Should the Oilers ship a defenseman to the Columbus Blue Jackets? Should they try to add a bargain forward? Read on for the latest.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis notes the Columbus Blue Jackets seek an affordable defenseman, suggesting a scenario by which the Oilers trade Justin Schultz to the Jackets (while retaining 50 percent of his $3.9 million salary for next season) for draft picks/prospects. He then suggests the Oilers could use the cap savings to pursue an upgrade to Schultz, like UFA rearguard Cody Franson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting scenario, but I doubt we’ll see it unfold. Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli seems intent to observing Schultz’s performance next season under coach Todd McLellan. I also don’t believe he has genuine interest in Franson. If he did, he wouldn’t have wasted the effort of re-signing Schultz.
Willis also wonders if the Oilers might try to add an affordable forward via free agency, noting the availability of Curtis Glencross, Jiri Tlusty, Sean Bergenheim and Scottie Upshall. He notes Chris Stewart’s one-year, $1.7 million contract with the Anaheim Ducks, suggesting it’s possible to add one of those players on the cheap.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That scenario is more plausible. While the Oilers have 15 forwards under contract for next season, two of them (Tyler Pitlick and Andrew Miller) are two-way deals. So, too, is Connor McDavid’s contract, but we all know he’s not going to be demoted to the minors next season. Luke Gazdic’s salary is under $950K, meaning the Oilers can demote him and remove the full value of his annual average value from their cap payroll.
Still, that scenario likely won’t occur until training camp/preseason, as I daresay Chiarelli and McLellan want to evaluate their current checking-line players before determining if there’s a need to bring in a free agent.