Regardless of who’s telling the truth in respect of the Philip Broberg trade situation, there is a potential answer for the Oilers involving the Leafs.
If there’s one inalienable truth in the world we know, it’s that soap operas are the lowest form of entertainment. And so I rolled my eyes a bit when a soap opera developed with the Oilers recently, in the form of Philip Broberg.
First, reports came out that Broberg’s agent received permission to try and drum up a trade. Then reports came out saying the exact opposite…..sigh…..but let’s be honest. it really doesn’t matter who received permission for what at this point, what’s important is it seems obvious that Broberg is unhappy with his role on this team.
Now I don’t think we have a repeat of the Jesse Puljujarvi situation here, as I think Broberg has simply been expressing frustration to his agent. Which is a lot different than having a bad attitude, with Darrin Ferris just trying to find a solution that makes everyone happy.
Believe it or not, a solution may have been found coming our way out of Toronto from the Leafs, in the form of John Klingberg having a season ending injury to contend with. Also, his contract expires after this season, which means that essentially Klingberg’s definitely going on LTIR very quickly and he’s likely played his last game for the Leafs.
This opens up even more LTIR cap space for the Leafs, who were already working with a whopping $11 million of it prior to Klingberg’s injury. Klingberg carries a cap hit of $4.15 million this season.
Now you may be wondering, what does this have to do with Broberg? Klingberg is a right shot D while Broberg is a left shot D. Well, I’ll put it to you this way – necessity is the mother of invention. The Leafs need a veteran bottom pairing D and the Oilers have one to spare, but it’s not who you might think. Here’s a trade that just might work for both teams:
Why does this trade work for both teams?
Let’s start with the Leafs’ end of this trade. They get a guy who can replace Klingberg, who may not be as much of a puck mover but is capable of chipping in secondary offence. He can be a steadying veteran presence on the bottom pairing, perhaps maybe even moving up in the top four.
This is where the draft picks going to the Oilers come into play. Normally I would’ve asked for at least a conditional second round pick instead of a bunch of third round picks. However, the Leafs actually have no second round picks until at least 2027, making that ask moot anyway, so I’ll settle for multiple third round picks.
We can always make one of those picks conditional if Toronto thinks the ask is too much. The Leafs’ third round pick for the 2024 draft is from the Islanders, after they traded Pierre Engvall there.
Adam Erne is a simple throw-in to replace Noah Gregor in their lineup, and it’s not a problem as the two players have identical cap hits of $775K.
Brett Kulak is also a guy who might be able to play in the Leafs’ second pairing depending on performance, hence why the draft pick ask is so abundant. The difference in cap hits between Klingberg and Kulak means the Leafs still gain cap space between the two players.
Now let’s move onto the Oilers’ end of things here. From their perspective, they get the cap savings from Kulak, who let’s face it shouldn’t be on the third pairing with his cap hit, so that’s a great way to save $2.75 million in cap space over the next few seasons.
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They also gain Gregor, a bottom six forward who’s having a solid season in T.O. with 3-1-4 in 22 games for the Leafs, which works out to 15 points in a full season. Not bad for a fourth liner, and someone who should hopefully goose the numbers of his linemates James Hamblin and Derek Ryan as well.
It also certainly helps that Gregor’s a local boy from bedroom community Beaumont, nephew of local radio host and OilersNation blogger Jason Gregor.
Then the Oilers can play Broberg in that spot and tell him this is your chance now, it’s do or die. Then they can call someone up from the farm to take his place as the seventh d-man, or pick someone up on waivers, or just sign another free agent on the cheap.
Even if the Oilers have to do that, they still come out almost $1 million in cap space on top as they could likely sign someone for the NHL minimum.
If Broberg ultimately stays and fails in Edmonton, then the Oilers can just send him down to the farm to run out the clock on his contract and sign a cheap free agent to take his place. After all, bottom pairing D are a dime a dozen, so they should be able to sign someone who can do the job pretty cheaply. If nothing else, there should be an abundance of trades they can make by the trade deadline.
However, if Broberg succeeds, the Oilers have replaced Kulak at a much lower cap hit and can re-up him for not much more than what he’s making now.
Should the Oilers pull the trigger on this?
It’s hard to say at this point. There is significant risk that it comes with, as Kulak is playing much better than Broberg at this point, but let’s be honest – bottom pairing D is not exactly a spot that is ride or die for the team’s season.
This is a minimal depth role that won’t make or break the season. It’s still nibbling around the edges of the roster. The Leafs get to fill a gap and save some cap space, as do the Oilers.
The bottom six is not producing the same level of offence as they were as a group last season, so the Oilers could certainly use a shakeup there that Gregor would provide them with as a player. And the best part is there wouldn’t be any additional cap space they’d have to take on.
IMO it’s something that is at least worth exploring for Ken Holland, but I know you’ll all have your takes and there will be the inevitable shot fired on X. Of course what anyone else thinks, is of no consequence to me.