As trade season ramps up, so do the rumors. To no one’s surprise, the Edmonton Oilers are at the forefront of the rumor mill. The Oilers, a team with the best player on the planet, find themselves struggling to stay at .500 and can’t seem to pull themselves out of the basement in an already weak Pacific Division. On Monday, TSN’s Edmonton reporter Ryan Rishaug stoked the coals of trade rumors with a tasty tidbit on Twitter:
Oilers organization is on a full court press to find help at forward. Scouts and staff deployed en masse.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) January 14, 2019
Cap situation could make it tough, but first round pick, a goaltender, maybe a young developing forward likely all in play.
The tweet was of course met with a barrage of outlandish trade proposals, pipe dreams, and Twitter jokes. But his tweet makes sense — Oilers management is no doubt feeling the pressure to fix it’s leaky hull on an already busted vessel of an organization, and while I could deliver a lengthy anecdote about how the Red Wings should trade all of their bad players for Edmonton’s best players, I’m taking the path of drawing sensible trade scenarios between the two teams. So, let’s dig in.
The Red Wings are assuming what could be a a yearslong rebuild — this after what seemed to be an interesting bounce back earlier this season that gave fans a sliver of hope to grasp onto. Since then, it’s been grim. The team has won two of their last 10 games and are currently in a race with the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division’s “Who Can Turn The Most Dreadful Results Derby.” They’re poised to be sellers, and they have a list of players who could spark interest from the same general manager who traded one of the league’s most electric wingers for a depth defenseman, among other things. Here are my selling points to the Oilers when they give Ken Holland a ring. Keep in mind, a lot of these players have those ugly no-trade clauses in their contracts. These scenarios would assume the Red Wings can work with the player to make a deal passable...
Nyquist is having a really good year for himself with being an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s on pace to have a career year, in fact. This is great news for the Red Wings, aside from that ugly NTC attached to his deal. Nyquist would need to waive that part of his contract before the Red Wings can table him in an offer, so, assuming he does, the team would be free to trade him wherever they please.
I’m of the opinion that the Red Wings can’t go wrong with loading up with more draft picks, even if they’re in the coming years. With Nyquist’s current production, he should easily land a first-round selection, but with the Oilers being where they are now, they’ll have a pretty high pick. It’s hard to see them ponying up a lottery pick for a rental winger. The Oilers also have cap issues — so this can’t be a straight-up player-for-picks deal. Detroit would need to eat salary and/or unload an additional contract.
My ideal transaction here would be Gustav Nyquist for Oskar Klefbom, with conditions under the trade. If Nyquist re-signs, the trade is one-for-one. If he walks, the Red Wings would shell up a draft pick to compensate the Oilers, outside of a 1st-rounder, and perhaps a high 2nd, I’d consider that. Yes, I know this would make the logjam even log-jammier, but with the team seeing some players come off the books in the years to come, I’m fine with it.
Ah, another NTC! Cool... But wait!
This is a deal that would happen after the season is over. Per CapFriendly, the Red Wings can void Darren Helm’s NTC starting June 15, if they don’t make the playoffs or if he doesn’t register top-9 minutes (TOI). The former is the more realistic option, obviously. I think Darren Helm is a very useful player — a player that every single team in the NHL would love to have. A journeyman, a Swiss Army Knife, a guy who can act as the “glue,” if you will. It’s unlikely that the Red Wings would want to move on from him, but they should consider it if Edmonton were interested come June.
No clauses, no fuss. Glendening, like Helm, is another guy that every team is going to want. If he isn’t traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Peter Chiarelli would undoubtedly want his services. And at $1.8mm for the next two seasons after this, it’s an easily digestible trade.
The caveat, of course, is that the Red Wings wouldn’t think of trading him. I’d reckon he retires a Red Wing.
The Oilers defense is a disaster, much like the Red Wings. Fortunately, Detroit has a handful of up-and-comers in Joe Hicketts, Vili Saarijarvi, Filip Hronek, and more that could easily justify punting a veteran rearguard to another team. Problem is, most of the veteran core has is strapped with NTCs, and modified clauses that come with no-trade lists. I can’t imagine a single player who would look at Edmonton and say “yeah, I need to go there.” The cap situation also complicates things.
Look, there are other teams who will be interested in big names like Gustav Nyquist in the coming weeks, but it’s been quiet on the Red Wings’ front in terms of willingness to sell. But the Oilers are a very interesting candidate — they’re not one that you need to strike a deal with this season, but perhaps one you can curate a future deal with.
I digress. The aforementioned players, including others, should be in the conversation for trade bait. The Red Wings are going to need to be creative to ensure this rebuild, or whatever they want to call it, doesn’t drag on like it has in Edmonton.