By JD Lagrange – You know, sometimes, it’s fun to play GM and try to find common grounds between two teams for a potential trade. While some will just throw names out there because they like a player on another team, they forget to try to address, or at least guess what they need in return. I found myself thinking that the Edmonton Oilers and the Canadiens would be a good match to complete a trade as both have assets available that the other could use.
Since Evander Kane got injured, the Oilers have the 29th best record in the NHL, going 2-4-0, getting only four out of possible 12 points. The result? They now sit outside a Wildcard spot in the Western Conference, as American Thanksgiving is upon us.
Known for their high octane offense, the Oilers have scored 2.17 goals per game since losing Kane, while allowing 3.83 goals per game, and their power play is producing at 20% since the injury. With Kane in the lineup, they were scoring 3.79 goals per game while allowing on average 3.5 goals per game and the Oilers’ power play was at 32.7%, second best in the NHL at the time.
So as you can see, the biggest difference is on offense, as the defense has been struggling all season long. It seems like they miss the veteran presence of Duncan Keith more than they expected to. Of course, by talking defense, we have to include the struggles of Jack Campbell too. So let’s break it down a bit, by position.
When the Oilers signed Jack Campbell this past summer, they thought that they had an upgrade over Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen. So far, with a quarter of the season gone, he has not lived up to expectations. They are left with two hopes: first, hoping that Stuart Skinner continues to play well and two, pray that Campbell finds his game and lives up to the $5 million cap hit he was given.
Here are the most often used lines these days in Edmonton:
Foegele* – McDavid – Hyman
RNH – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Janmark – McLeod – Kostin
Holloway – Malone – Ryan
- *Usually E. Kane
- Puljujarvi: 20GP 1G-3A-4Pts -10
Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evander Kane (when he was healthy) all contribute offensively. So what’s the issue, will you ask? All forwards not named McDavid, Hyman, Draisaitl, RNH or Kane have a combined 9G-14A-23Pts with a combined differential of -22 on the season! The Oilers need an upgrade for Foegele and Puljujarvi at the moment for their top-six, and substantial upgrades on their bottom-six forwards.
Here are the most often used defensive pairings these days:
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Bouchard*
Niemelainen – Barrie
- *Evan Bouchard: 20GP 0G-6A-6Pts -10
Ideally, the Oilers need to bump Brett Kulak to the third pairing… and Bouchard needs to regain confidence. The addition of an experience, defensively responsible left defenseman on the top-4 would allow to bump Tyson Barrie to second pairing and Bouchard down with Kulak on the third pair. This would go a long way in better protecting the goaltenders.
Canadiens to the rescue?
So how exactly could the Canadiens help? The Habs have two positions where they are very deep: on left defense and on middle-six wingers. But we must make something clear: both teams are tight against the salary cap. So don’t think that a trade of a player for a pick would work. It won’t, particularly not if we’re talking substantial dollars.
In my humble opinion, Joel Edmundson would go a long way in adding not only quality defensive stability on the Oilers’ second pairing, but would also bring in some help on the penalty kill and some much needed toughness. The 29 year-old has one year left after this one, with a cap hit of $3.5 million. That’s excellent value for the buck for what he brings to a team.
At forward, take your pick. The cost and value in a trade to get them goes up as you go down the list.
- Evgenii Dadonov ($5M, pending UFA)
- Jonathan Drouin ($5.5M, pending UFA – injured)
- Joel Armia ($3.4M until 2024-25)
- Rem Pitlick ($1.1M until 2023-24)
- Mike Hoffman ($4.5M until 2023-24 – injured)
- Sean Monahan ($6.375M, pending UFA)
- Christian Dvorak* ($4.45M until 2023-24)
- Brendan Gallagher* ($6.5M until 2026-27)
- Josh Anderson* ($5.5M until 2026-27)
*Dvorak, Gallagher and Anderson are not on the market and it would take a lot to get them out of Montreal, particularly Anderson. But they are what the Oilers need and they are rumoured to have some serious interest in Anderson.
Oilers’ fans will be wondering what the Habs need? They are looking for a first round pick, but also higher end forwards and right-handed defensemen closer to being NHL-ready. Could Ken Holland and Kent Hughes find some common-grounds? Player-wise, it seems like the two teams are a good match. But can they agree on the value and make the cap work? That’s a whole different story…