LeBrun rumblings: Oilers’ gameplan for the trade deadline, plus latest on

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The Edmonton Oilers are a fascinating team to watch ahead of the March 8 NHL trade deadline.

They’re back looking like the popular Stanley Cup pick they were in the preseason. As such, should they approach the deadline with an “all-in” approach?

Of course.

“Certainly, I’m going to do everything that I can between now and the deadline to see if we can do something to make our team a little bit better,” Oilers GM Ken Holland told The Athletic on Thursday.

And he left it at that. He’s not about to share his deadline game plan with the world, and you get that.

But based on other conversations around the league, let’s piece together the Edmonton deadline scenarios.

Let’s just start with the elephant in the room. No one knows how it will go this summer when the Oilers approach Leon Draisaitl about signing an extension one year ahead of his July 2025 unrestricted free agency.

That actually feeds two opposing arguments if you’re running the Oilers.

On the one hand, maybe that first-round pick in this June’s draft needs to be kept in case Draisaitl doesn’t extend this summer and the Oilers are headed down an uncertain path roster-wise.

On the flip side, are you kidding me? If there’s any chance this is the last full season with both superstars together on the roster (with Connor McDavid having a similar decision to make in July 2025), it’s all the more reason to give this current roster every single chance to win the Cup right here and now, right?

Of the two arguments, I’m easily in the go-for-it-now camp. And there’s no doubt in my mind that’s where Holland and CEO of Hockey Operations Jeff Jackson are.

Having said that, the Oilers have very little cap flexibility. I mean, they’ve got eight players on their roster right now making $1 million or less on the cap. Which is to say, they’re already jamming all the pieces together.

So if the Oilers do make a trade or two, and I anticipate they will try all they can to do just that, it will likely not only mean the other team retaining salary but probably also the Oilers having to move some current players out. And with that comes an important question internally for an Oilers team that just had a 16-game win streak snapped: How sure are they that whatever player they’re bringing in to replace a current one makes the Oilers better for the playoff drive, and how does it affect team chemistry?

Here’s what I believe to be the Oilers’ game plan right now for the deadline, which obviously can change at a moment’s notice based on injury or performance:

• The top priority is adding a top-six forward.

• The second area of conversation is adding a defenseman. More on that later.

• I believe the Oil think they’re OK in goal at this point. Stuart Skinner has been one of the top goalies in the league since late November, and Calvin Pickard has fit in well as his backup. And there’s always the option of bringing Jack Campbell back up, too.

So, let’s…

Read More: LeBrun rumblings: Oilers’ gameplan for the trade deadline, plus latest on 2024-02-09 15:33:13

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