Are the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins on the verge of a blockbuster or even minor trade with each other? Most likely not just yet, but numerous sources have confirmed to Murphy’s Hockey Law that the two teams have and continue to be engaged in exploratory talks to try to see if there is a potential fit.
Last Friday, based on numerous conversations with different NHL sources, I tweeted that the Bruins’ interest was focused on 2011 No. 1 overall pick, center Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and that the Oilers liked what they saw in Bruins rookie forwards Danton Heinen and Peter Cehlárik.
Hearing lots of chatter that Edmonton #Oilers & #NHLBruins have had (and I stress!), EXPLORATORY talks regarding C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Asked a trusted source on this & he confirmed. Apparently Oilers are interested in B’s rookies Danton Heinen & Peter Cehlárik.
— Jimmy Murphy (@MurphysLaw74) November 25, 2017
Obviously, the Oilers would need more than that for a player, who before they drafted Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they saw as their potential No. 1 center and superstar for years to come. The Bruins would also need Edmonton to take back more salary to absorb Nugent-Hopkins’ $6 million cap hit for the next three seasons they’d inherit. That’s why as I said — despite claims by many who changed my words — the trade talks were at best just exploratory at this point.
While he didn’t specify — nor would he ever — teams and players, Oilers and former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli acknowledged to the media Tuesday that he has and continues to explore trade opportunities as well as various other options to improve his under-achieving and struggling team.
“You have to be obviously vigilant on this kind of stuff but you can’t overact in the sense that you can’t just blow things up,” Chiarelli said. “This doesn’t mean that we’re not looking at other opportunities for players that are out there. This doesn’t mean that we are going to be patient all year with this group. It just means that we are trying to figure it out. We would like to see some traction somewhere and if we don’t, then we will have to take a different track. I don’t know when that is.”
That would go in line with what yours truly has and continues to hear regarding conversations the Bruins and Oilers have had this season. It would also make sense out of what one of my sources told me Tuesday, that is that another player Chiarelli likes on his former team is forward Frank Vatrano.
Earlier in the season, I was notified via a trusted source, that Bruins GM Don Sweeney had let it be known that Vatrano — who was once looking like he was a potential top six forward in Boston — the struggling forward was available after being a frequent healthy scratch earlier in the season, even as the Bruins were ravaged with injuries. According to this source, “Vatrano to Edmonton for a draft pick” is more likely at this point than say a blockbuster involving Nugent-Hopkins for a roster player and top prospects from Boston.
So as each team navigates through what has thus far for both — but for different reasons — been a roller coaster first quarter of the 2017-18 NHL season, it’s worth keeping an eye on whether Sweeney and his predecessor decide to help each other right their respective ships. If the team many picked as a Stanley Cup contender in the preseason, continues to falter, will Chiarelli be more willing to make a major shake-up trading away a former potential cornerstone piece in Nugent-Hopkins? Would Sweeney try to sweeten the pot and free up money for Nugent-Hopkins, by offering struggling goalie Tuukka Rask (provided Edmonton is on Rask’s no-movement clause list of eight teams and/or he’d waive it), if Chiarelli would include goalie Cam Talbot in a deal?
All we know for sure right now is that the two teams have and likely are still talking. The rest is speculation at best, but as we’ve learned over the years and in the cap era, no trade is out of the realm of possibility.