The Edmonton Oilers are getting set to take on the Los Angeles Kings in Game 6 of their first-round opening playoff match-up Saturday night. If successful, they’ll move on to play the Vegas Golden Knights who eliminated the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. But, as the Oilers get set for what will be a feisty affair, other talk surrounds the team as one insider has named a forward in his Top 20 offseason trade bait list and then mentioned GM Ken Holland might circle back on a defenseman the team was rumored to have interest in ahead of the trade deadline.
Frank Seravalli noted in a recent Trade Targets article that Kailer Yamamoto was a player to watch from the Oilers. Seravalli writes that with one more season on his current contract, health issues and the fact that he’s not exactly providing value at his $3.1 million cap hit makes him someone that could be moved by the team.
Just about every part of this season has been a little bit “off” for Yamamoto. He hasn’t seemed quite right. He’s been dealing with a vestibular system issue, symptoms not all that different than a concussion, for a large chunk of the year, which also kept him out of the lineup in the early part of 2023. When he’s been healthy, Yamamoto can be an impact contributor. He collected 20 goals last season. It’s just that the Oilers will have other players to pay (see: Evan Bouchard) and limited room to make deals, making him potentially expendable.
Seravalli isn’t the only one who wondered if Yamamoto might be playing his final games in Edmonton. Allan Mitchell of The Athletic wrote, “His playoff run so far has been less than hoped for and alternative options are emerging.” He adds, “The cap is the cap, and if Ryan McLeod or Warren Foegele (both less expensive) can fill the role and deliver more production, Yamamoto is in a spot of bother for next season. There are also candidates coming through the system (Dylan Holloway and Raphael Lavoie will push during training camp, Holloway possibly in these playoffs).” In the end, Mitchell comes to the conclusion that the cap might be too big an issue to ignore and that Yamamoto hasn’t delivered enough offence in his NHL career to justify the investment. The Oilers have other options and they’ll likely look to explore them in the offseason.
What About Erik Karlsson?
Seravalli was also asked if Evan Bouchard’s emergence would take the Oilers out of the running when it comes to Erik Karlsson. After all, Servalli noted that the Sharks were finally ready to seriously listen to offers on the defenseman and might drop their asking price to make a deal work.
Considering how well Bouchard has played and that the Oilers will need to pay him well (either on a bridge deal or long-term contract) to stick around as a pending RFA, it would make sense that Karlsson is not an option. Surprisingly, Seravalli said he wouldn’t be shocked if the Oilers at least revisited the idea.
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