Looking at some of the options the Edmonton Oilers have to address their needs at forward. The Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be the perfect trade partners.
The Edmonton Oilers need forwards like a truck needs gas after a straight shot trip to Banff from Leduc.
Unfortunately, given their uniquely complicated cap situation, adding any new body to the roster poses a significant challenge. The new GM will have his work cut out for him to say the least.
But that does not mean all is lost or impossible. There are other teams in the NHL that are in a cap-strapped situation similar to the Oilers.
One of those teams is the Toronto Maple Leafs.
As we all know, GM Kyle Dubas has his hands full this summer trying to fit expensive contracts into his system. Signing Mitch Marner will bring cap-casualties to the Leafs roster. The Oilers must take advantage of that.
William Nylander would be a welcome addition to the Oilers top-six. They need elite offensive talent, and he’s exactly that. His superb speed and skill would put the Oilers first or second line over-the-top.
Andreas Johnsson surprised many this year with an impressive 20 goal rookie campaign. The 24-year-old left winger is a restricted free agent this summer and in need of a new contract.
He is an exciting player as he’s proven himself as a skilled top-six forward at the NHL level. There is a ceiling of high potential for this player to reach. This year, he scratched the surface.
At the same time, it was his first year in the league. He still has much to prove. One solid season should not guarantee an eight year 7 million dollar deal.
Johnsson would be of lesser value compared to Nylander, but the cost to trade and sign him will still be significantly high. Perhaps too high for the Oilers to make it work given their tight cap space.
On paper, Nylander isn’t as great a fit either as he carries a 6.9 million dollar cap hit. Financially, a trade cannot be made unless a player like Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom or Adam Larsson is the other piece going to Toronto.
That’s not going to happen.
And even if it could happen, I think it shouldn’t. Trading for a player like Nylander or Johnsson means the Oilers will have to add by subtraction. Addressing one hole at the expense of creating another somewhere else in the lineup is folly.
As the great King T’Chaka of Wakanda once said, “Victory at the expense of the innocent, is no victory at all.”
This team can not afford to create any more holes on the roster. To see improvement on the ice next season, the new man in charge has got to find a way to add to what he already has at his disposal.
One player that makes sense for the Oilers to acquire is Connor Brown. I have always liked this player because he is a versatile forward capable of playing up and down the lineup. He has the speed and skill to play with high-end players. Perhaps the most exciting part about Brown is his history with Connor McDavid.
The two played together from 2012-2014 in the OHL with the Erie Otters. Reuniting the pair would not only create more chemistry in the Oilers top-nine, but it would also be a much needed positive boost for McDavid heading into next season.
It was rumoured that a deal was in the works between the Leafs and Oilers at the deadline this past season. Matt Benning was supposedly the piece heading the other way for Brown. However, the trade never happened.
I think the Oilers should revisit a trade for Brown this offseason. Benning should undoubtedly be the other piece going to Toronto in any deal of this nature as it addresses the Leafs need for a right-shot puck-moving defenceman.
Quite frankly, Benning is one of the most tradable quality assets the Oilers have. They can afford to move him given the influx of defensive depth in the organization to fill his spot on the third pairing.
Meanwhile, the Oilers add a quality middle-six forward who can play anywhere.
I wouldn’t sell Brown short, he scored 20 goals in his rookie season back in 2016-17 and was one point shy of 30 points this past season. He’s only 25-years-old and has lots of potential.
His game is useful as he can kill penalties and play on the power-play. Throughout his career, he has generally been effective at even strength with his Corsi For percentage being 49.7 and his Offensive Zone Starts at 50.2.
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Brown could flourish in Edmonton, especially playing on McDavid or Nuge’s wing.
I’ll take a pass on Nylander and Johnsson solely for the fact that the cost to trade either player will be too high. The Oilers just aren’t in a position to sacrifice any critical pieces in the upper echelon of their roster. It could have a negative impact for next season.