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FutureStarrKen Holland Appears Scared to Make a Big Trade to Improve the Oilers
After 21 games this season, the Edmonton Oilers remain behind three Western Conference teams that hold playoff spots. That gap must be closed in the final weeks of regular season play.
The team's biggest weakness has been their blue line, which has been the primary reason they have struggled to score goals this season. Holland must address this problem before the trade deadline in order to improve his team's chances of success.
Patrick Kane, who has a no-movement clause ahead of the March 3 trade deadline, will likely not play for the Chicago Blackhawks when they host San Jose Sharks on Saturday. He hasn't been in the lineup since February 10 and hasn't practiced this week either.
The 34-year-old has scored 16 goals and collected 45 points in 54 games this season, but his recent hot streak is over. During that stretch he scored seven goals and added 10 points in four games.
Kane is a player many teams would love to add, boasting an impressive pedigree and high skill level. He was integral in two Stanley Cup victories for the Chicago Blackhawks and will likely extend his contract until next summer.
Kane has the talent and age to be an invaluable player for any team, especially one in the Western Conference. His career goals and points per 60 are remarkable benchmark figures and show his consistency as an offensive player. Kane will continue to prove himself worthy of this role moving forward.
In addition to his impressive vision and world-class playmaking, he's also small yet incredibly hard to knock off the puck due to an incredible strong stride. His one-on-one moves are lethal, and his shot is something else entirely.
His goal-scoring has been sporadic this season, but his overall game remains strong. He's averaging 25 minutes of ice time and has two goals and five assists in his last six games; plus, he's played in an 82-game streak!
Kane certainly has plenty of suitors who would want to acquire him, though it's unlikely they are willing to part with anything substantial in a trade. He has an exclusive no-trade clause and reportedly wishes to leave for better opportunities.
If Kane does decide to make a move, it will require complex maneuverings and likely involve multiple third-party trade partners as well as roster negotiations and Kane's approval. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the process is moving along but no one wants to miss any steps along the way.
The Oilers are eager to upgrade their top six, and if they were successful in landing Kane it could be the biggest victory of Ken Holland's team this season. Unfortunately, they don't possess enough pieces to make this happen and would need to part with some salary in order to do so.
This summer, the Oilers are on the search for some major free agents, including Evander Kane to re-sign and upgrading netminding. That could require buying out Oscar Klefbom while trading Barrie or wingers like Warren Foegele, Zack Kassian or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could help fill these vacancies.
Puljujarvi may not be a prolific scorer, but he is an effective two-way player who can contribute to any team's overall play. He's great with possession and an effective play driver when on the ice - evidence which has already been demonstrated by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl when they were teammates.
Despite all of that, it remains uncertain if he can be a success in the NHL. He's been given plenty of ice time with McDavid and Draisaitl this season, yet has yet to produce the desired results.
He's been a reliable top-six forward for the Oilers in past seasons, but his offensive production is down compared to previous seasons. Still, there's room for improvement as he just came off a career high 14 goals, 22 assists and 36 points last season.
In terms of cap hit, the 24-year-old is projected to make around $3 million next season - which the Oilers won't have the luxury to afford. Furthermore, he's eligible for arbitration in two years and could become more costly by summer 2019, placing them in an uncomfortable position when trying to reach an agreement with him.
Holland must decide whether to keep or trade him this summer, and the decision could have a major effect on the team's future. Either way, this decision will likely prove difficult for the Oilers who have already faced several unexpected difficulties this season.
Many teams are actively searching for players to upgrade their rosters, and some have even been linked to Puljujarvi in trade rumors. With who the Oilers decide to trade with, they could potentially receive an upgrade on their blue line as well as a valuable draft pick in return. Possible targets could include Bjugstad, Barbashev, Stecher, Schenn or Mikkola; any addition would be beneficial for the team greatly.
There's been much talk recently about possible trades involving the Edmonton Oilers, one of which being Warren Foegele. After two seasons with the team, his point production has taken a dip, leading many to question why they would consider parting ways with him now.
Edmonton should seriously consider exploring trade options for Foegele. There are teams out there who are in dire need of a young winger with an affordable cap hit, and I believe he would make an ideal addition.
Second, Foegele is a capable player with plenty of value on the ice. He's an energetic hard worker who can drive possession and chances, though his finish ability lacks polish. His net-negative impact on high-danger chance differential has increased, while his xGF% has dropped as well.
He's an impressive skater with great foot speed and defensive responsibility. Furthermore, he's still young enough to develop in terms of both game play and on-ice presence.
In conclusion, he possesses considerable talent and can play an important role in helping the team win games. Unfortunately, his style of play doesn't match that of the rest of the players on the roster, leading to decreased point production.
On the other hand, he's a reliable and high-quality skater who can play both top-six and third-line roles. As such, he serves as insurance in case Jesse Puljujarvi or Jordan Yamamoto don't pan out, and will likely be resigned for next season with an affordable cap hit.
Ken Holland faces immense pressure to make a significant trade that will improve his team's fortunes at this point in the season. Although they are in the first wild-card position, there is plenty of gloom surrounding their prospects. That makes it all the more tempting for him to find an opportunity that will enable them to win more games.
Nugent-Hopkins is having a remarkable season in his 12th NHL season. He has 19 goals and 29 assists in 40 games this year, which ranks as one of his best seasons yet. Furthermore, he's tied career highs in points and goals scored.
He possesses an impressive two-way game with superb hockey vision and a scoring touch. He can play either the wing or centre position, displaying that he is an accomplished playmaker in all areas of the game.
Nugent-Hopkins has shown incredible determination despite his small stature, surpassing early struggles in the NHL by working harder than his larger opponents. He exudes calm on-ice presence but also knows how to push play along as a line driver. Nugent-Hopkins is quickly emerging as an Oilers leader and has recently been driving his own line effectively.
Nugent-Hopkins' departure would be a devastating blow for the Oilers this season. He has been an integral part of their team for so long and played an instrumental role in their success despite injuries (Connor McDavid, James Neal and Kris Russell) as well as Zack Kassian's suspension.
He's one of the more patient players on the team, and his on-ice presence and mental toughness have been invaluable assets this season. With a history of performing well under duress, this season has been no different.
His numbers at center are unimpressive, likely due to subpar linemate quality. Nonetheless, he can serve as an effective third-line option alongside Jesse Puljujarvi or Hyman and provide some much needed balance to the team.
Alternatively, he could play second-line centre with McDavid and Draisaitl. This would give him more chances to score goals while still getting plenty of ice time with weaker competition.
However, if Holland wants to make a bigger trade, Nugent-Hopkins would be an ideal target for the Edmonton Oilers. He has a reasonable cap hit and appears to have what it takes to become an important piece of their improved team. If Holland can successfully close this deal, it would be beneficial for both parties involved - both players and fans.