Is Connor McDavid's next winger playing on the Tampa Bay Lightning right now?

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The top priority of the Edmonton Oilers this summer is to find a veteran winger who will mesh well with Connor McDavid. That task could take on even greater importance if the Oilers and left winger Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can’t come to a new deal. In fact, if that were to happen, the Oilers would be looking for left wingers to play with both McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as well.

We’ll dig into a new of possibilities for that job at the Cult of Hockey, today starting with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are battling the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Tampa is an obvious place for Oilers GM Ken Holland to shop because the team is already pressed right up to the cap and it’s got two UFA forwards to sign, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.

Of course, Tampa may find a way to get creative and keep all its key forwards. Maybe it will buy out Tyler Johnson, a player the team tried to move last off-season. Maybe Seattle will be take one of Tampa’s forwards in the expansion draft, helping with the Tampa’s cap crunch.

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Or maybe Tampa will be looking to move out salary, trading off a useful veteran winger at a bargain price. Palat, Coleman, Gourde and Killorn are all top line possibilities in Edmonton, with Coleman able to decide his own destination as a UFA.

Over the past two seasons at even strength, all four of those players put up more points per 60 than did Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Of course, so did Dominik Kahun, who may or may not be coming back to the Oilers next year. A stat like points per 60 at even strength is a solid indicator of a player’s offensive game, but it’s not the whole story about him on the attack, and it says nothing of his defensive play.

But it is encouraging that Killorn ranked 82nd out of 451 NHL forwards for ES scoring the past two season, with Coleman ranking 116th, Palat 123rd and Goutde 138th.

Even strength scoring per 60 for the past two seasons
Even strength scoring per 60 for the past two seasons

As for the contract that would be coming back to the Oilers, Palat, 30, has just one year left on a deal that pays him $5.0 million per, Gourde, 29, has four years left $5.17 million per and Killord has two years left at $4.45 million. Each player would most likely be a cheaper option than re-signing RNH and not one of them has term that is a major concern, at least given their current level of production.

In the playoffs this year, Killorn is excelling on the attack, while Palat and Gourde are struggling somewhat to put up points. Teams usually like to keep veteran players who do well in the playoffs, so I’d suggest Killorn might be the least likely to be moved.

In any case, all this is speculative, but if you’re watching Tampa in the playoffs it might well be a good idea to keep your eye on these four players.

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