Oilers Have a Better Option Than to Bring a Healthy Josh Archibald Back

No doubt, a healthy Josh Archibald is a useful NHL player. He kills penalties, he’s fast, he’s physical and he’s a nice depth option for a team that could use forward depth. None of those are reasons enough for the Edmonton Oilers to shift things around and insert the forward into the lineup this season in an attempt to make the playoffs. Instead, of looking to get him into the lineup, GM Ken Holland should be looking to make a trade.

Archibald Is Healthy and Preparing for an NHL Return

After being diagnosed with myocarditis, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Sun reports that Holland confirmed that Archibald is back in Edmonton and in quarantine. He quotes Holland who said, “He’s in Edmonton right now, quarantining, after driving up from Nebraska. He’s had many, many tests and been seen by three different doctors and he’s been given a clean, bill of health.”

When Archibald completes his quarantine, it is possible the Oilers could get him on their active roster seeing as how he’s still under contract at a cost of $1.5 million for the remainder of this season. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea as a player of his ilk brings plenty of intangibles.

Why It’s a Bad Idea To Bring Archibald In

Despite all the on-ice reasons Archibald could be helpful, there are plenty of reasons for the Oilers not to seriously consider this. Outside of the fact that Archibald hasn’t played a game all season and it will take some time for him to get back up to speed, there’s the small matter of him not being vaccinated.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe

Holland said he doesn’t believe Archibald has gotten his vaccinations. If so, that poses a problem when you consider how many games he’d actually be able to play, and as result, be useful. Matheson rightfully points out:

If he won’t get vaccinated, it’s a moot point, though. He can play games in Canada but with border/health/quarantine issues, travelling to the U.S. for games is likely out of the question. The Oilers have two of their 15 remaining road games in this country. In Calgary on March 7 and March 26. He can drive there.

source – ‘OILERS NOTES: Josh Archibald is back with clean bill of health’ – Jim Matheson – Edmonton Sun – 02/24/2022
Edmonton Oilers Celebrate
Jesse Puljujarvi #13 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates a goal against the Vancouver Canucks with teammates Darnell Nurse #25, Connor McDavid #97, Leon Draisaitl #29 and Tyson Barrie #22 (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

The question becomes, how helpful is a player who can only play in a handful of games, but will also probably need at least a few weeks to get back up to speed? At that point, the season is almost done, and what good is he unless the Oilers make the playoffs and happen to be going up against a Canadian team in the first round? Even if he replaces the smallest contract on the team, Archibald adds another $750K to a roster that is already dealing with salary cap issues and there’s no telling how effective he might or might not be.

Related: NHL Rumors: Flyers, Oilers, Maple Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens, Predators

This does not even bring into the equation how the locker room might feel about having him back if he’s refused to get vaccinated. It won’t be an issue for everyone, but it will be an issue for some. The reality is, the Oilers won’t be retaining him next season. Why move the world for a player that isn’t in your long-term plans?

Archibald Is More Likely a Strong Trade Candidate

When you really boil it all down, at best, Archibald is a 12th forward on a team that often runs with 11 forwards under head coach Jay Woodcroft. He’s a strong penalty killer, but Woodcroft has little history with the player so Archibald is not likely getting preferential treatment if and when he’s ready.

Sign up for our regular 'Oilers Newsletter' for all the latest.

Archibald would have to win a spot over players like Colton Sceviour, Tyler Benson, Devin Shore, and others and if he does, he’d only play a handful of minutes. The better play might be to shop a healthy Archibald as part of a deadline trade to a U.S.-based team. That team could get some miles out of the player and his salary isn’t so high that the deal becomes hard to facilitate. Meanwhile, the Oilers could clear up some cap space to address other, more pressing issues.