The Edmonton Oilers were among the busier of teams at this year’s NHL Trade Deadline. On Sunday night they added veteran defenseman Mike Green in a bit of a shocking move, but on Monday, made two more deals for players they were rumored to be in on.
The moves are being overwhelmingly well received by insiders and fans, even if there are a couple of question marks.
Ken Holland’s Moves
When asked for his opinion on all of the moves he made for the Oilers, Holland put a lot of the praise on his own team. “I think our team has played real hard all year.” He added, “I felt if our management team could do a move or two, we’d like to help our players.” With the three moves he did make, he noted, “I think we’ve done that.”
Why he did what he did makes sense. The Oilers have been hit hard with injuries and had holes in specific areas. Neal is still two weeks away and there’s no real timeline on Kris Russell. With so much uncertainty, one by one, Holland took to filling holes.
“Nygard’s injury, Neal’s injury, certainly we wanted to get some depth going into a playoff spot.” “Hopefully over the last 20 games here, we can push our way into the playoffs.” Holland noted the idea was to get a couple of left shooters and give the coach some options.
The Mike Green Addition
On Sunday night, the surprise move for the Oilers was the addition of Green. Not heard to be on the Oilers radar until Elliotte Friedman noted it on Saturday, it was the deal that came together the quickest. And, because Green had to sign off on the move, that it came together quickly had fans unsure of what to think.
Where does Mike Green fit? First and foremost, he’ll provide depth for the Oilers blue line. Injuries to Kris Russell and Oscar Klefbom meant relying on young prospects. It’s been working well to date, but the concern had to be how long that could be sustained.
Outside of the depth, Green provides a proven ability to make a good first pass so he’ll hit his forwards in stride. He can run a power play and he adds experience, something the Oilers are somewhat lacking in.
Concern over the cost struck Oilers fans at first. But, once it was realized that the Red Wings were retaining half of Green’s salary and taking on Kyle Brodziak in the deal, it made financial sense for Edmonton. There’s no pressure to play him more minutes than he can handle.
He’s a pending UFA so the Oilers can revisit signing him in the summer, should they so choose.
Perhaps the biggest gamble of the day comes in the form of Andreas Athansiou. On paper, he should be the ideal fit for a player like Connor McDavid. But, when you watch his game, that’s not a given.
When asked if Andreas is a good fit for the captain, Holland said, “He gives us lots of options. He can skate, he has talent and he’s got to figure out who he has chemistry with.” Essentially, Holland would not admit he acquired this player to play on the top line. It’s probably a good thing Holland isn’t married to the idea of a McDavid and Athanasiou pairing.
There are plenty of reasons to believe it will work. After all, this is a former 30-goal scorer in the NHL. The only real concern is that both players like to carry the puck and sometimes having two players on the same line with too much speed and a desire to carry it in could create issues. If Athanasiou can figure out how to adjust his game a touch to work with McDavid, he stands to do extremely well. If he doesn’t, he may not stick on that top line.
Holland gave up two second-round picks. Holland said, “Obviously it’s more than a rental, he’s a restricted free agent for a couple of years.” Something needs to work with this player because the Oilers just committed to him.
In an attempt to make sure finances didn’t become an issue, the Oilers also sent Sam Gagner back in the deal.
The deal Oilers fans were expecting, took the longest to materialize. Ennis was officially announced by the team after the deadline had passed but Ennis brings experience, skill, an ability to move up and down the lineup and a hard work ethic that is sure to rub off on an Oilers team that will have to continue working hard to get into the playoffs.
Ennis may not be a flashy add, but for the cost of a fifth-round pick, it’s a potential win/win for Edmonton.
Oilers Overall Grade: A
Overall, the Oilers potentially have a massive nuclear weapon in their power play, perhaps the fastest winger/center pairing in the NHL and depth in areas that allow them to move pieces around. Remember, Edmonton will get back Zack Kassian, Neal, Klefbom and possibly Russell, all before or by the time the post-season starts.
The team already had the #1 ranked power play in the NHL and the second-ranked penalty kill. Athanasiou and Ennis give the team more speed and skill in both areas while Green only adds to the Oilers ability to beat players on the man-advantage.
“It was nice to be a buyer,” said Holland. Oilers fans certainly are thinking that too on Sunday, especially since it didn’t cost a first-round pick to land anyone. The only reason the Oilers don’t get an A+ is because they could have added a third-line center and didn’t do so.
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Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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