We are about 48 hours from the annual NHL trading deadline. The Edmonton Oilers, unfortunately, saw their plan backfire this winter and will be selling come the deadline. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for a team that made game seven of the second round a year ago, but it is the reality of the team’s current situation.
Yesterday, Oilers President of Hockey Operations and GM Peter Chiarelli briefly met with the Edmonton media in the lead-up to deadline day. It was a short media availability, and didn’t reveal too much, but there were some interesting tidbits in there that I think need to be touched on.
Credit to Terry Jones, who came out swinging with a tough early question for the GM, asking him if this was a ‘retool’ or a ‘rebuild’. Chiarelli attempted to avoid the question, likely knowing that no matter what he said it would be spun the wrong way, but eventually had an answer to give.
It was simple, saying “We’re not going to blow it up.” That’s good, because as bad as this season has been, this team isn’t as bad as their record indicates. There have been injuries and some key players are vastly under-performing. Making a panic decision to blow things up and start yet another rebuild will only hurt moving forward.
It sucks to have to use this word again, but some patience is absolutely needed here. Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Cam Talbot and Milan Lucic absolutely have more to give than this season. Their established level of play tells us that. Good health for Andrej Sekera will help as well.
More Than A Firesale?:
Is it possible that the Oilers could do more than just sell at this deadline? Remember, at his first deadline Peter Chiarelli actually went out and bought Patrick Maroon in a low-risk deal from Anaheim that paid off in a major way for the club. Could he be looking for pieces like that in the lead-up to Monday?
What about a hockey deal? The Oilers have some serious strengths with this roster, but also have some massive weaknesses that need to be addressed at the NHL level. Could they add a scoring winger or a top-four puck-moving defender for, say, a center?
“As far as hockey deals, we’re looking at a couple. I don’t know where they sit right now. There’s some kind of larger action going on right now, and we’re not in it.” – Peter Chiarelli
I’m assuming the larger action is the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes that is going on in Ottawa, and to a lesser extent he could have been referring to Derick Brassard, another player with term that got moved later on Friday. It makes sense that Edmonton wouldn’t be involved in that market.
That said, if the Oilers can get their hands on a Mike Hoffman or a Justin Faulk, it would make a ton of sense for the short and long term for this franchise.
I doubt Chiarelli gets this kind of deal done by the deadline, but wouldn’t be shocked if the ground was laid for a big summer trade or two. As the GM said, some tough decisions need to be made, and they likely come in the form of a hockey trade.
No Three Amigos?:
Maybe the most interesting thing Chiarelli said on Friday was that it probably doesn’t make sense to pay the money for three centers that the club is going to have to pay next season.
I don’t have a definitive answer to that… Fiscally from putting that amount of money into three centers. It doesn’t mean Leon is not a winger, and I’m not suggesting trading any centre. It probably doesn’t make sense having that amount of money in your centers.” – Peter Chiarelli
This, to me, could signal the end of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton. There is no chance the Oilers trade Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid, so unless Leon is moving to wing full time then the Nuge seems like the odd man out. It’s mainly speculation on my part, but its a scary thought nonetheless.
If the Oilers move Nugent-Hopkins, they absolutely need to win the trade. Judging by Peter Chiarelli’s record, that may be too tall of an ask. As the Penguins have demonstrated, you can absolutely win with three strong centers. Edmonton trading RNH because of financial reasons, a year after dumping Jordan Eberle for the same, would be a massive mistake.
Here’s to hoping Chiarelli goes with the route that “probably doesn’t make sense”. Add some competent wingers to this center trio and you’ll see the results take a complete 180, I really believe that.
Chiarelli confirmed that there is interest in Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu, but also mentioned how the club wouldn’t be against re-signing one or both of the players. Chiarelli also made sure to say that the club is looking for players with speed rather than draft picks. The club would prefer to get prospects in trades, which makes sense considering they are closer to the NHL than a second round pick in June’s draft.
Personally, I think Mark Letestu’s best days are behind him and that Maroon is going to get overpaid. The Oilers can’t afford to get it wrong with these two, which is why I think the best move at this point is to trade them both for the best return possible and move forward.
Ideally, you get an AHL forward back for Maroon and a draft choice for Letestu, whose value is likely far lesser than Maroon’s.