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Insider Trading: Oilers’ priority is top-six forward at trade deadline

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Gino Reda is joined by TSN Hockey Insiders Pierre LeBrun, Darren Dreger, and Chris Johnston to discuss the Edmonton Oilers’ plans at the trade deadline, how Mikhail Sergachev’s injury could change the Tampa Bay Lightning’s plans moving forward, Elais Lindholm’s contract status with the Vancouver Canucks, and more on Insider Trading.


The Vegas Golden Knights snapped the Edmonton Oilers' 16-game winning streak and showed the Oilers that they still have work to do. Where are they looking?

Pierre LeBrun: The Oilers are busy having a lot of internal discussions four weeks ahead of the trade deadline. Their top priority, from our understanding, is to add a top-six forward. The idea is to upgrade on the second line with Leon Draisaitl.

We mentioned [Pittsburgh Penguins forward] Jake Guentzel as a real splashy name last week, but who knows if he’s even available. The idea of a reunion with [Seattle Kraken winger] Jordan Ebele has grown within the Oilers front office if the Kraken fall out of it and he’s a pending unrestricted free agent.

[Ottawa Senators forward] Vladimir Tarasenko changed agents for the fourth time in three years last week. He has a full no-trade clause, but I believe he would waive it for a contender like Edmonton. Tarasenko is on the Oilers’ radar.

Then you have a couple of Detroit Red Wings like Daniel Sprong and David Perron if Detroit falls out of the playoff race, but they show no signs of doing that.

Lots of moving targets there, but Edmonton is hoping to add up front.

Darren Dreger: I would agree with that. I think the Oilers are definitely leaning towards adding a forward, but the experience of general manager Ken Holland and the management group of the Oilers are making sure they have all their bases covered.

So, they’re having conversations about some of the top defencemen available like Sean Walker of the Philadelphia Flyers and, perhaps, Chris Tanev of the Calgary Flames. To make a deal like that it seems likely they’d have to include someone like Cody Ceci or Brett Kulak

Again, it’s more likely that they move on a forward, but this is Holland and the Oilers making sure that they stay in the market in every single position. If they have to pivot, or shift direction, they are educated enough to do that.

There was a nasty injury to Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Mikhail Sergachev, who needed surgery to stabilize the tibia and fibula in his left leg. Really sad for him and it just made a difficult situation that much tougher for the Lightning.

Chris Johnston: This is a bit of a complicated one because there’s no timetable officially attached right now to Sergachev’s situation. It tells you something that he had surgery on Thursday, pretty quickly after suffering that injury. The Lightning have said he’ll return home soon to start immediately going through rehab.

That’s significant because they need to know if he’s going to be back before the regular season ends. If he isn’t able to return before the end of the regular season, that would allow [general manager] Julien BriseBois to use $8 million in long-term injured reserve space that he can use to go out and get a replacement.

The Lightning are among the teams that have been canvassing the league to get a feel for what defencemen prices were at before Sergachev’s injury. BriseBois is a very shrewd deadline GM. He’s been quite aggressive the last number of years and may now find himself with that cap space.

Even though there’s no timeframe right now, the Lightning believe they’ll have more clarity on Sergachev’s injury prior to March 8’s trade deadline.

Darren Dreger: This is obviously a terrible result for Sergachev and the Lightning on Wednesday night. I think the consensus is that New York Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere didn’t do anything wrong, but it was a reverse hit.

Most people in the community, generally general managers, don’t like the reverse hit. Yes, I understand that it’s a grey area and the general managers have talked about this before. It’s more the reverse hit below the goal line or in a skating situation. 

Should it be something that the NHL should crack down on as they have with slashing or cross-checking? What I can tell you is the reverse hit has been discussed at the GM level in the past and undoubtedly it will be high on the agenda when they meet again in Florida in March.

Elias Lindholm had a nice debut with the Vancouver Canucks with a pair of goals, but what’s the long-term plan for the pending unrestricted free agent?

Pierre LeBrun: The Canucks would love to sign him long-term, but they realize that the player has to adjust to his new surroundings. The reality is there’s no rush to get into that conversation. All things being equal, I think it will wait until the season is over for the Canucks and his representative get going on that conversation. 

Something to note is we can confirm that the Canucks not only had interest in him at the trade deadline but tried to acquire him all the way back into last summer. Around the time Craig Conroy became the general manager of the Calgary Flames, the Canucks showed interest in Lindholm, which is interesting because they didn’t know they’d be in first place months later when they got him.

It tells you that they view him as a long-term fit if they can make it work.

Just days after the NHL announced the Four Nations Cup and the NHL’s participation in the Olympics, USA Hockey announced Bill Guerin will be the country’s general manager in both events. Why were they so quick to make that announcement?

Chris Johnston: The biggest thing is that they have to make selections in June. They have to have six players selected from each team at that point with the rest of the roster filled out next year.

This is easier for the European clubs because they have full-time national club managers and coaches, so they have a good handle on this sort of thing. Dreger mentioned that Hockey Canada is already getting going on its management group as well.

Bill Guerin takes the U.S. job now and he’ll be putting in the first six selections for Team USA come June.