With talk about the Oilers winning the lottery for the right to draft Auston Matthews, the question comes up as to whether or not the Oilers should deal the pick if they were to obtain the #1 yet again (and to be fair, this is the one thing this organization has proven able to win).
Now, trying to figure out what you could get for a “franchise” forward at the draft these days is problematic, this doesn’t tend to happen often. The standard for “franchise center” deals is still the Eric Lindros trade, so, in the spirit of attempting to translate this to today’s era, let’s see what Eric Lindros was worth:
Peter Forsberg – At the time he was still a prospect center who went #6 overall in the 1991 draft, he was considered a top-6 center prospect, with first-line upside, so that means the Oilers get a Top-6 C prospect;
Steve Duchesne – At the time, he was 6 seasons into his career as a defenseman, and he was putting up approximately .75ppg and would be defined as a clear “offensive defenseman” with solid numbers, but I wouldn’t define him as elite per say. So the Oilers can add in a power-play quarterback and top-4 defenseman to their haul.
Kerry Huffman – He had played parts of 6 NHL seasons as a left defenseman, and would best be described as a 3rd pairing player, so the Oilers get themselves a depth defenseman here.
Mike Ricci – He had played 2 pro seasons as a Center with solid point totals in those years, he’d best be considered an elite 3C or a solid 2C, so here, the Oilers get a premium 3C with 2C upside.
Ron Hextall – He had 6 seasons with the Flyers, at this point would have been considered an average starting goaltender in the NHL. Oilers get a standard goalie.
Chris Simon – He was a left-winger, and at the time of the trade he was a prospect with point projections at the draft saying Middle-6 winger. So the Oilers get themselves a winger prospect.
As for the draft picks, the Oilers would get a 1st round pick in two drafts of approximately #10 in value.
In regards to the $15 million in cash, the best we can calculate here would be retained salary on some contracts to help with cap space.
Now, the team everyone says would be willing to deal for Auston Matthews is the Arizona Coyotes. So, let’s see what we can find as equivalents on their rosters..
First, let’s look at the prospects. We need a Forsberg equivalent, essentially the top center prospect in their system, so that means Dylan Strome becomes an Edmonton Oiler. And as the equivalent for Chris Simon, we get Michael Bunting, a power-forward middle-6 type of left-wing prospect.
Next up, we need a top-4 defenseman. Now, normally people would be screaming for OEL here, but the equivalent on the Arizona roster might be closer to Michael Stone, a second-pairing quality defenseman with solid offensive ability, and he is a right-side guy the Oilers could use.
Moving on, we need a depth defenseman here, and the best equivalent on the Arizona roster for the Oilers here would be Zbynek Michalek, a veteran capable of 3rd pairing play as a right-handed defenseman.
Now, we need an elite 3C with 2C ability. Martin Hanzal looks right in this spot, probably re-signed by Arizona in advance of the deal, and looking at the $15 million cash aspect, Arizona would retain salary to put his salary at what would be appropriate for the Oilers to use him as that elite 3C.
As for the goaltending, well, Mike Smith would be an equivalent to Hextall at this point perhaps, and yet again the Coyotes would be required to retain salary as part of the transaction, enough to make Mike Smith’s salary viable as a backup.
Lastly, we get those two 1st round picks as well.
So, here’s the rough equivalent:
Dylan Strome (top-6 center prospect)
Michael Bunting (middle-6 winger prospect)
Michael Stone (top-4 offensive right-hand defenseman)
Zbynek Michalek (bottom-pairing right-hand depth defenseman, salary retained)
Martin Hanzal (elite 3C, salary retained and resigned for 3 years)
Mike Smith (average league goaltender, salary retained)
First round picks in 2017 and 2018.
Now, I know, we don’t get OEL in this scenario, but there’s a variety of parts for the Oilers to work with out of this crew to address issues, and I think would be roughly equivalent to the Lindros deal in this case.
If this was the deal, would you make it for Auston Matthews?