The Oilers are officially halfway through the 2022-23 season. I know, time flies when you’re having fun. Some good things have happened this year, some less good things have happened along the way as well. One thing is perfectly clear, and that’s the simple fact that the Oilers are going to have to put a few more games into the win column if they’re going to see the playoffs come April.
Edmonton needs help on defence. They’re getting shellacked 5 on 5 right now, and Darnell Nurse needs less minutes on the top pair. Here we are in year eight of Connor McDavid, the Oilers are coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals, and they’re struggling to hold onto the second wild card spot at the halfway point of the season. How do you fix this?
There have been a couple names tossed around - notably Joel Edmunson in Montréal and Vladislav Gavrikov from Columbus. Good things usually cost more than most, and I’d suggest the Oilers go after something very good in left-shot defenceman Jakob Chychrun in Arizona.
Current Oilers by ATOI vs. recent Cup-winning D corps:— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) January 8, 2023
22-23 EDM: Nurse, Ceci, Barrie, Bouchard, Kulak, rotating trio
21-22 COL: Makar, Toews, Byram, Girard, Manson, Johnson
20-21 TBL: Hedman, McDonagh, Sergachev, Cernak, Rutta, Savard
The Oilers need a talented, top end player on defence. This is the year to go for it. Chychrun is that player.
Chychrun ticks all of the boxes for the Oilers.
- top four defenceman (he’d easily be the best defenceman on the club should the Oilers make the move, we can discuss how many minutes he’d play versus Nurse at another time)
- young - he’s 24
- averages 23 minutes a night
- is good. (that’s an important one).
- under contract for two more years after this one
- at a very friendly 4.6MM cap hit.
He’s a talented, top end defenceman on a good deal. The Oilers need to push for this kind of player. I understand that his injury history is worth taking a second look at (bone spur, wrist), but this player is the best player the Oilers could ascertain in the time leading up to the trade deadline this year. And, it’s going to cost them, as good things tend to be costlier than those which are not.
This is supposed to be a year where the Oilers are serious contenders for the Stanley Cup. Right now, I’m not even sure this team is a serious contender for the playoffs at all. The Oilers are getting eaten alive at evens, and Chychrun would go a long way at helping put a stop to that. Chychrun is paired most often with Shayne Gostisbehere and this pair is on the ice for less than 2.0 goals per sixty minutes. That’s not too shabby for a club that’s allowing over 3.6 goals a game.
This player is likely to cost the Oilers at least a couple of good, young players and a first round selection. That might be cause for pause, but consider that Chychrun is just 24 years of age. He’ll need a new deal in 2025-26 and that might sound frightening when you think of the Oilers’ current cap hit issues, but things tend to work themselves out if you can avoid handing out any more long, lengthy contracts to players that might not be able to live up to them.
The Oilers would need to move some cap in order to make any deal involving Chychrun work, and that might be a little bit out of Ken Holland’s wheelhouse. It’s easy to pack up Philip Broberg, Reid Schaefer and a first round pick on paper; getting the cap space (of which Edmonton has zilch) to work is a whole other issue. Warren Foegele has been healthy scratched for two straight games now, would this push the river enough to get a deal done?
Chychrun is good, and he’s going to cost a lot. The Oilers are in danger of missing the playoffs after a season that saw Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane go supernova in the playoffs. The Oilers are already halfway through the season and they’re clocking in at a 90 point pace, which would have them outside of the playoffs looking in. In a year where Connor McDavid could eclipse the 150 point mark, that’s not an option.
This isn’t trading Caleb Jones and a third rounder for Duncan Keith.
This time, the club’s got to get better.
Go get Jakob Chychrun.