Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers: Thinking Outside the Box

The Edmonton Oilers have a big problem with Ryan Spooner.

That’s not news. The sky is blue, Connor McDavid is the most skilled player in the NHL, and you can still find me in the stands cheering on this team. Some things, unfortunately so in some cases, never change.

My weird love/hate relationship with this team aside the Edmonton Oilers find themselves trapped by one of Peter Chiarelli’s final moves (man does typing that feel good!). However now is the time to start correcting those mistakes and I think there’s an outside solution to the Spooner problem.

Buried in the AHL

It was announced on January 23, 2019 that both Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan Spooner were assigned to the AHL:

The former being there makes sense in the short term, as Yamamoto can play a few games in Bakersfield over the all star break or in the long-term. Personally I feel like Yamamoto should stay the rest of the season on the AHL so he can be a key cog in Bakersfield’s playoff push/run. The latter on the other hand is a different story. Spooner has failed so spectacularly in Edmonton that they no longer feel he is anything but a detriment to the team.

My first ever post on ThePuck77 was on Ryan Spooner and in it I stated that Edmonton needed to find a lineup spot for Spooner that works for him. I won’t go into too much detail on him here but my main points were:

  1. Ryan Spooner is not an offensive driver
  2. Ryan Spooner was, at his most successful, a good 3rd piece of a top 6 line.
  3. He benefited greatly from being on top power-play units
  4. He is a really ineffective possession player.

If you want more in depth analysis on Spooner check out my first piece on him here.

Someone Similar?

You would think this situation would be rare in the NHL. Not many teams employ 3+ million dollar men in the AHL…

But there is another…

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Yes that’s right I’m talking about Sam “8 points in one game” Gagner.

Gagner has been a very nice addition to the Toronto Marlies roster since being sent down. In 36 games thus far Gagner has 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points. He definitely isn’t letting his demotion slow him down any. Even when he has played in the NHL he was not that poor. In 7 NHL games Gagner had 3 points, 1 goal, 2 assists. He has also been very good in terms of possession at the NHL level, posting a surprising 59.9% Corsi rating, and a 15.2 Corsi relative for rating. This, along with his 59.9% Fenwick for rating and 17.4 Fenwick relative for rating, paint a picture of a player who has more to give at the NHL level.

Gagner does a lot of things well that mesh with the Oilers needs right now. While he does have some warts to his game in regards to defending Edmonton at current needs a guy who is an offensive weapon. Gagner is a power-play, overtime, and shootout specialist. Put in the right situation; i.e on the left side of a Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl power-play, should result in increased success for Edmonton’s power-play.

Power-play Prowess

For example in 2016/17 he had 50 points, 18 of which came on the power-play. In 2017/2018, in his first year with Canucks (way lower teammate quality), he had 31 points, 11 of which were on the power-play.

In 2016/17 Gagner played on a unit with Zach Werenski, Nick Foglino, Cam Atkinson, and Alex Wennberg. on a much less successful Vancouver power-play Gagner played with a mix of Alex Edler, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, both Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Sven Baertschi, and Thomas Vanek. Vancouver struggled to find the right mix of players and eventually Gagner got lost in the shuffle. He ended up struggling to the point where he was demoted to the AHL at the beginning of this season.

Wherever Gagner goes he always finds a way on to that team’s power-play because that is where he excels. He is an extremely gifted offensive player who has a good shot and is extremely creative with the puck. The thing that he is the best at on the power-play is MOVING. The Edmonton Oilers power-play right now has stagnated. This is mainly due to the same issue that plagued them last year. They are too slow. they do not move the puck around enough to properly open up seams and lanes in an opposing team’s penalty kill. This kills them and they need a player like Gagner that can keep the puck moving on the power-play.

Is This Trade Realistic?

This is always the huge question with the hypothetical articles. It’s why I don’t enjoy making these speculation articles in general, do it wrong and you immediately can ruin your credibility as a writer. 

However in this case I think there’s a realistic possibility a trade like this could work. Right now at left-wing the Canucks employ Nikolai Goldobin, Sven Baertschi, Josh Leivo, Loui Eriksson, and Antoine Roussel. Goldobin has 23 points, Eriksson has 20, Leivo has 7, Baertschi has 13, and Roussel has 19. It’s safe to say they could use a boost. Edmonton currently employs Alex Chiasson, Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira, Tobias Reider, and I could go on at wing. Outside of Chiasson none of those players have 20 points, outside of Khaira, none have 15 points. Edmonton needs wingers bad.

So a swap of two players that both make almost exactly the same amount of money, that could potentially re-spark their careers makes a lot of sense. Gagner makes 50k more than Spooner at 3.15 million over the same amount of term. At current neither of Spooner or Gagner are going to see the light of day back in the NHL with their respective teams. It makes sense, at least to me to try to swap the two players in the hopes that they could re-find their offense elsewhere.

Wrap Up

The main reason this probably won’t happen is Vancouver and Edmonton are teams both currently in a dog fight for the last wildcard spot. While it would be an interesting trade as it would create a potential double rental situation if both Spooner and Gagner bounce back, the risk involved nixes that trade.

What do you think? is this trade realistic for both sides? leave a comment or find us on twitter at @ThePuck77 and me personally at @chayzdj.

All stats used in this article came from HockeyReference.com, Capfriendly.com, and HockeyDB.com.



Edmonton Oilers

Puck77 Roundtable: Will The Edmonton Oilers Buy Or Sell?

In our latest roundtable, our contributors and editors discussed whether or not the Edmonton Oilers should be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.

Tony Ferrari

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.

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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.

Matt Sanderson

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.

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Kyle Pereira

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.

Chris Bradley

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.

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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.

Josh Tessler

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.

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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).

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Stats from Hockey-Reference and NHL.com

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals