The 2018 National Hockey League Trade Deadline turned into a buyer’s market, which surely didn’t meet the eye of a reluctant seller in Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli.
“I don’t like being a seller. It feels like we’re subtracting,” he lamented after a middling deadline had passed. “It’s not a happy time.”
A blah season morphed into a blah Deadline Monday, through no fault of the Oilers GM. It is simply how these deadlines work: Sometimes you cash in, and sometimes you work for tips.
“It was a tough market out there. Felt a lot harder, a lot more resistance this year,” Chiarelli said. “We would have liked a little bit more for Pat (Maroon).
“Our players, just in general, weren’t as good as they were before.”
After Rick Nash went from New York to Boston on the weekend for a largesse, that still left a few wingers in Monday’s trading queue ahead of Maroon, Chiarelli’s prize item. Then Evander Kane went to San Jose for a mid-level prospect plus conditional second- and fourth-round picks, and Thomas Vanek moved for far, far less in Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte.
As the 1 p.m. MT deadline neared, it simply became about getting his deal registered in time, which Chiarelli successfully accomplished by getting a third round pick in 2019, and a Boston College prospect named J.D. Dudek from the New Jersey Devils.
“We were fourth or fifth on the chart. And keep in mind, it’s a different process when you’re asking for prospects. To get something that is (closer to playing), the objective here, is a harder process,” he said. “But we did get a prospect. J.D. is a good college player, a junior, he has speed, plays with intensity. We would have liked a prospect who is closer to playing… but it was a tough market.”
Chiarelli picked up a third-round pick in 2019 from the New York Islanders for defenceman Brandon Davidson over the weekend, leaving him with three third-round picks in June of 2019. If you’re wondering why so many 2019 picks were moved across the NHL Monday, it is because the 2018 draft is not considered to be as strong.
So, even though Chiarelli publicly stated his preference for players ahead of draft picks, he’ll have picks to pedal to try and improve his roster. As well as having acquired depth forward Pontus Aberg for Mark Letestu, and Dudeck.
An interesting Dudeck nugget: His father Joe was Sports Illustrated’s pick for the 1985 Heisman Trophy, having broken Walter Payton’s NCAA touchdowns record as a running back for Division III Plymouth State college in New Hampshire. Alas, Bo Jackson won that Heisman, and Dudeck was never drafted by the National Football League, though he had a cup of coffee with the Denver Broncos.
Joe disappeared into normal life, but his son J.D. goes by the moniker “Joey” at Boston College. He was a sixth-round pick of the Devils in 2014, out of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, where he played with Oilers defensive prospect William Lagesson.
Dudeck is an NHL long shot, but upon graduation he’ll no doubt get a shot at AHL Bakersfield, where the Oilers are bereft of prospects at forward.
Chiarelli never heard much action on pending unrestricted free agent Mike Cammalleri, despite his run of 11 points in his last 11 games. “There wasn’t a lot of interest, nor was I actively shopping him. It was cyclical.”
As for Aberg, acquired from Nashville for Mark Letestu on Saturday, he’ll get the final 20 games to stake his claim to a spot in next year’s lineup, much like many of these under-achieving Oilers.
“Aberg has some speed, a good shot, he competes… So, why isn’t he in the NHL on a full-time basis? That’s a good question. We feel that he is an NHL player,” said Chiarelli, who enters a new “phase” of evaluation between now and the end of the season. “The general theme is faster, quicker, move the puck better. I’d like to see progress, and this is a period of evaluation.”