Of all the problems the Blackhawks were supposed to have, too many centers probably wasn’t one people had anticipated. This is especially true of the now suddenly crowded bottom-6. There’s a possibility for trade with the Oilers to solve this problem.
Unlike the Chicago Blackhawks, the Edmonton Oilers have two of the most dynamic players in all of hockey. However, even a quick examination of the Oil’s depth reveals how quickly things drop off after taking Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl into consideration. How might Stan Bowman help the Oilers with this dilemma?
By taking on another reclamation project, in exchange for one currently in Chicago. More specifically, a swap of Dylan Strome and Jesse Puljujarvi. This makes sense for both teams, although for slightly different reasons.
Let’s start with Chicago. Strome has been good, but not great. His chemistry with DeBrincat is undeniable, but the production the team had hoped for just isn’t there, nor is the consistency. His numbers are fine, but there’s no way he was brought into the organization to be a third-line center, or sometimes winger, depending on the game. His inability to lock down a spot for himself has become a bit of an issue.
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This has been complicated further by the arrival of guys like Phillip Kurashev, Pius Suter, the signing of Henrik Borgstrom, and there are more in the pipeline. It’s a crowded group. Chicago doesn’t need yet another center for the bottom-6.
It’s hard not to see how Strome gets dealt. He’s not a bad player, but he’s become surplus. An option might be to deal him to Edmonton. Strome was once upon a time a teammate of McDavid’s, and they know how to play with each other. He would also add reliable depth to the Oilers. In return, maybe Puljujarvi?
Like Strome, the polarizing figure of Puljuarvi was a high draft pick (4th overall, 2016). Like Strome, there was an expectation that Puljuarvi was to quickly become an elite talent, but he hasn’t. Like Strome, Puljujarvi didn’t click straight away. The big Finnish winger (6′ 4″, 201 lbs.) went back to Finland, had a solid season, and put up respectable numbers this year for the Oilers. The key difference, at least for Chicago, Puljujarvi is a winger, as opposed to Strome being a center. Also, their numbers look fairly similar.
Will this trade happen? It’s hard to say. No team is quick to deal away proven NHL talent, but with Strome having been scratched in pivotal games at the end of the 2020-21 season, as well as having a somewhat mediocre season make trading him very possible. Gauging the value of either of these players is difficult because of the inconsistency, but this why it would make sense as a like for like trade.
With so many centers in Chicago, there’s a real need for a winger. Puljujarvi would fill that need in Chicago, but what would he cost? That’s the real question here. Is Puljujarvi worth it? Maybe one trade won’t do it, and the team should be blown up even more. Questions like these are where the discussion of the team’s rebuild is going to go now.