The race in the Western Conference is ridiculously tight right now and with the trade deadline now just over a month away I’m very interested to see which team blinks first. If I was a betting man, I’d expect the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets to be the most active of the four Canadian clubs west of Ontario.
I’d be somewhat surprised if Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland ends up moving a significant piece of his future prior to the deadline but that doesn’t mean his cupboard of assets is completely empty. For your enjoyment I’ve decided to rank the assets Holland could possibly move prior to the deadline from most valuable to least.
FIRST ROUND PICK 2020
The 2020 draft is being described as both strong at the top and deep throughout which means any first-round selection this summer will carry significant value. I don’t see Holland putting this pick in play unless it was part of a package deal for a top line winger or first pairing defenseman.
FIRST ROUND PICK 2021
Having done play-by-play at the Canada Games and the U17 World Hockey Challenge in the past year I’ve actually had a chance to watch a lot of the top end talent for the 2021 draft in person. The top five will likely feature Finnish center Aatu Raty along with Canadian D-Man Brandt Clarke and the youngest Hughes brother, Luke, who scouts have told me is better than Quinn was at the same age. If Holland was going to move a first, I’d prefer it to be the ’21 pick over 2020 but it’s highly unlikely that either pick is even available let alone actually traded.
By all accounts Bouchard is really starting to find his game at the pro level. The blueline righty leads all AHL rookie d-men in scoring and is actually 12th among all rookies in points. He’s trending towards being in the opening night lineup next fall. It would take a mind-blowing deal for Holland to part with Old Man Bouchard.
The 8th overall pick in the 2019 draft is not playing a lot in Sweden this season and has just 4 points in 28 games with Skelleftea AIK. Well I would have liked to have seen him in the Canadian Hockey League this season I’m certainly not worried about his development overseas. He could still be two more full seasons away from being a top six d-man on the Oilers depth chart but if anyone is going to wait for a guy like Broberg it’s Holland.
TOUGH TO MOVE
Benson is patiently waiting for an opportunity to prove, like Kailer Yamamoto, that he can contribute at the next level. He has 98 points in 107 games in his AHL career and could possibly find his way to Edmonton later this winter. I like Benson’s potential but if you had to move him to bring in a top six forward under control moving forward it would have to be considered.
Jones has proven that he can play in the National Hockey League and if he ends up being an Oiler for the next decade nobody is going to complain. He is also a very intriguing trade chip because he’s on a great contract for the next couple of seasons and will face upward pressure from the likes of Bouchard, Broberg, Samorukov and Lagesson. Sometimes you need to give up something good to get something better and Jones may fit the criteria.
Lavoie didn’t have a major role with Team Canada but I don’t really have any complaints from what I saw of him. He had 44 points in 30 games with Halifax and has continued to produce with nine points in five games since being dealt to Chicoutimi. Like the others above him on this list he’d be a difficult piece to part with but not completely untouchable.
2ND ROUND PICK IN 2020
Due to the depth of this years draft I almost moved this 2nd rounder into the tough to move category but at the same time I wouldn’t hesitate to move the pick in a deal for an Andreas Athanasiou type.
JP is the leading scoring on the best team in Finland. He is 6th overall in the Liiga scoring race and the advanced stats make a strong case for him being the best player in the entire league this season. If we were saying these things about any other 21-year old playing Finland it would be very exciting. Jesse comes with some clear baggage from his time here in Edmonton but still carries enough value that Holland hasn’t given him away. He’s likely to be moved closer to the draft but never say never prior to the deadline.
2ND ROUND PICK IN 2021
This is the asset most likely to be moved on this list but even with that being said I don’t think the Oilers are in a spot to give up this pick for a rental piece in return.
THE REAL QUESTION
Can you see Ken Holland making a deal of significance without moving any of the top seven pieces on this list? A second-round pick in 2020 carries some value but is it enough to make a difference with this year’s line up? It could end up being a very quiet March for Mr. Holland