To suggest the trio of Bob Nicholson, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan would be anything but disappointed with where the Edmonton Oilers currently sit in the overall NHL standings would be ridiculous. While no one within the organization’s hierarchy expected this year’s club to legitimately compete for a post-season berth, owning the worst record in the Western Conference with just 25 games left in the 2015-16 campaign was never supposed to be part of the equation.
For a team so low in the standings the Oilers sure are an exciting team to watch.
— Bo G (@boknowsbo88) February 14, 2016
Unfortunately for them, that is their reality and with it comes the never-ending rumours surrounding potential deals leading up to this year’s Trade Deadline. While there is no question Chiarelli will continue to tinker with his lineup over the coming months, there never was and still is absolutely no reason for the first-year general manager to move a so-called “core piece” by February 29. It may not be the sexy play but it is certainly the only one that makes any sense whatsoever.
[Related Article: 3 Oilers Who Will Be Moved at NHL Trade Deadline]
Make no mistake, the Oilers will be relatively busy over the next couple of weeks but expecting them to move anything other than spare parts would be ridiculous. It has essentially been a foregone conclusion for some time now that Teddy Purcell and Justin Schultz have been on their last legs in Orange and Blue and nothing has changed on that front. Don’t be surprised if one or both of defenceman Eric Gryba and forward Anton Lander join them on that list but that would probably be about it.
— theScore NHL (@theScoreNHL) February 12, 2016
You can bet Chiarelli will do everything in his power to find new homes for the likes of Mark Fayne, Lauri Korpikoski and Nikita Nikitin but it is high unlikely that he will find any takers. While the former New Jersey Devils rearguard would be a nice add for most playoff teams, his $3.625 million cap hit in 2016-17 will keep him in Edmonton…at least for the time being.
[Related Article: Oilers Running Out of Potential UFA Targets]
Again, nothing overly exciting but bringing in secondary assets for any of the aforementioned pieces would have to be considered a job well done for Chiarelli. After all, is not the entire purpose of moving spare parts at this time of year to secure something that can be used as potential collateral to help improve the club at a later date? In my mind it is and at this stage of the game, that is the best the Oilers could hope for out of this year’s deadline.
Chiarelli Has No Reason To Rush
So while many continue to suggest that one of Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could be in play over the next couple of weeks, in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. Thankfully, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was kind enough to throw some much-needed water on the never-ending rumours surrounding Eberle during in the intermission of Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada’s telecast between Edmonton and Winnipeg Jets.
[Related Article: Jordan Eberle and Seizing the Moment]
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Nugent-Hopkins so the rumours will surely continue. While the Oilers may decide to ultimately move a “core-piece” prior to the start of next season, there is no reason for them to try to make a splash at the deadline. Unless we are talking about another non-playoff team and Edmonton working on a blockbuster of a deal, why on earth would an organization want to take roughly 70% of potential trade partners out of the equation?
Still too early to talk about a possible Calder? McDavid 4-7-11 in six games after a 90-day absence.
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) February 12, 2016
The answer to that question appears to be rather obvious and yet the rumours persist. With that said, my suggestion to fans of the Edmonton Oilers are quite simple…do yourself a favour and ignore all the noise surrounding your team over the coming weeks and turn your attention to watching Connor McDavid and company do their thing over the final 25 games of the season. There is lots of time to worry about next year so just sit back and enjoy the opening act of what should be one heck of a show.
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.