The Edmonton Oilers need a few upgrades before the trade deadline this season and the Chicago Blackhawks could be the perfect team to sign a deal with. These two teams are going in opposite directions. The Oilers are hoping to stay competitive and be Stanley Cup contenders while the Blackhawks are just beginning their full rebuild.
Having already vacated a lot of talent this offseason, there’s almost no player on their roster the Blackhawks wouldn’t move. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are hoping they will waive their no-move clauses so they can salvage some assets before becoming free agents. Toews is the realistic option for the Oilers since he was linked to them by Frank Seravalli. But Kane is unlikely to make it to Edmonton.
Toews can work as a middle center with a ton of playoff experience and veteran leadership that the Oilers gained last season by acquiring Duncan Keith. However, the Oilers aren’t just looking for a hard-hitting player like Toews, they’re also looking to add depth on offense and defense.
The Oilers have had forward injuries this season. Last season, their defense was constantly damaged. They acquired Brett Kulak to help them and create stability on their blue line. While they did get contributions from their depth, it wasn’t consistent enough. Toews is someone who could have a real impact and help them in many areas of need.
Frank Seravalli joined Sportsnet ahead of the holiday break and spoke about the Oilers’ potential interest in Toews, saying, “The Edmonton Oilers could use a little bit of boldness and nastiness, someone who can make face-offs, kill penalties if necessary. to be.
The Oilers’ penalty kill ranks 26th in the NHL and was a huge anchor for the team early in the season. They were marked as a man was apparently in every game. Although it has improved recently with a change of staff, it’s still not great. They can outclass their opponents, but they shouldn’t be forced into every game. They’ll be in some low-scoring games this season, and a team as offensively gifted as the Oilers should win those types of games. Instead, they’re sunk by power-play goals, like in their loss to the Winnipeg Jets on New Year’s Eve.
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Evander Kane has been out for a while now and Klim Kostin has just picked up an injury that didn’t look good. If the Oilers take another blow to their forward unit, Toews has the size and the grit that can make up for some of the loss. He played as a second-line center for the Blackhawks and got off to a good start offensively. It would give the Oilers a number of options with their forward lines and they would be looking very deep after a potential trade. With the amount of offense they produce without being great in the face-off circle, one of the best in the league could also allow Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Ryan McLeod to switch to the wing and take less draws.
The package for Toews certainly won’t be as big as Kane’s, but the Oilers should expect to part with a decent prospect and a mid-to-high tier pick or even a first-round pick. Half the salary will have to be eaten by the Blackhawks, but it will still take a move to clear the cap space. The prospect of re-signing Toews is also said to be on the table.
In terms of defense, the Oilers are definitely looking for someone to fit in on the left side. That someone could be Jake McCabe. He is 29 years old and plays in the top pairing with Seth Jones. He’s also capable of playing both sides, which the Oilers might need if they face Tyson Barrie.
McCabe kills penalties, plays key minutes and relies more on defense (from: “Blackhawks’ Jake McCabe Moving His Feet and Finding His Balance: Powers Points”, Athleticism, December 9, 2022). The Oilers rotated Philip Broberg, Markus Niemelainen and Ryan Murray as their sixth defenseman this season, and none really stuck. Instead of the soothing presence of Evan Bouchard last year with Keith, he played with rookies or inexperienced players. McCabe will once again be that for Bouchard so the Oilers can have three defensive pairs to rely on offensively and defensively.
On 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Elliotte Friedman said he wondered if McCabe could be a potential target for the Oilers come the trade deadline. What will be advantageous to negotiate with the Blackhawks is that they have a lot of cap space and do not expect to win for a number of years. So, seeing as McCabe is under contract through 2025, salary can be withheld over each of the remaining 2.5 seasons to make it work for the Oilers. However, it would be hard for them to avoid giving up a first-round pick based on the remaining term and potential salary retained by the Blackhawks.
Sam Lafferty meets the needs of the Oilers’ bottom six when it comes to grit and defensive presence. He’s been a very effective penalty killer this season and added one-man attack. His Fenwick is 17.9 shorthanded (Fenwick lists shots and misses for and against). That’s way better than the average shorthanded player. He also had a big impact defensively by keeping high-risk shots to a minimum. The team’s save percentage while on the ice shorthanded is 82%. His team also has a 21.4 shooting percentage when on the ice shorthanded.
Lafferty can play in all three attacking positions, which makes him very versatile. He plays 2:25 a night, but he would be given less of a role in Edmonton. No doubt he would be used outnumbered, but he would probably fit on the fourth line. With three goals and nine points over a last-place team like Chicago, his production could even pick up for a team like Edmonton. If the Oilers want to tick more boxes with added forward depth, they shouldn’t look past Lafferty. They would also get it for an additional year at an average annual value (AAV) of $1.15 million or less if they got it at its maximum.
The Oilers have made deals with the Blackhawks in the past and it has gone pretty well. They could easily become business partners again because they both have what the other needs. If the Oilers can get any of those three players from the Blackhawks before the trade deadline, it will be a win for Ken Holland and company.
Rob Couch is a freelance writer for THW primarily covering the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. It covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. It will also keep you up to date with news on NHL stats and trade talks.
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