Edmonton Oilers trade Brandon Davidson for David Desharnais

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Brandon Davidson is no longer a member of the Edmonton Oilers. The club announced on Tuesday that it had dealt the defenceman to Montreal in exchange for centre David Desharnais.

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First, the contract details, which are always important when considering these deals. Desharnais is in the final year of a contract with a cap hit of $3.5 million, after which he will be an unrestricted free agent. Montreal retaining a percentage of his cap hit has no value going forward, but does help reduce the impact of moving a defenceman with a $1.425 million cap hit for a much more expensive forward. 

While Desharnais is bound for free agency, Davidson has another year remaining on his deal, after which he’ll be a restricted free agent. This has the potential to be a value deal for the Canadiens, particularly since there are opportunities on the left side in Montreal. 

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Desharnais does fill a need for Edmonton at centre. 

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Because of Todd McLellan’s preference that Leon Draisaitl play right wing on the Oilers’ top line, the team has been looking for a third-line centre for most of the year. Drake Caggiula was handed the job in training camp and then again during the season once he got healthy, but his 0.74 points/hour at even-strength is the worst of any Edmonton regular and he was clearly not yet up to the task. 

Desharnais’ own scoring rate is nearly double Caggiula’s, and this during what has been a down year for him. In seasons past, he’s been a very effective secondary scorer at 5-on-5. He’s also a good skater, which is a need on a team that has looked sluggish at times this season. 

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In other ways, though, the new centre is an odd fit. He plays a courageous game, but he’s 5’7″ and 174 pounds and cannot be described as a physical presence, putting him at odds with most of GM Peter Chiarelli’s recent additions. 

Desharnais doesn’t kill penalties, so he won’t help there. He isn’t a right shot and has mediocre power play numbers over his career, so although he may appear on Edmonton’s second unit he probably won’t have a big impact on it. He’s 49 percent on even-strength faceoffs over his career, which makes him a big upgrade on Caggiula in that department. 

This trade will certainly make Edmonton better in the short-term, where the gap between Desharnais and Caggiula at 5-on-5 is much greater than the gap between Davidson and Darnell Nurse or Matt Benning. Certainly it gives the Oilers a better shot at running three effective lines, something that’s going to matter in the postseason. 

The cost on the trade is dear. Desharnais and Davidson are of similar importance in terms of their position in the lineup, with the difference being that Davidson is both cheaper and under contract longer. On the other hand, with Martin Hanzal and Brian Boyle both already off the market, there just weren’t a lot of other centre options.

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There’s also the matter of the expansion draft. It was expected that the Oilers would lose Davidson to Las Vegas for nothing, so in some ways it made sense to trade him. However, there’s a cost associated with doing so, because Edmonton will now lose someone else – perhaps Griffin Reinhart, perhaps Jujhar Khaira – instead. 

This is a reasonable deal from a rental perspective in that it makes the Oilers better today. In a vacuum, it’s hard to argue that a pending UFA Desharnais is a superior asset to an NHL team than a signed 25-year-old Davidson, but sometimes the short-term boost is worth giving up the superior asset. 

It is, in short, a deal that makes sense for both teams. It just happens to be one that works more in Montreal’s favour than it does in Edmonton’s. 

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  • Bringer_Of_Snow

    I don’t understand how this helps with the expansion draft? DD will be gone since he’s a UFA, meaning we’ll have to expose one of Maroon, Kass or Letestu. Would have rather kept Davidson, as he might be more attractive to take.

    Desharnais is crap at face offs too, so doesn’t exactly help with that.

        • eeagain

          Recent reports from Bakersfield is that GR’s game has come around since the new year and he is a real option to play in the NHL. No doubt this factored into this trade. I can’t see why Vegas would take a player who has yet to establish himself as an NHL regular, they will have lower risk options.

          In any event the impact of PC’s management is very apparent in this trade. He has, remarkably quickly, built depth on the D that makes this type of trade possible. A far cry from the D that featured washed up or never were veterans.

          What Deharnais can bring remains to be seen.

    • crabman

      Unless they resign and protect Russell befor the expansion draft the Oilers can go the 7-3-1 route and protect all the players you just named. If they kept Davidson and went 4-4-1 that’s when a good forward would have been exposed.

      • pkam

        We trade Davidson for a UFA so what do we really gain? All it does is we don’t lose Davidson in the expansion draft but now. We don’t even know if Desharnais will resign with us. If he doesn’t, we still lose Davidson, but what is worse, we will lose another player to the expansion draft.

        Say we keep 7 forwards and 3 defensemen. We all know who the 3 defensmen are. The 7 forwards will be Drisaitl, RNH, Eberle, Lucic, Maroon, and most likely Kassian and Letensu. Which means we may lose Reinhart or Brossoit, or Desharnais.

        And if we resign Russell, he probably will ask for a NMC, meaning either we protect 4-4-1 or we will expose Larsson or Klefbom.

        And if we resign Desharnais, are we going to protect him? If we do, we have to expose either Kassian or Letensu.

        Might better keep Davidson and lose him to expansion.

          • DoubleDIon

            No way, if Vegas needs an overpaid large bottom 6 winger with too much term left they have to take Brouwer. On the surface this trade looks bad. Give it time and see I guess, but as a Flames fan I approve of PC dumping serviceable young defensemen for middle aged forwards who don’t really slot on an NHL depth chart.

          • crabman

            NTC for Brouwer so keep dreami g the shames get ride of him so easily. Pouliot on the other hand does not. He is having a train wreck of a season but has been a sevicable middle 6 rw for years. Vagas will need players with some term but not too much and a cap hit that helps them get to the floor. Pouliot could fit the bill there.

