There are just a few more days until the NHL Trade Deadline.. After a visit to the Conference Finals last season, the pressure is on Oilers GM Kenny Holland to help add to this year’s club. There are some well known names that keep popping up on the trade radar. Will Ken Holland be able to acquire some immediate help for the Oilers?
ACTION KEN HOLLAND
This is Ken Holland’s fourth year as Oilers GM. Like most GMs in The Show, he’s had some deals that are winners and he’s had some clunkers. Last year’s trade deadline saw Brett Kulak and noted penalty killer Derrick Brassard join the fray. Dmitri Kulikov came a year prior, and Andreas Athanasiou came from Detroit to join the Oilers for nine regular season games. While Kulak is the only player to remain with the club, many Oiler faithful are hoping Ken Holland can make a move that will help bolster the club’s chances at a deep playoff run.
There’s plenty of big fish in the pond. Erik Karlsson and Jakob Chychrun are two names that would instantly help the Oilers’ back end. It’s going to cost a lot of capital to get those two deals done. The Oilers aren’t exactly in the market to take on any extra cap space without shedding some themselves and getting creative. They’d almost certainly need a third team to take on some cap space in the process for a significant piece to come back. Though the Oilers could easily benefit from a significant upgrade on defence, I don’t see Ken Holland making any big splashes. Here’s a short list of a few ripples I could see him making:
- NICK BJUGSTAD
A couple of years ago I would have ridiculed this acquisition. Bjugstad was the player that the Florida Panthers opted to keep during the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft instead of Jonathan Marchessault. Bjugstad’s got his first 20+ point season since 2017-18 in Arizona, he’d fill a need in the bottom six as a right shot centre. He’s averaging just about seventeen minutes per game this season, and would be a good acquisition for the Oilers. His cap hit today (900K) is much more manageable than when it was 4.1MM while a member of the Panthers a few years ago, this deal could come together if the acquisition price is right.
- MARC STAAL
The Oilers are scoring goals, but grabbing a winger for the top six could help keep players like Janmark and Kostin down in the lineup to where they’re a better fit. They dearly could use some help in net. Jack Campbell is in the first year of a five year deal and his numbers aren’t good at all. With that in mind, I believe that the most likely move to occur is Holland grabbing a depth defenceman at the deadline. Why? I don’t think Ken Holland is particularly able to manoeuvre the necessary cap space to make it happen. Marc Staal (6’4”) was signed for 750K in Florida this offseason. Staal’s got a few things going for him: he’s a left shot defenceman, he’s been durable this season. he passes Ken’s greybeard test (he’s 36) and could easily slide into Woodcroft’s 11-7 set if needed. He’s played eighteen minutes a game this season. He doesn’t address the immediate need to fix the top pair, which is what Holland ought to be looking to do. Staal is a UFA at the end of this season, which likely makes his acquisition cost manageable.
- ERIK GUSTAFSSON
The Capitals are still hunting around that second wild card spot in the East, but it’ll be a bit harder to handle after moving Dmitry Orlov to the Bruins last week. Gustafsson was an Oiler fourth round selection back in The Nail Yakpuov Draft. The acquisition cost for Gustafsson will likely exceed what it would cost to get Marc Staal, as Gustaffson is playing top four minutes in DC (20:22) and finds himself on the scoresheet quite a bit more than Staal (7-31-38). Gustafsson (6’1”) sounds like a Ken Holland acquisition, he’s got a manageable cap hit (just 800K) and is about to turn 31 years of age. Gustafsson ticks all of the Ken Holland boxes, though I would venture to guess that there will be a few teams calling on Gustafsson between now and Friday.
Ken Holland has four days until the NHL trade deadline, he’s got a few things he could do in order to help spruce up the Oilers’ roster in Year Eight of Connor McDavid. Bolstering the defence (more than a depth acquisition) would be great, so would adding some scoring up front. With McDavid pacing to a possible 150 point season, it would behoove Ken Holland to pull out all the stops to make an immediate roster upgrade heading into this year’s postseason.
Doing nothing isn’t a viable option.