The mandate is there, the push is on. The Edmonton Oilers are under immense pressure to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this April. It is what the owner wants, and what he expects to get come April. Last night’s 7-2 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres draws Edmonton into a tie for a playoff spot, but there is a lot of work still to be done.
The organization is finally admitting that their forward group isn’t good enough and that the search for help is on. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug put the word out yesterday that the ‘full court press’ was on by the Oilers, and named a few assets that the team is dangling in hopes of landing some help.
Oilers organization is on a full court press to find help at forward. Scouts and staff deployed en masse.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) January 14, 2019
Cap situation could make it tough, but first round pick, a goaltender, maybe a young developing forward likely all in play.
I don’t think it will surprise anyone, but the goaltender in play is Cam Talbot. Mikko Koskinen has firmly passed Talbot in the minds of the Oiler coaching staff and brass, and the decision has been made to move on from Talbot. He will not be back next season with or without a trade.
The Oilers banked on Talbot to repeat his 2016-17 performance, and in each of the following two seasons he fell short. Fair or unfair, Edmonton expected Talbot to play at a very high level and he was not able to do it the last two seasons.
See the Oilers chatter has picked up steam. Full push (last for GM?) for a stable, long-term winger for 97. Talbot's been available for months (currently No.18 on our Trade Watch List), won't be in EDM next season. Interesting 6 weeks ahead— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) January 14, 2019
As for the young developing forward that Rishaug hints at, I’m quite confident in saying that the player is Jesse Puljujarvi. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to Oiler fans at all. After being selected fourth overall in 2016, Puljujarvi was expected to soften the blow of the Taylor Hall trade. In fact, I believe that Chiarelli was okay with the Hall deal largely because Puljujarvi had fallen into their lap at pick four.
Through fault of both player and team, it just hasn’t work. The Oilers rushed Puljujarvi to the NHL after he was drafted and never let him truly develop. Puljujarvi should have been in Finland in 2016-17, and the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors last season. Instead, he was sinking at the NHL level in both seasons.
Insider Elliotte Friedman confirmed Puljujarvi’s availability yesterday on NHL Network.
For what it’s worth, I do believe the Oilers are also listening on Kailer Yamamoto, and would move him if the deal was right. Are they shopping Yamamoto? No, they aren’t. Are they in a rush to deal him? No, they are not, but the Oilers are certainly listening.
In fact, I believe they are listening to everyone outside of the core group: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse.
There are a handful of players that I think the Oilers have zeroed in on as trade targets. Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds is certainly one of them, while I believe the team would strongly consider a trade for Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist if he truly became available.
As The Fourth Period pointed out last week, the Oilers have shown interest in forwards Kevin Hayes and Michael Ferland as well. I’m not sold on Ferland getting dealt, mainly because Carolina is one of the hottest teams in hockey right now and still very much in the playoff chase.
I wouldn’t rule out a reunion with Patrick Maroon, although I think the Oilers would be aiming a little higher in a deal with the Blues. Perhaps a player like Brayden Schenn, who the Blues had been trying to deal at points earlier in the year, or Jordan Schwartz would make more sense.
Like Carolina, however, I’m not sure the Blues will sell anymore. They are heating up and have caught up to the pack in the playoff chase out west.
The pressure is 110% on the Oil right now. Monday night was a nice victory, with secondary scoring the story, but they’ll still need to make moves if they hope to return to the playoffs. There are ample targets and there is a large appetite to get it done.
Buckle up, it is going to be an interesting few weeks.