NHL Rumours: Edmonton Oilers See a Need Amongst Defenceman

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 29: A detailed view of the Edmonton Oilers' logo seen during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell on January 29, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 7-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/NHL/Getty Images)

Welcome back to NHL rumours. Each day, we look at the latest happenings around the league. From new contracts to injuries, to trades, we have it all. Today, we look at a rumour about the Edmonton Oilers defencemen.

Edmonton Oilers See a Need Amongst Defencemen

NHL Rumour: The Edmonton Oilers are looking to bring strength to the defensive core, according to Darren Dreger on Insider Trading

In their most recent edition of Insider Trading, Darren Dreger said just as much. Not only do the Oilers need defencemen, but they need a top pair defenceman. Right now, Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci aren’t getting it done for them. Ceci logs 21:04 per night, similar to the 20:54 he logged last year on average, but that looks like simply too much ice time for him at this point. His possession numbers look downright bad, at a -10.4% relative Corsi (a figure that never appeared much better at any point in his career). And Nurse, their highest-paid defenceman, has a -7.3% relative Corsi too, his worst figure since his rookie year.

Through 26 games, the Oilers hold a 14-12-0 record, good for the top wild-card spot out West. With the talent that they have on offence, and the acquisition of Jack Campbell in net this summer, they expect more. While Campbell hasn’t played up to expectations, he isn’t the only problem. Plus, backup Stuart Skinner looks strong, but both netminders own a 7-6-0 record to date. Between their strong forward group and underperforming goaltenders, the team’s need sits squarely with their defencemen.

In fact, the only defenceman on their roster with a positive relative Corsi percentage is Evan Bouchard (7.8%). However, at just 23 years of age, his lack of experience has meant sheltered minutes. He starts the majority of his shifts in the offensive zone, much like Philip Broberg. Broberg, 21, only just recently cracked the lineup and plays 11:59 a night thus far through six games.

Potential Defencemen to Address Oilers Need

To mitigate the problem, Edmonton has some cap juggling to do. They currently have absolutely no cap space, which makes it tough to acquire a top-pair blueliner. The top name Dreger mentioned was San Jose Sharks defender Erik Karlsson. But, with four years left on his deal after this season, at $11.5 million per season, Edmonton would have to do some major salary-shedding to even make this feasible.

Aside from Karlsson, other options exist. John Klingberg and Jakob Chychrun remain amongst the top defencemen available via trade. Again, no top-flight defencemen come with a downright cheap contract, so none of these options looks easy to execute on paper. The longer the year goes, though, the more desperate the Oilers could become. And with a wealth of skill on offence, they may have to sacrifice someone good to shore up the defence.

Thankfully, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they definitely could part with another piece or two and be just fine when it comes to production.

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