Oilers Management Scouting Canucks – Who Has Their Attention?

Oilers Management Scouting Canucks - Who Has Their Attention?
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As the 2023 Trade Deadline approaches, many teams, including the Edmonton Oilers, are hard at work scouting and seeing which players would make good additions. Ken Holland, Jay Woodcroft and Bob Nicholson attended the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche game on January 20 to likely do just that.

There is a slight chance that Holland, Woodcroft and Nicholson were at the game to scout players on the Avalanche as they are in a similar position and don’t want to sell off players. The interest must be in the Canucks as many big changes are coming to the organization and personnel. There’s also the unlikely chance that all three wanted to catch a game on the team’s off night when the Oilers would play the Canucks a day later. But what’s the fun in that?

Which Canucks are on Edmonton’s radar?

The Oilers are in a unique position compared to many other contenders or teams around the league because there aren’t a ton of players on the Canucks for them to choose from. Vancouver has two cost effective players in Luke Schenn and Andrei Kuzmenko that any contender will contact, including the Oilers. But there’s also an interesting possibility that would involve a lot of stretching, and that’s a Bo Horvat trade.

Luke Schenn

Many defensive names around the league have been linked to the Oilers this season because of the poor play. That play has picked up significantly of late and it raises the question of whether the Oilers still need to make a defensive addition at the deadline or save assets. They’ve been running seven backs while Philip Broberg and Vincent Desharnais have been stellar in their rookie seasons. Broberg has played so well to the point where he needs more playing time and may even step into a top four role.

Luke Schenn Vancouver Canucks
Luke Schenn, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If the Oilers are set on defense, why would they need a defense? There’s still time before the trade deadline and Holland still wants to see what’s out there. Anything can happen to any player on any night. The other possibility is that Holland would still be interested in upgrading a very solid defensive defenseman in Schenn who has an excellent cap hit of $850,000. If so, it would cut into the rookie’s playing time this season but not hurt their development for a lot if Schenn hits free agency after the season.

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He could also be a much cheaper option if the Oilers turn to the backfield to clear cap space. Edmonton has already gotten tougher up front, but this addition would really change the complexion of the team defensively.

Bo Horvat

Any manager of a team looking to make a postseason run wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t at least check in on Horvat. That being said, the Oilers may have long-term or short-term interest in acquiring the Canucks’ center. Horvat is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the season with a cap hit of $5.5 million. Since the Canucks are looking for a hockey trade, which would involve sending money back, the Oilers would have the option to do so. They are already looking to move some money out of one of three players and that would help their cap situation for next season as well.

Horvat would be a huge addition if the Oilers could land him at the trade deadline. He is having a career year where he is scoring at a very high rate. Jeff Marek mentioned the Oilers in conjunction with the Canucks on 32 Thoughts: The Podcast as he sees Horvat as a potential long-term fit if Leon Draisaitl doesn’t stick around. The friendship Draisaitl has with Connor McDavid and the money the Oilers would surely make available to sign him doesn’t make it seem like he’s going anywhere. But as for the Oilers cutting costs, Marek said Horvat could be open to signing with Edmonton and the Oilers would save themselves $3 million-plus.

Vancouver Canucks forwards Vasily Podkolzin, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat
Vancouver Canucks forwards Vasily Podkolzin, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat celebrate a goal (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

I wouldn’t take that trade as a long-term gamble considering Horvat is shooting over eight percent over his career shooting percentage and his career high in points over his nine-year career is 61. Draisaitl has produced at least 70 points in each of the last seven seasons , including this one. This argument is against Horvat being a long-term solution in Edmonton. If they can get him for the rest of the season to add even more to the forward depth that has been great lately, that would put the team over the top.

Andrei Kuzmenko

The Oilers have gotten goals from 11 of their forwards during their six-game winning streak and the deep scoring has really come. The team is all about healthy and depth players are also struggling to stay in the lineup. The Oilers don’t have a ton of cap space to work with, but Kuzmenko is as cheap as they come with great production. Since it is his first year in North America, he had to sign a rookie contract. His cap hit is $950,000 this season before he becomes a UFA. Even if the Canucks would like to keep him and re-sign him, there will be a big price tag.

As I mentioned, Kuzmenko will be highly sought after if made available due to his cap hit and has 18 goals and 40 points in 44 games. Getting too many points is never a bad thing. It’s a season the Oilers should go for the Stanley Cup again. It may cost a first choice or the equivalent to outbid other interested parties, but it may be worth it.

Holland has made some great moves since becoming the Oilers general manager and has earned the trust of the organization and fans. Woodcroft’s opinion also matters as he works with the players almost every day. He would know what qualities the Oilers lack that even Holland might not. It’s a good sign to see both in such close communication that the Oilers will likely turn on any additions they make this season.

#Oilers #Management #Scouting #Canucks #Attention

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