The Oilers have 15 players under contract for next season at a cap hit of a touch over $62M. With the cap expected to be in the range of 78 – 82 million next season that may not seem like such a bad spot to be in but let’s look a bit closer.
The Oilers have traded Nail! Sad days.
Nail Yakupov to the Blues for Zach Pochiro and a conditional pick.
There has been all kinds of speculation that Yakupov had asked for a trade and that the Oilers were close to trading him last season but honestly we’ll never know for certain how much truth there is to this stuff. What we do know is that Peter Chiarelli has now traded two of the wonder kids from the previous administration and in both cases cap space was a large part of the decision.
There has been so much talk this season of the Oilers making a trade in the off-season to bring in a true top pairing D-man. Much of the talk has Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent Hopkins being sent out to acquire Travis Hamonic or Kevin Shattenkirk, both of whom would likely improve this team a great deal. I don’t want to get into the pros and cons of dealing Ebs or the Nuge but we all know that you need to trade value to get value and for the first time in a while I trust the GM to make the right deal.
So the question remain: Should the Oilers trade for Hamonic or Shattenkirk? I’ll admit that before doing research for this article I would have picked Shattenkirk, I’m just more familiar with the player so I have less doubt that he can come in and help the team win. I put together a player usage chart over at hockeyabstract.com to compare both of these guys to defensemen already on the Oilers and I’m actually a bit surpised:
The Oilers have a huge whole in their center depth and Leon Draisaitl has a real shot at making the team this upcoming season. Before the draft I posted the last 20 3rd overall picks in the draft to get an idea of what we could expect of the Oilers pick this year and I thought it would be interesting to see how long it took those players to be NHL’rs.
The table below shows the number of games played by the past 20 3rd overall picks in the first 3 years after they are drafted.
The Edmonton Oilers have traded 24yr old center Sam Gagner to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 28yr old winger Teddy Purcell. Gagner never seemed to improve in Edmonton from his rookie season way back in the 07/08 season where had a career high 49 points as an 18yr old. He’s never been able to get to the next level offensively or play the strong 2-way game that the Oilers desperately need and this past season the majority of the fan base in Edmonton turned on the young center, and apparently so has Craig Mactavish. In Gagner’s 7 seasons with the Oilers he has played under 5 different head coaches which I’m sure had a substantial impact on his development, I’m eager to see how he performs in a more structured situation in Arizona.
Thats right Arizona! Soon after the trade to Tampa, the lightning traded Gagner and BJ Crombeen to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a 6th rd draft pick. The Lightning also retained 1/3 of Gagners salary in the deal. This is the new NHL where GM’s are willing to trade good players on bad contracts for very little return so that they can make cap room for UFA hunting.