NHL trade deadline live updates: Latest rumors, predictions, big board and news ahead of Friday’s deadline

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The Oilers have room for improvement at forward and defense and in goal. That means the team really can’t afford to go to splashy at any single position. The good news is, considering their star power at the top of the lineup, the team does not a game-breaker at forward. That makes Adam Henrique a great fit.

At this point in his career, Henrique is more of a passenger on a line than a driver. That’s fine because that’s all the Oilers should need at this point. The team has Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ahead of him on the depth chart. If anything, he is a very solid option to round out their top-nine forward group. Henrique doesn’t really stand out in just one area, instead adding a solid effectiveness all-around. And he adds some lineup flexibility with his ability to slot down the middle or on the wing.

That gives the Oilers another middle-six center option if/when Draisaitl jumps up to McDavid’s wing. When both players are slotted at center, he can easily shift to wing in a top-six capacity. The fact that he has been able to put up pretty steady results on a bad team is promising for Edmonton, where he will have a lot more two-way support and high-end skill around him. So, he brings the potential to bolster their depth scoring and add another penalty-killer to the mix.

Sam Carrick bolsters the team’s bottom six, lessening the chance of the team needing to go 11 forwards and seven defenders down the stretch, as they did last year. It doesn’t hurt for Edmonton to go 11F/7D sometimes, but having four reliable lines to primarily lean on is the best way to preserve their top talent through a long playoff run.

Centers are going at a premium this year, so the cost of acquisition isn’t surprising here. Is it a little steep? Sure. But the Oilers need to be focusing on bettering their chances right now (especially before Draisaitl and McDavid’s next contracts), so draft picks are more valuable as trade assets. Only having to take on 25 percent of Henrique’s cap hit is worth paying for when there are now other areas of need to turn their attention to.

As for the Ducks, this all checks out — a first-round pick for a pending UFA is a good bit of business. The pick may end up being closer in value to an early second-rounder, but that’s just fine, especially with the potential of that fifth-rounder upgrading to a fourth-rounder.

Tampa Bay joining the fold and netting a fourth-rounder is a win for them, too, considering how few draft picks they have at their disposal after these last few deadlines. The team has the cap space to work with, with Mikhail Sergachev’s contract on LTIR. That fourth-rounder may not seem like much, but it’s another asset to spend to help extend their window.

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NHL trade grades: Henrique helps the Oilers line up their forwards for playoff run

First appeared on theathletic.com

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