          • pkam

            Let’s assume we expose one of Kassian, Letensu, Desharnais, you believe LA will take Pouliot over all of them?

            Might as well trade Davidson for a 3rd or 4th. This way we can protect both Kassian and Letensu and a 3rd or 4th does not need to be protected.

          • Shameless Plugger

            They need to get to the cap floor. They can’t just select players with minimal salaries. They’re going to have to take a bad contract or two and I’m hoping Pouliot is one of them.

          • I'm too tall for this @#$%

            This is true. There’s a chance they select Pouliot or Fayne from the Oilers for this reason.

            The reason is like pkam said, they have to draft to the cap floor, and there isn’t going to be much for highly paid high end players exposed to the expansion draft and still under contract for next season. Sure they can take some expiring contracts in the expansion draft, but their roster still has to make the cap floor next season too. This probably means they’ll take a few NHL players with bad contracts expiring 2018 and 2019.

          • DiscoBiscuits

            They have to get above 60% of the upper cap limit for the previous season.

            There will be plenty of high-priced legitimate talent out there, and while all 30 teams are hoping Vegas will pick up one of their dud contracts, only a few will be so lucky.

        • crabman

          Not going to argue with that. Not saying it was a good trade. But looking at Montreals D we just traded a rental for a rental. They have 3 nmc D and more than 4 forwards they will need to protect. So they will go 7-3-1. After a quick look through other team rosters no one jumped out as a good trade partner where Davidson would be protected and we get a player we need. So this was simply a rental from a position of stregnth in LD to add depth at a position of weekness 3C.
          I don’t think Desharnais is in the future plans and won’t be resigned. On the off chance he is it would probably be after expansion. I think same goes for Russell.
          And I’m not too worried about losing a backup goalue or a current what number 10 Dman.

      • OilersGM

        It would be very stupid to resign Russell before the expansion draft because he is a free agent he chooses where he wants to go so they can make a deal behind closed doors and wait until after the draft. We wanna protect as many good players as we can and not signing Russell prior to the draft means one more player protected.

        • crabman

          Totally agree. Just mentioning a Russell signing because of all the talk there has been about just that in the past few weeks. I’m not even in the group that thinks we should resign him at all. Unless after trying to upgrade the 2RD there is no better option and he signs short term at resonable $. But most definitly not before expansion.

  • bleedingcoppernblue

    WTf is wrong with Lander? Did he puss in Chia or tmacs cheerios? Had to do something because this trade makes no sense with Lander in the system already. Don’t want to lose Davidson in expansion so trade him for a guy worse than a guy we already have and that makes 2 million more?!?! Wtf

  • Looch#27

    Ugh at first blush PC botched this trade, we got a tiny center back which would be fine if he was any good which he ain’t how exactly does this improve our chances at doing something in the playoffs? Disappointing to say the least to lose cheap def depth for a non factor at best

  • Glass

    If you’re going to trade Davidson for a centerman, trade for someone that would push Letestu to 4C… If Chia would of had to include a 5th to get someone of higher quality I wouldn’t be upset.

    We were probably losing Davidson anyway, and he was probably going to be scratched most games because of our depth. But damn, he is a quality D.

    • toprightcorner

      Tell us who? DD was the best centre available from pending UFA’s once Boyle was traded. PC obviously knows the team needs help at centre, didn’t have a 2nd to get in on Boyle and by trading Davidson who the Oilers were likely going to lose for nothing, and likely not play much down the stretch or playoffs with Nurse healthy, he made an addition without costing the team anything.

      This trade ices a better team for the Oilers than they currently had and that is all that matters.

  • dolenupnorth

    Well it’s forward depth, it let’s us keep the top six in tact, and let’s us keep the young guys in the ahl to push for a spot. Maybe lander can lead down there and make a round or two. Not a big fan but kinda makes sense I guess.

  • Oswald_Mosley_69

    I dont want to come on here and be negative but lets think about this. Desharnais is 5’7.he has 4 goals this year and in the playoffs 3 goals in 38 games. What did Chiarelli see in him? I see him as a guy that makes the team worse. Not the type of ‘character’ guys you wana add for a run!

    • crabman

      Wasn’t even a guy I had on my radar but hasbeen in Montreal as long as Chiarelli has been in Boston. A 3C with the ability to pay up the lineup when needed and above a half point a game player over his carrer. He is also a veteran. I’m sure he is a player Chairelli is much more familiar with than I am. And I’ll wait and see how he fits in and what other movea are made before I judge the move.

    • VvV

      He’s has 250 pts in 430 games. Look at his previous years stats, if I had to pick between him, Caguilla and Lander. He scores more than both of them combined.

  • Hemmercules

    Not overly exciting but its something. Wonder if Chia was in the mix for Boyle and had to settle? Probably would have lost Davidson in the ED anyway. I like Davidson but he has injury concerns, not sure about Deharnais?

  • GK1980

    Love Davidson and he will be a heck of a defencemen but Oilers need to tweak a bit and they do have extra D to wheel and deal. Bear and jones in the minors are trending up and looking good. Desharnes is a little small but decent on face offs. I think chia has one more move to make.

    • pkam

      In his past 6 years, he was below 50% in 3, 50% in one, 50.8% in one. So he has only decent year on the dot. And this year he is below 48%. How is this decent on face offs?

  • Hockey123

    He isn’t even good at face-offs. Davidson last year had top 4 potential. They traded him for a guy at the end of his career.

    Montreal and the NYI makes Edmonton look like amateurs in trades