Connor Brown, Edmonton Oilers, Travis Konecny, Victor Olofsson

Oilers Have Plan A, B, & C for Offseason Right Wing Addition

The Edmonton Oilers have to get creative this offseason and general manager Ken Holland knows that. The team isn’t working with a ton of cap space, have to re-sign a couple more players, and still must upgrade in a few areas. The Oilers are looking for a better and more consistent second-line right winger to replace Kailer Yamamoto. It is believed that he is on his way out this offseason with one year left on his $3.1 million average annual value (AAV) deal.

Yamamoto was moved down the lineup from the second line once games became more important since he just wasn’t showing enough to warrant more playing time. He was snake-bitten for most of last season, but with his production down while playing with some of the best players in the world, it has become a trend for him. The Oilers are in win-now mode and need players who can finish. Their best options are an offseason jackpot, a more reasonably priced player who would be a great fit, and then a third option who is available and is a shoot-first sniper.

Plan A – Travis Konecny

It wouldn’t necessarily be a swing for the fences, but it would be a big-time deal if the Oilers were to snag Travis Konecny out of Philadelphia as the Flyers are selling and diving head-first into a rebuild. The Oilers are reportedly interested in the competitive, feisty right winger who has been linked to the team and his contract lines up perfectly.

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Konecny has two years left at $5.5 million AAV, but the Oilers won’t be able to afford him as is, even if they trade Yamamoto and Warren Foegele (who they’re reluctant to move). While freeing up cap space, some salary will have to be retained, whether that be through a third team or Philadelphia alone. Judging from the deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings, the Flyers aren’t against bringing in a third team or keeping/taking on money.

Travis Konecny Philadelphia Flyers
Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Bringing in Konecny will cost the Oilers a first and a solid prospect at the least, I assume, but the future is now for this Cup contender and they can’t be stingy with their assets they can use to help them win. While Yamamoto scored 10 goals in 58 games last season, Konecny scored 31 goals in 60 games. It would be a major upgrade and could even look better once the games commence as Konecny would then have world-class centermen to pass him the puck. This blockbuster is the best scenario for the Oilers this offseason and is realistic.

Plan B – Connor Brown

What seems like the most likely option of the three is Connor Brown as he is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) and has played with Connor McDavid in junior for the Erie Otters. Coming off of a serious injury that kept Brown out for all but four games this season, it might be a little risky for the Oilers, but they aren’t going to find many cheap and effective players who can fill the role the team is looking for.

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Brown has shown that he can provide consistent offence while playing with less-than-elite players. On the Oilers, that will change as he’ll either flank McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Brown has 0.61 points per game since 2019-20 and has been linked to the Oilers as a likely landing spot. He could be exactly what the team needs for a couple of seasons to put them over the edge and add more consistency to the lineup.

Plan C – Victor Olofsson

Plan C for the Oilers, I believe only if they fail to acquire Konecny and Brown chooses a different team in free agency, is to opt for another potential trade. This time they would target Victor Olofsson as the Buffalo Sabres are getting crowded up front and he has value. The winger can and has played up and down the lineup, is an underrated goal-scorer who isn’t very talked about, and it just so happens he and his camp are expecting a trade this summer (from “Victor Olofsson and his camp expect a trade from Sabres, but it could take a while”, The Buffalo News, June 12, 2023).

Victor Olofsson Buffalo Sabres
Victor Olofsson, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The 27-year-old scored 28 goals last season while playing just under 14:30 of ice time per game. His ice time has gone down over his four NHL seasons, and not for lack of production. Olofsson is a three-time 20-goal scorer and has just 24 penalty minutes in 264 career games. While he might not be the best on the defensive side of the puck, he won’t put the Oilers at a disadvantage.

If Olofsson can score 28 goals (21 at even strength) in the bottom six of the Sabres, picture him being fed the puck to by two of the best passers in the NHL. His cap hit isn’t exactly ideal at $4.75 million for one more season, but the Sabres have a boatload of cap space to work with even after the big contracts of Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens are set to start. With salary cap retention, Olofsson would still be a fairly cheaper addition than Konecny via trade, and for one fewer season.

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Holland and the Oilers know that they have to upgrade their second-line right wing no matter what and any of these three wingers, for the right price and cap hit, would do just fine. If someone isn’t added that can make a difference and actually score goals at a solid pace, this offseason will be seen as a failure. I expect something big to get done in the next couple of weeks.

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