He can’t technically step back out onto the ice until February 12, 2023, but Kailer Yamamoto looks and sounds ready to return for the Edmonton Oilers and that will inevitably lead to trade questions. The Oilers are a team working extremely close to the salary cap ceiling and bringing Yamamoto off of LTIR means moving salary to make it work.
In recent weeks the Oilers have reportedly made Jesse Puljujarvi, Warren Foegele, and Derek Ryan available. Sources close to the team say Ryan is a player the Oilers would prefer not to move, but Foegele’s extra year creates issues for other teams who might be looking exclusively at rentals. Puljujarvi might generate the most interest but the Oilers have to try and swing a deal where they dump his full $3 million salary and also don’t give up a sweetener in the process.
Making matters worse, moving one of these three players only weakens an already thin depth chart at right-wing. If there are any concerns Yamamoto will struggle to find his footing or isn’t 100%, the Oilers will be down to right-wingers and looking for a replacement internally or on the trade market. The question then becomes, do you really trade Puljujarvi if you need to go out and replace him? The answer will come in what is available at the deadline.
The downside here is that the Oilers can’t wait. If they want to get Yamamoto back on the roster for February 12th and become cap compliant, they’ll need to make a move in the next six days. From there, they’ll have three weeks to shuffle things around to find the cap room to add someone else. Taking a big swing is probably not an option, but there might be a few wingers on the trade market that don’t have a huge salary.
The good news is that the Oilers are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games and have a relatively weaker schedule against teams that are not playoff contenders and are only going to get worse as they send players out the door. Will the Oilers see any players in the next few games they can pluck from non-contending teams? Conversely, will these teams see something in a player like Puljujarvi that they like?
Next: Islanders Sign Horvat, GM Says, “It’s Too Long & Too Much Money”
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