Could the Edmonton Oilers trade a defenseman in the near future? 

Could Nikita Nikitin become an early-season trade candidate?

Could Nikita Nikitin become an early-season trade candidate?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Among the positives of the Oilers having depth on defense, Jonathan Willis notes it also provides GM Peter Chiarelli with an opportunity to use one of them as trade bait to address other roster needs. He speculates Nikita Nikitin could be tradeable if the Oilers retain part of his $4.5 million salary.

While the Boston Bruins are in need of blueline help, Willis doubts they’ll be keen to deal with their former GM. One club he believes could use third-pairing defensive help is the San Jose Sharks. “Any of Nikita Nikitin, Andrew Ference, Eric Gryba or even Brandon Davidson (who will need to clear waivers to be demoted) would probably fit the bill from San Jose’s perspective,” writes Willis, adding that “in at least two of those cases the Oilers wouldn’t be asking for anything too dear in return.” However, the Sharks have limited salary-cap space, meaning someone like Davidson would be a more likely trade candidate than Nikitin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the regular season has yet to begin, I doubt there’s much of a trade market right now for third-pairing blueliners. Indeed, any club seeking that commodity will likely go the waiver wire route before shopping around for a trade. As Willis notes, if the Oilers do move one of those defenders, it’ll likely be a month or so into the regular season, when teams have had sufficient team to evaluate their potential roster needs over the remainder of the season.