Welcome back to another Thursday’s worth of NHL Rumours brought to you by Last Word on Hockey. As teams start to figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are, players get thrown on the trade block. While it’s rare to see many early-season trades, they’re certainly possibilities for teams who already feel they’re only one piece away. Today, we look at the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, and Carolina Hurricanes.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman reports through his 31 Thoughts podcast that the Oilers are believed to be making a bid for Russian forward Konstantin Okulov.
Analysis: In addition to the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs as covered previously in NHL Rumours, the Oilers are now believed to be in the running for Okulov as evidenced by General Manager Ken Holland’s presence at the Karjala Cup in Finland. Okulov has collected 14 points in 23 games so far for CSKA Moscow of the KHL. He’s coming off a twenty goal season.
Edmonton’s bottom-six scoring issues are well-documented. The acquisition of a 10-15 goal-scorer for nothing except a roster spot and cap room would be huge for the Oilers, as they’re in a position to make the playoffs this season. Supplanting the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and James Neal with scoring support would create deadly offensive depth should they continue their run and make the playoffs, and make matchup nightmares for opposing squads. Holland is doing everything he can to give coach Dave Tippett the tools he needs to succeed, and so far, it appears to be working.
Rumour: Darren Dreger reports on TSN’s Insider Trading that the Sabres will look to clear a defenceman after the return of Zach Bogosian and Marco Scandella, and are looking for a top-six and/or top-nine forward in return.
INSIDER TRADING: #TSNHockey Insiders discuss…
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) November 5, 2019
Analysis: The Sabres are on a roll right now, outperforming all expectations with a 9-4-2 record so far this year. A lot of that has been without Bogosian and Scandella. When healthy, they will add to the Sabres’ already crowded blueline. The most likely player to go is Rasmus Ristolainen, who has been a fixture in NHL rumours for years. The Sabres finally have to trade him and could garner a solid forward in return. Unfortunately for Buffalo, Ristolainen has been extremely pedestrian this year. Five points in 15 games, which could drive down his trade value.
Adding a top-six forward would make the Sabres’ offence truly scary. It would add to an already established core of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner, Victor Olofsson, and Marcus Johansson. It would help them avoid a repeat of their historic collapse last season, and give them an extra weapon to make a surprise run if they do indeed make the playoffs. General Manager Jason Botterill has an opportunity to give the city of Buffalo a contending team for the first time in forever. If he pulls the plug on a large-scale trade, don’t be surprised.
Rumour: Also on the latest edition of Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun states that a top-nine forward in exchange for either Haydn Fleury or Trevor van Riemsdyk is an ideal trade for the ‘Canes.
Analysis: The Hurricanes are in an eerily similar situation to Botterill’s Sabres. However, they have a bit more confidence in themselves after a strong performance last season. Carolina is a deep team but had trouble scoring at points last year, especially in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. Carolina’s got the goods on the back end with the talent of players like Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, and Jake Gardiner. They’re looking for a solid depth forward to take some of the pressure off the likes of Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov.
There’s been a depth concerning lack of offence from players like Jordan Staal and Brock McGinn. A depth forward who can put up 30-40 points a year would be an extremely important acquisition for Carolina. They made the Conference Finals last year. It could be a boost that pushes them closer to their first Stanley Cup victory since 2006. Fleury is a promising young prospect. He could net a larger return even though he’s failed to put it all together yet. And although he carries a larger cap hit and larger injury history, van Riemsdyk is a solid option too. Both, in combination with some draft picks, could net Carolina the return they’re looking for.