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Insider Trading: Oilers looking for defensive help

Ken Holland Oilers Ken Holland - TSN

Gino Reda is joined by TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger to discuss trade possibilities surrounding the Edmonton Oilers, the futures of Brock Boeser with the Vancouver Canucks and Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes, an outdoor game for Edmonton, and more.

What is the NHL planning for next year’s outdoor games?

Chris Johnston: It’s a blast to the past and a nod to the past for the National Hockey League. In 2023, the NHL plans to take the Heritage Classic back to Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium, which was the home to the first outdoor regular-season game back in 2003.

That’s part of the timing here. There’s been other opportunities in recent years to bring an outdoor game to Edmonton but the league wanted to hold off to do it to mark this anniversary. There’s still some details to be worked out for the day and the opponent but the league should be able to have that wrapped up and announced by the Winter Classic [Bruins vs. Penguins, Jan. 2 at Boston’s Fenway Park].

Darren Dreger: Speaking of details surrounding the Edmonton Oilers, what we know is that defence is an area of concern for the Oilers. It was going into the season, and it continues to be.

The Oilers need a top defenceman. Now do they get wild and crazy and try to swing for the fences and try to get in on Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks? It seems impossible that they could do that but there’s some around the organization with interest.

The problem is that their key veteran defencemen in Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci are playing too much and their younger guys like Evan Bouchard and Philip Broberg aren’t quite ready yet. As we saw, Bouchard was benched in a 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday.

So defence is the top priority for general manager Ken Holland.

What are the next steps for Brock Boeser and the Vancouver Canucks?

Pierre LeBrun: Teams are gauging whether they can get into a trade conversation with the Canucks for Boeser. His contract is the issue with two more years after this one at $6.65 on the AAV. Now there are teams that I’ve talked to that have interest but for the simple fact that they have no wiggle room cap wise, not just for the rest of the year but past this year [they’re hesitant].

There is one team I believe that is pretty serious about getting involved if the Canucks [are] willing to eat part of Boeser’s contract. But at this stage of the process, I don’t think Vancouver wants to do that. Clearing some serious cap space has to be a very important part of any trade involving Boeser from the Canucks’ perspective.

So [Boeser’s] agent Ben Hankinson continues to talk to teams [and] he’s talked to more than half a dozen teams since last week. I don’t think this thing is imminent and I think it’s going to take a lot of work between now and the March 3 NHL trade deadline.

What’s the talk surrounding Arizona Coyotes defenceman Jakob Chychrun?

Darren Dreger: It seems like it’s picking up and there’s a couple of reasons to consider for that. Obviously we’re at a point in the regular season where the pressure on general managers and on owners have progressed.

So, they’re feeling the heat, in other words.

Then you have to push that aside and look at the game of Chychrun. Since he’s returned he’s played seven games and has three goals and three assists, he’s a big man and he’s got a bomb for a shot.

I still think there’s apprehension among clubs with the most interest to pay the price that Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is looking for, but I think there’s also a group of teams that are getting to a point that they realize they may have to.

The Colorado Avalanche have already had to use 22 different forwards and now superstar Nathan MacKinnon is out. What’s next for them?

Pierre LeBrun: Unfortunately it’s not general manager Joe Sakic coming out of retirement to play for them so they really just have to hang in there. Losing MacKinnon is a huge blow, they’re now down five of their top six forwards between him, Gabriel Landeskog, Artturi Lehkonen, Valeri Nichushkin, and Evan Rodrigues.

But all these players are expected back in season so the Avalanche can’t go out and replace them on the salary cap. So, they just have to hang in there and play survival hockey. Certainly closer to the March 3 trade deadline I think there will be more flexibility in Colorado and they’ll be aggressive, but for now it’s hang in there.

After a scary incident with Evander Kane earlier this season getting cut by a skate, another incident happened in the CHL recently. Are league officials talking about it again?

Chris Johnston: In this case it’s Canadian Hockey League officials talking to their counterparts at the NHL and hockey operations because of all the work the NHL has done in protective sleeves and studying this issue.

This comes after a scary incident in Kingston on Friday. A defenceman for the Kingston Frontenacs, Maleek McGowan, had his left wrist cut accidentally by a skate and it went through an artery and a couple of tendons. He’s okay, the 17-year-old had surgery and returned to Kingston on the weekend.

Now there is a discussion between the NHL and CHL on this issue and let’s see where this goes at this point. There’s some thought, perhaps long term, the best way to get more protective equipment in the game is through the feeder leagues.