Sounds like Edmonton’s in the market for some size and depth at center, per the Journal:
If you’re wondering what Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has been up in full buyer mode to with the NHL trade deadline three weeks away, he’s been looking at third-line centres.
He was spotted in Minnesota a few days ago when Tampa Bay was there.
Chiarelli was looking at Lightning unrestricted free-agent Brian Boyle, who’s averaging almost 14 minutes a game, is winning more than 50 per cent of his draws and has 12 goals.
Boyle, 32, would certainly be a fit with the Oilers, especially in the size department.
Edmonton already boasts some big bodies at forward — Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian and Matt Hendricks — but all four play the wing. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Boyle would provide a size upgrade down the middle, given bottom two centers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mark Letestu aren’t exactly the most physically imposing specimens.
Boyle also has a ton of playoff experience, with over 100 games and back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances with the Rangers (’14) and Lightning (’15). Last year, he scored five times in 17 postseason appearances.
Two things to note here.
One, it’s still unclear if Bolts GM Steve Yzerman will sell off any assets (yes, even a pending UFA like Boyle). Tampa’s made a push lately, going 3-0-1 in its last four, and is just four points back of the final wild card spot in the East.
Two, it’s interesting to hear that Chiarelli’s in the market for forwards because — for a good chunk of this season — the talk in Edmonton has been about upgrading the blueline.
Back in late December, head coach Todd McLellan addressed his club’s need for more on the back end.
“It’s Christmas and we all have wish lists,” said McLellan, per the Edmonton Journal. “We’re coaches and we’re never happy but when you talk of those type of players … say a power play quarterback, somebody who puts up points, we don’t have that.”
History suggests Chiarelli would be more than happy to oblige. In Boston, he made it a near-annual tradition of stocking up on defensemen at the deadline: Andrej Meszaros in ’14, Wade Redden in ’13, Greg Zanon/Mike Mottau in ’12 and Tomas Kaberle in ’11.
Of course, the Oilers could be getting a boost on the back end with the return of Darnell Nurse, who’s been out since mid-December following ankle surgery. Nurse has resumed skating, and could be ready to rejoin the club in a few weeks.