Ready….Set…..GO! Deadline Season Has Begun

hat trick Maroon

As we barrel towards the All-Star break, which starts in eight days, we are officially into trade deadline season. The buyers and sellers are starting to make themselves known, and prices are being set for the market’s top rentals. Over the course of the next six weeks, we’ll see a number of faces change places. It’s a good bet a number of them will be familiar faces to Oiler fans too.

We’ll have a ton of deadline coverage here at The Oilers Rig leading up to the big day, and today kicks that off. The Fourth Period posted their ‘Top 30 Available Players’ chart yesterday, meaning the rumors have begun. You can view the entire piece here.

This afternoon, we’ll take a look at some players the Oilers are shopping and possibly looking at.

The Selling:

There are many options for the Oilers when it comes to selling at the deadline. Considering where the team currently is in the standings, this is likely to be the direction that GM Peter Chiarelli takes.

The Fourth Period lists only two players in their top 30 from Edmonton, which is about right, but the team has about three or four more options to sell off. We’ll get to them in a separate piece later on.

Patrick Maroon: At this point, it would be a miracle if Maroon re-signed with the Oilers. His contract demands are apparently too much for the team, meaning he’s going to walk come the summer. As TFP mentions, the Oilers will be looking for an asset or two for the power-forward.

TFP lists Maroon as their number six player available, while listing Boston, St. Louis, San Jose, Nashville, Tampa Bay and New York (Islanders) as the teams interested.

Mark Letestu: Edmonton’s second and final player on the list comes in at number 29. Letestu, a pending UFA, will have appeal to teams because of his ability to play on the powerplay, his ability to win face-offs, and the fact that he’s a right-handed center. Letestu also performed quite well in the playoffs last season for Edmonton, scoring 5-6-11 in 13 playoff contests. That’ll have appeal for teams, even if he has lost a step since then.

TFP lists the Pittsburgh Penguins, Letestu’s first team, the LA Kings and Dallas Stars as potential landing spots.

The Buying:

Edmonton’s playoff hopes for 2018 are dead, but as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned in this week’s 31 Thoughts piece, everything the team does is about being a contender next season. Adding a player with term at the deadline will make Edmonton’s work for the summer much easier.

Mike Hoffman: The first player with ties to the Oilers is Ottawa sniper Mike Hoffman. This isn’t a new rumor either, as Friedman and many other insiders connected Edmonton to Hoffman earlier in the season. The number five player on TFP’s list would be a great addition to any team, but especially one starving for help on the wings like Edmonton is.

Here’s what they had to say on the player’s situation:

Hoffman continues to generate plenty of interest and the Sens could gain from moving him, as the return would be fruitful and Ottawa is already focusing on refurbishing its roster for next season.

Here’s Hoffman’s scouting report via The Hockey News:

Owns a great release. Is both skilled and industrious, with a nose for the net. Pays the price to score and has a history of putting up good numbers at all levels. Can also be a factor due to his great speed.
His defensive play still needs some more work. Also needs to add more meat on his bones and get physically stronger in order to avoid injuries better. Lacks game-to-game consistency.
Skilled, speedy sniper.

Dion Phaneuf: Here’s an interesting one, as Phaneuf slides into number seven on the TFP list. Along with the LA Kings, the Oilers are connected to the veteran defender who has three years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $7,000,000 per season. His deal also comes with a modified-NTC, but popular belief is the veteran would waive to play for his hometown Oilers.

Here’s what TFP had to say about the situation:

Phaneuf has played well for the Senators since joining their squad and is simply a potential casualty of a team looking to save some money. He has a 12-team trade list, and talks have already begun.

Courtesy of The Hockey News, here’s Dion’s scouting report:

Owns a big shot from the point and good offensive instincts. Displays all-round acumen and is the total physical package. Owns impressive lateral movement and big-hitting ability. Is a leader, too. Can log a ton of ice time.
Lacks consistency. His defensive-zone coverage leaves something to be desired at times, which negates his impact on the NHL a little. Can be a little too exhuberant at times in search of the big hit and gets out of position.
Inconsistent, talented veteran defenseman.

Final Thoughts:

Edmonton is going to have to sell off assets, so it is no surprise to see both Maroon and Letestu on this list. I suspect they’ll both be moved for prospects or picks by the deadline to help replenish a system that still needs some help.

That said, Edmonton still sees themselves as Stanley Cup contenders next season, and thus they’ll be looking to add pieces to help them achieve that goal. Shopping for solutions with term right now is a perfect idea, as it will make the summer easier and leave less for the management team to accomplish.

Mike Hoffman is a perfect target for Edmonton, but buyer beware. Ottawa is looking to shed salary and taking the Dion Phaneuf contract back may be the team’s only choice, hence their interest in both players.

It’ll be an interesting next few weeks, that’s for sure.

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