Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland says he wants to help the team this season, essentially a reward for getting to where they are to date and in the hunt in a wide open Pacific Division. That’s all well and good for the Oilers who stay with the team after the Feb. 24 deadline comes and goes.
But, unless Holland is moving picks for players (first-rounders are likely out of the question) or someone like Jesse Puljujarvi is dangled for immediate help, it seems unlikely the roster, as is, will stay the same.
To get you have to give but what will the Oilers give up to grab either an additional forward in the top six or a third line center? Considering Kailer Yamamoto has come on strong and the offensive outbursts by Josh Archibald and Riley Sheahan have been welcome additions to the bottom-half of the forward lines, perhaps there isn’t a dire need to add, especially if the right deal isn’t there?
The Oilers will still likely make a move. Knowing they’re not desperate and they can’t add big money without removing money, what do they do?
Most of Edmonton’s one-year forward additions have worked out. Granlund isn’t really one of them. Signed to a $1.3 million deal as a UFA this summer, he showed glimpses of an ability to score but in 31 games only had three goals and one assist. He couldn’t secure a regular spot in Edmonton’s regular rotation and guys like Gaetan Haas, Joakim Nygard and even Sam Gagner beat him out for a job.
Currently in the AHL, he won’t fetch much in return even if the Oilers could find a taker. What he does offer is some penalty killing ability which could come in useful to a playoff team with terrible special teams.
There was some decent expectations for Granlund as a 12 and 19-goal scorer. He’s one of those signings that sometimes just doesn’t pan out but does provide the Oilers options if injuries start to pile up.
Gagner would be an ideal trade candidate for the Oilers because he eats up some of the salary space Holland would dearly like to have right now. A $3.15 million cap hit, Gagner is in the lineup but he’s not offering much and he’s certainly not a regular.
If the Oilers could move his salary to a team like Anaheim as a clearing maneuver, it would give them some space to go after a player that could help. Gagner is beloved in Edmonton but he’s also a free agent this summer and it’s unlikely the Oilers retain him.
Khaira is a guy the Oilers, specifically Dave Tippett seemed to have high hopes for. Tippett spoke highly of Khaira at the start of the season and while he can be the prototypical forward that you love to have in the playoffs and in your bottom-six, he’s not been nearly consistent enough and needs to get going.
He’s not a rental which could make him attractive for another team because he’s got another season at an affordable $1.2 million before he becomes an an RFA giving whichever team acquires him control.
There’s going to come a time where the Oilers quit saying Khaira needs to get going before they say, he can get going somewhere else. I suspect he’ll get a few games after the All-Star break to pick it up. If he doesn’t, Holland may move him.
Benning is an underrated defenseman who plays well in a depth role and the Oilers sincerely miss when he’s gone. The problem is, he’s gone a lot due to injury. Down in the AHL on a conditioning stint, the expectation is he’ll be slotted back into a 5/6 role on the Oilers after the break. That said, there is a chance the Oilers move him.
A $1.9 million player, he’s an RFA next season and it’s hard to know what the Oilers will feel comfortable paying him and with players like Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear contributing, maybe Benning is moved for forward help where the Oilers have a more pressing need.
For as often as Russell gets his name tossed around in trade rumors or when fans suggest the Oilers move a d-man, I truly believe the Oilers value Russell and what he brings. A warrior who blocks an absurd number of shots, he’s often more a whipping boy so what he brings isn’t valued as it should be.
The reason Russell is in this conversation is because other teams probably value Russell as well. He’s got a respectively fair deal for a steady defenseman, he’s got leadership, he never quits and he would add depth to any well-rounded defensive core.
Edmonton may find the return is good so they move him. But, this is where how badly the Oilers feel they need to upgrade becomes a factor.
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