In our latest roundtable, our contributors and editors discussed whether or not the Edmonton Oilers should be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
Whether the Oilers buy or sell at the deadline is put into question with the firing of Peter Chiarelli. If Chiarelli was in charge, he would be buying to save his job and make the playoffs.With that not being the case, I think the Oilers should sell. They have a few players on expiring deals that could fetch them a few draft picks.
Alexander Petrovic is a decent defensemen that can probably fetch a decent return, hopefully at minimum restoring the 3rd round draft pick they gave up to get him not long ago. Cam Talbot is another trade option that still has some value. If they retain salary on his deal they could acquire a decent return from a team looking for a 1B or backup goalie to solidify them for the playoffs. Alex Chiasson is a perfect trade option for a team looking for some depth as he’s produced at a decent level and only makes $650,000 so it doesn’t hinder any team trying to acquire him.
Selling is the best option for this team right now. They may have to retain salary for the remainder of the season in order to increase the return but on an expiring deal that isn’t an issue. If the Edmonton Oilers can walk away from the deadline having sold off some assets and restock their draft capital, they can begin to turn the team around sooner rather than later. This is what they should do. Don’t be shocked if they take the other route and become buyers.
I feel the Edmonton Oilers should sell at the deadline. Listen, this team has been a mess this year with firing Todd McClellan and now Peter Chiarelli. Outside of Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers don’t have much help at all for Connor McDavid. The Oilers have $4.92M of cap space left going into next season. If they can open up some space and shop smart in the offseason they will be in a much better place. The problem is there is a handful of guys you can trade but it’s undetermined what the return could be after everything is said and done. With $80M in cap space accumulated there is no wiggle room, I don’t see any other choice but to sell off this season and regroup for next year. McDavid is your future and a solid goalie will be good to grab as well, but in my opinion everyone else is dispensable.
What would I do if I was the General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers? It starts at this deadline, would I buy or sell?
I would do a little bit of both, and here’s why. Let’s look at all the Stanley Cup contenders, how their teams are built. For the 2015-2017 Pittsburgh Penguins rosters: Top heavy, solid/cheap depth pieces. The Tampa Bay Lightning this year: Stars on top, young/cheap players below. The reoccurring formula for success is top heavy rosters, cheap secondary scoring options. The Oilers have a top heavy roster: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. However, the rest of the roster is bare; Milan Lucic, Kyle Brodziak and Zack Kassian. The younger guys are also under-achieving: Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, and Jujhar Khaira. A change could be beneficial for both Edmonton and the player involved. I would move Puljujarvi, he still has the value to bring back decent draft picks. He’s a solid depth option, and teams could be knocking. This is where the “selling” portion kicks in. They could add in Kassian/Brodziak, as they’re both cheap options. They may be able to get a prospect and picks for those pieces together.
Fact of the matter is, they have the pieces to sell. But they have a great foundation, with a generational talent at the helm, and they need a little bit of depth before they become a contender. With a little swap with other teams, this Edmonton team can be a dynasty.
To say that the events that led to former General Manager Peter Chiarelli’s firing escalated quickly would be a lie. This was a slow, smoldering tire fire.
As currently constructed, the Oilers are only three points out of a wild card spot this season. This says more about the state of the Western Conference and the quality of the teams than it does about the Oilers and their ability to hang tough in the fight.
The dismissal of Chiarelli should be viewed as a positive in the Oilers dressing room. Quite often, a shake-up of this magnitude is akin to a trade, a wake-up call for the players. It’s a sign from ownership that changes need to be made and issues are being addressed. It’s no different than when coach Ken Hitchcock took over for Todd McLellan. The Oilers promptly put together an 8-2-1 streak after that move.
But simply handing over the GM keys to Keith Gretzky will likely change very little in on-ice personnel for the Oilers. With numerous bad contracts and little wiggle room with the cap, the notion of becoming buyers to sneak into the playoffs is unreasonable. Sell what you can, and with a little luck they still might catch a wild card spot and bring a little joy to Oiler Nation.
When the season is over, owner Daryl Katz should hop on his private jet and go to Michigan. Pick up former Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, bring him to Rogers Place in Edmonton and open the vault. Let him take what he wants, and in turn give him three years to rebuild this franchise. Yes, Yzerman left Tampa because he wanted to be closer to family. Edmonton is not close to Michigan.
But money talks. And any opportunity to build a franchise around the best player in the world is worth taking a look at. Nobody thought Mike Babcock would go coach in Toronto either. But the best at their craft want to get paid. Yzerman I’m sure is no different.
Unfortunately, Edmonton Oilers fans have had one rough season. In fact, they’ve had many rough seasons. With Oilers Nation frustrated, the front office should be doing their best to install hope. The Oilers should be buyers at the deadline, but they shouldn’t be acquiring rentals. Instead, they should be looking for assets that are under contract for longer. Oilers Nation has seen many rumours about Wayne Simmonds potentially being a fit. But, he’s a free agent on July 1st and Simmonds will command a decent chunk of change. Instead of securing a talented winger like Simmonds, they should be scanning the market for players that can be useful for a couple years and not just for a quick fix.
They should be looking for players that have a lot of upside. In one of the last posts that I wrote about the Oilers, I suggested that their front office look into acquiring Connor Brown and/or Brayden Schenn. Both forwards have a tremendous amount of upside and would be good fits in the Oilers top six.
They could also look at Andre Burakovsky, who the Washington Capitals have put onto the trade market. While Burakovsky will be a free agent at seasons’ end, he’ll be an RFA. So, he’d still be under team control unless a team offer sheets Burakovsky (which I strongly doubt would happen).
Stats from Hockey-Reference and NHL.com
Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals