How the Edmonton Oilers address their longstanding need for a top-two defenseman remains an ongoing topic of interest among NHL pundits. The Edmonton Journal's David Staples cites 630 CHED's Bob Stauffer claiming the Oilers could try to upgrade at right defense by replacing Justin Schultz, listing the New York Islanders' Travis Hamonic and the Anaheim Ducks' Sami Vatanen as possible targets.
Stauffer's guest, Sportnet's Elliotte Friedman, didn't doubt the Oilers could pursue the 25-year-old Hamonic, who requested a trade to be closer to his Manitoba home last summer for family reasons. Friedman believes the Oilers could soon reach the point where they shop one of their good young forwards, like right wing Jordan Eberle or center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for a blueliner.
Landing Hamonic or Vatanen, however, won't be easy. Islanders GM Garth Snow reportedly seeks a defenseman comparable to Hamonic. Unless Snow's changed his mind, Eberle or the currently sidelined Nugent-Hopkins won't interest him.
The Ducks need scoring depth and are deep in defensemen. Vatanen's a restricted free agent with arbitration rights due a significant raise over his current $1.275-million salary. However, he's also the Ducks best all-around blueliner. They could be leery about parting with him while trying to climb into a playoff berth.
Speaking of the Ducks, the Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe suggests they could be a good destination for left wing Andrew Ladd if the Jets decide to move their captain at the trade deadline. Ladd, 30, is eligible this summer for unrestricted free agency. Recent reports claim the Jets could peddle him if he's unsigned by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
If the Ducks are in playoff contention within the next three weeks, they could consider adding a quality rental player. Ladd would be a good short-term fit to bolster the Ducks left wing. Wiebe notes Ladd is a former junior teammate of Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf. He also points out the Ducks have had a revolving door at left wing on their top line for some time.
Given the Ducks defensive depth, Wiebe feels they could part with a good young blueliner for a playoff rental like Ladd. Citing what the Arizona Coyotes received last season (a first-round pick and a prospect) from the Chicago Blackhawks in the Antoine Vermette trade, Wiebe suggests a similar return could also be suitable.
The Ducks won't be the only club with interest in Ladd near the trade deadline. Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune believes Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman should consider bringing the former Blackhawks winger back to Chicago.
Noting Bowman's contract was recently extended through 2020-21, Rosenbloom believes he should focus on bolstering his roster if they hope to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. He thinks the 'Hawks need a top-six forward and a top-four defenseman.
Ladd was part of the Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup championship, but was traded by Bowman later that year in a cost-cutting move. The 'Hawks GM certainly knows what he'd be getting in Ladd, who wouldn't be a stranger to most of the club's current core players or coach Joel Quenneville.
Return, of course, is the issue. Bowman has made deadline deals in the past to help his team and could do so again. However, the Blackhawks have limited cap space, which could hamper Bowman's efforts.
MORE RUMOR ROUNDUP:
- Rangers looking for buyer for Yandle
- Should Penguins deal Kessel?
- Predators looking for even more offensive help
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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