The Edmonton Oilers have plenty of work to do in order to fill out their roster over the summer and taking a serious run at Claude Giroux should be something Ken Holland seriously considers.
With the NHL Entry Draft and start of free agency just round the corner, the Edmonton Oilers are about to embark on what will surely be another busy off-season for the organization. Fixing their goaltending remains priority one, with upgrading/re-tooling the backend and keeping Evander Kane or finding his replacement coming next on Ken Holland’s to-do-list.
Much of the local media and a large chunk of the fan base have an almost irrational want for Kane to be brought back into the fold, after putting together one heck of a run playing alongside Connor McDavid. The thing is…securing the captain a so-called finisher doesn’t need to be on the team’s shopping list this summer. Confused? Well, you really shouldn’t be.
Some of you may be wondering how I could type those words straight-faced but in reality, the answer is staring us all in the face. Though it became a major problem through much of Dave Tippett’s tenure behind the Oilers bench, in the here and now, using Leon Draisaitl in said spot is the obvious choice. We all know it’s the set-up both guys prefer and it’s finally become a viable option for this group.
With the emergence of Ryan McLeod and Ryan-Nugent-Hopkins still in the mix, Edmonton suddenly finds itself in a rather enviable position. Good teams tend to build their forward ranks from the middle of the ice out and this team is one add away from having an embarrassment of riches. Securing a triggerman for no. 97 is all well and good but a legit no. 2 centre could put this group over the top.
That’s right, instead of focusing on Kane or some kind of facsimile, imagine if Holland were to go out and acquire a player that would allow his head coach to use his trump card on a nightly basis. A glance at the pending UFA centre market suggests the potential of pulling it off is there. Such a move would land the Oilers a better all-rounded player and give Jay Woodcroft a tonne of flexibility.
The chances of decorated champions such as Patrice Bergeron or Evgeni Malkin coming to Edmonton are essentially nil. Same goes for Flip Forsberg and Nazem Kadri, who both look headed for big paydays via free agency, be it from their current teams or on the open market. Once we remove those four names from the list, there is one guy sitting there and he would fit the bill rather nicely.
If grabbing that elusive Stanley Cup ring is still something driving Claude Giroux, my guess would be joining a club with McDavid and Draisaitl on it might be an attractive option. Though not the dominant player he once was, the 34-year old still has plenty left in the tank and the opportunity to play a key role in a championship run would be there for the taking.
At this stage in his career, Giroux is still an eighteen-minute a night player who puts up points at a decent clip, is very effective in the face-off dot and would give the Oilers a right-handed option down the middle for the first-time in what feels like forever. After the Panthers disappointing playoff showing, one would think the want to win has likely gone up a couple of notches for the nine time 20-goal scorer.
Imagine for a second what Woodcroft might be able to do with a top-six that would include McDavid, Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Nugent-Hopkins and Giroux. Again, playing his so-called nuclear weapons together would be a no-brainer but the options at his fingertips would be almost obscene. Not to mention giving him five legitimate options (yes…FIVE!!!) to use at centre inside his top-nine.
Giroux has always been a guy who produces on the man advantage and his addition would give an already elite power play, the potential to become even more lethal. His two-way game is still solid and 14 seasons into his career, he still produces at even strength. For me, adding this kind of player makes perfect sense and would do nothing but help Edmonton’s chances come playoff time.
He won’t play for pennies on the dollar but considering Giroux has earned over $78 million over the course of his career, his price tag is unlikely to be at the top of his priority list. No question, going back to Florida would allow more wiggle room due to taxes but if the Oilers are seriously considering paying Kane between $5M and $6M per on a multi-year deal, this should be an easy decision.