Latest Oilers and Capitals Speculation – March 28, 2018

Latest Oilers and Capitals Speculation – March 28, 2018

More speculation over possible off-season moves for the Edmonton Oilers plus the latest on Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson in your NHL rumor mill.

Could the Edmonton Oilers consider trading Oscar Klefbom this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

LATEST OILERS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes the Edmonton Oilers must add a right-handed defenseman who can anchor the power play, a scoring winger for Leon Draisaitl’s line and a substantial backup goaltender in the offseason. He also speculates their cap payroll could reach $74 million for 2018-19 if they re-sign their key free agents and if a youngster such as Kailer Yamamoto cracks the roster.

Pursuing a top free-agent defenseman such as Washington’s John Carlson or Detroit’s Mike Green could be a pipe dream unless they can shed some salary. They could trade forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but he appears to be part of the Oilers’ future. If they trade Oscar Klefbom they could get a good return but Mitchell advises against it. Cheap free-agent options could include Ottawa’s Chris Wideman or San Jose’s Tim Heed.

The Oilers could use Jesse Puljujarvi on Draisaitl’s wing. However, if they move on from Puljujarvi, Mitchell suggests trying to find a way to acquire someone such as Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen, who carries an affordable contract. He also suggests attempting to make a hockey trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for a young forward such as Kasperi Kapanen,  Connor Brown, Andreas Johnsson or Josh Leivo.

As for backup goaltender options, Mitchell recommends free-agent options such as St. Louis’ Carter Hutton, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Boston’s Anton Khudobin and Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Mitchell is merely spit-balling here, though his suggested options are reasonable. An $82 million cap gives them nearly $8 million in cap room if they indeed re-sign all their notable free agents. I agree that they can’t afford someone such as Carlson or Green unless they can shed some significant salary first.

Given Nugent-Hopkins chemistry on Connor McDavid’s line, it’s becoming more unlikely he’ll be dealt this summer. They could shop Klefbom but I think they’ll give him another chance, especially considering he was hampered by a shoulder injury. The Hurricanes need scoring punch so they won’t part with Teravainen, but the Leafs could be willing to listen to offers for one of those young forwards Mitchell noted.

Landing a quality backup should be an easier task. Of those listed by Mitchell, Hutchinson could be the best bet.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Hutton, Raanta and Khudobin re-sign with their current teams. 

SIGN-AND-TRADE FOR CARLSON? 

TSN: Pierre LeBrun speculates over the possibility of a sign-and-trade scenario for Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson. He’s the top blueliner in this year’s free-agent market and leads all NHL rearguards in scoring this season.

LeBrun believes Carlson’s preference is re-signing with the Capitals and keeping him is their priority, but they could find it difficult fitting his new contract under their cap. “The only reason there’s a possibility of a sign and trade is if the eighth year matters that much to John Carlson”, said LeBrun. If the Capitals can’t re-sign him, he suggests “they get something in return if they give him that eighth year and trade him.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Capitals have over $63.9 million invested in 16 players. In addition to Carlson, forwards Jay Beagle and Alex Chiasson are unrestricted free agents while wingers Tom Wilson and Devante Smith-Pelly and goaltender Philipp Grubauer are their notable restricted free agents. Those three also have arbitration rights.

If the cap rises to $82 million, the Caps will have almost $18 million to work with. They could also get an additional $3 million in cap savings by buying out the final season of defenseman Brooks Orpik’s contract. In theory, that would leave more than enough to re-sign Carlson to perhaps a new eight-year deal worth over $8 million annually and re-sign or replace the others.

Of course, we don’t know for sure how much Carlson will seek on his next contract, if the Caps intend on buying out Orpik and if the cap ceiling will exceed $80 million for 2018-19. A sign-and-trade is possible, though such moves are rare. I think they’ll find a way to re-sign Carlson and free up sufficient cap space to re-sign other key players.