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Edmonton Oilers

Two Trade Options to Address Oilers’ Center Depth This Summer

If the Oilers can’t afford to shop in the UFA market, could they use PTOs or a trade route to bolster their center depth. If so, who?

As the Edmonton Oilers struggle to fit in the salaries for Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod this off-season, the question about how to add center depth may take a backseat, at least for now. Knowing that there is only so much room, but that the roster could use another option at the fourth-line center position, Ken Holland was already discount-bin shopping, but he may have to go even cheaper.

While veteran options and inexpensive free agents will present themselves as options as the summer rolls along, GM Ken Holland may have to take another approach if he isn’t in a position to clear out salary before adding what could be around $6 million for Bouchard and McLeod. That means going the Professional Tryout Route (PTO).

Ken Holland Oilers interview deadline

Stating that he still thinks the deals for Bouchard and McLeod will get done, Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal took a closer look at what that might mean and wrote in his 9 Things column on Sunday the following:

But I do think the goalposts may have moved slightly in terms of what it may take. As a result, it may result in the club inviting a couple depth Centers to camp on PTO’s versus signing a UFA. That crop is now picked over pretty thoroughly.

What About a Trade?

Noting that the PTOs route might not leave the Oilers with much to choose from, Leavins said, “I can see the Oilers reassessing their strength at Center in-season and targeting a solution via trade instead. Names that may make sense: Nic Dowd ($1.3m x 2 in Washington) and Jake Evans ($1.7m x 2 in MTL).”

Nic Dowd has played nine seasons in the NHL, split between the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, and Washington Capitals. He scored 13 goals and 25 points last season for the Caps and is a right-shot center who has consistently scored double-digit goals in the last few seasons. At 33, he’s an ideal candidate for the Oilers if he doesn’t get signed by an NHL club.

Jake Evans is the younger of the two players. He’s 27 and is coming off of three seasons with the Montreal Canadiens where he had 19 points in 54 games. In 2021-22, he potted 13 goals and looked like a nice depth piece over 72 games. He wasn’t able to continue that success the following year, dealing with an injury that cut back his production. He has shown he can handle more than just shutdown assignments and penalty-kill work so he could be a nice fit in Edmonton.

As for whether the Capitals and Canadiens are looking to move either player, that remains unclear. And, what those teams would ask in return makes those deals fascinating. A healthy Evans is a useful player for the Habs and he’s not a rental. Dowd is an inexpensive depth option that teams would like to have at $1.3 million. Unless the Capitals are desperate to free up a little money, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to move him.

Next: Concerns Gone of Oilers Losing McDavid, Draisaitl to Division Rival

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