Edmonton Oilers trade Brandon Davidson for David Desharnais


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. 

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. 

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. 

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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.

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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  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Awesome. Davidson hasn’t impressed this season at all.

    Desharnais put up 48 points in the 14-15 season and had 52 points in the 13-14 season.

    He’s having a down year but that was probably because of the 19 games missed because of his knee injury.

    Having him and Letestu in the bottom 6 will help us a lot.

    Caggiula has done alright but he wasn’t ready for the NHL this year.

  • Jim Niekamp

    “He’s excited to be coming out West. He’s well versed in everything Oilers. He can play wing and centre. The fact that he’s a veteran player is something we’ve been looking for. I know he’s excited. This was a move of , No. 1: veteran experience and No. 2: acquiring a versatile centreman, and we need help in faceoffs. There are going to be critical situations down the stretch where we’ll need that. The more you can retain the puck, the better.”

    The GM added that he was involved in some rather “significant” discussions elsewhere, but there was nothing overly intriguing and worth mortgaging the future over. The Oilers believe they can make it with the group they have.

    Source: nhl.com, Apt. 3rd, 2013

    Oilers ship pick to Florida in exchange for Jerred Smithson

    • Harry2

      Oh my that made me shutter.

      But comparing Tambellini to Chiarelli is assinine.

      People are way over rating Davidson. He is a decent depth dman nothing more.

  • Doug Weight

    Haven’t read through the entire thread as this got a lot of action quick. But has anyone also considered as a rental a smaller player like Drake can learn a lot from David D. Playoff experience in hard series, same size, role and player as the drake. Like the trade

    • I am Batman

      That’s okay, not a fan neither but this doesn’t make or break anything. Plus Davidson was way overrated by fans here. With our current depth he wasn’t even making the line up.

      Plus, he looked slow. Moving on.

      Get us some Halak Chia!

      Halak is magnifique!


    • Shameless Plugger

      There was no guarantee Vegas would’ve selected Brandon Davidson so that point is kind of moot. Not to mention deals can be made with vegas to select or not select certain players. Adding a centerman who competes and has playoff experience is solid move in my eyes. Davidson couldn’t crack the line up regularily with Nurse out he certainly wouldn’t have now that Nurse is healthy.

  • Muddy

    Vegas this Vegas that – they are only allowed to draft ONE player from each team. Stop acting like they are going to desimate our roster. Every team is also going to lose one player making each team just as vulnerable.

    • jonnyquixote

      That plus they’re going to be filthy with decent defense options to choose from but have virtually eff-all to pick from for forwards.

      They’re going to be gunning for Pitlick or Khaira.

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    Davidson is a warrior and has overcome some obstacles but lets keep it in perspective, he was a left shot 7/8 dman with injury issues who is young and priced right for Vegas. Desharnais is most likely a rental and would be very cheap if he gets resigned. If I remember right he is feisty with some skill a perfect 3rd line centre with experience. This trade doesn’t help a whole lot but doesn’t hurt anything either.

    • Dolby

      PC would have seen DD lots in the eastern conference, especially via the Montreal-Boston battles, what does PC see in this player? I’m intrigued to see how this transpires. Put DD with a couple of big wingers like Sleps and Kass and see what happens.

      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        All of DD’s goals from 2015-16: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79V8mlY4wFE

        From this it looks like he’s great in the blue paint, he’s fast enough to keep up with most players (not sure about McDavid, but who’s fast enough to keep up with him), he’s got success on the dot, and he punches above his weight class. If he kills penalties, that’s a bonus.

        With Montreal taking some salary, this is a better bet for the playoffs than the depth that Davidson adds to the LD.

  • wilco

    Trade a decent player whose skill set you have in surplus for a decent player whose skill set fits your current gaps. That’s how it’s supposed to be done I think. Maybe it works out, maybe not, but I can see the train of thought. Go Oil!

  • jonnyquixote

    With respect to Desharnais, this feels like Davidson was traded at “borderline NHL-player having a terrible injury-scarred season” value out of fear that he would have “expansion-draft steal” value to the Golden Knights.

    That seems like a disconnect to me.

    If he’s a lock to go to the Knights, he should have more trade value than a diminutive veteran having a terrible season and who doesn’t really tick any of our “need” boxes beyond “possible improvement.”

    If his actual value is equal to that of the virtually negligible worth of a 5’7″ UFA on pace for 15 points, then the Oilers would have been better off keeping him and trying to rehab Davidson’s value to the team or the trade market. Offer up a Musil to take Desharnais off Montreal’s hands and keep Davidson in our pocket for the time being.

  • NealH

    This trade has improved our chances for getting to and having success in the playoffs this year. Like all teams getting a rental for this year’s playoffs, it didn’t come for free. Maybe he stays next year, maybe he goes. Same situation for all teams acquiring a rental.

