There is a lot of smoke coming form Northern Alberta right now. The Edmonton Oilers have made minimal changes this off-season, but they are pushing hard to change that. GM Ken Holland is well aware that he needs to acquire both a third line center and a 20-goal scorer for his top-six. The veteran GM is trying to build up a powerhouse, but also wants to compete for the playoffs right away.
Holland has some money to play with under the salary cap, and sources indicate that he has not completely ruled out the free agent route. The Oil continue to monitor the Derick Brassard situation. The club feels that the veteran is poised for a rebound season and could be a value signing if he comes down on his price.
There was interest in Patrick Maroon on July 1st, but that has cooled quite a bit in the last week and a half. Thomas Vanek, who Ken Holland has signed multiple times in recent years, could be an option on a PTO in September. Vanek can still score around 15 goals, but the big concern with him is his lack of speed.
The main area of focus right now is the trade route. The Oilers have multiple irons in the fire, including on Milan Lucic. Trade talks for the forward have been up and down all summer, but it appears they are once again at the forefront for Holland.
There is fire behind the talk of a trade with the Calgary Flames. A James Neal for Milan Lucic swap has been discussed, and some believe it could be expanded on.
Meanwhile, Loui Eriksson’s bonus will be paid at some point in the next 48 hours. That will open a window for Vancouver to deal the forward. Even after signing Micheal Ferland, the Canucks maintain a level of interest in Lucic.
Another team potentially interested? The Montreal Canadiens, who sniffed around Lucic back at the deadline. Any deal with Montreal would involve Karl Alzner heading back to Alberta. There would almost certainly be more bad money heading west in that deal, if it were to happen.
At this point, I don’t think it is 100% certain that Lucic gets dealt. That being said, there is interest in the veteran and Holland does in fact have options. I can’t help but think that deal with the Flames makes sense. Calgary wants to get tougher after their first round exit in April, while Edmonton would get a potential 15-20 goal scorer in Neal. Both sides assume some risk, but scratch a big itch.
Edmonton is also heavily interested in Sam Bennett, but that would complicate talks a little bit.
Other Trade Rumblings:
The Boston Bruins maintain a level of interest in Jesse Puljujarvi. There were rumblings at the draft that Boston was open to dealing Danton Heinen, a player Edmonton has shown interest in before. The Bruins are trying to shed salary right now, however, as they look to open more cap space to sign RFA’s Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy. Not sure there is a trade fit here.
Tampa Bay and Carolina are also in the mix for Puljujarvi, while LA showed interest as recently as the draft.
I wouldn’t rule out Holland shipping out the rights to NCAA defender John Marino. Marino is heading back to Harvard for his senior season and can become a free agent on August 15th, 2020. The Oil and Devils talked about a Marino trade at the deadline, as the Oilers fear they won’t be able to sign the college product.
Speaking of the NCAA, Hayden Hawkey will be a free agent on August 15th. The Oilers have made the decision to not sign him to a deal, allowing him to test the market. With Stuart Skinner, Dylan Wells, Shane Starrett, Olivier Rodrigue and now Ilya Konovalov already in the system, that isn’t a major surprise.
Don’t be shocked if Hawkey signs an NHL contract in short order. His NCAA numbers were very good. The Boston Bruins could be a suitor for the netminder.