Huge If True: Are the Oilers done adding on defense?


The trade that sent Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson stunned the hockey world, to the point that it became somewhat difficult to react with the same incredulity to Steven Stamkos remaining in Tampa or PK Subban getting traded to Nashville.

The Oilers needed a defenseman, sure, but that was the price? Wow, they must have thought they really really really needed a defenseman. It’s tough to blame them, on the one hand. But on the other, they surrendered Hall, which is a big giveaway regardless of the return.

But now the question many have is whether their pursuit of blue line help is over. And depending upon whom you believe, it actually might not be.

There have been more than a few rumors in the last week or so that connect the Oilers to a number of teams that may or may not have an excess defenseman laying around, or one who deserves a big payday in the near future that such a team may not be able to afford.

So who are these mystery teams, and who might they be willing to offload. And, perhaps more important for the Oilers is the question of who Peter Chiarelli might be willing to give up. Given that he already dumped Taylor Hall rather unceremoniously for a significantly lesser player, all now seems at least possible, even if it’s not particularly probable.

The Rumor

The idea here is that the Oilers are still looking for defenseman, and at least three teams might have someone available.

The teams you’re hearing most often these days when you pay attention to these things, in order of descending frequency, are Colorado, Minnesota, and Anaheim.

Bob McKenzie stoked those fires a little bit soon after the Hall trade, saying he didn’t think the Oilers were done trying to acquire a defenseman:

There’s plenty more to unpack here, but that seems to be where the rumor started.

Meanwhile, other rumors — dating as far back May, but reignited at the draft — have the Oilers looking for a defenseman from Minnesota:

As for the Ducks, the real accelerant for the rumor-mongering, which had been relatively understated because there were more obvious trading partners, is this tweet from John Hoven:

No other information really out there. Just that a trade might happen. We’re almost a week after that tweet, and nothing seems imminent.

Things, of course, can change.

Who’s Going Where?

Well the Oilers are looking for defensemen, and we have names on three of them: Barrie, Matthew Dumba and Jonas Brodin.

All seem relatively reasonable trade candidates on the surface, but let’s really brea that down.

Then reports came from the heavyweights of the hockey rumor game (now unfortunately on vacation for a few months, leaving us to fester with the less-thans in their absence), which certainly lend credence to the possibility in this post-Hall-for-Larsson world. That, of course, set up a lot of fantasy scenarios, especially because of reports the Avs see Barrie as a No. 5 defenseman, and the fact that player and team are headed to arbitration.

Of course, Joe Sakic has also said rather unequivocally that his intention is to sign Barrie regardless. That includes a long-term offer extended to the player while the Avs were at the draft. But now, there’s some noise about maybe not so much.

Darren Dreger likewise thinks there’s a possibility Barrie gets traded before his arbitration date, same for Jacob Trouba in Winnipeg. Certainly, it’s something to consider, and something for Edmonton fans to salivate over even if it doesn’t end up happening.

Likewise, you can see above the Oilers-and-Wild connection comes from a reputable source: plugged-in Wild beat reporter Mike Russo. He named names (Nugent-Hopkins, Dumba, and Brodin) and you therefore say, “Okay, that’s possible.”

Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe — also very plugged-in — mentioned Nugent-Hopkins to the Wild as a possibility way back on May 14. That gives me even greater reason to suspect there was something there at one point, and maybe even still might be.

Much of the most recent hubbub here, though, came together because a self-proclaimed “fantasy expert” — with an NFL logo in his Twitter avatar, the charming username “rumps17,” and just a few thousand followers — who has no apparent hockey, tweeted this:

Have a look at the date on that: July 1. We’re now triple that projection in terms of hours. And like all good rumor-mongers in the NHL, he backed off that initial guess pretty hard when the right amount of time passed. He said Edmonton offered Pouliot, Yakupov and their first for next year for Barrie, but the Avs passed. Perfectly plausible.

Now, instead, he’s saying a “[three-]way deal looking more imminent.” Then he names four teams: Edmonton and Colorado (naturally), as well as Winnipeg and Anaheim.

Winnipeg has Trouba still unsigned and potentially headed for arbitration, and Hampus Lindholm is still out of contract in Anaheim. In both cases, it seems as though the ask would be huge.

But that, too, was 48 hours or so ago at this point. “Imminent” doesn’t mean what it used to, I guess.

And hey check the timestamp, baby: mid-afternoon July 4. Crazy that Bob Stauffer also floated the idea of a three-way deal between Colorado, Edmonton, and Anaheim the next night, isn’t it? Now, Stauffer knows his stuff as far as Edmonton is concerned, but if you read the quotes, it sounds an awful lot more like outright speculation and trying to break down possibilities than informed conjecture.

The Implications

Honestly at this point you could almost tell me the Oilers were gonna trade Connor McDavid for Adam McQuaid and I’d at least have to check Twitter to see if it was being reported elsewhere. That’s how badly Hall-for-Larsson went for them.

The idea that they might therefore also trade a guy like Nugent-Hopkins, who like Hall is really good and perhaps extremely undervalued by a franchise with a long history of getting things wrong, for defensive help is not unfathomable. Which is why these rumors in particular have shown such legs over the past week in the first place.

But then again, there’s this quote from Chiarelli on July 3:

“So all things being equal, if we were to start today with our ‘D’ I’d be quite happy. I’d be very happy. Yes, I’d like to try to get someone that can compliment a power play and push the puck up to the forwards. That’s no secret. We will continue to look at [that]. There’s still a couple that are out there. They are hard to find.”

That reads to me as something along the lines of, “We’re not going to do something desperate, and if someone comes along we can use, we’ll look at our options.” That’s not the same thing as a three-way trade. And certainly not an imminent one.

This Is So Huge, If True: Is It True?

On a B.S. detector scale of 1-5, with one being the most reasonable and 5 being the least:

The Oilers trade a big piece — maybe Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — for more blue line help:

Three Poops
Three Poops

(Perfectly possible but it would require a perfect storm of circumstances.)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)