There can only be one.
Edmonton still needs at least one more top 6 forward, capable of producing north of 20 goals a season. The team is also in desperate need of another right shot defenseman capable of slotting in the top 4… and it is unrealistic to expect both of the areas to be fixed in one summer.
For wingers, the free agency names are going to be way out of the Oilers price range. Panarin, Anders Lee, Skinner, and Dzingel are all in the prime of their careers and are going to be aiming for 6+ year contracts, likely all wanting well above 6 million. Dzingel might be the exception to that but I still expect a team with more space to offer him 5 mil.
On defense the story is similar. The best options are Jake Gardiner, Tyler Myers, and Erik Karlsson, none of which are feasible options for the Oil. Other names like Stralman, Coburn, and Edler are older players who will still command decent dollars and be at a greater risk at not living up to a contract.
What Do They Do?
If I was in Ken Holland’s shoes I would focus on the forward group and use next season as an evaluation year for the defense. Edmonton has a number of young defenders like Evan Bouchard, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, and the rising Dmitri Samorukov that could all prove to be options on the backend. The options at forward, Kailer Yamamoto, Cooper Marody, and Tyler Benson could see some NHL action this coming season but I would not expect any of them to be difference makers every night. Andrej Sekera came back healthy for the first time in two seasons and played strong to finish out the 2018/2019 campaign. Ideally he is a player you have on the third pairing with a rookie but he could fill in on one of the top two pairings.
Having said all of this, trading for a top 6 winger seems like the best option for Edmonton. Names like Kasperi Kapanen and Nikolaj Ehlers have come up due to their respective teams cap situations but targeting these players could result in a bidding where with both teams asking for the moon. Say goodbye to the 8th overall pick.
Another name I will throw into the mix is Vincent Trocheck. The Panthers are a team that is constantly dealing with internal cap issues and looking for ways to save a buck or two. Dave Tallon is an old school GM who does not pay much attention to analytics. I truly believe if the Oilers offered a package of a Jesse Puljujarvi, Kris Russel, and a draft pick, they could acquire the 25 year old winger.
Where does that leave us?
Should Edmonton be able to make a few of these moves, the roster next season could look something like this:
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It isn’t perfect by any means, but it would add much needed secondary scoring and a forward group that can hopefully drive possession and help out a below average backend.