Oilers Trade Perron To Penguins: Address Future, Neglect Today

Breaking news today out of Edmonton — A few days after scoring the shootout winner against the defending Stanley Cup Champions the Oilers have traded David Perron to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 1st round selection in what looks to be one of the better draft classes of the decade.

Perron currently has 5 goals and 19 points in 38 games this season on an underwhelming Oilers offense that ranks 27th overall in the NHL. A huge addition by the Oilers last season when he was acquired for former 2009 9th overall pick Magnus Paajarvi and what would become the 2014 33rd overall pick Ivan Barbashev.

Now a member of the Penguins, Perron goes from bouncing between the second and third lines in the Oilers line blender to getting a chance to be a steady linemate for perennial all-stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, both of whom are in the need for a solid secondary scoring winger. Any time you get the chance to go from playing with a struggling rookie in Leon Draisaitl of a grossly undersized center in Marc Arcobello to playing with two Olympians and former Stanley Cup champions you upgrade, its clear. Now it’s on Perron to show that he can regain the form of what was a career year last season when the scored 28 goals and 57 points.

Oilers Overall Struggles Give Perron Free Pass…

It’s difficult to assess how much of Perron’s struggles this season are based on his inconsistency and how much is based on the overall performance of a struggling franchise destined for another top draft pick. Either way a -17 rating, zero power play goals, 6.8% shooting percentage and a decrease in TOI from 19:07 in 2013-14 to 16:58 this season are what Perron is being measured on as a player. Arriving in Pittsburgh the 26-year-old gets a crack at being a regular on the Penguins top unit while Pascal Dupuis continues to stay on IR.

The Penguins have tried everything on the RW to fill the vacancy with not avail. Perron should be able to answer these questions as he becomes the second Oiler traded this week to a playoff contender after Arcobello went to the Nashville Predators for Derek Roy. It’s clear the Oilers won the initial trade that brought Perron to Edmonton from St. Louis, but what becomes of the 2015 first round pick will determine if general manager Craig MacTavish is once again able to pull a rabbit out of his that.

Paajarvi was an underperforming high draft pick that MacTavish wasn’t afraid to move in his first bold move upon taking reigns from Steve Tambellini. The hope was Paajarvi would become a star power-forward with his 6’3 210lbs frame and he made himself expendable when he managed just 58 points in 163 games as an Oiler. Paajarvi’s struggles have continued in St. Louis where he has been a frequent healthy scratch The second round pick in the original Perron deal that brought him to Edmonton became Ivan Barbashev who has been somewhat of an underrated offensive import for the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats and Team Russia at the 2015 World Junior Championships. Either way fast forward and Perron has gone from lottery contender to Stanley Cup contender in one swoop.

Perron NOT a Rental…

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford gets Perron at $3.8M with another year left on his deal which gives him a player for essentially two playoff runs. Rutherford is up against the cap now with taking on the salary leaving only $1.25M for trade deadline acquisitions. The team still needs to bolster its depth upfront for a deep run but bringing in a top six forward was a need at the top of their list which has been met. Injuries have been mounting for the Penguins with the already mentioned Dupuis and now Patrik Hornqvist out with injuries. Bringing in Perron will ultimately allow for the team to have some deep depth come playoff time if the team is healthy.

Pick Brings Oilers Much Needed Trade Value In Hopes Of Landing Starting Goalie or Top-Pairing Defenseman…

Edmonton currently has over $9M available in cap space and with the trading of Arcobello and now Perron you have to figure the Oilers are trying to make a culture change but it might be with all pieces not named Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle. Rumours have been circulating about Hall, Eberle and even Nail Yakupov but for now the team seems content holding onto it’s troubling core. With the team expected to be a contender for the 1st overall pick this June, the addition of a late first rounder in a deep draft can either provide the Oilers a second blue chip prospect or better yet possibly lead to a package to bring in the ever so elusive top pairing defenseman the team has lacked since trading Chris Pronger at the end of the 2005-06 season. The Oilers can also use the pick in an offer to bring in a proven number one goalie.

