The Edmonton Oilers‘ season? Nothing short of a disaster.
Their approach to the trade deadline? Nothing remotely close to what they were expecting it to be.
General manager Peter Chiarelli’s plan this season was simple: His roster was going to be good enough to get him to mid-February in a playoff spot, then he would augment wherever necessary for a long and prosperous playoff run.
How’d that work out for him?
This February 26 the Oilers will do what they seemingly always do. They’ll move UFAs for draft picks, or better yet a prospect or two. The Oilers are as pure a seller as there is in the National Hockey League this spring, and as big a disappointment as you can name.
Here’s the plan. Let’s hope it works better than the last one did.
The Oilers need a right-handed defenceman who can run a power play or, at worst, possess the kind of shot that can lend some top-end danger to a 30th-ranked man advantage unit. They also need some speed on their wings to complement Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Third in line would be any kind of depth forwards in their organization, as AHL Bakersfield has zero help on the horizon among forwards (Kailer Yamamoto is in WHL Spokane). Most likely the Oilers will collect picks for UFAs, but with players moving at the deadline there is always the chance for two sellers to scratch each other’s backs with an actual hockey trade.
That would be preferred by a fan base sick of collecting draft picks that mature years down the road, if at all.
Pending free agents, age, salaries:
• Patrick Maroon, 29, $1.5 million
• Mike Cammalleri, 35, $1 million
• Yohann Auvitu, 28, $700,000,
• Mark Fayne, 30, $3.625 million
• Ryan Strome, 24, $2.5 million
• Anton Slepyshev, 23, $925,000
• Drake Caggiula, 23, $925,000
• Iiro Pakarinen, 26, $725,000
• Brandon Davidson, 26, $1.425 million
• Matthew Benning, 23, $925,000
• Darnell Nurse, 23, $863,333
• Laurent Brossoit, 24, $750,000
Potential assets to move:
Patrick Maroon: A 6-foot-3 left winger with good hands, teams will try to get Maroon at a price commensurate to this year’s production (14 goals in 57 games) and hope he scores like he did last year, when he potted 27. Boston has been watching Maroon intently of late, but he’s a rare St. Louis native, which must interest the Blues to some extent.
Milan Lucic: His name appears here only because the Oilers would dump the remaining five years of his deal in a heartbeat. His cap hit is $6 million. It will never happen.
2018: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th.
2019: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th.
One bold move the team could make:
The boldest move the Oilers could make would involve Nugent-Hopkins, and have to include some version of a No. 1 defenceman. Think Tyson Barrie in Colorado — not exactly Drew Doughty, but better and more offence-oriented than anything Edmonton has.
As usual, Edmonton’s first overall pick will be excellent. We’d be shocked if they moved that pick at the deadline, before we know its true value. But that pick, or RNH — or both — might be what it takes to secure the biggest missing piece for this franchise.
I think the Oilers shouldn’t…:
Panic after a bad season. Just as they turned out not to be as good as everyone thought last season, they’re not as bad as they appear to be in 2017-18.
The team needs to get quicker on the wings, and they dearly need that power play defenceman. Part with RNH? Maybe. Trade that first-rounder? Better be a hell of a defenceman.
But it’s been suggested they’d move Leon Draisaitl? That would be a foolish, foolish move.