It’s no secret that the Bison King has largely struggled this season both offensively and defensively, putting up only 2-6-8 in 36 games and sharing the dubious honour of worst +/- on the team with Evan Bouchard at -12. Largely due to injury he’s had a significant amount of time on the first line and second PP unit. The one good thing that JP seems to do is play physical – he’s using his 6’4″ 201 lb frame to lead the Oilers in hits with 74. Klim Kostin is his next closest competitor with 60, a long way off.
Word leaked out a couple of weeks ago that Ducks GM Pat Verbeek was scouting multiple Oilers games and word has it he’s interested in the Bison King.
No updates since then so whether he’s lost interest or is working on a deal, perhaps closer to the trade deadline, remains to be seen. The Ducks have the third most cap space of any NHL team right now – almost $24 million – so they’ve got ample cap space to trade for JP.
There’s no question he needs a change of scenery right now – having played up and down the lineup and publicly admitting he’s lost his confidence.
If I had to venture a guess I’d say that Holland may be waiting to see if Anaheim stays in last place in the division and won’t be a threat to the Oiler’s playoff aspirations. You have to be very careful when dealing with division rivals as you could easily get burned.
But I could see the attraction in Anaheim. They’re the lowest-scoring team in the division right now and JP is only signed for this season and that’s it. They could take him for a short-term flyer and see if a change of scenery helps him – which of course hasn’t happened yet as JP has only played for the Oilers as far as his NHL time goes. They can’t possibly do any worse so they have nothing to lose and a lot to gain if he can realize his upside in Anaheim. They’re also hurting right now on the injury front, with no less than six regulars on IR.
What could the Oilers be asking for in return? It’s hard to say because there are so many possibilities. JP won’t command a lot in trade, so it could be for, say, a third or fourth-round pick in next year’s draft. Or if Holland decides to go the warm body route, maybe he picks up a cheap blueliner from Anaheim like Nathan Beaulieu or Urho Vaakanainen, or perhaps he re-acquires Dmitry Kulikov in a deadline deal as he wouldn’t have a lot of salary left by that time and plays him in the bottom pairing – he can play either side.
Or maybe he goes for cheap forward help – Sam Carrick or Brett Leason maybe? Or maybe he tries for another Klim Kostin situation and tries to grab a prospect.
Whatever it is, unless the Bison King has a heck of a second half don’t expect much back in trade for him.