“It’s easy to like what the Penguins are getting, because Perron isn’t an expiring deal and he’s a productive player who could be a strong complementary piece on a very good team. The risk the Oilers take in making this deal is that they could end up with nothing. Late first-round picks are only a little better than coin flips and there’s no guarantee Klinkhammer plays for them beyond this season.” – Scott Cullen (TSN)

In the last week the Oilers have been active in making player personnel moves and it is also expected rookie Leon Draisaitl will be re-assigned to the WHL Kelowna Rockets this weekend, so there must’ve been some truth to the fact MacTavish was behind the bench to assess the on-ice catastrophe. Rob Klinkhammer comes in as a depth forward that may or may not end the Anton Lander saga. Unfortunately the on-ice product isn’t the only thing that needs immediate addressing. Stu MacGregor and the scouting department have performed very poorly outside the first round picks making multiple high-risk selections that haven’t panned out ala Ryan Martindale, Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Bunz and Cameron Abney to name a few.

“Expect changes atop the amateur scouting department soon, where I would expect Bob Green — the man who built the Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings as the team’s GM — to be put in charge of the department.” – Mark Spector (Sportsnet)

As much as the allure is there to make two first round picks this year in a deep draft, the Oilers have to make a move for now instead of another wait til tomorrow situation. The team currently has too many holes in the roster in between the pipes, on the backend and upfront.

Moving Perron should give some valuable minutes to Yakupov who in his third season in the NHL and yet to establish himself in an Oiler uniform. Teddy Purcell will get some more minutes as well and compete for some PP time with Yakupov. Together they are the biggest beneficiaries to the Perron trade. On the lower end of the totem pole this deal coupled with Tyler Pitlick’s injury status gives Steve Pinizzotto and Klinkhammer both roster spots whether that’s a good thing or not.

Trade It Or Keep It? Many Options Available With 1st Round Selection…

The Oilers inability to draft coupled with these holes in the roster have to force the Oilers hand to take their chances on a trade than trust their current scouting staff on a pick that isn’t as much of a sure thing as the 1st overall selection is. This pick coupled with a current roster player in a package to lure a top-pairing defenseman or starting goalie would make a difference in the Oilers ability to compete. If you’re still doubtful just ask the Florida Panthers how much a starting goalie in Roberto Luongo can make a difference in competing for a playoff spot. Ask the Minnesota Wild what signing Ryan Suter has meant to their backend.

Based off the current NHL standings the pick coming from the Penguins looks to be a late first rounder in a deep draft if the Oilers elect to keep the pick. It’s believed the Oilers will shop the pick in hopes of landing either a goaltender or top pairing defenseman but if they don’t here is a list of players available with what currently looks like the 26th overall pick based off the December ISS rankings:

  • 25th – C Tom Novak – USHL Waterloo – A highly skilled playmaking center with first-rate “hockey sense” and puckhandling ability. Creates energy through being an offensively dominant presence. Plays an up-tempo game that can catch a lot of defencemen off guard; excellent skater. Will need to gain size and strength; otherwise, with his skillset, there is nothing barring him from becoming a prolific scorer at the next level. – (Elite Prospects)
  • 26th – LW Jansen Harkins – WHL Prince George – A blue collar type two-way center. Heads-up player who makes high-percentage plays in all three zones; efficient in all situations. Smooth skater. Out-working the opposition and being hard to play against are leadership traits that Jansen Harkens most definitely embodies. – (Elite Prospects)
  • 27th – D Jakub Zboril – QMJHL Saint John Sea Dogs – A puck-moving defenceman with very good awareness on the ice and a very accurate shot. A smooth skater who moves with plenty of jump. Not exactly creative but possesses all of the raw tools to eventually be able to do more with his talent. – (Elite Prospects)
  • 28th – D Nicolas Meloche – QMJHL Baie-Comeau Drakkar – A smooth skating defenceman who can put up points, utilizing his strength behind his shot, and plays with an edge. Has very good awareness on the ice, and notices possible scoring chances before they happen. Very intelligent defensively and makes high percentage decisions in his own end. When at the top of his game, Nicolas Meloche can be a game-changing, physical two-way defenceman. – (Elite Prospects)

To view THW’s 2015 NHL Mock Draft: Christmas Edition read here.

Complete List of 2014-15 Oiler Trades

For those keeping track of all the Oiler trades this season here is a complete list from TSN.ca:

  • November 20th 2014 – Oilers acquire C Kellan Lain from Canucks for C Will Acton
  • December 29th 2014 – Oilers acquire C Derek Roy from Predators for C Mark Arcobello
  • January 2nd 2014 – Oilers acquire 2015 1st round selection and C Rob Klinkhammer for LW David Perron

This is the beginning of what could be a long list of moves for the Oilers leading into the 2015 NHL Draft.