With the NHL Trade Deadline inching closer with every passing day, it is no surprise that the rumour mill is starting to kick back into gear during this weekend’s All-Star Weekend festivities. At the top of that list, we have an oldie but goodie involving the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders. From the moment Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman broke the news of Travis Hamonic’s trade request back in mid-November, the two franchises have been linked as potential trade partners and it is easy to see why.
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The talented blueliner would certainly be a nice fit on a team as defensively challenged as the Oilers but from an Islanders standpoint, it is not so cut and dry. Despite struggling through a first-half in which New York has yet to hit their stride and watched John Tavares perform well below his usual standards, Garth Snow’s squad still has a real shot of being a player in a wide-open Eastern Conference.
With two games in hand and just three points back of the New York Ranger for the No. 3 seed in the east, not sure trading away the guy who is arguably your best all-around defenceman for a complimentary scoring winger is the best way to go about solidifying your playoff position. While adding a player with the skill-set of a Jordan Eberle, as Friedman suggested to Oilers NOW host Bob Stauffer during his weekly Friday appearance on 630 CHED’s afternoon radio show, would have to interest the Isles it doesn’t really make their team any better in the here and now.
Chiarelli Is Likely Stirring the Pot
In my mind, that sort of deal would still be there leading up to this summer’s draft so why would the Islanders make it now? In order for them to even consider such a move, they would absolutely have to get back a useful defenceman as part of any trade for Hamonic. New York is already playing without Johnny Boychuk and while he is expected to make his return sometime after the break, not exactly sure how creating another hole on the backend would improve things.
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With that said, I completely believe Friedman is dead on in his assumption the two sides continue to talk but it is likely the Oilers who are making much of the noise surrounding a possible trade in the near future. It is no secret that Peter Chiarelli has been a busy man of late and while he would probably be better off waiting to play his hand in the off-season, perhaps he feels Hamonic could slip through his fingers if he does not act now.
As we all know, the 25-year old rearguard likely has the Winnipeg Jets on the top of his “wish-list” of possible destinations and with Jets’ season spiraling out of control, Kevin Cheveldayoff could step forward and work out a deal between the two teams. Unlike the Oilers, Winnipeg could easily part with a quality defenceman in any deal involving Hamonic…which has to remain priority one for Snow in a trade involving the 2008 second-round pick.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.