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I had high hopes for the NHL Draft and I was extremely disappointed. Every year I buy into the hype and hope that we’ll see a flurry of activity and this year was more boring than ever. But, with the salary cap being finalized and lower than expected, we might see some interesting moves once free agency draws closer.

The Oilers are being connected to a few different names and given their cap situation, there is a world of possibilities. Let’s dig into a few rumours.

THE SEARCH FOR A GOALTENDER

I’m going to be referencing Elliotte Friedman a lot in this week’s blog since his final “31 Thoughts” dropped yesterday. He mentioned the Oilers in connection to both Petr Mrazek and Mike Smith, which is hardly a surprise.

For me, those two options would reflect just how much the Oilers are willing to spend on a goaltender. If they go with Mrazek, then they’re likely looking at a $3 million cap hit on a deal that spans at least three seasons. If it’s Mike Smith, I think you’re looking more at a one year deal worth about $2 million, which is exactly what Brian Elliott got from the Flyers yesterday.

Friedman also hit us with a bit of a curveball, connecting the Oilers to Semyon Varlamov. He added that Varlamov will be an expensive option, I would imagine that he gets at least $4.5 million, and that likely takes the Oilers out of it unless they find a way to free up money. If they shed Kris Russell without taking back a really bad contract, Varlamov could be in the picture. 

Clearing out Russell or maybe even an extra $2 million could lead to Holland having some extra flexibility when it comes to adding a forward as well.

HOLLAND WANTS ALL OF THE WINGERS

Friedman and Pierre LeBrun have connected the Oilers to a whole flurry of depth wingers.

Obviously, we know that they’re in on Bret Connolly since his agent confirmed to Reid Wilkins that there have been discussions between the two sides.

That would make sense. Connolly is coming off of a good season where he spent most of the time playing with Lars Eller. If he was thrown next to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, I think he could continue being a 20-25 goal guy for the next few seasons. For the cost, I don’t think we’ll see it get to $4 million, something around $3.5 over four years seems realistic to me.

LeBrun also said that the Oilers have reached out to Gustav Nyquist’s camp to see if there would be interest. Nyquist is a consistent 20 goal, 40 point player and considering his past with Ken Holland and the Wings, it’s easy to see why this would be a fit. Similar to Semyon Varlamov, I think he might be too expensive. If the Oilers rid themselves of $4 million in cap space, then they may be able to afford a Varlamov/Nyquist combo instead of a Smith/Connolly combo, but it would still be tight.

There’s also the middle tier of options for the Oilers which includes Joonas Donskoi, Brandon Tanev, and Alex Chiasson. All three bring something different to the table but I really like Tanev. He scored 14 goals last season, which 13 of them coming at even strength, and he can play both wings. I can’t imagine he’d cost more than $2 million.

There are also a few lower tier options. Daniel Carr spent this past season with the Chicago Wolves, the Golden Knights AHL affiliate, and racked up 72 points in 51 games. He was also named the AHL’s MVP for the season. He’s a Sherwood Park product, so I would imagine he’d be interested in coming to Edmonton. As for a cost, it won’t be more than $1 million. He would be a good bet.

Brandon Pirri is another former Golden Knight who the Oilers might have an interest in. When he’s in the NHL, he scores goals. In 259 career games, he has 79 goals. That’s an average of 25 goals every 82 games. His skating and consistency are issues and the Oilers need guys who can move and put up goals on a consistent basis. Pirri should be cheap as well, but I think I might prefer Daniel Carr. I would expect the Oilers to make calls to both of these players though.

Friedman also hit us with a bit of a curveball, mentioning the Oilers and Jason Zucker in the same breathe. I love Zucker as a player. He’s a guy who can step into any lineup and score at least 20 goals. He’s got lots of skill, but his $5.5 million cap hit leads me to believe he isn’t a realistic option for the Oilers. The asking price would probably include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as well, which is not something I’d consider. If a package of futures and a cap dump would interest the Wild, then I’d do it, but I think Paul Fenton wants to get that team into the playoffs next season.

JESSE REMAINS AN OILER… FOR NOW

Friedman also added in that the Oilers are still looking to move on from Jesse Puljujarvi and his preference would be to leave Canada. Friedman mentioned the Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, and Tampa Bay Lightning as possible suitors.

The idea of trading with Tampa entices me. If the Oilers want a third line centre, maybe Cedric Paquette could be had? You’re losing the upside of Puljujarvi, but Paquette is a competent NHLer.

With the Canes, the name Julien Gauthier has been mentioned but I don’t think he’d ever be more than a fourth line winger, if that.

For the Bruins, I was trying to see where they have some depth. At centre, they have Krejci, Bergeron, Coyle, and Kuraly. Would they be tempted to move 24-year-old Karson Kuhlman? For right-shot defensemen, they have Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Kevan Miller. I wonder if the Oilers could pry Connor Clifton out of Boston.

I’m obviously just spitballing here.

I think the return in any Puljujarvi deal is going to be disappointing, but if the Oilers think they can get a young player, with some NHL experience, that they like from another organization who isn’t getting an opportunity, they should jump at it.

THIRD ANNUAL OILERSNATION OPEN

After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.

  • When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday)
  • Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
  • How much – $1000/team or get in on the $900 Early Bird price until July 10th
  • Teams – Groups of Four (4)
  • How – Book your team here

As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.


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