There was a lot to like about Klim Kostin's short stint with the Oilers. Some miss the way he could beat goalies clean from distance. Many miss the intangibles, such as his physical dominance and ability to hold his own against the toughest fighters in the NHL. Others miss his soundbites and likeable personality. Needless to say, Kostin added multiple elements to the bottom six down the stretch last season, as a player who fit the locker room well and bolstered an elite (albeit unsustainable) 19.6 percent shooting percentage through the regular season.
The Oilers are in need of a second line winger, a second pairing right-shot D-man, and a tandem goalie, so the players listed below are not my #1 choices for trade candidates; but you will likely still see the Oilers targeting a player that can be “next Klim Kostin” at some point this year - a player that can play well and play physically, all at a near-league-minimum cap hit.
Now, things have faltered at times this season for both the Oilers and Kostin. Kostin has struggled mightily, posting points and goals at rates of 45 percent and 35 percent of what he did last year. The Oilers have bounced back recently, scoring at 90 percent the rate they did last year, but their goals have been generated mostly by the top six forward scorers such as Zach Hyman (and D-man Evan Bouchard). Outside of the top six forwards, the rest of the forward skaters (eight skaters in total) have scored goals at 54 percent the rate of last year (0.132 GPG last year to 0.071 GPG this year).
The bottom six once again needs to score more goals. They are missing the departed Kostin, and even Kailer Yamamoto. Similarly, the promotion of Ryan McLeod helps Leon Draisaitl, but hurts the bottom six.
Perennially, there are calls for veteran additions to the roster. Many fans and analysts will inevitably recommend they add some functional toughness and size at the deadline as well (especially in the absence of Kostin and Nick Bjugstad). In recent years, I called for them to trade for/sign Dakota Joshua, who at the time had nice analytics but for some reason could not earn a shot on the Blues' NHL roster. He is now an effective pest for the Canucks, with excellent analytics to boot. That’s the type of player we are looking for.
Can the Oilers find the next cost-effective role player, the “next Klim Kostin”?