The first dominos of the trade market fell on Thursday afternoon, with a trio of trades being completed.
The first was Jordan Eberle to New York for Ryan Strome. The second and third were both Vegas dealing defensemen to the Eastern Conference, as Trevor van Riemsdyk and David Schlemko went to Carolina and Montreal respectively.
My initial reaction to these deals is mixed. But, we’ll take it one by one.
For the Oilers and Islanders, the logic behind the deal is obvious. Edmonton wanted to shed salary either for free agency or to re-sign Kris Russell. Trading Eberle for Strome saves them $3.5 million on the cap for next season.
As for the Islanders, this is a win-now move. Strome is under a .50 points-per-game pace for his career. Eberle, on the contrary, is nearly at .75 points-per-game for his career. Eberle and Tavares also go back almost a decade in terms of their relationship. Both player for Team Canada’s World Juniors team in the late 2000s.
The logic behind the deal is evident, but the Islanders are the winners on the surface. They are getting the more established and more consistent player. However, what the Oilers will do with the added cap space remains to be seen.
As for the van Riemsdyk to Carolina trade, it seems fair for both sides. van Riemsdyk will get a chance to thrive in a larger role in Carolina, whereas Vegas gets a second round pick back for someone that they acquired for nothing.
The deal just further exemplifies how many draft picks Vegas is stockpiling. In the first two rounds this year, they now have three first round picks and three second round picks. It is quite the head start for the league’s 31st franchise.
Lastly, the Schlemko deal is a great one for Montreal. Giving up just a fifth round pick for him is a steal.
Schlemko has three more years left on his deal at $2.1 million per. He is a fantastic skater, and, in fact, his skating is what made him so successful in San Jose last season.
Schlemko will be able to slot in anywhere between the #4 and #6 role in Montreal. He is able to play in all situations and would be a nice replacement (in a sense) for when Andrei Markov departs.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect many more moves to come in the next few days.
Luckily for the Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid is exempt from the expansion draft. It is just mind-boggling to even think about that to be fair — a 100 point scorer, Art Ross Trophy winner, and potential Hart Trophy winner is exempt from the expansion draft. It just goes to show the true brilliance of McDavid at such a young age.
As for the rest of the team, the Oilers should not have many problems when it comes to the expansion draft.
Up front, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Leon Draisaitl, and Patrick Maroon are guaranteed to be protected. Jordan Eberle could go on this list too, even if he is likely to be traded after the expansion draft happens.
The last two spots could go to Zack Kassian and Jujgar Khaira.
Edmonton is Kassian’s third NHL team and he has seen time split between the NHL and the AHL over time, but he seems to have found a home with the Oilers. He was dominant as a power forward in the playoffs, especially in Edmonton’s first round matchup against San Jose.
Khaira was a third round pick in 2012 by Edmonton. He has only appeared in 25 NHL games, but he is a more attractive option to protect than Benoit Pouliot, Iiro Pakarinen, or Mark Letestu are.
As for defense, it seems extremely likely that it is Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, and Adam Larsson that will get protected. Sekera has a no-movement clause and the other two are young defensemen with plenty of time left to grow.
In goal, Cam Talbot has a no-movement clause and will be protected.
The Edmonton Oilers protection list could shake out like this:
Forwards: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira
Defense: Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson
Goalie: Cam Talbot
For players that Vegas could take, Griffin Reinhart and Mark Letestu are options.
Next team: Florida Panthers