. The Edmonton Oilers trade targets don’t have to be of the blockbuster variety. This year there are several forwards available that are likely to move at or near the NHL trade deadline. If the Oilers can find the right fit to play alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl the odds of making the playoffs next year improve dramatically.