In six days, the NHL’s member clubs will virtually hit the draft floor for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. With a flat cap and tons of uncertainty, this offseason could be one of the most memorable in recent history. The Edmonton Oilers, if rumors are to indicate the future, could be in the middle of all of it.
Here are the latest rumors less than a week out from the draft.
Puljujarvi Return Imminent?:
The Oilers and Jesse Puljujarvi continue to inch closer to a contract. Last week, the smoke surrounding a Puljujarvi return grew thicker when team insider Bob Stauffer tweeted the following.
Distinct possibility that we see Jesse Puljujarvi return to @EdmontonOilers on a short term deal.
New GM/HC since Puljujarvi was last in Edm.
Puljujarvi’s agency has merged with Connor McDavid’s agency.
Oilers would have 6 RW’s.
Could result in a RW belng moved for a LW.
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) September 24, 2020
On Wednesday, TSN insider Frank Seravalli had an update on the contract negotiations between the sides.
Sounds like #Oilers have made progress in talks to bring Jesse Puljujarvi back into the fold. Discussion still mostly centered on the hockey ‘fit’ part of it, but my guess if/when he returns is that it’s eventually on a one-year deal in the $1.2-$1.5 million range.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 30, 2020
A Puljujarvi return seems closer than ever at this point. The expectation is that Puljujarvi would play on the third-line with a veteran center that will be acquired at some point next week. Erik Haula is a name that has been connected to the Oilers and makes a lot of sense. Haula is a free agent.
A Puljujarvi return could also lead to a potential Alex Chiasson trade. The Oilers and Bruins have discussed a potential deal that could send Chiasson out east for winger Anders Bjork. Edmonton’s interest in Bjork is nothing new.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins In Play?:
Could the Oilers actually move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Something unthinkable a week ago is picking up steam in the rumor mill. The Fourth Period wrote the following today. (Full article here)
The Oilers have multiple balls in the air. As they continue to kick the tires on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Darcy Kuemper in Arizona, explore the goalie markets (trade and UFA) and weight their options up front, there is talk GM Ken Holland would consider moving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
TFP also reports that the Oilers shopping list includes “two top-six forwards, a legit third-line center, a top-pair defenseman, a stay-at-home rearguard and a goaltender.”
The publication added that GM Ken Holland hopes to re-sign pending UFA F Tyler Ennis, who is expected to be ready for the start of the new season.
Ekman-Larsson Pursuit Continues:
There are no secrets when it comes to the Oilers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The club is hot after the defenseman, and could be fighting the Boston Bruins for his services. Ekman-Larsson, as mentioned in this space before, does have a no-trade clause but would waive it to play for the Oilers.
The price is the real question here. The 14th overall pick, top-prospect Evan Bouchard and veteran Kris Russell was a rumored price earlier on Wednesday. Sources indicate the actual price for Ekman-Larsson is expected to be lower than that.
It’s unlikely the Oilers part with both the 14th overall pick and Bouchard in any trade.
The Ekman-Larsson pursuit makes more sense now that Oscar Klefbom’s future is in doubt. Elliotte Friedman reported on Wednesday that Klefbom is still dealing with injury issues from the 2019-20 season, and is mulling his options. According to Friedman, Klefbom could opt for surgery, which would keep him out “long-term”.
There have been whispers that “long-term” may mean the entirety of the 2020-21 season. There were also rumblings, via Tom Gazzola, that Klefbom is “taking a step back” and evaluating everything.
Whether you agree Ekman-Larsson is an upgrade or not doesn’t matter. The Oilers cannot afford to punt on the 2020-21 season and must replace Klefbom if he does not play. Friedman acknowledged that in his report.
One situation EDM is monitoring: Oscar Klefbom is weighing options to deal with injuries from last season. One of the possibilities is surgery that could keep him out long-term (obviously, we don’t know when next season will begin). His absence would need to be addressed.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 30, 2020
This N’ That:
- Could Tyson Barrie be an option for the Oilers? He’s a right-shot D, but Barrie can move the puck and would replace Klefbom on the powerplay. Plus, in that case, the Oilers could just walk away from Matt Benning and keep Kris Russell for the season on the left side, rolling with Russell, Darnell Nurse and Caleb Jones.
- There are some top-four left-shot defensemen who will hit the UFA market. The Oilers have LOVED Torey Krug in the past, but there is simply no way they can meet his contract demands. A six-year deal with an AAV of $6.5 million wasn’t enough to get Krug to re-sign in Boston in recent days. TJ Brodie, Brendan Dillon, Ron Hainsey, Nikita Zadorov and Zdeno Chara could be free agent options.
- According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Oilers have shown interest in Petr Mrazek. The veteran goalie has one season left on his contract with the Hurricanes, and carries an AAV of $3.125 million. Drafted by Holland in 2010 with the Red Wings, Mrazek is more of a “Plan B” for the club. He had a .914 save percentage in 40 games in 2018-19, but fell to a .905 mark in 40 games in 2019-20.