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Just Hear Me Out

Exploring a potential Oilers future without Connor McDavid

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Connor McDavid is a special player, of that there is no doubt. Wayne Gretzky called him the best player in 30 years and said you simply don't trade him.

I'm saying, maybe you do.

Now before you rage close your browser and call me an idiot on twitter, or jump to the comments and call me nuttier than squirrel shit, let's clear something up. I don't think you trade him, only because the players and the fans have been through shear hell the past 9 years and they really need just the idea of an Oilers team with McDavid.

That being said, I think there is a strong argument, from a hockey stand point, to trade this pick. First and foremost, I think you can address nearly all of your lineup needs. You can get probably get a combination of quality veteran and a good young defencemen, plus a very good draft pick in exchange. This would allow whoever is GM to then focus on goaltending and maybe rounding out the forward group.

The old adage is if you trade the best player in a  trade, you lost it. There's plenty of history to support that idea, including a trade the Oilers made in the summer of 2005 to bring in Chris Pronger. There's also the reality that the NHL is a cap environment and you have to balance your cap management if you want to have long term success.

If Connor McDavid is as advertised, he's going to command a near max salary within a few years. A quick look at some of the top player cap hits in the league and you see them following teams:

Pittsburgh, Washington, Montreal, Anaheim, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Carolina, Toronto, Nashville, Detroit, Minnesota and Tampa.

Noticeably absent from this list: Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago (for now). The 3 teams with the most regular season and playoff success in the past few seasons (yes I am aware 2 didn't make the playoffs this year).

The difference between a Crosby, who has an $8.7 mil cap hit and a Kopitar who has a $6.8 mil cap hit is that you can make up the ability difference between the two by having more depth in your lineup. The gap between what an elite talent brings vs a very good talent is not that great, despite the fact that there is a big difference in what they cost you.

Chicago is going to run into some major cap issues this summer as both Kane and Toews cap hits jump up into that elite level. They go from manageable $6mil cap hits to $10.5 mil. That $8 million + difference can basically pay for a quality set of 2nd line wingers.

As great as it would be to say "Keep McDavid because he's awesome", the fact of the matter is there are costs for having that sort of talent in your lineup. He's going to have a killer deal for the first 3 years of his career (thanks to his ELC), so the Oilers have to do what they can to maximize that value. Once his ELC is up, the Oilers are going to have a lot of very hard decisions to make and you could make the argument that McDavid will never have more value than he does right before this draft.