The Edmonton Oilers still must free up a bit of cap space to sign Ryan McLeod, another free agent, and to hopefully not be forced to play the season with fewer than a 23-man roster. That being said, we are going to look at the three most likely trade candidates and which would benefit the Oilers the most by being dealt this offseason. We’re not going to discuss certain players or teams that could be coming back, but more what space and opportunity it would create for the Oilers if each player is moved.
The first player up is one that has and will likely have the least impact on the Oilers. Warren Foegele started on the third line last season, but with the addition of Evander Kane and the emergence of Ryan McLeod, Foegele was bumped down to the fourth line where he should remain next season.
Once the Oilers acquired Foegele in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes for Ethan Bear, they signed Foegele to third-line money ($2.75 million average annual value (AAV)). He is younger, so the signing made sense at the time seeing as nobody could have predicted Kane would fall in the Oilers’ laps at the perfect time and remain with the team. But now that he is being overpaid to play on the fourth line, Foegele is expendable and Edmonton can find someone much cheaper to replace him in his role.
Foegele may be able to put up some points, but he did so on the third line. The fourth line is much different as the ice time is cut by around three minutes a night and the expectation is to be physical every shift. The player can surely be physical as he showed last season, but his offense took a hit. He has scored at least 10 goals in each of his four NHL seasons but regressed once he came to Edmonton. It may be due to the fact that the Oilers have a ton of star power and Foegele’s ice time and opportunity are cut. But some of the other Oilers’ depth stepped up last season despite that. The 26-year-old doesn’t kill penalties and plays on the second power-play unit at best. Not really contributing on special teams for the Oilers makes it harder to argue keeping a player in his role around for nearly $3 million per season when McLeod could get some of that money for a bridge deal instead.
Foegele will get the smallest return of the three, and the Oilers will hopefully not have to pay to move him out. But if they do, it would still be worth it. On a team where he could play consistent third-line minutes, he will be more effective if he stays confident. A player like Dylan Holloway could easily fit right into the bottom six with a spot opened up and provide offence since Ken Holland said the young player would only stay on the Oilers if he is in the lineup every night. The Foegele experiment didn’t go wrong as Bear was scratched occasionally and the Oilers’ forward played all 82 games, but Edmonton just got deep up front quickly.