Only three teams remain in the chase for the Stanley Cup, which means off-season speculation is slowly beginning to pick up. Today, TSN’s Frank Seravalli debut his off-season trade bait board. The list contains 15 names, including Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic.
In addition to Lucic, who is the lone Oiler on the list, there are a few players who could be of interest to Ken Holland this off-season. Buying low on players and making astute trades/free agent signings will be key to getting Edmonton back to the postseason in 2020. The work starts now for Holland, and some of the names on this list could really help the team.
In regards to Lucic, there should be no surprise that he is on this list. He requested a trade from Edmonton last summer, and the belief is that Lucic is once again eager for a fresh start. He’s feeling the pressure after two poor seasons in Edmonton, and is no doubt open to a change of scenery.
Former GM Peter Chiarelli believed that his biggest free agent signing could turn things around, and as a result his asking price was higher than teams were willing to pay. Some believe that Chiarelli wasted Edmonton’s only window to move Lucic, but I suspect teams will be interested this summer in a problem-for-problem swap. Sources indicated at the deadline that Montreal and Vancouver showed interest, but a deal was never put together.
I don’t think a buyout is an option here, the cap savings aren’t nearly worth the penalty, so a trade is the only way to rid the roster of this problem. Personally, I’d be stunned if Lucic opened up training camp with the Oilers.
Lets Go Shopping:
The first name on Seravalli’s list is Phil Kessel, who interests me a ton. I know some people want to label Kessel as lazy, inconsistent and overrated, but over the last two seasons he has posted campaigns of 92 and 82 points. Kessel is an impact offensive player and would instantly add another elite weapon to Edmonton’s ranks. Holland would be stupid to not at least inquire about his services, especially if he can find a way to move Kris Russell and his $4,000,000.
Number seven on the list is Maple Leafs forward Connor Brown, who the club tried to trade for at the deadline. Edmonton was offering Matt Benning as part of the deal, but as Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now and I reported on deadline day, the Leafs wanted Adam Larsson as part of a deal.
Brown scored just eight goals this season, but had 14 in 2017-18 and 20 during his first full season in 2016-17. A junior teammate of Connor McDavid’s, he makes a lot of sense for Edmonton as a middle-six forward.
Lastly, at number 14, is Colin Miller. An expansion draft selection by Vegas, the right-shot defender is a picture perfect fit for the Oilers. He’s quick, mobile with the puck, can run a powerplay and has a great shot from the point. He fell out of favor with the Golden Knights a bit this season, and with Vegas needing to shed money he could be a prime trade candidate.
Miller played in all 82 games for the Golden Knights in their inaugural season, posting 10-31-41 while adding seven points in 20 playoff games. This past season, however, Miller appeared in only 65 games and managed only 3-26-29.
Everyone on this list can help the Oilers in some fashion. Kessel would add another game breaker to a forward group badly in need of impact wingers. Brown could help with the winger depth, also a big issue on the club, while Miller is a perfect fit for the second-pairing on the right side.
There will be options this summer for Holland, and these three men represent some of the more solid ones. The only issue? Holland needs to clear some cap space first.