Oilers Would Make a Mistake by Trading Foegele

Warren Foegele was acquired on July 28, 2021, from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for former Edmonton Oilers’ fan favourite, Ethan Bear. He started his first season with the team strong, recording five points in the first 10 games, but his point production slowed down, recording 10 points in the following 32 games. One of his most glaring statistics (depending on how much emphasis you place on the stat) is his team-leading minus-15 rating.

On Feb. 3, Oilers’ color commentator Bob Stauffer indicated on the “Oilers Now” radio show that there were several teams interested in Foegele. He stated that he knows for a fact that there are teams that are betting on Edmonton panicking and making a quick decision on him due to lack of scoring production.

It cost the Oilers a potential top-four defenseman to obtain the 25-year-old left-winger, and at this point, his value would be perceived to be lower than when he was first acquired. The team shouldn’t be quick to ship him out anytime soon. If offloaded at his current value, Edmonton would likely lose on any future deals.

Foegele’s Production Has Tailed Off From the Hot Start to the Season

When the Oilers traded for Foegele, the scouting report assessed him to be a big 6-foot-2, 200 pound forward, and an excellent skater who is hard on the forecheck, and defensively responsible— all the elements the team needed to solidify their third line. The left winger made a big impression four games into the season when he did his best Connor McDavid-lite impression, turning an Arizona Coyotes defender inside and out for a highlight-reel goal.

But the scouting report also said that while he was known to generate scoring chances, his downfall was his inability to finish plays. Unfortunately, in the next 38 games that followed, it would appear he’s carried over his lack of finish to Edmonton with only five goals in 42 games.

He’s currently on pace to score fewer goals (10) than last season, in which he was on pace to score 15, had it been an 82-game season. He finished last season’s campaign with a plus-4 rating, while he currently sports a minus-15 rating. Again, that statistic can be misleading, especially since the Oilers went through a tough losing skid. Still, the fact that he leads the team in that category, can be perceived negatively.  

Warren Foegele Edmonton Oilers
Warren Foegele, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Markham, ON native, is coming off a season-low 6:38 minutes of ice time against the Washington Capitals, and he was a minus-2. He was demoted to the fourth line after playing five games on the second line with Leon Draisaitl. In that span playing with the former Art Ross Trophy winner, he recorded two assists, but that came against a poor Montreal Canadiens team in a 7-2 win.

Now imagine you’re an NHL general manager. His point production has dipped, and he’s getting scored on at even strength more times than his line is scoring, more than anyone else on the team. Add in that he played five games on a line with the second-leading scorer in the league, and only registered two assists (against a team with only eight wins on the year). You’d call up general manager Ken Holland with a low-ball offer and offer him pennies on the dollar — which would be bad asset management from an Oilers’ perspective if they accepted. And as Stauffer said, there are many teams interested in his services, hoping the Oilers would be desperate enough to accept a deal.

Foegele Can Bounce Back in the Second Half of the Season

Foegele is a frustrating player to watch — not in the sense that he does many things wrong, but frustrating in the sense that it’s baffling why he doesn’t produce more on the scoreboard. By the seeing-eye test, he isn’t playing poorly at all. He’s tenacious on the forecheck and generally in good positioning. When he was playing alongside Draisaitl, he, along with Jesse Puljujarvi, were exceptional at battling for loose pucks and keeping plays alive.

We’ll never see him lined up next to McDavid at an All-Star Game, but he’s able to generate scoring chances within his skill set as a bottom-six forward. He’s very good on his edges for a big man. He takes the puck hard to the net, either on a wrap-around attempt or bullying past defenders. They may be low percentage scoring chances, but you’d think after that many attempts, “puck luck” would start going in his favour— a lucky bounce off of a skate, or even a rebound? Unfortunately, this happens very little for him.  

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Some positive statistics for him, according to Natural Stat Trick, he’s second on the team in rush attempts (5) and third on the team in hits (62). Trading him would be losing the physical element that the team severely needs, especially after having a reputation of being too soft to play against.

All things considered; the elements he brings to the team are the exact reasons why they traded Bear for him. The Oilers should avoid trading him for the time being, because I feel he can have a better second half of the season, especially as the team is trending upwards, going 5-0-1 in their last six games. The term “snake bit” gets thrown around loosely, but it’s a good description of Foegele’s first half of the season.

Related: Oilers’ Big Goaltending Decision Should Come in Next Two Weeks

With the trade deadline over a month a half away, there’s no telling what GM Holland has up his sleeve. Foegele could be a potential throw-in to acquire a goaltender or a defender. But if there’s no immediate rush to get rid of his services, it would serve the Oilers better for him to increase his point production, thus increasing his trade value. At that point, it might be in the team’s best interest to just keep him.

If the Oilers sneak into the playoffs, a big body that can skate, handle the puck, and is dogged on the forecheck is exactly the type of player the team needs.

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