The Edmonton Oilers once handled the top spot in the Pacific Division early on in the season. They jumped out to a 16-5 start behind the play of their two superstars in forwards, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. However, the team has begun to run into a rough patch early on into 2022. Dave Tippett’s group has lost their last six games, leading them to fall out of the playoff race in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Struggling to generate offense, the Oilers have scored just seven goals over their last three contests. Along with this, the team has seen both Mikko Koskinen and Stuart Skinner struggle in goal in the absence of Mike Smith. The former has racked up a 3.19 goals-against average while the latter holds just a .907 save percentage. Needing to upgrade their group at the NHL’s trade deadline in March, here are five early trade deadline targets for the Edmonton Oilers.
5 Early Trade Deadline Targets for the Edmonton Oilers
5. Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes
The first of our early trade deadline targets is Phil Kessel. Kessel is currently in the final year of his deal after being dealt to the Coyotes in 2019. Still productive at the age of 34, the former first-round pick has recorded five goals and 22 assists in 34 contests this season. Playing alongside Lawson Crouse and Johan Larsson on the team’s top line he has experience playing with star players during his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Desperate for an added spark to their lineup, acquiring Kessel would give Edmonton the shoot-first winger the franchise is looking for. This would allow the team to play him alongside Ryan McLeod and Zack Kassian on the third line. They would also have the flexibility to play him inside their top six or on their first power play unit. Currently accounting for $8 million against the cap, look for general manager Ken Holland to send an additional pick or player to get Arizona to eat half his remaining money.
4. Ben Chiarot, Montreal Canadiens
A mainstay on the Canadien’s blue line after inking a three-year deal with the team in 2018, Chiarot has seen his name floated in trade talks all year long. Montreal is in the midst of a disappointing season after advancing to the Stanley Cup finals a year ago. They are sitting in last place in the Atlantic Division with just eight wins as the season approaches the halfway mark. Looking to unload players to acquire assets under new general manager Kent Hughes, Chiarot would provide a stabilizing presence on the backend for the Oilers.
Capable of playing over 23 minutes a night, the 30-year-old is set to hit unrestricted free agent status at the end of the year with just a $3.5 million cap hit attached to him. Reportedly seeking a first-round pick in return for the Hamilton Ontario native, he is the fourth member on our early trade deadline targets for the Oilers.
3. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders
Varlamov has quickly become the second option in goal for the Islanders behind their young superstar net minder in Ilya Sorokin. The 33-year-old has still remained serviceable as a backup across ten starts. He has recorded a 2.61 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. Along with this, he has also racked up a .600 quality start percentage and a 2.3 goals saved above average.
In desperate need of an upgrade in goal, Edmonton has struggled to find any consistency in between the pipes. Without Mike Smith for most of the season, the veteran has been battling multiple injuries. This has led Mikko Koskinen and Stuart Skinner to split time. With term left on his deal, Varlamov has one year remaining. Holding a 16 team no-trade list, look for him to waive it for the chance to be the leader in goal once again.
2. Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
DeBrusk made his trade request public to the Bruin’s management at the end of November. Struggling to find a spot amongst a loaded left side of the ice in Boston, the 25-year-old has seen his average ice time per night fall from 14:54 a year ago to 13:58 this season. This had led the former first-round pick to record just 12 points through 32 games. Searching for an upgrade at their third-line center spot, the Oilers are currently playing Ryan McLeod in that role.
Forced to play longtime veteran Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the wing to help provide a spark, acquiring DeBrusk would allow the team to move the former first overall pick back to his natural center position. In the middle of the second year of a two-year $7.35 million extension, he is set to hit restricted free agent status at the end of the year. An Edmonton native with his dad Louie handling the team’s color commentary duties, this would be a strong addition for a group in desperate need of help upfront.
1. Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks
Fleury was dealt to the Blackhawks after capturing the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender a year ago. He was ultimately the odd man out in Vegas after the team handed Robin Lehner the number one job. Appearing in 27 games for Chicago this season, the 18-year veteran has posted solid numbers despite another down year for the franchise. He has racked up a .916 save percentage and a 2.69 goals-against average while posting a 2.88 goals saved above average mark.
With a substantial cap hit of $7 million attached to him, acquiring the longtime Pittsburgh Penguins net minder would require some cap gymnastics from general manager Ken Holland. Nonetheless, if the longtime executive wants to make a splash at the deadline, he could attach a pick and a prospect to get the Blackhawks to eat some of Fleury’s deal. One of the biggest names expected to move before March 21st, the 37-year-old checks in as the final name on our early trade deadline targets for the Edmonton Oilers.
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