For the sake of the record, yes, the Edmonton Oilers are already in next year country. So trading David Perron for a deep first-round pick and a six-foot-three depth forward in Rob Klinkhammer like they did Friday is really what they should be doing right about now.
You can make sport of where the Oilers are — again — if you wish, but they’d look even worse if they were trading for today rather than stocking the cupboards for what has become the real trade deadline, the June draft. And all the while increasing their chances at finishing with the No. 1 overall selection and adding Connor McDavid to their stock of first overall players.
Perron had grown frustrated in Edmonton, and who can blame him? You can say the same for every player in that room, but Perron was not counted among the anointed few first-rounders who have been given far too much leeway in Edmonton, and as such spent this season playing with the B centres, which means anyone whose name is not Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
He’ll be a nice complement to either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, a team where wingers with less scoring touch than Perron have blossomed offensively. With one year left on his deal after this season, Perron was not seen by management as part of the future in Edmonton and I would bet the feelings were mutual.
“After a few years you just want to win. It’s nice to get that opportunity in Pittsburgh,” he told the Edmonton media before parting with the Oilers, who visit the Colorado Avalanche Friday. He said he will not suit up for the Penguins, who host Tampa Bay tonight.
On the face of it, Edmonton gets decent value here, as does Pittsburgh. The Penguins need a scoring winger, as they always seem to, and Edmonton can surely use a big depth forward like Klinkhammer, who started the season in Arizona, was dealt on Dec. 5 to Pittsburgh for defenceman Philip Samuelsson and a conditional pick in 2016.
But the underlying theme whenever Edmonton makes a deal like this is obvious: When are the Oilers going to stop dealing for tomorrow and build a team that is worthy of buttressing for today?
Well, we won’t be able to answer that here, but we can tell you that it is clear to those inside the organization where a major problem lies, and that is in the player evaluation side. Both the amateur and pro scouting isn’t good enough, as Edmonton’s draft record and current goaltending tandem prove.
Expect changes atop the amateur scouting department soon, where I would expect Bob Green — the man who built the Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings as the team’s GM — to be put in charge of the department.
But back to this deal, Edmonton will head to the draft with their own first-round pick — guaranteed to be a Top 5, and likely a Top 2 — plus Pittsburgh’s, which would be the No. 26 pick if the season ended this afternoon. With this trade, the Oilers are weaker in the here and now, increasing the chance they will draft first overall for the fourth time in the past six years.
In the cap system, the value of a first-rounder has dramatically increased. So the Oilers will likely deal their newly acquired pick — or their own second round pick a few selections later — to find a goaltender, which they sorely need. Or a Top 4 defenceman, which they sorely need. Or some size among their Top 6 forwards, which they sorely need. You get the picture.