Josh Archibald to Skate With Oilers, But Holland to Work on a Trade

As per a few sources, including Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, expect the now-healthy and skating Josh Archibald to be included in trade discussions Edmonton Oilers’ GM Ken Holland might have between now and the NHL Trade Deadline. With the deadline just two weeks away and with the Oilers decimated by injuries, Holland is likely scrambling in an attempt to save the season.

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Matheson notes that Archibald has returned to the Oilers to see how his conditioning is after some serious time away from the rink. If he’s good to go, the Oilers have one of two choices: either bring him in and have him play in a limited number of games because he remains unvaccinated, or move him to a U.S.-based team.

Makes More Sense to Trade Archibald

As helpful as he might be in the Oilers’ bottom six, — specifically on the forecheck and on special teams — the key to remember here is that Archibald will only be so helpful. There’s no telling if he’ll get back to being the player he once was for Edmonton and he’s certainly not going to be available as much as the Oilers would like. They also can’t send him to the AHL in Bakersfield because a long quarantine would interrupt the team’s desire to call him back.

If Edmonton has a healthy player on their hands and one that could do more good for a U.S. team or that team is open to taking on salary and a player contract, the Oilers should move him if they can. Speculation is that this is what the Oilers are trying to do. There are plenty of teams who have made it known they’d be willing to take on contracts and Archibald’s is not a heavy burden for most organizations.

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Matheson writes:

Lots of names are being tossed around with the NHL trade deadline two and half weeks away, but Edmonton Oilers winger Josh Archibald is an unrestricted free agent this summer and still unvaccinated, so maybe a deal to a U.S. based team possibly makes sense to get his $1.5 million cap hit removed because of the Canadian border crossing/quarantine issues.

source – ‘Oilers Notebook: Archibald certainly in play with NHL trade deadline looming’ – Jim Matheson – Edmonton Journal – 03/03/2022

The Argument for Temporarily Keeping Archibald

If he’s up to speed, it could be tempting to play Archibald in a few games until a trade is available. The team’s next seven games are either against Canadian teams on the road or at home. That means Archibald could play without having to sit out and miss time ahead of the deadline. If he comes in and wows the Oilers, maybe the team makes a case to keep him. What would be more likely is that another team sees that he could be useful and Archibald becomes a component to a trade that gets the Oilers a player they’ll have for the stretch run and the postseason.

Jay Woodcroft Edmonton Oilers
Jay Woodcroft, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 writes, “If no groin pulls, you could see him play the week of March 13th when Oilers host Detroit, Buffalo and New Jersey on 15th, 17th and 19th. He’d be an upgrade over current 4th line wingers.”

Oilers Probably Have a Plan

The most likely scenario is that the Oilers’ plan is to get Archibald into shape and then trade him. If Holland can find a U.S. team that rarely plays in Canada to finish out the season, that kind of deal makes the most sense. Mark Spector of Sportsnet writes that “It will be a conditional trade, hinging on whether said team signs him to a new contract. Presumably done as an Oiler.”

As much as the idea of a useful Archibald in a lineup that is missing key pieces sounds enticing, that’s probably not in the cards for the Oilers — certainly not to finish out the season.