As the regular-season calendar comes to an end, there are more and more questions on what the Edmonton Oilers will need to do to get out of this funk and become the Cup contender everyone expects them to be. Fans and pundits are wondering and a bomb was thrown in the mix when Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson revealed there’s a scenario out there suggesting the Oilers ship center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the Buffalo Sabres for defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.
Matheson was replying to a piece by his colleague David Staples who explained how the Oilers could bring in fast forwards and defensemen during the offseason as they also shop around for a new general manager.
Staples noted the price would be high via the trade market, which would involve moving a player like Nugent-Hopkins. The rumours started from there. Matheson also agreed there are lots of teams looking for centers and added you don’t trade a center for a winger, you trade him for a top-pairing rearguard.
While Matherson did say that this specific scenario of RNH for Ristolainen is “out there”, it seems like he is just referring to social media chatter among fans. There is a feeling that Sabres fans would love the move and is clear that it wouldn't help the Oilers long-term, seeing that Edmonton would lose a 50-point forward... The Oilers have Nugent-Hopkins locked up for two more years at a $6 million cap hit before he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the age of 28.
But the Oilers do need a boost on the back end - there is no secret about it. However, it remains doubtful that Ristolainen would want out of Buffalo, unless rookie Rasmus Dahlin gets him sliding down the depth chart. RNH would fill a big need that the Sabres have right now in secondary scoring, so there could be a match there this summer.
With the Oilers, we just never know...
Many people believe they should focus on drafting and developing young talent. However that will depend on who ends up taking the reigns as the new GM of the Oilers…