The Oilers season has come to a close and that means we are officially in offseason mode! While I wish the Oilers would have gone on a long playoff run, I must say, I’m pretty excited to start writing about potential trades and all sorts of offseason rumours. You can expect a full rumour roundup every Thursday here at Oilersnation and it will consist of both rumours pertaining to the Oilers and other interesting nuggets of information from all around the league.
Here’s what we have this week:
ATHANASIOU DRAMA BEGINS
Heading into the offseason, this is the most interesting Oilers-related storyline. Just a few months ago, Ken Holland traded a pair of second-round picks, so it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Oilers GM doesn’t qualify him and lets him walk as a UFA. But it’s also hard to imagine the Oilers being willing to give Athanasiou over $3 million considering his performance since being acquired and their current cap situation.
Elliotte Friedman touched on this in the most recent edition of ‘31 Thoughts’ and said: “I do think it is unlikely that the Oilers qualify Andreas Athanasiou”.
If Friedman says it, then there’s some truth to it but it’s worth noting that just because the Oilers don’t qualify him, doesn’t mean he won’t be back. Our very own Jason Gregor has brought up the idea of signing Athanasiou to a multi-year deal worth less than his current $3 million cap hit.
Honestly, even if the Oilers can’t get a deal done with Athanasiou, I still think they’ll qualify him and then look at trading him. Ken Holland did not get to where he is by trading multiple quality assets for a player and then letting him go a few months later. The Oilers won’t less this asset turn into nothing.
OILERS & LEAFS POTENTIAL PARTNERS?
Friedman also mentioned the idea of the Oilers and Leafs potentially making a trade, noting that they’ve been close a few times over the last couple of seasons. The Oilers were very interested in acquiring Connor Brown before he was eventually moved to Ottawa and the Leafs wanted to acquire Matt Benning and Jujhar Khaira last season, but Khaira got hurt before the deal was completed.
Could I see them being trade partners this offseason? Absolutely. The Maple Leafs are going to be searching for defensemen and the Oilers could help them out there. Whether it’s Benning, veteran d-man Adam Larson, or potentially even a bigger deal that involves a name like Darnell Nurse. I could see there being a mutual interest here.
Who could the Oilers want from Toronto? The two obvious names are Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson. The wingers have proven they can play alongside skill and handle top-six minutes. I don’t believe either of those two defensemen would be enough for the Oilers to send Nurse the other way.
I’m not going to spend too much time on Puljujarvi because I expect that there will be a lot of chatter around him over the next few months, but things are certainly looking more positive than they were even three or four months ago. I still think it’s far from a guarantee that Puljujarvi ever plays another game for the Oilers but I’m willing to admit it’s possible, which is not something I would have said at the beginning of this season.
Still, as Friedman noted in ‘31 Thoughts’, a new contract for Puljujarvi is still possible, but a trade could very much still happen. Friedman made it seem like the Oilers maybe thought they were closer to a deal than the player thought.
The Oilers have a lot of wingers right now and they definitely can’t bring them all back. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Puljujarvi back in orange and blue next season but I also wouldn’t be stunned if the Oilers used him in a deal to upgrade their forward group. It’s hard to tell which way this is going to go and honestly, I don’t think Ken Holland knows how this is going to play out.
- Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is not very happy and has said that changes are coming. I suspect that the team letting all of its Assistant Coaches go is just the beginning. One area to watch: what do they do with their goaltending? I would imagine that they want to keep youngster Tristan Jarry, but will they move pending RFA Matt Murray? I bet the Oilers would be interested if they did.
- Friedman noted in 31 Thoughts that Joe Thorton could be on the Maple Leafs radar. That would be a really interesting fit.
- The Minnesota Wild have indicated that they want to add a first-line centre, but GM Bill Guerin acknowledged that teams rarely trade those types of players. There has been some speculation that the Wild could be open to dealing one of Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba. I wonder if there’s a fit between the Wild and the Leafs.
- Kyle Turris could potentially be bought out by the Nashville Predators and if he is, I wonder how much he would cost as a UFA? That might be a guy I’d be interested in the Oilers going after for the right price.
- It’s worth keeping an eye on the Florida Panthers GM search. They’re a team I could see being interested in one or Kris Russell or Adam Larsson.
- Predators GM David Poile held his post-season press conference today and he was not pleased. He said “some players aren’t going to be brought back… we are not satisfied”. Strong words from the veteran GM, who isn’t afraid of making a big move.
- It’s very hard to write these without constantly referring to the offseason as ‘the summer’. Going to take some getting used to with this year’s offseason happening in the fall.