An NHL team can make a mistake any day of the year, but the main pressure points arrive three times: At the draft, early in free agency, and at the deadline. We have a tendency to remember the great deadline deals—Kent Nilsson, Bill Ranford, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Dwayne Roloson, Jaro Spacek, Sergei Samsonov—while forgetting the disasters. Like Miro Satan. I think it comes down, a lot of times, to motivation. Why is a team making a trade, what are the benefits and how much risk is involved?
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- New Lowetide: Peter Chiarelli’s free-agent success in 2018 may dictate Oilers big money moves in the summer of 2019.
- Lowetide: Total recall—Who should be next on the Bakersfield-to-Edmonton shuttle?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers’ Rattie still figuring out how to play for new-old coach Ken Hitchcock.
- Lowetide: No. 8 prospect Winter 2018: Kirill Maksimov.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Condors coach Jay Woodcroft has a lifetime of hockey knowledge to share and the notebooks to prove it.
- Jonathan Willis: The Ryan Spooner for Ryan Strome trade has yet to pay dividends for the Edmonton Oilers.
- Lowetide: Ken Hitchcock, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and finding that elusive perfect fit on the Oilers No. 2 line.
- Jonathan Willis: Milan Lucic should not be an everyday player for the Edmonton Oilers.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 7 prospect Winter 2018: Caleb Jones.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 6 Prospect winter 2018: Cooper Marody.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 5 Prospect winter 2018: Ethan Bear.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 4 Prospect winter 2018: Ryan McLeod.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 Prospect winter 2018: Tyler Benson.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect winter 2018: Kailer Yamamoto.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.
DON’T MAKE A BAD DEAL!
Glen Sather made the Miro Satan deal, so he said, because “he wasn’t playing all that much. But there was another part of the agenda. They were talking about him going back home (over his contract).” Ron Low said (about Satan) “he could always score but he was a streaky scorer.” That’s how every empire falls. Edmonton has made some terrible deadline deals. Here’s a brief history:
- March 8, 1982—Oilers trade C Walt Poddubny and R Phil Drouillard to the Toronto Maple Leafs for C Laurie Boschman. Edmonton traded a future that included 28, 40, 38 and 38-goal seasons for Boschman, who was a more famous and established center. Slats got good value two years later.
- March 10, 1992—Oilers trade L Martin Rucinsky to the Quebec Nordiques for G Ron Tugnutt and L Brad Zavisha. When you need a goalie, you need a goalie. Edmonton traded away a long-time top-six winger future for a year and a bit of Tugnutt (they would lose him to Anaheim in the expansion draft).
- March 18, 1997—Oilers trade L Miro Satan to the Buffalo Sabres for L Barrie Moore and D Craig Millar. The quotes above give us the reason, contract concerns and inconsistent play from a youngster. Major impact on the team 1997-2007.
- February 27, 2007—Oilers trade L Ryan Smyth to the NY Islanders for C Ryan O’Marra, R Robert Nilsson and first-round draft pick (Alex Plante). Possibly the most stubborn trade in team history, although the ‘Mike Comrie for Corey Perry’ non-trade wins the day if we include deals that didn’t happen.
- March 2, 2015—Oilers trade D Jeff Petry to the Montreal Canadiens for a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick (Jonas Siegenthaler and Caleb Jones). Craig MacTavish said ‘we can’t pay every defenseman $4 million’ and then sent the best one away. The mind boggles.
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?
In the Oilers war room (why doesn’t hockey have war rooms? It’s as violent as football in terms of the impact of collisions, if not the frequency), I imagine they’re fine with the goalies. After that? There are issues:
- If everything breaks right, the team should be able to make the playoffs with the current blue (if they’re all healthy). I think Klefbom-Larsson, Nurse-Russell, Gravel-Benning and Jones might be sufficient to sustain momentum, but I don’t think they’ll be able to catch anyone from behind. That’s why staying close is vital over the next four weeks. When Sekera returns, they’ll find a spot for him inside the top 6D, possibly second pair. Will it be in time? That’s the question about the defense.
- Up front, you can see Ken Hitchcock running out of options in real time. Kailer Yamamoto is likely to be recalled, possibly in time for the game this weekend. After that, I think Cooper Marody has earned another shot.
Then we’re into the pre-deadline and deadline deals and that’s a difficult conversation. Peter Chiarelli’s track record at the deadline (going back to his Bruins days) suggests he is willing to overpay for specific things, but Edmonton can’t afford to lose any more transactions. It’s also borderline useless to trade for a rental when the team has so much work to do before becoming a Stanley Cup contender. So, what are the possible options? Here are the forwards I’m interested in:
- R Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings. He makes $4.6 million this and next season, he has scored 20 goals or more three times. This year, his offense (1.16 5-on-5 per 60) is poor, but his shooting percentage (3.53) will correct and he’s shooting a lot (10.09 per 60 at 5-on-5). He can also penalty kill. Cost? Ryan Spooner and a pick/prospect? LAK would have to retain some coin.
- L Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals. Making $3.0 million and getting a raise in the summer, he’s scoring 1.26 5-on-5 per 60. Is there a way to acquire him while also offloading $3M? And is he the right player? Seeing him live a few times, I can say the man can fly. Tobias Rieder and a sweetener? Not sure.
- L Miles Wood, New Jersey Devils. Signed a four-year deal for $2.75 million back in the fall, but he hasn’t been close to established levels (0.99 5-on-5 points-per-60). Doubt the Devils would deal him but Wood can scoot and has some skills. I can’t estimate a price, but you’d have to imagine the Devils would want one of Edmonton’s best young (and emerging) forwards in the deal (as in JP or KY). It’s also likely they are fine with keeping him through his struggles.
- L Frank Vatrano, Florida Panthers. Another former Chiarelli player, he’s having a nice season in Sunrise (10 goals) although he’s not flourishing at evens (1.19 5-on-5 points per 60). He is shooting a lot (10.98), shouldn’t be a pricey addition, and might flourish with a quality center. A pick? Caggiula?
- R Mats Zuccarello, NY Rangers. He’s a free agent and makes $4.5 million, plus he isn’t tearing up the scoring race (1.02 5-on-5 per 60). On the other hand, he probably won’t cost more than a pick and the Rangers could retain. He isn’t a strong option but might be a likely one.