Oilers News & Rumors: Draisaitl, Russell, Ekman-Larsson, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there is talk about Leon Draisaitl heading back to Europe, speculation the Edmonton Oilers have been in talks with the Arizona Coyotes about a couple of players and debate about which defenseman the team might look to trade. Plus, could the Oilers look to the Pittsburgh Penguins to help answer their third-line center questions?

Draisaitl Heading Back to Germany?

According to source out of Germany, it sounds like Leon Draisaitl is interested in returning home to play in Germany for the time being. The talk is that he would join the Cologne Sharks of the DEL.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

For Draisaitl, heading to Germany in the offseason isn’t exactly front page news. But, for fans wondering what this means when the reports suggest playing with the team, the first thing to note is that the term “play” might not be an accurate description of what Draisaitl would be doing. More realistically, it would be more like “skate” with the team as his involvement would be limited.

Technically, Draisaitl is allowed to practice with the team, but cannot play any games unless the Edmonton Oilers loan/assign him there. It’s a stretch to believe this would happen based on the insurance issues and risk of an injury.

As Mark Spector of Sportsnet reports, “this ISN’T a lockout, where players are free to play elsewhere. Draisaitl’s playing rights controlled by Oilers.” It doesn’t really hurt to have skating, but playing games where he could get injured is a bad idea.

Oilers Interested in Oliver Ekman-Larsson?

Now that a new general manager in Bill Armstrong is expected to join the Arizona Coyotes imminently, it will be interesting to see if there is any further speculation when it comes to Oliver Ekman-Larsson and a possible connection to the Oilers.

Arizona Coyotes Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Arizona Coyotes Oliver Ekman-Larsson (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There’s been talk the Coyotes might be willing to move Ekman-Larsson and that he may not be opposed to joining the Oilers because of his past history with head coach Dave Tippett. And, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, both the Oilers and Calgary Flames have looked into the availability of the defenseman.

It would be an interesting change in direction for the Oilers if they chose to heavily pursue this. Ekman-Larsson is an $8.25 million defenseman for the next seven seasons. That would require the Oilers completely shift the way they spend money in a lot of areas.

So too, if the Oilers are considering Darcy Kuemper in trade (which there are also rumors they might be), that’s close to $13 million in salary coming in. GM Ken Holland would need to around the same amount out.

Related: Oilers Goaltending Strategy This Offseason

Which Defenseman Goes?

All this talk about adding a defenseman suggests that one of Edmonton’s blueliners (if not two) will not be with this roster next season.

Adam Larsson gets a lot of talk when it comes to trades, but without Matt Benning and Ethan Bear locked into new contracts yet, Larsson is the only option for the Oilers on the right side. He is a lock top four minutes. Benning might be convinced to sign a bit of a longer term to avoid his arbitration numbers and Bear should get a deal, it’s just a matter of what that deal will look like.

Kris Russell Oilers
Kris Russell, Edmonton Oilers, Oct. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

But what about Kris Russell? Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal writes:

In a perfect world Holland might prefer to move out the last year of Kris Russell‘s hefty pact, and given that over 60% of it has been prepaid, there may be interest among clubs with budget constraints. Which may be quite a few clubs, if whispers in the wind are to be believed.

source -‘Ken Holland faces critical decisions about Edmonton Oilers’ roster in the coming weeks’ – Bruce McCurdy – Edmonton Journal – 09/16/2020

Jared McCann for Oilers Third Line Center?

Jared McCann is pending RFA out of Pittsburgh and there are reports that the Penguins are actively looking to move him. Josh Yohe of The Athletic writes:

Jared McCann is a player the Penguins are willing to move. They like McCann but have soured on his ability to be their No. 3 center moving forward. There is a division in the organization, as some believe McCann is better at center while others believe his ideal position is at left wing.

source – ‘Yohe: What we know about the Penguins’ offseason plans’ – Josh Yohe – The Athletic – 09/09/2020

McCann is coming off a year that saw him put up 35 points in 66 games, and just because the Penguins might not think he’s their third-line center, does that mean he’s not a third-line center in the NHL? He played with seven forwards on the Penguins roster more than he played with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, meaning he should be able to produce offense.

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