It isn’t much of a news flash to hear that the Oilers intend to be sellers at the NHL trade deadline, which is Monday at 1pm MT. When you’re low in the standings, you’re not trying to bring in players or contracts to put you over the hump in the short-term.
While Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli told the media on Tuesday the team would look to move out certain assets, there is still some evaluation left to be done. Also, larger contracts or “core players” are not likely to be moved until the off-season, if at all, according to the GM.
“Anything is possible. But, for me, major deals are less likely at this time,” said Chiarelli. “I think what happens is that there’s more global planning that takes place post-season, prior to the draft. Then, of course, you have those proximity of the draft picks that are alluring to teams. There’s just more activity that way, but anything is possible. I can tell you I’m not really looking at that type of deal now but doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be looking at that for the spring and summer.”
With the larger contracts, it takes a little more effort and conversation to get a deal done. That means they are more likely to be taken care of in the off-season. Shipping off big contracts to contending teams at the deadline is difficult.
“What I can tell you is though that the contending teams are usually the cap teams, so in that regard if they’re going to take a larger contract there’s a little more maneouvring as far as moving money around,” said Chiarelli. “We’ve got some contracts that, yes, are too high and they’re not performing. That’s not news, but when it comes to moving them and when you’re talking to a contending team that is capped out, you have to get a little creative.”
Chiarelli also indicated that there were some players on the roster who haven’t met their expectations and could use a change of scenery. He would not address specific players by name, but there’s the possibility those are the bodies to move out at the deadline or be reassessed in the summer.
“I’ll look at a lot of different things,” said Chiarelli. “We’ve got some players that have underachieved. We’ve got some players who may need a new venue. Those are the determinations we will make between now and the trade deadline, and if certain players are still around, it’s because the deal wasn’t right or we felt there was a future for them with us, but then you’ll revisit some stuff in the summer.”
The NHL trade deadline is less than a week away, which means general managers across the league are assessing their team’s performance thus far and needs moving forward. Oilers President of Hockey Operations and GM Peter Chiarelli addressed the Edmonton media on Tuesday and gave his own assessment of his team.
“I’m disappointed where we are in the standings,” said Chiarelli. “Just in this last little stretch, I’ve felt that kind of our energy level or work ethic has waned a little bit. Why is that? Well, there are a number of reasons. Leading into this stretch though, I was generally satisfied with some progress we were making on some levels. Obviously, our D is a work in progress, well-documented by (the media) but rightfully so. It’s something we have to improve. Nice to get some forwards back from injuries. I still haven’t had the chance to review the whole team in its totality, which is kind of unfortunate. I don’t like where we are right now. This last little bit has been disappointing, especially at home.”
It has been difficult to assess the roster in the way Chiarelli would like to because of the constant flow of injuries the Oilers have suffered through. The team that has been on the ice this season hasn’t been the complete team since even out of the pre-season. Oscar Klefbom is just the latest example of how an injured player disrupts the roster structure and evaluation process.
“You’d like to see when people are in their proper spots you get a real good assessment of what they are,” said Chiarelli. “Then you can project if they’re going to be on an uptick. We can criticize our defence and these guys do play hard, but not having Oscar in hurts my ability to assess our group. He’s a big, strong defenceman who can push pucks and push bodies. But that’s tough luck for us and we’ve got to figure it out.”
Despite disappointment in his team, which is 3-6-1 since the All-Star break, Chiarelli thinks he’s done the right thing by exercising patience and not rushing a move that wouldn’t bring back the right return.
“I’d like to think I’m not taking that approach and not being reactive,” he said. “There was a time this year when we were close in a lot of games and you could feel good about the effort and you could feel good about the structure and lately there hasn’t been that. The structure has been there but kind of the effort and attention to detail and focus hasn’t. That’s a little disconcerting. I knew there would be heavy-lifting here, and there still is. But I’m a fairly measured person and that won’t change when we’re building this team.”
When addressing his vision for the Oilers moving forward, President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli says he wants to beef up the roster.
“You want to get bigger,” said Chiarelli. “I’d like to get bigger. I think we’re a fast team. I think with the proper moves on defence we’d become faster. Just with the ability to move the puck, to transport the puck in certain areas makes you faster. But I’d like to get bigger. I like our skill. I think kind of across the board, I’d like to get bigger and heavier, and we’ll do that.”
Adding experience and leadership is another area Chiarelli would like to address. Unfortunately, the deadline is not often the time to make those deals when you’re not contending. The more experienced players are often sent to those teams making a playoff push.
