How will the Edmonton Oilers winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes affect their offseason plans? Read on for the latest speculation.
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough notes Oilers GM Craig MacTavish reportedly told Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle earlier this month to ignore the trade rumors as they won’t be dealt, but he wonders if that’s still the case. Brough wonders if Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers first-round pick (third overall) last season, could be shopped for defensive help. MacTavish recently acknowledged he has young assets to use as trade bait and there will be teams pressed for cap space this summer looking to shed salary for affordable returns.
TSN.CA: Darren Dreger believes this presents a wonderful opportunity for the Oilers to pursue a goaltender or a top-three defenseman, perhaps by moving Leon Draisaitl. They also have the Penguins first-round pick in this year’s draft to use as a trade chip. Dreger feels the Oilers are in position to go “big-game hunting” this summer and believes the addition of McDavid could improve the Oilers’ efforts to sign free-agent talent.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Oilers might trade one of their young forwards this summer (“Maybe Jordan Eberle?”) to beef up their defense.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples isn’t so sure Draisaitl could be dealt, citing his size as a significant asset worth retaining in the physical Western Conference. Staples acknowledges the Oilers need a true number-one defenseman badly, so much so they’ll have to consider trading a young player not named McDavid or Nugent-Hopkins if it’ll fetch a true blueline ace. The addition of McDavid could improve the Oilers’ efforts to sign free agents.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In McDavid, the Oilers have landed a player who could become almost as important to the Oilers as Wayne Gretzky was over 35 years ago. That’s why I don’t believe MacTavish will trade him. In fact, I don’t believe there’s an offer big enough to pry the first-overall pick away from him. He knows what he’s got in McDavid and will not part with that pick.
The Oilers are loaded now with young talent at forward but are lacking skilled depth in goal, on defense and on their checking lines. Having McDavid could change the trade status of Hall or Eberle, as I doubt they’ll move Nugent-Hopkins. It could make Draisaitl or even Yakupov expendable. Packaging any one of those kids with the Penguins first-round pick and perhaps one of their promising young defensemen could fetch a significant return for the Oilers.
There are clubs which must shed salary this summer (hello there, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston, to name the most notable candidates) who could be very interested in talking to MacTavish. There are also teams about to rebuild (Toronto, New Jersey, Carolina) who could also have assets to offer up.
This will be the most important summer of MacTavish’s tenure as Oilers GM. The moves he makes will determine if the Oilers finally get on the right path toward playoff contention or remain mired in mediocrity. It’s not enough to have a roster filled with two lines of exciting young forwards. If MacTavish fails to properly rebuild around these kids, they’re remain a laughingstock no matter how great McDavid is.