The Edmonton Oilers have taken another step to try and correct a mistake made by Peter Chiarelli while he was general manager of the team. On Monday, the Oilers placed lightning-rod for criticism and rarely-used defenseman Brandon Manning on waivers.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 18, 2019
Clearly, while the Oilers found a taker for a player like Ryan Spooner (landing Sam Gagner in return), assistant GM Keith Gretzky couldn’t find magic in a bottle twice. At least not yet. The Oilers are hoping another team sees something in Manning and helps the Oilers relieve themselves of $2.25 million worth of cap space this and next season.
If Edmonton nets nothing in return but money off the books, it has to be considered a victory.
What to Take From the Manning Waiver
As Bruce McCurdy wrote on social media right after the news was announced — and is probably the sentiment felt by most Oilers fans today — “Not often does one see a trade crash & burn quite as quickly as that one did. A bad idea from the get-go on a number of levels, especially on a day the Oilers had already acquired a depth defender and then doubled down on a plug with cap hit & term.”
As the team was struggling, Chiarelli traded for both Manning and Alex Petrovic on the same day in hopes both moves would bolster the blue line. Unfortunately, he gave up a young player like Drake Caggiula to add a contract in Manning the Chicago Blackhawks were dying to get rid of. Most insiders and fans called it a terrible trade when it happened and as Manning sat game after game and the Oilers continued to struggle, the deal proved to be one of the worst of the NHL season to date.
Chiarelli was ultimately let go because of trades like the Manning one and the trio of Gretzky, Craig MacTavish and Bob Nicholson have been left the responsibility of clearing up cap room heading into next season.
Strangest Part About All This Manning Stuff
What’s perhaps the most head-scratching part of adding Manning in the first place was the fact that this is the same player who played a significant role in the broken collarbone of the team’s star, Connor McDavid back in 2015. It wasn’t just that Manning wasn’t a hot commodity on the trade market, but the last team who should have been interested was the Oilers who employed a captain who had a legitimate beef with a man who said he purposely tried to hurt him.
Chiarelli should have known that bringing in that type of player to an organization that was already fragile had to be a mistake. He made it anyway. Perhaps more than anything, that was reason enough to be let go.
The question becomes, how did this trade get approved in the first place? Did Chiarelli really have that much free reign to make such a decision? Or, did upper management like Nicholson approve it? If so, what does this say about the people still in charge of righting the ship in Edmonton?
Manning may have not meant what he said when in the heat of battle with McDavid and both he and arguably the best player in the NHL likely joined together as Oilers with the best of intentions. The team simply shouldn’t have created a situation where that was required.
What’s Next for Manning?
There’s a good chance Manning will clear waivers. His bloated salary and lack of skill as a serviceable defenseman won’t attract him to a number of teams. Should he clear, he’ll likely head down to the AHL Bakersfield Condors organization.
The team is currently on a 15-game winning streak and it will be interesting to see how often he gets used there.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”