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The smart money has the Oilers using their option to hang on to the third-rounder in 2020, otherwise there would be a long wait indeed on Day 2 of the draft. But the sad fact is that Edmonton likely has just five picks in each of the next two drafts. Barring a windfall trade of some sort, that will make it six years out of eight that the ever-rebuilding Oilers will have six draft picks or fewer in a seven-round draft.
How might Holland turn current assets into future picks?
One option is to trade down in the upcoming draft, from #14 overall to some lower position in the first round, with perhaps an extra second-rounder in the package.
Another is to trade the rights to Puljujarvi, though at the moment the arrows are pointing towards the Finn making a return to Edmonton. Given a choice between a 22-year-old Puljujarvi and, say, a second-round pick, it’s pretty obvious which option is more likely to help the team sooner. But if things don’t work out, J.P. remains a movable asset.
The other possibilities would be from trading current Oilers to recoup draft picks. Matt Benning is one likely possibility. Non-zero chance that a trade involving Kris Russell might harvest some sort of future pick, though not likely a high one. Ditto if the club chooses to move on from a depth player like Khaira.
Another interesting case is Athanasiou, whose contract has expired. The Oilers hold RFA rights but the player has two hammers — a $3.0 million qualifying platform and arbitration rights. If negotiations don’t go smoothly a trade is a possible outcome, although the idea of recouping the two second-rounders the Oilers recently paid for the former 30-goal scorer is a pipe dream in the current cap-stalled, pandemic-ridden environment.