The Edmonton Oilers have been playing solid hockey as of late with a 6-3-1 record in their last 10. The recent injury of Connor McDavid has caused others to step up and fill the void, as the Oilers beat the Blackhawks without McDavid on February 11th. Leon Draisaitl had 2 goals in that game, combined with a 3-point contribution by 2017 1st round pick Kailer Yamamoto led the Oilers to the win.
Edmonton will most likely be buyers at the trade deadline, however, we don’t see them moving top defense prospects Philip Broberg and Evan Bouchard in any trade. With no significant pending unrestricted free agents, Edmonton’s best asset to trade is unsigned forward Jesse Puljujarvi despite the fact he is ineligible to play in the NHL this season. In the three seasons we have on Puljujarvi, his career AB score is -2.82, which isn’t great considering he’s a young forward. In fact, every season he plays decreases his score, as they’ve gotten worse over time. His rookie season was a respectable -1.11, which decreased to a -2.08 in his sophomore season. His junior season was a career-worst -5.25, which was his contract season. Under new management, Puljujarvi wasn’t willing to give Edmonton a chance and requested a trade. Since that request was not met and Puljujarvi failed to sign a contract with the team past the December 1st deadline, the NHL deemed him ineligible, with Edmonton still owning his rights. Puljujarvi appears to have found his game in Finland, as he currently has 44 points in 44 games with Karpat of the SM-liiga. We could definitely see a team like the Detroit Red Wings, who have nothing left to play for this season other than lottery position, make a move involving Puljujarvi. Edmonton may look for a speedy winger to play with McDavid when he returns from injury, and Andreas Athanasiou could fit that bill. He would also make a positive impact AB wise to the Oilers should they acquire him, as he has an outstanding +2.98 career score across a 4-year sample.
There have also been rumors that Edmonton is willing to trade defensemen Adam Larsson or Kris Russell to clear up cap space and allow their younger defenseman to develop with more opportunities. Larsson and Russell both have respectable career AB scores for defensemen with a -1.90 score and a -0.56 score respectively. However, Larsson is coming off a career-worst season with a -9.90 individual score, while being paid $4+ million. This season, Larsson has an impressive penalty drawn to taken ratio with a 3:4 ratio despite playing 19+ minutes per night. Russell’s ratio is also impressive, considering he is averaging almost two fewer minutes than his career average of 19:19 per night this season under Coach Dave Tippett. Both +/- numbers are decent considering their ice time and position with Russell’s being a tad higher at -2, compared to Larsson’s -5. Both giveaway/takeaway ratios are decent as well, with Russell’s being a bit better despite playing in 16 more games (13:25 Larsson, 26:33 Russell). Russell is currently on IR however, and Larsson suffered an injury in an early October game against the Vancouver Canucks. Both would be solid acquisitions based on their numbers this season. It’ll surely be interesting to see what new Oilers GM Ken Holland does to boost his team at the February 24th deadline, as they appear to be in the running for a Pacific Division title. More to come.