Three Edmonton Oilers Trades Before the Deadline

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As of the afternoon of March 13th, the Edmonton Oilers sit third in the Pacific Division. It’s been a season of extreme ups and downs, but with a week to go before the trade deadline, the Oilers are definitely in the mix. With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both in the prime of their careers, general manager Ken Holland owes it to them to try and improve this roster for a legitimate playoff run. Here are three Oilers trades that could pay big dividends.

Edmonton Oilers Trades Before Deadline

Here is a quick look at the current Oilers lineup. It’ll include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi, despite their current injuries.

In brackets next to the player’s name is their on-ice, five-on-five expected goals percentage, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. For the goalies, it is their even-strength save percentage. This will help shed light on where improvements need to be made, with the caveat being that these numbers don’t tell the whole story by any means.

Evander Kane (45.5) – Connor McDavid (58.6) – Jesse Puljujarvi (59.4)
Ryan McLeod (50.7) – Leon Draisaitl (50.3) – Zach Hyman (56.2)
Warren Foegele (51.6) – Ryan Nugent Hopkins (47.9) – Kailer Yamamoto (47.5)
Josh Archibald (1 GP, 26.1) – Derek Ryan (53.1) – Zack Kassian (49.4)
Devin Shore (45.8) – Brad Malone (55.3)

Darnell Nurse (54.9) – Cody Ceci (51.4)
Duncan Keith (52.4) – Evan Bouchard (55)
Philip Broberg (49) – Tyson Barrie (48.6)
William Lagesson (53.76)

Mikko Koskinen (.914)
Mike Smith (.909)
Minors: Stuart Skinner (.919)

A quick glance confirms what the eye test has been screaming for weeks. The Oilers’ bottom-six needs an additional even-strength play driver, the right-side defence requires a shakeup from its redundancy, and the goaltending could use an upgrade.

Oilers Trade 1: Carson Soucy for Tyson Barrie

There would likely need to be an Oilers’ pick or prospect of some sort involved here, but the core remains. A Carson Soucy for Tyson Barrie trade could make sense for both the Oilers and Seattle Kraken.

Soucy is a 27-year-old, left-shot defenceman who stands 6’5″ tall and is over 200 pounds. He’s played in 43 games this year for the Kraken with 14 points, 79 hits, 49 blocked shots, and is averaging over 17 minutes of ice-time a night. His even-strength possession metrics are north of 50% and are among the best on his team. This is the type of player the Oilers could absolutely use, both now and going forward.

For the Oilers, the emergence of Bouchard has introduced redundancy to the right-side defence due to his similar play style to Barrie. In the playoffs, Edmonton is going to need a more physical, shut-down presence on defence. Replacing Barrie with Soucy would help accomplish that. Soucy’s 12 playoff games pale in comparison to other popular trade targets, such as Justin Braun of the Philadelphia Flyers. However, Braun would be a pure rental. The benefit of Soucy’s age and additional contract year outweigh a more experienced blue-liner.

For the Kraken, they’d receive last year’s league leader in points from a defenceman. He did that in a season where he played in a top-four with current Kraken blue-liner, Adam Larsson. Barrie would give the Kraken a dynamic look on the blue line and be a long-term solution on their first power-play unit. With Mark Giordano likely gone at the trade deadline, that’d solve an immediate need.

Oilers Trade 2: Derick Brassard for Josh Archibald

Josh Archibald plays a game that the Oilers like. The issue is that Archibald is unvaccinated and that’ll make crossing the border in the playoffs a potential problem that can’t be ignored. With Archibald set to be an unrestricted free agent, now’s the time to move him and bring in a more useful, postseason presence. Derick Brassard is a solid candidate.

Brassard is a 34-year-old, soon-to-be unrestricted free agent. He only makes $825,000, can play both centre and wing, and has 14 points in 27 games this season. His advanced metrics aren’t great, but that could be a result of him having to play too high in the lineup on a weak team. He’d be more of a bottom-six option in Edmonton with a bit less responsibility and easier matchups.

Why bring in Brassard instead of someone like Ryan Carpenter? Because Brassard’s career playoff numbers are too good to overlook. He has 68 points in 117 career playoff games and has had positive possession numbers relative to his teammates in all eight tries. His teams have advanced to at least the second round in seven out of eight playoff appearances, showing that he can play meaningful minutes on postseason contenders. He also scores more than Carpenter and the Oilers can always use more of that offensive punch in the depth of their lineup.

For the Flyers, they’d get a 29-year-old buzzsaw who can hit, penalty kill, and fill a bottom-six role. The unvaccinated issue would be less of a concern for a team in the States, as well. It’d give Philadelphia a chance to test drive what could be a genuine bottom-six solution for them, before signing him.

Oilers Trade 3: Stuart Skinner for Mike Smith

This is an internal “trade”, but it’s still a necessary swap. Mike Smith has had a tremendously difficult year. He’s been hurt for most of it, and even when he has been “healthy”, he hasn’t really looked all that healthy. That’s led to a 5-8-1 record, a 3.57 goals-against average and an all-situations save percentage of .891. Those numbers are well below replacement-level.

The Oilers could, theoretically, go shopping and spend an asset on an available goalie. Mikko Koskinen’s recent resurgence, however, makes that look like much less of a need.

With Koskinen’s improved play, the Oilers shouldn’t spend an asset for a rental to play backup in net. Not when Stuart Skinner is in the minors and has better NHL numbers than Smith this year. Skinner has a 6-6-1 record with a 2.62 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. He’s also won four of his last five starts, with his most recent being a shutout.

Smith may need to take yet another visit to the LTIR, or potentially be waived to make it happen, but a Koskinen-Skinner tandem would give the Oilers goaltending that is as good, if not better than any of the current rental options. It also wouldn’t cost an asset, allowing them to use that in the offseason for a more prominent solution in net.

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