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Rumor Roundup: Oilers looking at big off-season upgrades

The Edmonton Oilers have some promising young stars, but they’re missing key pieces to put a winning season together. This off-season, Edmonton will look to upgrade their goaltending and acquire some depth centers. The Oilers could also dangle one of their young stars for a promising defenseman.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

As another dreadful season draws to a close for the Edmonton Oilers, speculation is growing over possible off-season roster moves.

Goaltending depth could be an issue, as backup Viktor Fasth is a UFA in July and isn't expected to return. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman believes the Oilers could be among three teams (the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs being the others) with potential interest in Anaheim Ducks goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson.

As the Ducks could be a budget team, Friedman notes they could keep their current goalie tandem intact for another season. However, if they have another early playoff exit, he thinks Andersen or Gibson could be moved in the summer.

Andersen or Gibson won't be the Oilers only option this summer. San Jose's Antti Niemi, Calgary's Karri Ramo and Ottawa's Andrew Hammond are the best potential UFA goalies this summer. Devan Dubnyk could also be available, though the Minnesota Wild are likely to re-sign him. If Dubnyk hits the market it's doubtful he'll consider a return to Edmonton.

Trade options could include Ottawa's Robin Lehner (if the Senators re-sign Hammond) or Toronto's Jonathan Bernier or James Riemer. The Oilers could also decide to bring back Richard Bachman, who's played well in recent games.

The Oilers also lack skilled depth at center. Friedman suggests St. Louis Blues center Vladimir Sobotka could be an option. Following a contract dispute last summer with the Blues, the 27-year-old Sobotka spent this season playing for KHL team Avangard Omsk. If the Blues fail to re-sign him before July 1, he will become eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Friedman claims it could cost between $9.5-$10 million on a three-year deal to land Sobotka. If the Blues are unable or unwilling to invest that much in the Czech center, he could be a worthwhile addition for the Oilers.

The Oilers are also in position in the overall standings where they could end up with the second-overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft. That prompted the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson to envision possible trade scenarios if GM Craig MacTavish is willing to move the pick for “two or three pieces”, especially a skilled defenseman.

Matheson speculated over the possibility of prying Seth Jones away from the Nashville Predators, Morgan Rielly from the Toronto Maple Leafs or Ryan Murray from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Acknowledging the latter's injury history, he suggests perhaps landing three position players.

Don't expect the Predators to part with Jones, as he's the likely heir apparent to Shea Weber. The Leafs certainly won't give up Rielly, especially if they trade Dion Phaneuf this summer.

Murray might be available but his injuries have hampered his development. Besides, Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said he'd like to add more depth to his defense corps, meaning Murray probably won't be available.

Matheson also envisions the Oilers retaining that pick and using it to select Jack Eichel, possibly putting Leon Draisaitl into play. That scenario is more likely to happen than prying away a promising blueliner from a rival club.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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