As the Edmonton Oilers continue trying to find a new NHL home for Jesse Puljujarvi, the rumors and trade suggestions keep pouring in.
On Thursday, Jim Matheson got grilled on Twitter for suggesting the Oilers would want Anthony Cirelli or Mikhail Sergachev in a trade for the disgruntled Finn.
If Oilers talking to Tampa re Puljujarvi for young player, most likely they would want C Anthony Cirelli or D man they wanted to draft in Jesse's draft year Sergachev. Most likely prospect winger: Taylor Raddysh, who had 46 pts in first AHL season. Former jr teammate of McDavid
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) August 29, 2019
But the more and more you look into him suggesting the Oilers would want either of them, the more it makes sense.
Hear me out.
The Lightning are one of the best teams in the NHL — full stop. But they’re also one of the most expensive teams in the NHL and the money crunch is only going to be getting tighter.
As I write this, they have $8,476,669 in cap space. They still have to sign Brayden Point.
So, for the fun of this scenario, let’s say he signs for a very team-friendly $8-million on the dot. Fast forward to the end of this year, they are going to be in an even tighter spot than they are now.
With only $6.1-million in cap space to work with, assuming Point signs the aforementioned deal, they have to sign both Cirelli and Sergachev to new contracts. Both are RFA’s, both are coming out of entry-level deals, and both are going to be due for a pretty nice raise.
This, of course, happens without taking into account seven other free agents they currently have on their roster.
Oh, did I mention that basically their entire team has some form of trade protection? Basically everyone making over $1.7-million on their team is protected in some form.
That makes things very, very difficult for the Lightning.
Cirelli is only 22-years-old, but took on a big role for Tampa Bay last year and produced well doing so. He put up 39 points in 82 games playing under 15 minutes per game. He was strong in the faceoff dot, too, winning 53 per cent of his draws. Analytically he drove play better than the majority of his team, posting a 53.7 CF per cent — 3.3 per cent higher than his teammates.
Cirelli has also established himself as a very, very good penalty killer.
Moving forward it’s clear that Cirelli is quite a talent who likely won’t move any further up the lineup than the third-line centre position he’s in. That, considering there’s a few really good centres named Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point in front of him.
Mikhail Sergachev, 21, just wrapped up his second season with the Lightning and has amassed 72 points in 154 games with the team. His most common partner last year was Brayden Coburn, and the pair were one of the strongest for the team posting a 54 CF per cent and a 58 GF per cent.
At 6’3″, 215 lbs, Sergachev has good size and is a strong, young skater with lots of room to develop on an already good start to the year.
Anytime in the next year, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the Oilers to put together a package of Jesse Puljujarvi, a/some first-round pick/s, and any of Edmonton’s top prospects for either Cirelli, or Sergachev.
It’s probably more of a starting point in conversations, but we’d need to remember that Tampa wouldn’t be able to bring in a lot of cap space back if they were looking at making a deal with the Oilers.
Both players, like I mentioned, are already very good players in the NHL at very young ages. While I don’t know how accurate a lot of Jim Matheson’s reports are, the fact he is linking these two to Edmonton specifically has me intrigued and moving into next year, I think it’s a situation the Oilers need to monitor.
On Twitter: @zjlaing