Oilers desperately competing with Golden Knights both on and off the ice

With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly pursuing several of the same forwards.

Edmonton Oilers v Vegas Golden Knights
Edmonton Oilers v Vegas Golden Knights / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

After going 11-0-0 during January, February was always going to be a tough followup act for the Edmonton Oilers. Even allowing for this though, a 6-5-1 record during last month was still a disappointing achievement.

Fortunately for the Oilers however, the two teams above them in the Pacific Division failed to capitalize on this. The Canucks endured a four-game losing streak in February on the way to a 5-6-2 record, while the Golden Knights went just 4-6-0.

While mathematically possible, at this stage it still seems like a tall order for the Oilers to catch the Canucks in the standings come season's end. By comparison they are on the verge of overtaking the Golden Knights and with games still in hand, which would mean home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

This could mean all the difference in the Oilers vanquishing the Golden Knights and gaining some measure of revenge for being knocked out by their divisional rivals in the second round last season. However, let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

There's still plenty of work to be done, but the rivalry between the two teams certainly continues to grow. In this respect, it should really come as no surprise the Oilers are also desperately competing with the Golden Knights off the ice as well.

Competing for forward help

More specifically, in respect of who the two teams are considering making moves for prior to the 1 p.m. MT Mar. 8 trade deadline. As per TSN insider Darren Dreger, the Oilers and Golden Knights are reportedly both aggressively in the market for forward help.

Now we've already made the case for why the Oilers would be better served in shoring up their goaltending position and/or blue line. They already have an offensive attack which measures up the very best of what the NHL has to offer.

Regardless, we respect that Dreger has his sources and wouldn't just put something out willing, which could besmirch his reputation. Along these lines, among the forwards the TSN insider specifically mentions, are Tyler Toffoli of the Devils, the Blues' Pavel Buchnevich, and Jordan Eberle from the Kraken.

We'll discount Eberle right away, as we've previously explained why the former Oiler is not a viable option. Further, Dreger himself does suggest the 2008 22nd overall draft pick may well re-sign with the Kraken, with him in the final season of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Turning to Toffoli, there's no denying he's a quality scorer. In fact, just last season he set a new personal best of 73 points, and so far he has 42 in 2023-24, with a chance to finish the campaign with the second-most points of his career.

However, as with Eberle, the 31-year-old is in the final year of his current contract. Is it worth giving up valuable assets -- of which the Oilers do have several -- for a player who would effectively be just a rental?

Financial complications

Still on the subject of Toffoli's contract, there's also the issue of his $4.25 million cap hit for this season. As per Cap Friendly, at the time of posting the Oilers are projected to have $2,373,102 of cap space at the trade deadline, which ties in to Buchnevich's only contract.

The Blues' winger offers even more financial complications, with his own cap hit of $5.8 million, and still with one more season remaining. While head-to-head he's a better (and younger) option for the Oilers than Toffoli, it doesn't matter if they can't afford to cover his salary.

As previously mentioned, the Oilers do have some valuable assets to offer, include first round draft picks, Cody Ceci and prospect Philip Broberg. However, it is still a tough task for general manager Ken Holland to make it all work in any potential trade, albeit that's why he's paid the big bucks.

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Further complicating the situation is the Golden Knights' own salary cap situation, which is better compared to the Oilers. As per Cap Friendly, they are projected to have $6,864,183 of cap space at the deadline, making it easier for them to add a Toffoli or Buchnevich. (Or Eberle and his $5.5 million cap hit, if they are so inclined.)

Overall, the Oilers are at risk of once again finishing second-best to the Golden Knights. Although this could serve as a blessing in disguise, with the need to shore up their defensive game of more importance from our perspective.

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