The Edmonton Oilers held their annual Fan Day and Locker Room sale on Saturday. It’s been two years since they were able to put on the event thanks to a pandemic and after the long break, the fans came out in droves. You could purchase game-used sticks, game-worn jerseys, and gear, among other items that were closely connected to the team and the players. When done shopping, fans could take in the Oilers’ open practice.
The most memorable item I saw was a $15,000 game-worn and certified Connor McDavid jersey (no, I didn’t buy it). But another fan found something perhaps even more fascinating. The team was selling jerseys for players who didn’t ever play in Edmonton but were heavily rumored to be in the mix for Oilers around the trade deadline last season.
Twitter account Oil in Goal shared an image of four players who must have been close to becoming Oilers because the franchise had jerseys made for them. Those four players were Carson Soucy, Justin Braun, Jacob Middleton, and one of the Staal brothers.
Soucy was linked to Edmonton around last year’s trade deadline. The Oilers ended up acquiring Brett Kulak from the Montreal Canadiens, but Soucy was heavily rumored as a potential trade piece out of Seattle and there were more than a few insiders trying to link the Oilers to the player. Kulak had a lower cap hit, which might be why the Oilers went that direction.
Soucy was being viewed as a possible depth addition for the left side of the Oilers’ blue line. Ultimately, he wasn’t traded at all and stayed with the Kraken. He’s got one last season on his current deal at $2.75 million and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the campaign.
In July, the Minnesota Wild signed defenceman Jacob Middleton to a three-year contract. This came after the 26-year-old was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Wild ahead of the trade deadline in March. If Edmonton was in on him, that’s an interesting bit of news.
The Wild moved Kaapo Kakkonen and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick to the San Jose Sharks to land Middleton and it makes sense that Edmonton might have fallen out of the running for the player considering the return. The Oilers were only forced to move a second-round pick for Kulak and giving up a player/prospect in the range of what Kakkonen meant to Minnesota might have scared Oilers’ GM Ken Holland off. Keep in mind, the Middleton trade with the Wild came right after Minnesota traded for Marc-Andre Fleury. The deal between the Sharks and Wild was likely done with salary cap implications in mind.
Another veteran defenseman with a ton of playoff experience to his name, Justin Braun was rumored to be on the Oilers’ radar ahead of last season’s trade deadline. The Flyers traded Braun to the New York Rangers and picked up futures, right around the same time that the organization traded Derrick Brassard to the Oilers. It would make sense that Holland was having conversations with Philadelphia about both players and that things didn’t quite pan out.
Keep in mind, the Oilers didn’t draft in the third round this past summer, so that could have been a factor in a speculated failed deal. They would have needed to acquire one first to make the trade.
Which Staal Were the Oilers Looking At?
There was chatter the Oilers might have been interested in either/both Marc Staal or Eric Staal. The jersey photo obviously doesn’t offer much of an indication as to which brother Holland might have been targeting. Eric has joined the Florida Panthers on a PTO this summer. Marc Staal signed a deal to join the same team.
Eric would have been an interesting depth addition for the Oilers at center. It likely would have been a trade that was made instead of the Oilers acquiring Brassard and potentially something that was done as part of the Kulak trade with Montreal. Meanwhile, Marc would have been a depth blue line add out of Detroit. The Red Wings were selling off pieces as they’d had one of their worst seasons in franchise history last year. Strangely, Detroit didn’t end up trading Marc and he walked away in free agency. Could it be because Edmonton wasn’t willing to pay the price Detroit was asking?
Obviously, these images don’t prove anything. That said, it’s hard to imagine that the Oilers were making jerseys with the names on the back of them for the fun of it. They must have felt things were close. Perhaps even more interesting is why the Oilers would be selling these. Are they really collector’s items at this point? And, why would the Oilers want this information/speculation out there? Selling those jerseys was bound to get people talking.
Latest News & Highlights
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”