The Edmonton Oilers have been looking for ways to improve since the start of their 2023-24 campaign wasn’t great, and they continue to try and find a way to get back to their winning ways. With the firing of Jay Woodcroft and the team choosing to assign Jack Campbell to the American Hockey League (AHL) to find his confidence with the Bakersfield Condors, the team has made it known they’re willing to make changes, and that seems to continue to be the case based on recent comments from a trusted NHL insider.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet believes the Oilers are interested in some Columbus Blue Jackets players, specifically their goaltenders. They made that known by sending multiple scouts to recent Blue Jackets games. With the Oilers needing to find a new goaltender if Campbell cannot turn his play around, the Blue Jackets are the perfect team to scout as they have an overabundance of goaltenders and will likely choose to move one.
With the Blue Jackets in a full-blown rebuild, they may not only be willing to part with their goaltenders. While they have some untouchable players, as every team does, it would be no surprise if they were fielding trade calls on just about everybody on their roster. With that being said, here’s a quick breakdown of the potential trade pieces the Oilers could have some interest in.
Elvis Merzlikins & Spencer Martin
The first set of players the Oilers could look at acquiring is their pair of goalies, so let’s take a closer look at them. Elvis Merzlikins is a 29-year-old goaltender from Riga, Latvia, who was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the third round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft at 76th overall. In his career over five seasons, Merzlikins has posted a 3.12 goals-against average (GAA) and a .907 save percentage (SV%) through 168 games played. Of those 168 games played, Merzlikins has won 60 of them. Merzlikins is a proven starter at the NHL level and could be exactly what the Oilers need.
Their other goaltender is Spencer Martin, a 28-year-old who was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft at 63rd overall. In his short NHL career, Martin has posted a 3.31 GAA with a .904 SV% through 47 games, winning 16 of them. He has less experience but could be a project for the Oilers if they choose to acquire him.
Both of them are strong goaltenders and have some trade value should the Blue Jackets decide to move them. Merzlikins will likely bring back a much stronger asset, and for a team rebuilding and struggling as much as they are, it would be no surprise if they decided to move on from their starter and become sellers heading into the trade deadline.
For either goaltender to become an Oiler, it would require moving some money. The Blue Jackets should be willing to take on a bad contract (Campbell) if it meant they got high draft picks on top of it in return for either goaltender. With youngster Daniil Tarasov returning soon from injury, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Blue Jackets decided to trade one of them to make room for him.
Any Other Players of Interest?
While the most likely trade outcome between these two teams will be a goaltender swap, there are a few names on the Blue Jackets that the Oilers could have some interest in. Forwards Justin Danforth and Kent Johnson could become available as they have both been underperforming and could use a change of scenery. Additionally, defencemen Jake Bean, Nick Blankenburg, Andrew Peeke, and Adam Boqvist could all be players the team decides to move to clear up the logjam on the blue line.
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One player who is an insane reach to be dealt but could be is Patrik Laine. Laine was a healthy scratch for one game this season and seemingly hasn’t had the same attitude with the team since. It was a clear message sent that Laine needs to elevate his play at both ends of the ice. But if he was unhappy with the way it was handled, it wouldn’t shock me if he decided to request a trade. Laine’s contract is massive and it would require plenty of moving parts, but if he’s interested in coming to Edmonton, the Oilers should try and make it work.
In my eyes, the Oilers need to add a goaltender as soon as possible. Right now, anything is going to be better than what Stuart Skinner and Campbell have provided up until this point this season. This team would benefit the most from bringing in Merzlikins so if the price is right, they should be all over him. A change of scenery would benefit him, and I think any move would mean getting out of Campbell’s brutal contract, which is a win in itself, regardless of the picks the team has to give up to make this work.
The Oilers will likely be trying to make the appropriate moves to push them back into the playoff picture and toward their first Stanley Cup since 1990. They have seemingly bounced back after an awful start to the season and are hoping they can continue playing at an elite level moving forward. They are back in action on Wednesday (Dec. 6) as they look for revenge against the Carolina Hurricanes.