In a recent interview with the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones, Peter Chiarelli was asked about the seemingly widely held belief that he has already decided trade one of his core forwards — Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, or Jordan Eberle. Chiarelli’s response was swift and classic.
“Oh, [expletive] no!”
Chiarelli being reluctant to deal one of his core forwards is understandable, given the talent level of the three, as well as the fact that they are cost-controlled assets for several more years each. However, keeping Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, and Eberle leaves Chiarelli still searching for the top-pairing defenseman Edmonton so desperately needs.
Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it — the Oilers have put themselves in a unique position among lottery-eligible teams.
Should Gary Bettman not rig the lottery and the Oilers win the first overall pick again, with their recent run of first-overall picks, and in particular, last year’s selection of Connor McDavid, the Oilers could deal their pick for the 2016 NHL Draft. In that position, they may not need to deal one of the forwards formerly known as the “Kid Line”.
With such a big prize in Auston Matthews on the line, it won’t go cheaply, though. Here are some scenarios in which such a deal could go down.
Scenario #1: Edmonton’s 1st overall plus Mark Fayne for PK Subban.
I know you’re thinking “why would Edmonton have to package anything with a 1st overall pick”, but Subban’s salary and cap hit are $9 million a year. Edmonton’s not incredibly tight against the cap, but with other holes in the lineup that need addressing, the money has to work.
Sorry, Mark Fayne.
Fortunately, with Nikita Nikitin and Eric Gryba becoming unrestricted free agents this summer, and Andrew Ference potentially retiring after a looming hip surgery, this should work out just fine. Subban needs a fresh start away from Montreal and Michel Therrien anyway.
Scenario #2: Edmonton’s 1st overall for St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk plus first round pick, OR Edmonton’s 1st overall and a defensive prospect such as Dillon Simpson for Shattenkirk, a third round pick, and Ty Rattie.
Shattenkirk’s name was out there in trade talks prior to this season’s deadline, and his salary is a lot easier to swallow than Subban’s would be. Giving St. Louis the choice of packaging him with either their first round pick or with their third round pick + a prospect like Rattie, with the Oilers sending back a defensive prospect the other way, could make this a deal that works for both teams.
Edmonton gets a low cost, talented defenseman who has long been in the shadow of Alex Pietrangelo, and St. Louis is able to get younger at center for a guy they were already willing to trade.
Scenario #3: Edmonton’s 1st overall for Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson and Ryan Hartman.
Hjalmarsson is exactly the kind of experienced, puck-moving defenseman that Chiarelli is currently lusting after to play with Oscar Klefbom. Stan Bowman would see the potential to grab Auston Matthews and continue the dynasty he’s trying to build and salivate. However, I see Chiarelli wanting something else along with Hjalmarsson in order to justify giving up Matthews to a perennial contender like Chicago. If Hartman is too rich a prospect ask, Chiarelli would likely also consider Ville Pokka or Vincent Hinostroza.
Given Edmonton’s history, and their penchant for hoarding first-overall players, the likelihood of any of these scenarios coming to fruition is slim-to-none. Still, it might be worth it put an end to the tenuous blue line situation in Edmonton that has lingered for much too long.