Yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers were both very active and very inactive in the NHL’s annual trade deadline. They were participants in the day’s most significant deal – the Dustin Penner trade – yet despite having a plethora of other veterans who might have been shipped out they were relatively quiet beyond that.
THE PENNER TRADE
I have no bone to pick with the return Steve Tambellini got. I put up a profile of Colten Teubert yesterday which described him as a decent if unspectacular prospect (though naturally the vocal minority of Oilers fans blinded by visions of the Big Rock Candy Mountains disliked the latter half of that assessment) and that combined with a first round and (almost certainly) third round pick is good value for Penner.
Would I have preferred a first round pick and Vyacheslav Voynov? Sure, but the package Tambellini got was fair value for Penner. It wasn’t highway robbery – sure, Pierre McGuire didn’t think Penner would fetch a first round pick, but then he also proclaimed Pascal Leclaire the best goaltender in Senators history the second the team acquired him – but in comparison to other deals it was good value.
What I don’t like about the trade is the strategy behind it. Pretend for a moment that the Oilers had a first round pick at around 20th overall from a previous trade: if they had sent that along with Alex Plante and a conditional third round pick to another western conference team in exchange for a 6’4”, 28-year old forward who scores 30 goals, has a year left on a reasonable contract, and had a strong two-way game, I would have been thrilled, particularly if the player had been a centre.
That kind of player, combined with the lottery pick this summer, certainly would have sped up the rebuilding process.
As for the idea that Penner would under no circumstances re-sign here, that goes directly against what he has said on the record more than once. It goes against what he said after he was dealt. I can’t prove Penner wasn’t lying, but those who think he was can’t prove it either, and in the grand scheme of things what the player actually said must be given far greater weight than gossip and supposition.
Bottom line: I don’t like the time frame the Oilers are operating on – I think it’s needlessly long and I suspect that beyond ‘lose for a long time’ and ‘culture change’ the team doesn’t have a coherent strategy. If I ignore my objections to the overall strategy, this trade doesn’t bother me in the least.
Ales Hemsky is still here. That is a very good thing.
I love the deal that sent Shawn Belle to Colorado in exchange for Kevin Montgomery, for a few different reasons. First of all, with the demotion of Stortini to Oklahoma, the Barons have a lot of veterans – more veterans than they had room for. As a result, Belle had been scratched, and swapping him for Montgomery alleviates that problem.
Kevin Montgomery is 6’2”, 22 years old, and with 19 points he is Lake Erie’s highest scoring defenceman. As a prospect, he’s nothing special, but he’s not far behind Belle and he’s not only three years younger but also a restricted free agent this summer rather than an unrestricted one. It’s a small move but one that helps Oklahoma immediately and may even end up helping the Oilers.
Jim Vandermeer and Ryan Jones, the Oilers two pending unrestricted free agents who might have been of interest to other clubs, remain with the team. Personally, I find that disappointing.
My opinion of Jones is no secret – I like his hustle, enjoy the edge he has to his game, and have been pleasantly surprised by the number of goals he has scored – but he does miserably by the scoring chances metric. In Tambellini’s shoes would have minimal interest in bringing him back next season and I would have liked another draft pick.
I’ve seen it suggested the Oilers should bring back Jim Vandermeer next season. I don’t disagree, depending on the price. That said, is there any reason Steve Tambellini couldn’t have sat down with him, emphasized how much the Oilers liked him and how they could see him on their blueline next season, and told him that in the interests of speeding up the rebuild and giving him a chance to win they were shipping him off to Random Playoff Team X for a draft pick?
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
The Oilers got good value on a major deal that makes them younger and immediately worse, great value on a minor deal, kept their best forward, and got no return on a pair of veteran unrestricted free agents.