The Oilers have had a productive offseason so far, getting UFA Evander Kane and Brett Kulak to re-sign and inking former Maple Leaf starter Jack Campbell to a five-year contract. The Oilers re-signed Jesse Puljujarvi on the 26th of July, you can read the Belly Up article here. This only leaves pending RFAs McLeod and Yamamoto to sign. But GM Ken Holland isn’t done and needs to make a trade.

The Oilers have approximately $3.4 million to sign the two RFAs and complete their roster. Ryan McLeod will get between $1-1.5 million, and Kailer Yamamoto will get $3-3.5 million. At a minimum, that adds up to $4 million, which is more than the Oilers have left in cap space. So, obviously, someone has to go. Who will get traded?

Candidate One

For the sake of making this easiest, I will assume all three players are sent away Golden Knight style for nothing or just some draft picks.

Jesse Puljujarvi, yup, you did read that right. The same player the team just signed to a one-year $3 million contract. The Bison King scored 36 points (14 goals and 22 assists) and had 20 PIMs in 63 games for the Oilers last season. By signing him 3 days before his arbitration date, he is still eligible to be traded. So the 24-year-old and his freshly inked one-year contract may be looking for a change of scenes, again. He will still be an RFA after his current contract expires. So whatever team acquires him will be getting him for multiple seasons.

Trading Puljujarvi and signing a player like UFA Phil Kessel to a team-friendly deal to replace him would still allow the Oilers to get both of their remaining RFAs signed. Puljujarvi, as it stands, is a good player and still has room for growth. As a former fourth overall draft pick, he has had limited success in the NHL but has put up nice underlying numbers. His value is hurt by his inability to score.

Candidate Two

Tyson Barrie is in the second year of a three-year contract, which pays him $4.5 million a season. So the team that acquires him will get this PP specialist for multiple seasons. Barrie scored 41 points (7 goals and 34 assists) and added 18 PIM. He could be expendable because of the rise of Evan Bouchard. They both need PP time to be effective. Barrie is a very good PP specialist, but he is always among the worst defensively. Barrie holds a very dubious honor.

Trading Barrie and replacing him with a player like Carson Soucy or someone else who would add some tenacity and toughness back into the Oilers D. The Oilers need cap space, and he is the most expensive player of the three options. His position on PP could go to the younger and more cost-controlled player like Evan Bouchard.

Candidate Three

Foegele was acquired by trade with Carolina prior to the start of last season. In his first full season as an Oiler, Foegele scored 26 points (12 goals and 14 assists) and added 24 PIM. Those are respectable numbers for a third liner, but he still has two years remaining at a cap hit of $2.75 million.

A Warren Foegele trade would clear $2.75 million, which would be enough to get a player at the league minimum to replace him and sign both of the Oilers’ remaining RFAs. He is a good bottom six but doesn’t score enough.

Who Would You Trade?

I know who I would trade. It’s Barrie, then Foegele, and that’s it. I don’t know how anyone can look at the roster and say Puljujarvi is the weak link. So to me, he may not be untouchable, but the only way I’d trade him is if he requested a trade. Of the two remaining options, Barrie and Foegele… I think it’s obviously Barrie, as his skills are replicated by a younger player, and clearing his cap space would allow the Oilers to acquire a decent replacement who would add an element of physicality the team is currently missing.  If there was a trade for Foegele, it should probably be explored, but he is a good bottom-six guy who just can’t put up points if he was paid a little less, he’d be perfect, but he isn’t, so he is expendable.

What will GM Ken Holland do?

What would you do?  Who would you trade? Please, tell me in the comments.

I just made a Twitter account, so you could be my first follower? Wouldn’t that be cool? In addition, check out other NHL articles by the Belly Up Sports Team. 

About Author

JJ Pulleyblank

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology/Philosophy and a Masters of Education in Teaching English as a Global Language.

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