Two More Edmonton Oilers Bison King Trades

Jan 13, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (13) watches the puck during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (13) watches the puck during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /
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It’s no secret at this point that Jesse Puljujarvi is the Edmonton Oilers biggest trade chip. We already know Ken Holland has actively shopped him around the NHL and even had some interest from other teams. It seems right now the question is not a matter of if JP goes but when, where, and for what.

IMO this is a clear case of both the player and the team needing a fresh start with each other.

There are two rumours that have popped up within the last week or so that are two likely targets of where JP will go. The first is to see him going to Arizona as the centrepiece of a trade to rent the services of Shayne Gostisbehere. The second is to see him going to Florida for Anthony Duclair.

Let’s investigate what those trades might look like here. We’ll start with a Gostisbehere one.

Drafted in the third round by Philadelphia originally, Gostisbehere had a couple of offseasons which was when he was traded to Arizona prior to the 2021-22 season. Ever since then, he has revitalized his career in Arizona (how many NHL players can say that?) with consecutive seasons of 51 points in 82 games last season and 29 points in 48 games so far this season.

This trade rumour was reported by Elliotte Friedman so there may be some legs to it. The aforementioned linked article also mentions the Oilers having an interest in bottom sixer Nick Bjugstad to shore up center depth which is why a third-rounder is included in the trade.

Right now the Oilers have just enough LTIR cap space ($1 million) to fit Bjugstad’s $900K cap hit into the roster.

What they’d do after making this trade to fit in Kailer Yamamoto I don’t know – they may not activate him until the playoffs if they can help it as Tampa did a while ago with Kucherov.

If Gostisbehere can have success in Arizona, imagine how much success he’d have on a better team…..

The two fifth-rounders are being sent as sweeteners to Arizona for retaining just a little bit of Gostisbehere’s cap hit to make the space work. Shore is simply a throw-in to make the cap space work better as he’s been a healthy scratch for the Oilers for quite some time – perhaps he’ll get more work on the Coyotes, a much shallower team. He’s unlikely to be brought back to the Oilers after this season – after all, in times of injury, they’ve preferred to call up James Hamblin rather than put Shore in the lineup. That should tell you what the Oilers are thinking about him at this point in time.

Koekkoek is also a throw-in. His contract is up after this season and he’s spent virtually the entire season in Bakersfield – and as a healthy scratch at that. He went through waivers last year with no takers – he could be depth for the Coyotes farm team or he could be veteran help for their AHL team, or they could take a flyer on him as a seventh d-man at the big league level, whatever they want to do.

The centrepiece, of course, is the Bison King, who would be a depth player for the Coyotes with a lot of upsides – they might be able to discover some cheap top-six scoring help or worst case scenario create competition in the bottom six. Either way, they’d have the rest of this season to evaluate what to do with him and they can bring him back if they want to or let him walk after the season if they don’t.

Fun fact – If the Oilers did end up making a trade like this, the Coyotes would own a lot of the Edmonton Oilers draft picks. Between the Zack Kassian trade and this one, the Coyotes would own all our draft picks from rounds 2-5 this year, our third and fifth rounders next year, and our second-rounder in 2025. That’s a lot of draft picks sent the Coyotes way.

Gostisbehere would then slot in on the second pairing in Brett Kulak’s spot now, moving Kulak down to the third pairing and Broberg down to the taxi squad for the post-deadline period plus playoffs. This would create a super puck-moving tandem with SG paired with Tyson Barrie on the right side, or SG could also play on the right side with Kulak moving Bouchard to the taxi squad and Barrie into Bouchard’s spot on the third pairing (he can play both the left and right sides, giving Woodcroft some options).

From a puck-moving standpoint, it would certainly create an opportunity to take some heat off the first pairing in terms of puck moving.

The big downside to Gostisbehere is he’s not great defensively – he’s finished as a minus player seven out of nine seasons, although his years with the Coyotes can probably chalk up to him playing on bad teams. Mind you, those teams in Philly weren’t all that great either…..still better than the Coyotes, though. Maybe Dave Manson can weave some magic with Gostisbehere just like he did with Tyson Barrie. Personally, I’m hoping that just going to a better team will help those numbers get better.

Gostisbehere has played 511 NHL games plus another 17 playoff games, the latter mark all for Philly.

What else does SG do? 

Despite being slightly undersized for an NHL player – 5’11” and 180 lbs, Gostisbehere does have some physicality in his game – he’s currently sitting at 13th on the Coyotes in hits with 34 in 48 games and is still fourth on the Coyotes in blocked shots with 67, so he could certainly help out Darnell Nurse in that regard, who right now leads the Oilers in blocked shots with 91, 14 more than his next closest competition (a tie of 76 between Ceci and Kulak). He’s also top 10 on the Coyotes in PIMs, 28, which is good enough for eighth on the team. As you would expect, he plays a lot on the Coyotes PP, currently tied for the top spot with All-Star Clayton Keller at 3:13 per game on average. Whether the Oilers would upset the personnel makeup of their PP as it’s currently tops in the league to incorporate SG on it is another story, but it’s certainly an option open to Woodcroft and his staff.

He does also play a little bit on the PK for Arizona, 0:47 per game – 13th on the team. Maybe he could slot in on the second unit and shore up that area of the team – the Oilers certainly need some help on the PK, which is ranked 24th in the league right now. The team is going to have to buckle down and improve on that if they hope to have success in the postseason and not give teams a chance to expose it and chase them out of their playoff run.

The X factor

The Oilers are rumoured to have a lot of interest in Gostisbehere, but it’s worth noting he’s currently injured, out 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury as of Jan. 26. That means if the Oilers do want Gostisbehere they’re going to have to wait to make this trade. The best case scenario is Gostisbehere will be cleared to play the week before the trade deadline, or he might not be available at all. So it’s a roll of the dice that’s completely out of the Oiler’s control.

We’ll have to see if this plays out.