All of the rumors and talk come to an end today. It’s NHL trade deadline day, unquestionably one of my favorite days of the year. There will no doubt be movement around the NHL, and I’m quite confident in saying that the Edmonton Oilers will be part of that movement. I’m expecting a few moves by interim GM Keith Gretzky.
Fact of the matter is, even after a 2-0-1 home stand, the Oilers are still eight points out of a playoff spot. Yes, they have two games in hand on the Wild but time is running out. An eight point gap to make up with only 21 games left is a tough ask for any team.
The Oilers, as a result, are expected to sell today. The team is pushing pending UFA’s Alex Chiasson and Alex Petrovic, and I’d expect both to be dealt at some point prior to the deadline.
In addition, the Oilers are also looking to move veteran F’s Zack Kassian and Kyle Brodziak. Both players are solid depth pieces, but both are overpaid and every dollar counts for Edmonton moving forward. I’d wager Kassian gets moved today, but the market likely won’t be as kind to Brodziak.
Don’t be shocked to see Gretzky buying a bit as well. Edmonton is in the market for winger help, while also still searching for the elusive top-four, right-shot defender. Of course, any player Edmonton buys would need to have term on their contract and it would need to be a money-for-money kind of deal. It narrows down the options, but keep an eye on Florida’s Mike Hoffman.
Among the other things we are hearing this morning, Kris Russell’s name is out there. I’m not sure the Oil pull the trigger, but Columbus is absolutely sniffing around and I believe Winnipeg could have mild interest as well. The Jets, however, are likely looking for a cheaper option and could be a fit for Kevin Gravel if Edmonton elects to move him.
Lastly, there have been rumblings about teams checking in on D Darnell Nurse, but I have yet to hear anything on that front. I’d be floored if Nurse moved today.
Gretzky is auditioning for the full-time GM’s job, don’t forget that. He’s done fine work to this point, but today is going to be the big selling point. If he can clear some money off the books for next season and add a few assets while he’s at it? It only strengthens his case to run Hockey Operations moving forward. Keep an eye on the Oilers today, I don’t think they’ll go quietly.
It’s a little after 6:30 am on the east coast as I write this, and I think we are in for a long and fun day. I’ll be updating this blog as news comes in. Enjoy!
Updates (All Times Eastern):
7:56 AM: Aaron Portzline of The Athletic is reporting that the Columbus Blue Jackets are willing to part with F Sonny Milano for a “respectable” draft pick. Portzline reports the Jackets aren’t expecting a first rounder in return. Milano, a first-round pick in 2014, registered 14 goals in 55 games for the Jackets a season ago. He’s currently dealing with a concussion in the AHL, but is expected back within the next two weeks.
He’s not going to push the needle, but Milano has some skill and I think is ready for the NHL. Even as a depth piece, the pending RFA forward could be a decent fit for a team looking for value contracts like Edmonton. Depending on the price, this is the kind of add I could see Keith Gretzky making today.
9:16 AM: TSN’s Ryan Rishaug tweeted out the following shortly before 9:00 AM eastern:
Petrovic and Benning are two D-men I could see the Oilers looking to move today if they can find suitors. Benning has another year left at 1.9m and Petrovic is UFA, both are right shots.
I believe the Penguins have shown an interest in Petrovic, as have the Flyers. Benning, who wouldn’t be a true rental, has caught the eye of the New York Rangers. Ranger coach David Quinn, who was at Boston University, is familiar with the former Northeastern blue liner.
9:50 AM: Sportsnet’s Mark Spector brings us the latest Oiler speculation:
Nashville has scouted Kassian as recently as last week, but I do not believe Oilers shopping him. Sense is EDM would move one of Kassian or Chiasson, but moving both leaves them short this season.
In addition to Nashville, I believe the Boston Bruins have been looking at Kassian recently. That said, keeping Kassian because you don’t want to be short this season is incredibly short-sighted.
The Oilers are eight points out of the playoffs, they are dead in the water. Don’t make decisions based on trying to stay alive this year, if you can move the Kassian contract then you do it, no questions asked. I still believe they will move him today if given the chance.
11:15 AM: All quiet on the Oiler front. While the club continues to shop Chiasson and Petrovic, those players are on the back burner for most teams. I’d expect any and all Oiler activity to come later today, closer to 3:00pm. The club is attempting to trade F Milan Lucic by attaching him to F Jesse Puljujarvi, but with no success so far.
12:45 PM: Talks on Oiler rentals have cooled, but interim GM Keith Gretzky is pushing a Milan Lucic deal. Montreal has been a center of attention, and belief is a deal would be centered around Lucic and Karl Alzner. Although I still believe it’s likely to be a summer move, there is a push to get it done today. We shall see.
1:58 PM: For all intents and purposes we are one hour away from the deadline. The Rangers have dealt D Adam McQuaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 4th and a 7th round pick, which is meaningful. Why? CBJ was sniffing around Kris Russell as recently as the weekend, although it’s believed he was a backup plan. With McQuaid off the market, interest in Alex Petrovic from teams like Pittsburgh and Toronto will only intensify. I expect Petrovic to be dealt in the next hour.
3:27 PM: The Oilers did not make a move today. Although both disappointing and surprising, I’m not sure it’s the end of the world. There were some talks regarding Adam Larsson held with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I believe the Oilers were considering moving the rights to NCAA D John Marino for a forward prospect. The Lucic talk, as reported earlier, is more ground setting for the summer and will be something to keep an eye on.
The biggest disappointment is that both Alex Chiasson and Alex Petrovic remain with the club. Both are pending free agents and I’m not sure either has a future with the Oilers. The inability to get a pick back for them has to be frustrating for the club. Personally, I think it’s because the asking price was too high.
Full reaction to the day coming later on.