No matter how you look at it, the 2017-18 season has been a MASSIVE disappointment for Edmonton Oilers fans. After shattering a decade long playoff drought last season, many fans and analysts had the Oilers pegged as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender heading into this season. But then… disaster. The puck dropped on the 2017-18 season and the Oilers have seemingly never been able to gain traction.
Sure, superstar captain Connor McDavid is still tearing up the league, but the secondary scoring help that he had last season from players like Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle and Patrick Maroon has been mostly non-existent this season. The team’s defense has been subpar on most evenings and goaltender Cam Talbot has been either injured on inconsistent this season. Put it all in a pot and you get the recipe for another Draft Lottery finish in the NHL standings for the Oilers.
So… if you’re Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli, where do you start this offseason? Should the Oilers pursue some scorers up front? A true number one defenseman on the backend? How about a goalie to supplant or push Talbot?
TSN analyst and NHL insider Darren Dreger was on Montreal’s TSN 690 earlier this week where he floated a rumor about the Oilers acquiring Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
“They need a mobile puck-moving defenseman. No question about that.,” said Dreger. “The Oliver Ekman-Larsson rumors, speculation, all of that are going to become more of a storyline, I would think. What’s he going to do? Is he going to deliver the message to the Coyotes that it’s unlikely he’s going to sign?”
That’s all fine in theory, but are Chiarelli and the Oilers actively targeting Ekman-Larsson from the Coyotes?
“I mean again, all very speculative, but I think that’s what Edmonton is hoping for. So as much as Vegas and maybe Tampa Bay were in on Erik Karlsson, I look at the Oilers kind of targeting OEL if there’s even potential opportunity to do that.”
Interesting. There’s no denying that an Ekman-Larsson addition would be a HUGE boon for the Oilers. But, what’s the asking price? Ekman-Larsson is still signed for another year at $5.5 million and Coyotes GM John Chayka isn’t likely to just give up his star player for pennies on the dollar. He’s going to want full-return, much like Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion in the discussions surrounding Erik Karlsson.
So… what’s the deal? Surely the Oilers would have to part with one of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jesse Puljujarvi… maybe both. If that’s the case, does it makes sense for the Oilers to pull off another blockbuster? That Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson blockbuster hasn’t quite worked out for the Oilers…