Edmonton Oilers and What They Can Supply
Believe it or not, we’re nearing the end of September and instead of warming up for the ice hockey, we need to wind down the 2019-20 season that has been postponed first. The Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Splash for Kasperi Kapanen last week was the first, and according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, it partially angered the playoff teams for not being able to bid on the 15th overall Penguins selection.
The next Penguins trade is likely to involve goalkeeper Matt Murray, although this time around Penguins GM Jim Rutherford may be waiting for more teams to be released from the bubble.
This is the second in our series where we look at potential suitors for Murray and what the penguins can reasonably expect in return. Our first chapter examined the Calgary Flames. Read it here.
We stay in Alberta for Chapter 2 as the Edmonton Oilers are in dire need of online help and are talented. In this talent surplus, however, there are also salary caps and sacrifices. Perhaps more than any other team in Edmonton, Rutherford will find a bargain to make a deal with the penguins.
Also a little refresher. PHN has been researching goalie trades since the last lockout (2013). The market has fluctuated but has been ultimately consistent and PHN can predict something close to a highly rounded design selection and possibly a knowledgeable prospect.
Pittsburgh Penguins Trading Potential: Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton’s excess and great hardship enable the penguins to do better business. The penguins could perhaps get hold of a top 4 blueliner.
On Saturday, Edmonton Journal’s David Staples reported on NHL trade rumors that Edmonton may postpone one or even two of its top 4 defenders. That list includes Adam Larsson, Ethan Bear, Darnell Nurse, and Oscar Klefbom.
Boy hello if the penguins could land nurse but no chance kids. Edmonton royally screwed up when former GM Peter Chiarelli transferred future Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall to Larsson. Current GM Ken Holland and Edmonton will not allow another epic headscratcher.
But we’ll tick Nurse off the list unless Rutherford comes up with a much better deal for penguins than Murray alone. Bear has also become popular in Edmonton as an affordable, reliable option. The bear’s capped cap limits its value. Staples believes Holland will keep him too.
Off the table
Edmonton also has a few prospective defense attorneys that they’re excited about. Evan Bouchard and Philip Broberg could be in the NHL this season. If it comes to trade talks with penguins, Rutherford will surely ask, and Holland will likely refuse.
We will also remove Jesse Puljujarvi from consideration. After speaking with both sides, extraordinary Sportsnet Edmonton writer Mark Spector believes Puljujarvi will be in an Edmonton sweater for 2020-21. It’s hard to imagine Holland working so hard to sign the top five pick and then swap them.
Edmonton struggled to get this fish on board and they won’t cut the line until they know what they have.
Another thing to note is that Edmonton doesn’t have many picks in the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft. You have picks in rounds 1, 5, 6, 7. So an early pick is off the table.
1. Adam Larsson, 27, RHD
The penguins need a right-handed on the blue line, and Larsson is a constant, whirling, run-down defender who doesn’t score much. Larsson had six points (1g, 5a) in 49 games this season. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder can log big minutes and has another season with a cap hit of $ 4.1 million.
Edmonton still has a problem catching free agents, which could limit Edmonton’s ability to address their network and help the penguins. Playing in the NHL’s northernmost city and one of the league’s smallest cities is not for everyone. A few parties involved railed against the PHN family when Edmonton was selected as the bubble city. It’s still not a popular destination.
Murray for Larsson doesn’t seem to be working for Edmonton unless they appreciate Murray as a top notch goalkeeper who can solve his problems. Given Murray’s performance over the past 24 months, there are some doubts as to where Murray ranks in the goalkeeper ranking.
A right-handed person would satisfy the penguins’ need for a third RHD. A stay-home RHD would also allow them to insert a mobile, offensive D-man like PO Joseph or Juuso Riikola on the left. And it would give the third period Penguins coaches a legitimate option to switch off when they have a head start. That would save Kris Letang some wear and tear.
We’re not going to entirely rule out the potential for a flat-rate contract here, but Murray’s potential salary surge to over $ 5 million and perhaps $ 6 million further complicates matters. Larsson earns $ 4.1 million for one more season before becoming UFA.
2. Second Stage Perspectives: Tyler Benson (LW), Cooper Marody (C), Ryan McLeod (C)
Edmonton has some prospects who haven’t had great seasons in the AHL. Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, and Ryan McLeod of Clan McLeod (Highlander reference) are the targets here.
The strikers jumped into professional waters but haven’t got stuck in the NHL yet. All three did not make it from the training camp to the NHL and slipped into the AHL this season.
McLeod, 20, is a center with extraordinary speed. I mean he’s quick. He’s also a playmaker who doesn’t shoot enough and has to get stronger to be a center on the third line. McLeod scored just 23 points (5g, 18a) in 56 AHL games this season. Worse, he only got 66 shots in 58 games.
Edmonton voted McLeod 40th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Marody, 23, made his NHL debut in February. He played six games in the fourth row and has yet to register his first NHL point. The 6-foot-0 center turned pro after a junior career and three seasons of college hockey in Michigan. He cracked 64 points (19g, 45a) in 58 games for the Bakersfield Condors as a professional in the first year of 2018/19, but slumped to just 17 points (5g, 12a) in 30 games this season.
Our industry sources, who know Marody better, told PHN that he is also a center for playmakers. He doesn’t have McLeod’s breakneck speed, but he does have a more sophisticated game. Marody understands good positioning and how to play without a puck.
Benson is an interesting player. He doesn’t have great skates or big size (6 feet, 190 pounds), but he has great feel and shot. Maybe a Jake Guentzel-lite? He also made his NHL debut this season and scored an assist in seven games.
Benson, 22, had a big rookie year at Bakersfield in 2018-19. After exhausting his junior eligibility with Vancouver from the WHL, Benson exploded with 66 points (15g, 51a) in 68 games in the Edmonton system.
Benson also dropped to just 36 points (9g, 27a) in 47 games this season. The 2016 second-round pick doesn’t seem like the prospect’s centerpiece, but Benson could be the addition to replace a draft pick and close a deal. Unfortunately, Benson is an LW and the penguins are full on the left wing.
With no Puljujarvi on the table and no many picks, the Edmonton Oilers are in a similar situation to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sure, Penguins trade rumors could sprout over old flames, like the resurgence of James Neal and his $ 5.75 million one-year deal or winger Andreas Athanasiou, who ended the season a staggering minus 46.
Seriously, minus 46. How does a player get there on a good team? (Note: he’s only been a minus-one in nine games with Edmonton).
But the Edmonton and Penguins trading needs don’t seem like the best bet unless Edmonton is ready to put an NHL defender on the table or the Penguins’ scouts see immediate 3C potential in McLeod or Marody.