    Every team is going to lose a player to LV. We still get to protect who we want, same as every other team.

    Looks to me like Chiarelli knows how to manage his assets and, without damaging the team or future, is supporting his team and us fans this year.

    That seems pretty decent.

  • toprightcorner

    I think too many people are stuck on last years Davidson wen he had a great stretch of 50 games. People said he was a top 4 defended yet had only played 70 NHL games. Don’t forget how bad last years defense core was, they could make poor dmen look great.

    Davidson has 1 pt in 28 games and has looked out of place. He was never the top 4 dman everyone was hoping for, he is a 6/7 dman and the Oilers have lots of those.

    If people would look at it realistically, he is not a big loss and obviously did not have much value.

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      Agree with this.

      There’s still a chance that he can develop into a top-4 dman. Especially if idiots like Matt Tkachuk stop slew-footing him but I digress.

      But yes, I think us Oilers fans overrate him a bit because of his incredible journey to the NHL:
      1. drafted in the late rounds
      2. outplays prospects with higher pedigree
      3. overcomes cancer (!!)
      4. outplays even more prospects with higher pedigree
      5. one of the few bright spots of a pretty dreadful season last year

      • toprightcorner

        Agree, Davidson was the franchise feel good story that grew a little more each time it was told. He could turn out to be a top 4D in a few years but there would be no room on the Oilers being behind Klefbom, Sekera and Nurse.

        I hope he finishes his storybook ending and becomes a top 4 dman in the futur

  • toprightcorner

    Most people are looking at Desharais 10 pts and are greatly underestimating his ability.

    Desharnais has had a tough start to the year and missed 30 games with a knee injury. This year he was pushed down to the 4th line when Shaw was brought in and basically played with rookies. He played some center and some wing and still managed to score at a 25 pt pace, which is great for on the 4th line.

    Over the past 5 years, he has scored at a 50 pt per season pace and played mostly second line center and wing. He was bumped to the 3rd line when Galchenyuk started playing the middle 2 years ago.

    Desharais has proven middle 6 talent, can play center or the wing and definitely has puck skill. He can play any position in the bottom 6 and can bump up to 2nd line if required without getting lost, thats the advantage of having a skilled veteran.

    DD definitely has 3C and 35-40 pt potential and if he plays well, could be a cheap resigning next year for under #3 mill

    Also, Desharnais is exactly the same type of player Caguilia is. Small, quick, skilled yet feisty and aggressive. There will be some mentoring going on to teach Drake how a small man can succeed in the NHL.

    This could easily be a low risk, high reward deal.

  • Freddie the fog

    Bottom line hes an upgrade over Caguila. Caguila needs more time to develop. And a playoff drive is not the time. And DD can drive offense alot more effectively than Anton Lander. Lets give DD a chance before we overreact. The guy has wheels thats for sure

  • toprightcorner

    I was surprised to see that Chairelli fought to get the Habs to keep 20% of the cap hit. Oilers have tons of cap space. Is he trying to do a bigger trade that may need some cap space? They currently have $4.5 mill of cap space which projects to $20 mill of contracts they could add. May possible a bigger blockbuster trade involving Sharp, Green, Johnson or Fillpula.

    How about 2018 1st pick and one of Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear for Tyler Johnson. He would be a great 2C or 3C with a lot more offense than Nuge. That would allow PC to trade Nuge for a Faulk type

  • Free Bird

    Not a terrible trade but still a bad one. Trading depth at LHD for depth at center makes sense, but acquiring a soft, washed-up veteran like Desharnais doesn’t help this team in the playoffs.

    The success of the rebuild so far has been driven by dumping loser players like this and replacing them with more competitive players who are responsible in their own end. Desharnais is too small, too timid, doesn’t backcheck, will need tons of sheltering, and in peak scoring form his offense barely offsets his lack of defense or physicality. The other three lines will have to take on tougher assignments to shelter this chump. How is even still in the NHL? Did Montreal not like the cap hit of burying him in the minors?

    No, the best part of this deal is that Desharnais’ contract will expire this summer and Chia can let him walk after he disappears in the playoffs (just like in Montreal).

  • dougtheslug

    It’s something for a player who certainly would have been lost for nothing in the expansion draft. Plus with Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones on fire in the Dub, the Oil have Davidson equivalents in the pipeline. Heck, Bear may be as good as Davidson right now.

  • Goilers!

    I am having some trouble figuring this trade out. Maybe I a missing something but they really didn’t solve their problem with expansion by getting rid of Davidson. It is still a problem in the fact that they still will lose a player no matter what. So, they got rid of Davidson to avoid having to get rid of Davidson??? Now, instead of losing just Davidson to the expansion draft, they lost him to Montreal, got a player who is a UFA (And in all likelyhood will lose over the summer by not resigning) and exposed another player to be taken by Las Vegas. The logic just isn’t there to me.