Oilers can't swing a deal for Chris Tanev, so who could be on their next list of targets?

“A player like Tarasenko would be a good fit for Leon and would push other players down the lineup. Leon needs a smart winger who can read off him and get open and it would also benefit Kane, who is a straight-line player.”

Article content

So defenceman Chris Tanev is on his way to Dallas, not here.

Did Calgary owner Murray Edwards tell his GM Craig Conroy that, no way, was he sending a valued player to the rival Edmonton Oilers, in case Tanev was pictured with the Stanley Cup in June?

Article content

Maybe not because Conroy has already traded twice this season with another divisional rival Vancouver (Elias Lindholm and Nikita Zadorov). That said, Calgary and Edmonton have made precious few deals in history — Steve Staios, Ladislav Smid and Milan Lucic going south.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Or did Conroy actually get a better offer from Dallas or Edmonton or Toronto?

From the outside looking in, the Flames dealt Tanev to the Stars for second-round draft pick this June and a B level Stars prospect, in shutdown left-shot defenceman Artyom Grushnikov who is in his first pro year in the AHL.

Calgary wasn’t getting forwards Logan Stankoven and Mavrik Bourque or defenceman Lian Bischel out of Dallas, at all — their prize AHL prospects. The Flames’ scouts valued the Russian blueliner higher than other people.

Calgary just got an offensive junior defenceman Hunter Brzustewicz in the Lindholm deal and they also have an offensive prospect defenceman like Jeremie Poirier in the hopper and needed a pure defender in the pipeline.

You can bet, the Oilers also would have given up a second-rounder and probably 20-year-old Max Wanner, who is the same sort of player as Grushnikov, only a right-shot prospect, in his first AHL season in Bakersfield to get Tanev.

The catch? Perception. Grushnikov was a second-round pick so, in effect, the Flames are getting two second-rounders for the UFA Tanev, who will either play with Miro Heiskanen, who has played on the right with Ryan Suter and Thomas Harley but is a natural left shot, or Esa Lindell as a true shutdown pair.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Wanner was a seventh round pick, even though he looks like an absolute steal where the Oilers got him and they are thrilled by his progress, playing every night in Bakersfield. But they would have given him up for Tanev, who, very well, could circle back to the Flames on July 1 and sign the two-year offer that was on the table from Calgary.

“Yes, that comparison to Wanner is very apropos, same type of player. The Russian is a good hard defender, good skater, knows his game. Yeah, Wanner is a great comparable,” said draft expert Craig Button.

Whatever, Tanev, the No. 1 target on the Oilers trade deadline list, isn’t coming here.

Where the Oilers go now, is up in the air. There’s so many balls Oiler GM Ken Holland is juggling. The chances of a Mattias Ekholm home run might not be there. But Holland would take a ground-rule double and a couple of hard-hit singles. If he feels he needs a right winger for Leon Draisaitl, then maybe he only adds two people. If not, maybe he has enough for an extra defenceman and two bottom-six, hard to play against forwards.

Here’s one thing for sure: Holland likes big defencemen. You win with size and reach on the blueline in the playoffs and Holland isn’t the only GM who thinks that after watching the Tampa Bay Lightning (Viktor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak), Vegas last spring (Alex Pietrangelo, Nic Hague and Zach Whitecloud), like St. Louis in 2019, (Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson).

Advertisement 4

Article content

While we keep trotting out Oiler trade possibility names like Sean Walker (Philadelphia) and Alex Carrier (Nashville), even Matt Dumba (Arizona), who has gone from an offensive guy to a stay-at-home defender they aren’t big. Take that for what it’s worth.

Now, maybe the Oilers change gears — they go heavier for a right-winger to play with Draisaitl (we keep coming back to rental Vladimir Tarasenko if Ottawa will eat half his $5 mil cap hit) — and maybe they look at trading for Minnesota’s Zach Bogosian or Washington’s Joel Edmundson, both UFA defenders with Stanley Cup rings, for low money, but as veteran 6-7 insurance on the back-end, if they keep Cody Ceci.

Bogosian (right shot) makes $850,000 on the cap. Edmundson, playing in the Caps second pair right now with Nick Jensen, makes $1.75 million but if Washington ate half, that is doable.

“You have to be really, really good if you’re a small defenceman (to help win a title). (Rexi) Ruotsalainen was that for Glen (Sather) and Kenny Holland had tons of time for Brian Rafalski when he was on Detroit because he was so good,” said Button.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Recommended from Editorial

But… maybe, the Oilers investigate moving Ceci, even if he’s Holland’s more prototypical size D at 6’3” and 210, who has an extra year at $3.25 million, to Philadelphia for their feisty centre Scott Laughton (this season and two more at $3 million) who could be a 3C with Ryan McLeod moving to left-wing. Ceci could theoretically replace Walker if Flyers trade him somewhere.

“A player like Tarasenko would be a good fit for Leon and would push other players down the lineup. Leon needs a smart winger who can read off him and get open and it would also benefit Kane, who is a straight-line player,” said Button.

Maybe Ottawa would want Xavier Bourgault or Raphael Lavoie in a deal. All things to chew on.

The Oilers are also looking for a right-shot fourth-line centre, bigger than Derek Ryan, who is a first-unit, penalty-killer, a dogged worker and good face-off man but could move to right wing.

There’s Nic Dowd (Washington) and Sam Carrick (Anaheim) but, to these eyes, their best pickup might have been playing for St. Louis Wednesday in the form of former Cup winner and big winger Oskar Sundqvist, who has recorded 21 points and was 66 per cent on draws last season in Minnesota. He is on an expiring $775,000 contract, if Blues fall too far out of the wild-card race.

“I like the idea of the Oilers adding a weighty fourth-line centre,” said Button.

“You also want hard players for the two-month playoff grind. I like Laughton, a lot. He’s a real player. Getting back to the defence, I know (David) Savard has another year on his contract ($3.5 million) but if I’m a contender I’m phoning Montreal and trying to find a way to get him. He doesn’t have the meanness of a Radko Gudas, but there are no easy shifts against Savard.”

On the surface, that would be a switch out for Ceci, though.

Article content