Oilers will hope Ryan Spooner benefits from change of scenery

Donnovan Bennett and Sid Seixeiro discuss the latest trade by the Edmonton Oilers involving Ryan Strome and whether Peter Chiarelli deserves some blame.

Ryan Strome just never worked out in Edmonton. Ryan Spooner wasn’t working out in New York.

Change-o, presto!

In a 1-for-1 deal, the Oilers sent centre Strome to the Rangers in exchange for left-winger Spooner, a classic case of two overpaid players requiring a change in scenery. Both players have just two points this season.

With Strome making $3.1 million for this season and next, and Spooner earning $4 million over the same term, the Rangers retained $900,000 of the annual money, meaning neither team’s cap is changed in the transaction.

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We’ve seen Strome in Edmonton since GM Peter Chiarelli acquired him in a salary dump deal for Jordan Eberle in the summer of 2017. An exceptional person and excellent quote, as a player the takeaway on Strome was that he was a decent depth centreman who could kill penalties.

Spooner we’ve seen less of, but we made some phone calls on Friday to some people who are paid to evaluate players, just to get a bead on him.

Here’s the skinny:

This is a case of Chiarelli having drafted Spooner in the second round (45th overall) in 2010 when he was the Boston Bruins GM, and perhaps still holding some allegiance to or fondness for the player. This also means Chiarelli has now traded the No. 1 pick in 2010 (Taylor Hall), the No. 2 pick (Tyler Seguin) and traded for the No. 45 in Spooner.

Scouts confirm that Spooner, 26, has above average speed and quickness, and has the skills to compliment a high-end centre. Chiarelli is likely hoping he can regain his form playing left wing next to either Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid, because the Oilers already have a $6 million third-line left-winger in Milan Lucic.

For all the offensive attributes the Ottawa native has however, Spooner has just 1-1-2 in 16 games with the Rangers this season, and was twice a healthy scratch. New York traded Spooner because they are young and rebuilding, and head coach David Quinn is building a culture where there is a work ethic and commitment in every zone and a will to compete on every shift every night.

Spooner didn’t fit that bill, and likely was made an example of on a Rangers team that likely won’t make the playoffs. The ol’ “fit in or ship out” routine.

Often, when a 26-year-old gets moved for a second time, it gets a player’s attention. If he commits defensively and thrives next to an elite centre, great. If he doesn’t commit defensively, frankly, there isn’t enough offence here to win over any NHL coach on any team.

“It’s too bad he isn’t hungrier,” said one scout who likes the player, just not the way he plays every night. He makes defensive mistakes that a 26-year-old shouldn’t be making anymore, the scout added.

In Strome, the Rangers are hoping to get the player who had 50 points in the Eastern Conference for the Islanders in 2014-15. Maybe he’s just more comfortable in the East, a centre who can kill penalties and had 36 points in 100 games as an Oiler.

Strome is an average skater and really does not have any one skill that turns your head. But, he cares, is an excellent teammate, and is known to dig in defensively. The Oilers just required more production, and Strome’s playmaking abilities were merely average during his time in Edmonton.

For Oilers fans, this transaction history is now revised to Eberle at $6 million for Spooner at $3.1 million.

Eberle is, historically, a 25-goal, 55-point player. Half of that would be 13 goals and 28 points, numbers Spooner should be capable of.

If he plays with Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins or McDavid, he’ll have to do at least those numbers to be considered of value.

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