The Edmonton Oilers have finally made a move to address their centre position; not a big move, it must be admitted, but a move. The team announced on Monday that it had acquired Derek Roy (who cleared waivers earlier in the day) from Nashville in exchange for Mark Arcobello.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) December 29, 2014
It’s an interesting deal, in part because the two players involved are so very similar to each other. Arcobello is a 5’8″, 172-pound offensive centre who is at his best in a sheltered role; Roy is a 5’9″, 184-pound offensive centre who is also best-suited to soft competition and lots of offensive zone starts. Arcobello is on a cheap, one-year contract worth $600,000; Roy is on a cheap, one-year contract worth $1.0 million. Arcobello has 12 points in 36 games; Roy has 10 points in 26 games.
Why didn’t the Oilers simply claim Roy on waivers rather than making a deal for him? For one thing, this reduces the dollars the team is taking on significantly and for another it doesn’t add a contract to the 50-man list. One might reason that as Edmonton has only four centres at the NHL level it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep Arcobello around, perhaps in the pressbox, but given the size of the two men it gets awfully difficult to imagine a scenario where the Oilers would ever dress both on the same night.
Given the similarities between these two players, what does Edmonton get for taking on the extra money attached to Roy’s contract? Two items, primarily:
- They get a player who has been a more effective scorer at even-strength this season
- They get a veteran with 692 games of NHL experience rather than a sophomore who has yet to reach 82 games
They also gain an inch of height and 10 pounds, for what that’s worth, and also put a stop to that “two NHL centres” talk because despite his warts Roy has a long NHL track record.
What this doesn’t significantly change is Edmonton’s situation up the middle. They’re a touch better at the position than they were a couple of hours ago, but the Oilers still have two pivots who perform best in softer minutes and they still don’t have an option to replace Leon Draisaitl, who has convincingly demonstrated that he isn’t ready for prime time.
This isn’t a bad trade, and it probably can’t hurt to add another veteran presence or to shake up a team that has suffered a lot lately. But unless Roy (who had been assigned to the AHL before Edmonton stepped in) can suddenly revive his flagging career it isn’t a deal that makes a lot of difference.