While at this very moment last spring the Edmonton Oilers were showing how serious of a Stanley Cup contender they could be, they are now focused on making their roster better for the season ahead. If there is one thing that was made clear, besides the fact that they will need a strong backup option in net and a potential boost on the back end, one of the Oilers main priorities should be to find a shooting right winger, preferably one to play with Leon Draisaitl.
The Athletic's Allan Mitchell recently wondered "where is this player? Edmonton's current roster? Free agency? The trade market? The draft?" While the Oilers could look to trust Jesse Puljujarvi in that role, Mitchell hints at the potential solution on the free-agent market that might just work for Edmonton. After all, a familiar face might be the best gamble right now to answer the need for a first-shot scorer.
While the Oilers have a limited amount of cap room this summer, unless there's a way to trade one of the no-movement deals, they could manage to convince a player they have recently shipped out to return to Edmonton and be a different maker.
Forward Patrick Maroon was moved to the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline, in return for rights to J.D. Dudek and thrid-round pick in the 2019 draft. However, the veteran forward always claimed to want to stay with the Oilers, and the opportunity to reunite in the summer might be a real possibility. Here is Mitchell's view on that option:
"Most of the names here are going to be priced out of Edmonton's range. The Oilers have plucked big name free agents recently (Andrej Sekera and Milan Lucic) but McDavid and Draisaitl's long-term deals have the team counting every dollar. Is Patrick Maroon available at $3 million times three? Is he a stronger option than Puljujarvi? Could signing him allow Nugent-Hopkins to play left wing on the Draisaitl line?"
Maroon gets a chance at the postseason, and a shot at a Stanley Cup, but could be looking to be part of the future in Edmonton if the Oilers get serious about contending. If the Oilers choose to focus on the scoring situation, they can be hopefully that the blue line will rectify itself without major changes or trades. Maybe the Oilers could survive with their current group for another year with Ethan Bear, who could boost the power play. Oscar Klefbom was playing hurt and Andrej Sekera didn’t come around until late in the season, so it might make a huge difference next year.
The Oilers might also address some of these needs at the upcoming draft... One thing seems sure: the Oilers simply can't afford to bleed talent this summer in a trade, so Maroon might remain an option.
However, Edmonton might gamble on Puljujarvi instead.