“We’ve got some players who have underachieved and may need a new venue.”
And with that statement today, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli officially opened the door to all sorts of trade possibilities.
Certainly, names like Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz come to mind in the category of underachievers. But the likes of Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may also be shopped. Remember that the latter was reportedly offered for Seth Jones, only for the Predators to choose Ryan Johansen instead.
“We haven’t been good enough, so there will be changes,” said Chiarelli. “I’d like to get bigger and heavier across the board.”
He’d no doubt like to bolster the blue line as well, though that’s easier said than done.
The wildcard in all this is the draft lottery. What if the Oilers win it (again) and get the right to pick Auston Matthews? Or, what if they win the second or third pick and have the ability to select one of the two Finnish forwards, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujärvi? Or maybe they end up with the fourth selection and target a defenseman like Jakob Chychrun.
With that in mind, it wasn’t surprising to hear Chiarelli suggest that the summer is the most likely time for a core player to be dealt. That’s when he’ll better know what he’s got to work with, not to mention that’s typically when other teams have the most flexibility.
Per General Fanager, here’s what the forward situation looks like for the Oilers:
(Nugent-Hopkins isn’t shown because he’s on IR, but he’s signed through 2020-21 for a cap hit of $6 million.)
And while you look through those names, remember that this is what Chiarelli said when he took the job in April:
“In this business, you can’t be afraid to make trades. … Those are ways to improve your team. … There are some very good young players on this team. Doesn’t mean that I’m going to trade any of them, but those are deals that you can’t be afraid to make.”