Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland is willing to give his team a boost in advance of next month’s trade deadline. According to multiple sources, the Edmonton Oilers are pushing to acquire another forward prior to February 24th. Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild and Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers are at the top of that list.
Zucker was nearly traded twice last season, once to the Calgary Flames and once to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Neither deal went through. Bill Guerin eventually took over as GM of the Wild, replacing Paul Fenton. It appears that the change in management has not changed the opinion of Zucker in Minnesota.
The 28-year-old left winger has 14 goals and 28 points in 40 games played with the Wild this season. He is averaging 16:08 time-on-ice per game and has a 47.5% Corsi For (-1.5% rel) per hockey-reference.
Zucker has scored at least 20 goals in each of the previous three seasons. That includes a career-high 33 goals during the 2017-18 campaign. He scored 21 goals in 81 games a season ago.
If the Oilers acquire Zucker, the price likely will not be small. Sources named prospect Evan Bouchard as a possible ask from the Wild, which is a complete non-starter for the Oilers at this time. Bouchard is currently playing at the AHL All-Star Game in Ontario, California.
Zucker does have three years reaming on his contract, however, so there is additional value there. Adding Zucker would give the Oilers a longer term solution to their top six issue. He carries a cap hit of $5,500,000 per season through the 2022-23 campaign.
Kreider, meanwhile, is a pending UFA who has a strong desire to play outside of Canada. Sources indicate that Kreider has no interest in signing an extension with a Canadian team and that all seven are on his no-trade list at this time. Things can change, but the Oilers will have some work to do to convince Kreider to come to Edmonton.
Kreider has 17 goals and 32 points in 48 games played this season for the Rangers. He’s averaging 17:43 time-on-ice per game and has a 47.4% Corsi For (+2.3% Rel) per hockey-reference.
Kreider has scored 20 goals in four of his last five seasons. He tied a career-high with 28 goals last year, and is well on his way to hitting the 20 goal mark again this season.
The lone year Kreider did not hit 20 goals was 2017-18. He scored 16, but played in only 58 games.
Holland is expected to make an addition before the deadline. The club is looking for a top six forward, third line center and a depth defenseman.
Bouchard, as mentioned, was part of the conversations with the Wild. Don’t expect the Oilers to move him. Bouchard has 26 points (7-19-26) in 42 games played this season for Bakersfield and was named to the AHL All-Star Game.
Sources in the AHL with other Pacific Division teams have told The Oilers Rig that Bouchard appears close to NHL ready. They anticipate that this will be his only season spent in the AHL. Tyler Benson was also put in the category of players close to making the jump. Benson is also an AHL All-Star.
If the Oilers push hard for Kreider, the 2020 first round draft pick will need to be in play. The Rangers are hoping to acquire a first for their prized power forward. Holland, to this point, has been extremely reluctant to part with that pick. That isn’t surprising as this draft features an extremely high level of talent.
Jesse Puljujarvi’s name remains out there and he could be an appealing target for the Wild. Minnesota has veteran Finnish forward Mikko Koivu on their roster.
The Oilers also have an assortment of prospects such as Dmitri Samorukov, Cooper Marody, Caleb Jones, Kirill Maksimov and Filip Berglund to offer in trade.