We’re almost at the halfway point of the NHL season and the Edmonton Oilers are still holding a playoff spot. However, if the Kings and Ducks were to win their games in hand it would create a very tight race for the final 2 playoff spots in the division. The Oilers are going to have to “buck-up” during the last half of the season if they want to stay ahead of the experienced teams from SoCal.
I would even go as far to say that the Oilers, on paper, aren’t good enough to make the playoffs. Now that doesn’t mean that they haven’t played like a playoff team to this point or that they can’t continue to play like a team capable of making the big dance, but when you look at the makeup of this team and some of the rather unsustainable contributions they’ve gotten so far in 2016, it’s safe to assume they should be looking to make some additions as we head into the new year.
Two key areas for the Oilers to look are both on the right side. A right winger who can shoot the puck and a good right shot d-man who can contribute on the powerplay.
I would say it’s going to be pretty difficult to find a good right shot dman unless they can pry Tyson Barrie out of Colorado. But even if a deal for Barrie could be made, Peter Chiarelli should be very hesitant making a move like that, as adding another player that needs to be protected for the expansion draft could mean their losing a valued forward like Pat Maroon or young defender like Brandon Davidson.
The same thinking should be applied if they look at adding a right winger. If they do indeed find a fit, that player should be someone on an expiring deal, or someone who the team is comfortable losing in the expansion draft.
Ive listed a few players who I think could be fits for the Oilers. Some are fairly obvious, but I’ve also dug around and looked at a few not so sexy names that could be safe/low risk bets to add for the stretch drive.
Now I know a lot of Oilers fans are reading to stop close the site right after they read this, but remember when the entire fanbase despised Zack Kassian? Things can change and I know the scenarios are entirely different, but part of me thinks Alex Burrows could come in motivated by a chance to play meaningful hockey again and also try to get another contract for next season.
His play has declined sharply over the past few seasons, but he has experience playing in a skilled top six and has experience of going on a long playoff run, both of those I believe would benefit the Oilers. I’m usually a guy who leans more towards “what can you do for me now” but Burrows past experiences should not be ignored entirely.
He isn’t exactly having a horrible season either, with 14 points in 33 games. He has a decent first assists/60 on an offensively-challenged Canucks team.
What would it cost to get Burrows? Well, that’s what makes a deal very tempting to me. The Canucks don’t have a 5th round pick in this years draft, because the Oilers own it. The 5th rounder could become a 4th rounder if Philip Larsen hits a specified threshold. Would a deal that involves either that pick please both sides?
That value doesn’t seem far off especially when you consider what Peter Holland fetched for the Leafs (6th rounder) or what Kris Versteeg got at last year’s deadline (4th and prospect).
Worst case scenario with the Burrows deal is you ended up gambling away a late round pick and had to eat part of the final year of his deal. Best case scenario is you add some RW depth for a playoff push and get a player who could get motivated and help throughout your whole lineup.
SIDE NOTE: I’m aware the Oilers are at 48 contracts and would likely need to send a low level prospect back to stay at 48 contracts.
This idea has sort of been beat to death by a lot of Oilers bloggers so I won’t spend too much time on it. But Iggy might be the ideal blend of high skill level and minimal acquisition cost. He’s currently on the 3rd line of a struggling Avalanche team, and in the final year of his contract. I’m sure the Av’s wouldn’t mind getting some sort of value back for the final few months of Iginla’s services.
In my mind a 4th rounder and something along the lines of the rights to Bogdan Yakimov would suffice. In return the Oilers would be checking off a lot of boxes from their wish list. A top 6 right winger with playoff experience, a shot and a little edge to his game.
With that said, there is another name on Colorado I wouldn’t mind seeing Chiarelli take a gamble on either:
Like Burrows, this isn’t a very sexy pick and could leave a good amount of Oilers fans shaking their heads. But a veteran forward with a little skill and 9 goals in 32 games on an expiring deal should be considered.
He might be 35, but the Oilers aren’t asking for a lot, just for some help in the final 25 games of the season. The cost of getting Bourque would likely be less than a 5th round pick as the Avalanche aren’t using him too much and he’s a free agent when the season ends.
What the Oilers would get is a veteran presence with a nose for the net and a player who is very comfortable shooting the puck (7.41 shots/60). He isn’t a very strong possession player, but that could be improved if he played with a team that isn’t the Colorado Avalanche.
The Lac La Biche product could come in and be motivated to earn an NHL contract for next year, like Burrows, and would be playing meaningful hockey for the team he grew up watching. The story writes itself really.
I’m not saying Bourque should be Plan A, B, C or even D. But if Chiarelli is sitting around at the trade deadline without a right winger added, Rene Bourque could be a serviceable addition.
Now this one might be a little more of a pipe dream, but hear me out.
As of right now, the Stars are on the outside looking in on the playoff picture. If they feel they are falling further out by the deadline could they be tempted to move a veteran winger on an expiring deal? It’s possible.
Sharp would give them a shooting winger to play with McDavid and again, someone who has experience going deep into the playoffs. The cost of acquiring the former Stanley Cup Champion would be the highest out of any of the names I’ve been throwing around and would likely take a solid D prospect and a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
For this to pan out, I would say the Oilers would need to have a slightly more comfortable lead in the playoff race and the Stars would have to be considerably further out. So the likelihood of Sharp in an Oilers jersey this season is probably somewhere around 5%. But it’s worth a thought for fans and a phone call to Texas if you’re Peter Chiarelli.
If anything these are merely some thoughts as to how I think the Oilers and their management could be attacking this year’s trade deadline. There are some other names I didn’t quite get to, including Radim Vrbata, Jimmy Hayes and Drew Stafford who could be available for a variety of reasons including production, money or the upcoming expansion draft.
However you look at it, there is no shortage of names available for GM Peter Chiarelli to look at and I think it’s fair to expect the Oilers to add a RW before the NHL Trade Deadline comes on February 28th.