Having won the draft lottery, could the Oilers make significant off-season deals? Does Carl Soderberg want to return with the Bruins? Read on for the latest.
Will the Oilers make big moves this summer?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said the odds of trading the 2015 first-overall pick (and the right to select Erie Otters sensation Connor McDavid) are “less than zero”, but there’s media speculation suggesting MacTavish might move one of their current centers, move either Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle or ship out prospect center Leon Draisaitl to bring in players to address roster weaknesses. Matheson doubts that, suggesting MacTavish will likely use the Oilers extra first-round pick (received from Pittsburgh in the David Perron trade) and one of their second-round picks to land a goaltender or a defenseman, or perhaps dangle a young blueliner like Martin Marincin along with a draft pick. He feels MacTavish will target teams with no first-round draft picks (NY Rangers, NY Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks) or a cap-strapped club like the Boston Bruins for a goalie. Matheson also speculates they could pursue a veteran goalie like Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen. Someone’s number three defenseman (“like,say, the Rangers’ Marc Staal”) could be a number-two blueliner in Edmonton.
Craig Button suggests they pursue goalies like the Rangers’ Cam Talbot, the LA Kings’ Martin Jones, the Ottawa Senators’ Craig Anderson or maybe the Carolina Hurricanes’ Cam Ward. Button doesn’t feel the Oilers will move any of their centers for a year as they’ll want to evaluate them with McDavid in the mix, unless it’s a move like Draisaitl for a good young defenseman like Toronto’s Morgan Reilly. Matheson doesn’t see MacTavish trading Hall or Eberle, though recently-re-signed winger Nail Yakupov could be another story if he improves next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Obviously it depends on what’s available for the Oilers via trades or free agency. If, for argument’s sake, the Leafs were to offer Morgan Reilly for Draisaitl straight up, MacTavish will jump on that. Not saying that’s going to happen, just offering up an example of what it could take.
Overall I concur with Matheson’s assessment. There’s no reason to start peddling guys like Eberle or Hall, as that mean they’re addressing one weakness but creating another. It would also be wise to retain Draisaitl and see how he fits into the Oilers’ roster next season. I definitely see MacTavish shopping the first round pick he got from the Penguins and one of their seconds (either their own or the one they got from the Canadiens in the Jeff Petry deal) and maybe a young blueliner for a goalie or an established top-three defenseman. Obviously they won’t get Marc Staal, but that’s a good example of what the Oilers could seek.
As far as goaltenders go, they’ve got lots of trade options. They’ve also got several teams with limited cap space (Blackhawks, Bruins, Kings, Philadelphia Flyers) they can target. The Islanders landed two quality blueliners earlier this season by targeting teams in need of shedding cap space. It could work just as easily for the Oilers this summer.
Goaltending targets should exclude Ward, who has an injury history and isn’t likely to stick around beyond next summer, when he’s eligible for UFA status. I also have my doubts about Lehtonen.
Soderberg hopes to re-sign with Bruins.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty recently reported Boston Bruins pending UFA center Carl Soderberg’s first choice is to re-sign with the Bruins. Haggerty is skeptical, however, the Bruins can afford him. Despite rumors claiming he wants to return to Sweden, Soderberg insists he wants to play a couple of more seasons in the NHL. Haggerty speculates rival clubs could offer up $3-$4 million per season for Soderberg, pushing him out of the Bruins’ price range.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Soderberg, 29, had two seasons with 40-plus points in Boston and was earning just over $1 million per season. He could easily land a two-three year deal worth $3 million annually on the open market. Unless he’s willing to accept less than market value, he’s probably played his final game with the Bruins.