Oilers Biggest Need Ahead of the Trade Deadline

The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching and the Edmonton Oilers are expected to be fairly active. If the Oilers are truly Stanley Cup contenders, then Ken Holland must address the glaring holes in the lineup. However, it is unlikely that Holland will be able to address every need. So, what should be the Oilers top priority? Is it a backup goalie? A top 4 defenseman? A top-scoring winger? A fourth-line centre? Or can the Oilers somehow address everything?


On Friday night the Oilers lost 4-2 to the Minnesota Wild with Calvin Pickard between the pipes. The Oilers outshot the Wild 43-19 in the game and some people are largely blaming Pickard for the loss. While Pickard has been relatively effective in his limited starts, can the Oilers trust him down the stretch? Stuart Skinner has also struggled since the All-Star break posting a save percentage under .900 in six straight starts.  Including a 6-3 drubbing at the hands of the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

The Oilers still have Jack Campbell in the AHL but he has proven to be a liability in the Oilers crease since he signed his five-year, 25 million dollar contract in the summer of 2022. Plus, if the Oilers decide to recall him, they will need to make a corresponding roster move to remain under the salary cap. Therefore, I do not see Campbell as an option.

However, the goalie market is very thin on the trade front. Some names that could be moved include Marc Andre Fleury, Jake Allen, Mackenzie Blackwood, James Reimer, and Karel Vejmelka. If the Oilers cannot find a suitable backup goaltender before the March 8th trade deadline, Skinner’s workload might become an issue come playoff time.


Oilers Biggest Need Ahead of the Trade Deadline

Another trade deadline need for the Edmonton Oilers is a top 4 defenseman to replace Cody Ceci alongside Darnell Nurse. The biggest name on the market that would be a fit in Edmonton is Chris Tanev from the Calgary Flames. If the Oilers cannot land Tanev, they could target Sean Walker, Alexandre Carrier, or Nick Seeler. Alexandre Carrier from the Nashville Predators would be a good fit. He is a pending UFA with a cap hit of $2.5 million. The Oilers could also trade Brett Kulak for cap relief and recall Phillip Broberg to play on the third pairing with Vincent Desharnais. It will be interesting to see what Ken Holland does to bolster the blue line.

Scoring Winger

The Oilers are also shopping for a top 6 winger to play with Leon Draisaitl. Players that the Oilers could target include Jake Guentzel, Pavel Buchnevich, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jordan Eberle. Buchnevich would be a great fit. However, the Blues are currently fighting for the last wild card spot, and Buchnevich has one more year on his deal at $5.8 million. Therefore, the Blues should be in no hurry to move him.

Oilers Biggest Need Ahead of the Trade Deadline

The most realistic options would be Eberle or Tarasenko. Tarasenko makes the most sense because the Senators are second last in the Eastern conference and should be sellers ahead of the deadline. The Kraken are also in the mix for the last playoff spot so it may be in their best interest to keep Eberle down the stretch. Tarasenko is a pending UFA with a cap hit of $5 million. The Oilers need a scoring right winger and he fits that bill.

Bottom Six Depth

Any Stanley Cup Contender needs depth and the Oilers simply do not have enough of it. The Oiler’s fourth line has been abysmal all year and needs an upgrade. Sam Gagner, Derek Ryan, Mattias Jannmark, and Connor Brown are not cutting it. These four players have a combined fourteen goals on the season with Connor Brown not having a single goal in 46 games. That is a major concern. Therefore, the Oilers should be looking to acquire a fourth-line centre that will provide a much-needed spark to that line.

Oilers Biggest Need Ahead of the Trade Deadline

Players that could be on the move include Nic Dowd, Tommy Novak, and Scott Laughton. If the Oilers acquire Alexandre Carrier, they could look to include Novak in that deal and fill two holes with one trade. Nic Dowd is also a good fit. He has one more year on his deal at an extremely affordable cap hit of $1.3 million. Dowd is a right-shot centre with 8 goals on the season and a plus-8 rating on a mediocre Washington Capitals team. He would slot in nicely on the fourth line and add a layer of depth that is desperately needed.

So what is the Oilers Biggest Need Ahead of the Trade Deadline?

The question now is if Holland cannot address every need, what should be their top priority? And what will the Oilers give up to make this all happen? They need to go all in. The window with McDavid and Draisaitl is getting smaller. Every year with them is a cup or bust season. Every draft pick and prospect should be available with the exception of Dylan Hollaway. Check out Area 51’s NHL Trade Targets Board for a list of available players.

The Oilers are currently on a three-game losing streak. Ken Holland has his work cut out for him ahead of this trade deadline. Who would you like to see the Oilers acquire? Check out Area 51’s NHL coverage as the Trade Deadline approaches.