“It would be good to get experience in this group,” said Chiarelli. “These guys, although it has been difficult this last little bit, this is experience that they’re gaining right now… I don’t know if that’s now because we’re not a contending team. No one is going to deal us a player of experience now and it might not be the right player but yeah, if you can add that and can complement the group it’s something I would look at.”
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The NHL Trade Deadline is quickly approaching and it always brings a level of uncertainty amongst the players in the locker room.
“Those are human beings in there, and it doesn’t matter if you’re in first or 30th,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “There’s not many jobs in the world where you can just be traded and sent off and you’ve got to pack your family up, get somebody out of school and get on a plane and go to another country, so it plays on their minds. They can say they don’t listen to or read what you guys write, but they do. They know what’s going on in the hockey world. They have agents that inform them, they have players on the other team that are hearing rumours, so it affects everybody.”
With all the trade speculation and the panels discussing buyers and sellers and rumours of who is and who isn’t on the move, there is bound to be some uneasiness. It is maybe more uneasy for a team like the Oilers who sit at the bottom of the standings.
“We’re in a different mode right now than what Washington is,” said McLellan. “What I’ve found is when you’re where Washington is, there’s a little more excitement and everybody is anticipating a new body or two to walk in just to put you over the top. That can be dangerous because if it doesn’t happen then you’re a little disappointed. Here, we’re looking at the future a little more and what changes we need to make over the next seven days and we’ll make decisions that way. I don’t know if I’m right, I just have the sense that our whole group is a little bit nervous. Where in the past, the upper-end, for-sure guys, if you want to call them that, their names haven’t often come up in the media. Poor Nuge isn’t even playing and his name is still coming up. They’re feeling that, and maybe in the past they haven’t. Our whole group is uneasy and they should be. We’re in 30th place.”
At the end of the day, the players know it’s all part of the business.
“I’ve been around long enough now, it’s my ninth year, and I’ve been traded at the deadline before and I know it’s a business,” said Teddy Purcell. “Just have to come to the rink, work hard and keep doing what you’re doing and let Peter (Chiarelli) make those decisions.”
The Oilers have hit the ice for their practice at Rexall Place. Jordan Oesterle, who was recalled yesterday, is skating.
Early line rushes:
The Oilers have seen a few goals in recent games end up in the back of their net due to an opposing player being left alone out in front. Head Coach Todd McLellan cited those as “preventable” mistakes due to miscommunication.
Tyson Barrie’s second goal of the 3-2 loss to Colorado could have been prevented.
“I think of Barrie’s goal and we’re in position,” said McLellan. “That’s an easy sort-out that we have. There’s two guys that are prepared to do the job, we just don’t communicate so nobody does the job.”
The players echoed McLellan’s words on miscommunication.
“That’s the big sort-out right now,” said Brandon Davidson. “It’s minor, but it has to be done. As long as we’re talking and communicating in the d-zone, it’s an easier game on yourself and for your teammates. Just that little bit of communication would be key and I think we could prevent a lot of those goals like that that are coming recently.”
Although the Oilers got into a bit of penalty trouble, their strong kill was able to get them out of it. The Oilers PK kept the Colorado Avalanche scoreless on three power plays.
Their 5-on-3 kill was most impressive, in which they successfully held the Avs off the board for 1:18 in the second.
“It gave us momentum for sure,” said Benoit Pouliot. “I think we kind of played pretty hard after that too. We were in their zone the whole time, we were cycling and we were playing pretty well. That was a huge kill for us. It gave us a big boost, but unfortunately we didn’t get enough goals.”
Oilers defenceman Brandon Davidson logged a good chunk of time on that 5-on-3 PK and played 3:55 total TOI shorthanded.
“I want to contribute,” said Davidson. “That’s a spot where I can shine and (assistant coach Jim Johnson) knows that. He put me in a safe spot where I felt comfortable and where we had that big kill, especially from our forwards and d-men rotating in and out. I felt we all just did a great job.”
The fans have spoken. As part of the WHL’s 50th season celebrations, a panel selected the top 125 players in the league’s history. Fans then voted to select the top 50 all-time WHL players.
Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins comes in at number 40. Nugent-Hopkins spent two seasons in Red Deer with the Rebels, from 2009-2011. He was chosen first overall by the Rebels in the 2008 Bantam Draft. He then went on to record 177 points (57-120-177) in 141 regular season WHL games. He was a point-per-game player in the playoffs with 13 (4-9-13) in 13 games.
The Oilers selected Nugent-Hopkins first overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. The centre has 218 points (73-145) in 304 NHL games for Edmonton. The 22-year-old is out of the lineup with a long-term hand injury.
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