A Blockbuster Deal North of the Border
(Image courtesy of The Sports Rooster)
Last week the Edmonton Oilers fired Todd McLellan, a classic case of yet another scapegoat firing to explain the poor stretch of play the Oilers have gone through as of late. Just like in years past, a team’s poor performance is blamed on a coach that had to deal with the terrible roster that was brought together by the GM.
Earlier this month, Oilers GM, Peter Chiarelli, came out and stated that the team they had on the ice was “not good enough to win” and that they did not have any defenceman that could “move or pass the puck”.
Um.. DUH. We all know.
That’s an awfully odd thing to hear from the man who constructed the roster. It is clear that Peter Chiarelli has done a more than lackluster job at making deals with other teams, and because of him, the team on paper and on the ice has been less than desirable.
Even so, there is still potential for Peter Chiarelli to redeem himself with a trade that would improve the team in all aspects that need it most; a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 3 months, you would know that the Leafs and RFA William Nylander have been at an impasse in regards to contract negotiations. Now, with only 5 days remaining before Nylander would no longer be eligible to play this season, Leafs GM, Kyle Dubas, and company must figure out what to do with their disgruntled star.
My solution? A trade with a team that needs a puck moving defence as well as speed down the wing; The Edmonton Oilers.
(Quick disclaimer: This is not a rumour that is being floated around nor should this be taken as facts from an NHL insider. This is just a theory and idea that I believe could work for both teams.)
Toronto Maple Leafs Trade: William Nylander, Jake Gardiner, Nathan Horton & 2019 4th Round Pick*
Edmonton Oilers Trade: Adam Larsson, Milan Lucic ($2M retained Salary) & Kailer Yamamoto
(2019 4th round pick acquired from the St. Louis Blues in a trade for Nikita Soshnikov)
Benefit for the Oilers:
The way this trade will benefit the Oilers is simple, they tackle two of their bigger problems in the lineup. They get speed on the wing to play with Connor McDavid in William Nylander, and they receive a puck moving defenceman in Jake Gardiner, which will finally resolve their long time problem of defence that can’t skate the puck.
Another bonus for Peter Chiarelli is the fact that he can dump the biggest blemish on the team: Milan Lucic and his awful contract.
In terms of financial standing, the trade works like this: The Oilers in this scenario are trading away $8,166,666 in salary and taking on $9,350,000 as well as an unsigned William Nylander. With a current cap space of $4.9M that would leave them with $3.7M in cap space to sign William Nylander. Of course this isn’t enough based on the reports of Nylander’s camp asking for a $7M per year. This is where Nathan Horton’s contract comes in handy. Since Horton is on LTIR (Long-Term Injured Reserve), his cap hit still affects the salary cap, until the team reaches the cap ceiling. Once a team reaches or surpasses the cap ceiling, the player that is on LTIR has their cap hit relieved to bring the cap hit back down to the ceiling of $79.5M (the NHL salary cap ceiling for 2018/2019). Signing Nylander to an presumable $7M AAV deal would put the Oilers over the cap by $3.3M, kicking in the LTIR cap relief from Horton’s contract by $3.3M, bringing the team back under the salary cap.
While the Oilers would be tight for cap space this season, they would be losing a few contracts on July 1st, 2019 due to a couple of pending UFAs, which will ultimately see their time with the Oilers end. The likes of Jason Garrison, Alex Chiasson, Kevin Gravel and Chris Wideman would give the Oilers an additional $3M of cap space this off-season to help with re-signing Jake Gardiner and pending UFA G, Cam Talbot.
Benefit for the Maple Leafs:
The Toronto Maple Leafs would benefit from this trade in many ways. First and foremost, moving on from the William Nylander drama which has no doubt tarnished the relationship the two sides have with one another. With only 5 days left before Nylander is ineligible to play, the Leafs are running on borrowed time.
With that being said, I will argue that the Leafs are a better team with Nylander than without every single day of the week, but the December 1st deadline is fast approaching. This means it’s time for hockey fans and speculators to become realists rather than optimists. If the two parties haven’t come to an agreement yet, the likelihood of that happening now is slim. The relationship at this point between Dubas and Nylander is probably in shambles and the ideal situation for everyone would be to move on.
By trading the aforementioned pieces, the Leafs would be benefiting greatly from the return. The primary piece of this trade would be defenceman Adam Larsson. Larsson was acquired by the Oilers from the Devils in exchange for eventual Hart Trophy winner, Taylor Hall, in hopes of being the stud defenceman the Oilers had been in search of for years.
Unfortunately that never panned out, and now Larsson will be seen as the piece in the trade that saw MVP Taylor Hall be dealt for a mediocre defenceman averaging 0.24 ppg. Thankfully for the Leafs, that’s exactly what they need. Jake Gardiner has seen his minutes reduced along with his role on the team all due to the breakout year Morgan Rielly is having with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not only that, but Jake Gardiner is certainly not the shut down defenceman that the Leafs currently need. He’s just simply not the right fit for the Maple Leafs anymore. Adam Larsson, on the other hand, fits the role perfectly. His simple stay at home style of play is exactly what the Leafs need in their defensive top 4. It would help the team in their own end and even potentially help out the likes of struggling Nikita Zaitsev (who he could possible end up being paired with).
Larsson also helps the team from a financial standpoint. He’s currently signed to a 3-year, $4.16M deal, which means the Leafs would be receiving an upgrade on Jake Gardiner from a defensive standpoint with a contract that falls under Morgan Reilly’s cap hit of $5M. The affordable 3-year term that Larsson is currently signed to is exactly what the Leafs need right now seeing as 2 of their big stars are coming up on RFA status (and let’s face it, they’ll probably get paid an accumulated $21M between the two of them). At this point, the Leafs would benefit from any sort of financial relief, and this trade would give them that and more.
As for the other two pieces, Lucic and Yamamoto, the Leafs would be acquiring two forwards that would help fill the roles lost in Nylander, as well as forwards set to leave within the next two years.
The Leafs will be losing 3 NHL-ready forwards at the end of this season (Leivo, Ennis and Lindholm) whom none of which the Leafs will probably re-sign, as well as Marleau and Frederik Gauthier at the end of the 2019/2020 season; so, the addition of Milan Lucic would help fill some holes in the Leafs' lineup.
Lucic, although not playing as well as he had hoped, would be a great fit on the Kadri line. Speed may not be his strongest suit, but Lucic could benefit from playing on a line that boasts intensity and physicality. A line consisting of Lucic, Kadri and Brown would be a third line of reckoning that would cause problems for opposing defenceman below their own goal line while also doubling as a great tertiary scoring threat.
Lucic could reignite some of the success he had with Boston while playing away from the spotlight on the Leafs' third line, and the $2M that the Oilers would retain would give the Leafs financial freedom to pay their other players or potentially move his contract elsewhere if things work out.
The other piece in the trade is 20-year old Kailer Yamamoto. Yamamoto is a speedy young forward who is signed to an entry level contract at $893K through 2021. With the star-studded lineup that the Leafs possess, the young star could make his mark in the NHL without having to worry about taking on the top pairing defence of the league as he would have with the Oilers. His skill, speed and affordable contract would help replace the loss of William Nylander on the wing in the near and distant future, and potentially extend the Leafs window at a cup by a few years thanks to his very affordable contract.
A deal of this magnitude would do wonders for both teams, solving a lot of the issues they’ll face this year and years to come. Peter Chiarelli is in desperate need of a move that will redeem all of his blunders since becoming the Oilers GM, and Dubas can finally put the Nylander fiasco to rest. This trade proposal I believe is the key to solving both issues.
Let me know what you think in the comment sections and replies!