The 2023 Trade Deadline is one month away and the Edmonton Oilers are set to make some moves to upgrade their team. They don’t have cap space to work with and will have to trade one or more roster players to make any sort of deal. There are the known potential trade candidates at forward with any of Jesse Puljujarvi, Warren Foegele, and Derek Ryan potentially moving on, but then there is the discussion about the defence.
The Oilers now have four right-shot defencemen playing every game for them. This is partly due to the team dressing seven defence every game for the past eight games, but also because each of the seven players have contributed a great deal to the success over that span. Seeing as there are four right-shot defencemen and not enough cap space, one of them should be dealt to give the Oilers more options. The narrative has been that it should be Tyson Barrie because Evan Bouchard is becoming a similar player, but what makes more sense is trading Cody Ceci by the start of next season.
Why Choose Barrie Over Ceci?
Barrie has been nothing but great for the Oilers offensively since joining the team two seasons ago. He led all defencemen in points in his first season with the team (2020-21) and has amassed 22 goals and 123 points in 179 games since joining the Oilers. Among all defencemen over that span, Barrie is tied with Erik Karlsson for 10th. Considering he has a cap hit of just $4.5 million average annual value (AAV) until the end of next season, I’d say that is great value. He may not be a stud defensively, but has definitely improved over his time with the Oilers.
When it comes to the league’s best power play, Barrie is an integral part. Sure, the top unit has four of the top 11 scorers in the league, but he has been putting in great work his entire career on the power play as well as with the Oilers. In terms of power-play points since joining the Oilers, Barrie is sixth in the NHL among defencemen with 66. The Oilers have tried Bouchard on the power play and it works to an extent, but he just isn’t developed like Barrie is yet. I have full confidence that Bouchard can reach that level offensively on a consistent basis, but his season from 2021-22 compared to this one has been night and day.
Bouchard is the least likely of the top three bona fide right-shot defencemen to be moving. He’s 23 years old and not even off of his entry-level contract yet. He is a projected top-four defenceman that could realistically already be playing there. Some say he could be given another shot with Darnell Nurse this season on the top pair. Barrie or Bouchard on the top pair would ease the decision of trading Ceci (from ‘What time is it for Evan Bouchard? Right on schedule,’ Edmonton Journal, Jan. 30, 2023). Bouchard will get a pay raise on his next contract, whether that be on a bridge deal or long-term deal. Moving one of Ceci or Barrie will offset the cost of Bouchard as well as a couple of other restricted free agents (RFA) set to get a raise.