Half way through the 2014-15 NHL season and it has been more of the same for the Edmonton Oilers.
Seemingly endless frustration, failure and un-attained expectations have become the norm in the “City of Champions”, who have had little to celebrate since they last reached the playoffs in 2006.
In past off-seasons, free agent signings and draft picks have brought numerous players into the Oilers organization, however, various combinations of such players have thus far failed to result in any sort of sustained success. The current core of young players in place are among the best in the NHL, however, the majority of these players are forwards, a situation which has led to major gaps on defense and in between the pipes.
At their current pace, the Edmonton Oilers can’t expect to be a playoff contender anytime soon, as the most exciting proposition in Oil Country is potentially landing Junior phenom Connor McDavid with the first overall pick in the draft.
If the Oilers ever want to turn the corner and become contenders rather than pretenders, they need to begin by making major, drastic changes to their current roster.
Yes, the following hypothetical trades are radical, however these potentially huge deals, or similar, could help Edmonton emerge from its perpetual slumber.
1. Oilers Trade Jordan Eberle and Victor Fasth to Lightning for Andrei Vasilveskiy and Radko Gudas
In this trade, the Edmonton Oilers could address what is likely their greatest weakness: the lack of an NHL caliber starting goaltender.
While some might say Vasilevskiy is young and still needs time to develop, Andrei has already proven himself in professional hockey. He has already played two tremendously successful seasons with Ufa Salavat Yulayev of the KHL and is now in the midst of a great season with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. He also played his first games in the NHL this year and certainly did not look out-of-place.
Vasilevskiy’s career statistics can be viewed here.
In the trade, the Oilers could also attract a defender in return. Radko Gudas is a solid, young player whose strong style of play would be of benefit to the Oilers in the tough Western Conference.
In trading Eberle, the Oilers would be moving one of the young, highly skilled forwards which they have accumulated over the past years. He is a proven NHL star and offensive producer whose presence on the Lightning would give Tampa Bay incredible offensive depth.
Eberle would be most likely of the young core to go, as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is their first line centreman while Taylor Hall is one of the top Left Wingers in the NHL.
2. Oilers Trade 1st Round Pick to Toronto Maple Leafs for Morgan Reilly and Connor Brown
In this type of trade, the Oilers could add a solid young defenseman who is an emerging star in the NHL.
Rumors of a trade brewing between the Oilers and Maple Leafs have been circulating for some time now, as each team retains pieces the other is in desperate need of.
If the Oilers want to become competitive in the NHL in the near future, they need to stop stockpiling top young picks and begin adding NHL ready players.
For the Oilers, their first round pick this season could quite easily be Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, both of whom will become number one centremen in the NHL and a player the Leafs desperately need.
Although it would be extremely difficult for the Leafs to part with Reilly, the acquisition of Reilly by the Oilers would be a huge step in the right direction.
On the blue line, the Oilers’ especially, Reilly would be a guaranteed top-2 pairing defender who would log significant minutes on a nightly basis. Trading for an emerging young defender such as Reilly would improve the Oilers defensive depth which already boasts Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom.
3. Oilers Trade Jeff Petry and a 2nd Round Pick to the Detroit Red Wings for Xavier Ouellet
The Edmonton Oilers have been looking to trade Jeff Petry for some time now and the Detroit Red Wings could be the perfect trade partner.
Petry is in the final year of his current contract and is set to become and un-restricted free agent come July 1st. Earning $3.075 million in the last year of his contract, Petry is unlikely to re-sign with the Oilers and will receive a decent raise in his next contract.
Enter the Detroit Red Wings. It is well-known that the Red Wings have been looking to increase the quality of their defensive depth, and Petry is more than likely high on their wish list. Although Detroit has a number of NHL ready defenders, Petry is a big body who is relatively sound defensively and has the ability to contribute offensively.
Petry, a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, would welcome a trade which would bring him back home, not to mention from one of the leagues worst teams to one of its best.
In this type of rental situation, the Oilers could go after one of Detroit younger defensemen, in particular Xavier Ouellet. Ouellet is a big, strong defender who appears ready to take on a full-time NHL role. Having suited up for over 20 games at the age of 21, Ouellet would be a solid addition to a young, yet increasingly skilled Oilers blue line.
Obviously a Petry for Ouellet, one for one trade would be out of the question, so the inclusion of the Oilers’ second round draft pick, which would be in the range of 31st-35th overall, would certainly make this potential deal more realistic.