I remember it like it was yesterday. Rusty Staub, le Grande Orange, one of my two childhood sports heroes (Bobby Orr the other) had been traded to the New York Mets. It was in fact a brilliant trade, but I didn’t care, Rusty Staub was gone. I stared at my 1971 baseball card and cried. Bat left, throws right, off to the big apple. I have hated the Mets with a passion since.
You know what? Staub came back! I was out of the baseball card collecting phase by then, my most valuable possession was a 1965 Chevy Bel Air Supersport (imagine a train car on tires, the thing could crush a mountain). I had time for Rusty Staub though, so was happy as a clam when Montreal reacquired him in the summer of 1979. That was a magical Expos team, and Rusty was a part of it. Beautiful.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
During the period leading up to the deadline, I began compiling a list of possible acquisitions for Edmonton. I don’t really know if it was accidental or on purpose, but my final list included 10 former Oilers’ draft picks. That is a lot. Here is the list I prepared as possible trade targets.
- R Ales Hemsky, Dallas Stars. Over 800 games into his NHL career, he can still dance and dangle and make plays in the offensive zone. Hemsky was just ready to come back from injury at the deadline, perhaps a poor time to acquire him. There is also the question of the fit (passer) based on current roster.
- C Sam Gagner, Columbus Blue Jackets. No chance he would come available with the CBJ doing so well, but for me Gagner makes a ton of sense for Edmonton. Righty shot, gold on the PP, and he is UFA this summer. As crazy as it might sound, this deal makes sense.
- C-R Kyle Brodziak, St. Louis Blues. As is the case with Gagner, the St. Louis Blues were unlikely to move Brodziak at the deadline. That said, Brodziak will be a UFA at next year’s deadline and we could see action.
- L Andrew Cogliano, Anaheim Ducks. Brilliant speed and an ability to play in every game on the schedule make this former Oiler noteworthy. I wonder if he considers Edmonton when he reaches free agency in the summer of 2018? No chance in hell the Ducks send him to the Oilers without a significant overpay.
- RD Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens. I very much doubt he would return, and his contract runs through 2021. Still, as was the case with Staub, perhaps he returns to a more mature Oilers team on the verge of winning a championship.
- RC Riley Nash, Boston Bruins. Strictly a depth option, but a righty center who is 50 percent on the dot. Has another year, inexpensive deal.
- W Magnus Paajarvi, St. Louis Blues. Again with the speed. Paajarvi is not an offensive player, but has had some success as a speedy two-way winger. Could the Oilers make use of him on one of the bottom two lines?
- L Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils. Like Staub, a lot of fans were heartbroken when Hall was traded, and it might be another eight years before we can even consider the possibility. Still, at some point, down the line, this might become possible. Seriously.
- LD Martin Marincin, Toronto Maple Leafs. Rangy defender has played 23 games this season and shown his usual abilities (good possession numbers) in a defensive role. Edmonton doesn’t have a need for this kind of LHD, but he might be available and could be an upgrade on some of the current Oilers.
- R Tobias Rieder, Arizona Coyotes. Substantial player famous for scoring shorthanded goals two at a time against Edmonton, he has another year left and the Coyotes should keep him. That said, he would be a perfect fit for the Oilers and could be a Fernando Pisani type.
Question: Which one would you choose?
Note: My sincere thanks for Dustin Nielson and Wil Fraser for story idea.