The Edmonton Oilers made their first significant (somewhat) trade of the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline by moving depth-defenseman Brandon Davidson to the New York Islanders for a third-round draft selection in 2019. It’s the kind of remodeling Oilers’ GM Peter Chiarelli spoke of when he said he wasn’t going to blow up the Edmonton Oilers this season but retool the roster. It’s also the kind of add for the New York Islanders that could be more than a simple rental.
Is this a good or not-so-good deal for both teams?
The reality of the situation is, Davidson was a stable defender but not a long-term solution nor anything more than a 6/7 on the Oilers’ roster. If the plan was never to use him as anything more (and his play didn’t suggest the Oilers should do so), a third-round draft pick is not bad value for a blueliner who was often in and out of the lineup.
The Oilers picked him up for nothing as a waiver claim so they gain an asset with this trade. In contrast, the Islanders needed a defenseman and Davidson is an RFA at the end of the season and not a bad investment if the Islanders intend to keep him around.
At this point in the season, the Oilers will have to start making decisions beyond this year. Their history drafting out of the first round has not been wonderful but since Chiarelli has come into the picture, later round draft choices are not often wasted and Edmonton has found prospects that could have a future in the third and fourth rounds. Stuart Skinner, Dmitri Samorukov, Ostap Safin, Kirill Maksimov, Filip Berglund, Dylan Wells, Aapeli Rasanen, Caleb Bones and Ethan Bear have all been later-round picks.
The Oilers also have two other good third-pairing defensemen on the roster in Yohann Auvitu and Matt Benning and Eric Gryba is still a part of the organization. Davidson is not irreplaceable by any means but he will slot in immediately for the Islanders.
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This signals the first of what could be many trades for Edmonton in the next three days and anytime you move a serviceable defender for a “maybe” you have to look at what went wrong over the course of 50-something games. This is also another potential trade that Chiarelli has to explain when it comes to his history with the Islanders and Oilers organizations.
The likelihood that Davidson is anywhere close to the Jordan Eberle trade most Edmontonians wish never happened, or the Matthew Barzal draft pick that never was, is slim to none, but that won’t stop people from making a comparison. Right now, it’s the Islanders two and Chiarelli nothing.
For Snow, Davidson could be an add that doesn’t make much of a dent. If that’s the case, a third-round pick could have had value.
The other thing to look at in this trade is not so much what it means for Davidson or the Oilers as it pertains to them filling a hole Davidson opens up, but what it does to the big picture in terms of contracts now on the Oilers roster. Davidson gone opens up another spot and provides flexibility for other moves.
Could Chiarelli have something bigger in mind here? Could this draft pick be flipped or is the open contract spot going to something or someone else?
A big thinker might see this as an opportunity to for the Oilers to make a splash on someone like Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Erik Karlsson. Not likely but also not possible if the Oilers don’t have the contract space to take on a player like Bobby Ryan in the deal. Perhaps, now they do.
This trade has to be seen as a possible win for both teams. It fills a need in both cases and it’s not the type of deal that will make or break anyone’s season. At the end of the day, if the Islanders choose to keep Davidson they can. If they choose not to offer match his current rates as an RFA, perhaps Davidson makes his way back to the Oilers for a third time.