In all of the hurry to put the season behind us, it is important to remember the future contains Connor McDavid—and that alone is worth the price of admission.
- “If there is any player in the NHL that I would like to become, it’s Pavel Datysuk. He has amazing offensive skills but is also someone that the coach can put on in the last 30 seconds in a one goal game because he is also very defensive minded. He is the complete 2-way player”. –Connor McDavid, when asked if there was anyone in the NHL he looks at and says ‘that’s the player I’d like to become’? (2012 interview)
All of those comparisons usually go away after a few years, but McDavid impressed me this year with his ability to go get the puck from NHL players. Seemingly at will. At 18. It was a short but incredible season, let’s do it again! Now, the big question: Who will join McDavid for the ride?
BLUE SKY LIST
- D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators. The mind boggles at the power-play possibilities. You would have to think acquiring this player would mean at least one—maybe two—of the top-flight forwards. On the other hand, a monster deal might include some nice players like Mike Hoffman and Curtis Lazar, as the Senators appear ready to burn it down.
- D P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens. It could be a perfect storm (crazy organization, NMC about to kick in, enormous contract), but this distant bell can’t be heard by the human ear. What would it cost? So much it wouldn’t be worthwhile.
- D Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche. He is close to a perfect fit for the puck-moving portion of this team, and might be available during the era of crazy in Denver. He has been a 50-point blue for the last two seasons, is young enough to enjoy a strong run, and may in fact be available.
- C Steve Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning. The injury probably gives one pause, but the talent is so strong I still think someone blows their brains out on a long-term deal. Will it be Edmonton?
- L Milan Lucic, Los Angeles Kings. The early exit may mean the LAK go in a different direction and I have always maintained Peter Chiarelli would be aggressive. Hall, Maroon and Pouliot are a solid LW group, but Edmonton could trade out one of them to make room.
- D Jason Demers, Dallas Stars. Not as popular in the comments section as he is with this blog’s author, I already have several blog titles lined up for when he signs. Effective defenseman, he costs only money.
- D Travis Hamonic, NY Islanders. Based on last summer’s deal, the pricetag for Chiarelli will probably run somewhere near double, but this is a solid player and a great option for Edmonton.
- D Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks. His availability has been rumored but is uncertain. I like his puck-moving ability but as with all young blue there is not a clearly established level of ability. What we see is very good offensively.
- C Andrew Shaw, Chicago Blackhawks. I read somewhere that he reminds Scotty Bowman of Derek Sanderson, and man that is a helluva player. No idea if he is available but that would be a huge get for Chiarelli.
- D Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes. Bob Stauffer has mentioned him several times (with the Nuge being a player of interest) and the big surprise here is that Carolina might make him available. I have him ranked here, but the gap between Faulk and (say) Barrie is not large in my mind. If you can get one of them for less, giddyup.
- G James Reimer, San Jose Sharks. He had a good year, Chiarelli would be wise to check out the asking price. His EV save percentage is stellar.
- D Michael Stone, Arizona Coyotes. Rarely mentioned, he is an interesting option if Edmonton wins the lottery and the Coyotes attempt to load up a trade idea. He spiked offensively this year, you would like to have a little more track with those kind of boxcars.
- C Ryan Strome, New York Islanders. I include him because the Islanders seem to be souring on the young forward (might end up as a RW). He is talented, and if available, Chiarelli would be wise to swoop in.
- Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets. Zero buzz about this player to Edmonton, but he does have NHL experience and he was a solid young player a year ago. Whatever wobbled him this season may not impact long term.
- D Mark Pysyk, Buffalo Sabres. He has had several false starts in Buffalo, but the numbers imply there is a player here. Might shake loose and could help.
- D Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils. Under the radar name, he did pretty well in 2015-16. I have no idea if he is available but this is a player who is young enough to grow with the group in Edmonton.
- D Colin Miller, Boston Bruins. He never gets mentioned, but if you look at the numbers this guy keeps showing up in interesting places. No idea if he has a future, but his now is interesting.
- D Eric Gryba, Edmonton Oilers. I doubt Mark Fayne returns, and Gryba could slide in as an inexpensive option in the stay-at-home department.
- D Ville Pokka, Chicago Blackhawks. Young defender in the Chicago system just posted a solid year in the AHL. Suspect they will keep him, but you never know.
- C Riley Nash, Carolina Hurricanes. Already reaching UFA status, Nash has decent size, some offense and good possession numbers. As a righty C, he should be on a list somewhere in Peter Chiarelli’s office.
- D Ryan Sproul, Detroit Red Wings. Puck-moving defender in the AHL, he might be ready for an NHL role this fall.
- G Jhonas Enroth, Los Angeles Kings. I liked him a year ago for Edmonton and depending on price he would be an excellent addition.
- C Cody Hodgson, Buffalo Sabres. Chiarelli likely solves his C problem before he reaches this point, but Hodgson is still young and two years removed from a 20-goal season.
- D Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames. A year removed from a fantastic offensive season, he would probably be available for less than zero. Wildly unpopular idea, it might work.
- D Dan Boyle, New York Rangers. While Chiarelli casts about looking for the new Dan Boyle to fit Todd McLellan’s team, why not one season with the old one?
- D Taylor Aronson, Nashville Predators. Minor-league defender with some interesting numbers and he shouldn’t be expensive.
— EP Transfers (@ep_transfers) April 22, 2016
Allen is a new pro this season despite being advanced in age (25) for a prospect. He has some size (6.03, 198). University of Alaska-Anchorage and he turned pro in 2015-16. Played in the ECHL this year (42gp, 15-19-34).
Friedman: “I do believe the trade rumors this off-season are going to be off the charts.” https://t.co/8WFxsgpTGz
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) April 22, 2016
I would prefer a more measured approach to this summer, but it all depends on availability. You don’t trade a Nuge unless a very big name is also available, same goes for Hall or Eberle. Is Erik Karlsson in play? We wait.