It’s summer, it’s hot, and the takes are sizzling, which can only mean one thing: the Canes Country Hot Take-a-Thon is underway. Our writers have come up with their hottest takes. Some of them are for real. Some of them are satire. All of them are entertaining. Want to contribute your own take? Head to the FanPosts section, put on your fire suit, and get to takin’.
After inking Connor McDavid to the richest contract in NHL history earlier this summer, the Edmonton Oilers’ focus has turned to locking up the remaining unsigned piece of their young dynamic duo: Leon Draisaitl. However, the Draisaitl camp is rumored to be asking for a figure in the $9 million per year range. Savvy GM Peter Chiarelli is on record saying he would match any offer sheet for the German forward, but could this just be a negotiating tactic to drive up Draisaitl’s trade value?
Since Eric Staal’s heyday, the Hurricanes have lacked a true #1 center (yes, we know). Matt Duchene’s name has been ever-present since last year’s trade deadline, but the Canes shouldn’t be rushing to part with any of the players the Avs are looking to acquire. Instead, Ron Francis should be ringing up Chiarelli to see if he has the pieces to acquire Draisaitl as the first-line center of the future.
Spoiler alert: he does.
Last year the Oilers were one of the NHL’s top offenses. They put up strong offensive numbers without the presence of scoring winger Taylor Hall – proving they were the clear winners of the Hall-for-Adam Larsson trade and adding it to the long list of Peter Chiarelli trade triumphs – as they were able to get production throughout the lineup.
What they’re missing is #physicality and #grit. Milan Lucic didn’t put up numbers to match his $6 million cap hit, but he plays a physical game. Patrick Maroon had a breakout season on McDavid’s wing, but it may come at the cost of pricing him out of the Oilers’ reach once he becomes a free agent next season. The Oilers are young, fast, and extremely talented, but will they miss the sandpaper element that Maroon brings to the lineup?
If the Oilers want to find a player with the same upside and grit as they are sure to lose in Maroon, they’ll need to look outside of the organization to find it — and they have the perfect trade bait in Draisaitl.
Who could the Canes offer?
The big haul, if the Canes were to pry Draisaitl from the Oilers, would need to be a younger, similarly priced winger to fill the void left by Maroon’s departure from Connor McDavid’s wing. While GM Ron Francis would certainly have a tough decision to make, I think Joakim Nordstrom needs to be removed from the Canes’ untouchables list for this kind of hockey trade.
Nordstrom’s versatility could entice the Oilers as they lose an equally versatile player in Draisaitl (both can play as a winger or center). Add to that Nordstrom’s size, grit, and the fact that he fits in with the age group of Edmonton’s core, and he could be the perfect centerpiece of the trade.
But if you think Joakim Nordstrom gets you Draisaitl one for one, you’d better think again. The Canes will need to sweeten the pot.
While Carolina’s strength could perfectly fill Edmonton’s biggest long-term deficiency - top-four defensemen - I think the Oilers would be best served saving the Draisaitl cap relief for another scenario. The Oilers locked up defensive stalwart Kris Russell to a great value contract this summer, and he should be a top-four lock for the duration of his tenure in Edmonton. With Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, and Darnell Nurse all in the picture as well, the Oilers’ top-four should be set for the next couple years, but adding a bottom-pairing guy could serve them well next season.
With more young talent on the way and the addition of Trevor van Riemsdyk, Klas Dahlbeck, as valuable a depth defenseman as he has become for the Hurricanes, has essentially been rendered expendable. He would be a nice complementary piece for Edmonton in this deal. His 6’2” frame and excellent skating and puck-moving ability would mesh perfectly with the style of hockey the Oilers want to play. Not to mention, his current contract is a steal.
The Perfect Storm
If the Oilers are able to get away with this kind of fleecing, they’ll have a good bit of cap space to work with. Maroon’s and Nordstrom’s contracts are pretty much a wash, and Dahlbeck will be making pennies compared to the rumored $9 million AAV that Draisaitl was asking for.
Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts here. However, if the front office can convince Ron Francis to remove Nordstrom from his untouchables list - remember, Francis made a side deal with Vegas to avoid losing Nordstrom in the expansion draft - and if Francis is willing to part with valuable bottom-pairing defenseman Dahlbeck, the long-term answer to the Canes’ first-line center problems is only a trade away.
And who knows - with the cap space created by this deal, the Oilers will be in a great spot to offer sheet Erik Karlsson in two years’ time.