There’s not much anyone can do about this season now. The Edmonton Oilers have missed extra play for the 12th time in 13 seasons, the players are disappointed, the fans even more so and there will certainly be change over the summer.
Since fans of the Oilers don’t have much in the way of playoffs to look forward to, there are other ways to remember a season that wasn’t what most expected. Some fans will look to better times ahead, others will cross their fingers that the next draft pick turns out, and others will find themselves playing a little game of ‘what if’ at times like these.
Perhaps it’s not healthy to think about things that can’t be undone, but it doesn’t make the exercise any less popular an exercise to do.
There are a number of transactions the Oilers can look at since Peter Chiarelli was named general manager and wish they had back. While there is certainly a place for Adam Larsson in the NHL, most fans would push rewind on the trade that sent Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Larsson in an effort to improve the blue line. With that, and firmly connected to the dominos that fell as a result, Milan Lucic is a mulligan the team would love to have at their disposal.
But, those were deals that happened a while ago now. What about this season?
Tobias Rieder Signed as Free Agent
No one could have expected no goals out of Toby Rieder. Things got so bad, the fan base was cheering for him over the final half-dozen games of the season just to score. You could hear it in the collective voices, calling for coach Ken Hitchcock just to get him out on the ice with the best players. Rieder deserved a better fate than to not have put one single puck in the net.
Had Edmonton known Rieder would have been so unproductive, they never would have signed him. His contract didn’t kill the team but what’s clear is that when you sign a player who posts no goals and is expected to get you 10-12, you wasted a roster spot. Edmonton would love to have found another option, even though they shouldn’t be faulted for thinking he’d do more.
I’m sure the Oilers, namely Bob Nicholson, would also love to have back to the comments made about Rieder at the end of the season. Rieder was not good, but he isn’t to blame for Edmonton missing the playoffs.
The Koskinen Extension
Some will say the Oilers never should have signed Mikko Koskinen in the first place but he played well enough to make Chiarelli look like he hadn’t lost all his marbles when he signed him to a one-year deal in the offseason for $2.5 million. What most people seem to have issue with is the deal that came after.
With less than 30 games on his NHL resume, the Oilers decided to make Koskinen their number one netminder. They traded Cam Talbot to the Philadelphia Flyers and put the entire weight of the season on a goalie who hadn’t proved he could play as many games as he was going to be asked to cover or that he could be a consistent starter. The move backfired.
Koskinen, at times, was good. At times he was poor. That inconsistency wasn’t enough to push the Oilers into a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
An even bigger concern now is that the Oilers don’t know if he can handle the starting load next season and the franchise will be forced to sign a decent backup over the summer. Chiarelli gets blamed for this extension but the management team left standing needs to take some responsibility left here too.
The Brandon Manning Trade
The Oilers have made some ugly trades, but is there an uglier one than the trade that saw Brandon Manning come to Edmonton for Drake Caggilua?
The Oilers traded a depth scorer (something they need) for a defensemen who couldn’t crack the Blackhawks last-place lineup on a regular basis and also had a history with the Oilers captain that probably meant McDavid wasn’t thrilled about bringing him on board.
Manning did nothing for the Oilers, was sent down to Bakersfield and did nothing there. He was a healthy scratch in the minors for the rest of the season. Worse yet, he’s still got another $1.175 million owed to him for next season.
Manning was a move made out of pure panic while the team was on the verge of being a playoff team but it was a move that absolutely backfired and will hurt the team moving forward. $1.175 million doesn’t sound like much, but it could be.
Would You Pick a Different Oilers Deal?
Of course, there are other deals that are questionable. Trading Talbot for Anthony Stolarz and then not getting Stolarz enough games to keep him from unrestricted free agency, trading for Alex Petrovic, moving Ryan Strome for Ryan Spooner are among a few that stand out.
If you could go back a press rewind on one of these deals, which would it be?