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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

McKenzie: “Who do you think wants Ryan Strome right now?”

Over at TSN 1260, Nielson and Fraser had Bob McKenzie on the show to talk about whether or not it’s panic time in Oilersnation and if there’s any truth to the rumour that the Oilers are unhappy with the Ryan Strome deal. 

It goes without saying that the Oilers are in a bad spot as October winds down and that misery has caused plenty of panic around these parts. As a result, the rumours are already circulating that Peter Chiarelli is looking to make a deal and that’s exactly what Nielson and Fraser wanted Bob McKenzie to clarify. When asked if the Oilers could already be in the trade market, McKenzie pumped the breaks a little bit.

“I don’t know what significant (move) you can do this early in the season. It’s not to say trades can’t be made, but honestly, if you’re 10 games in and you think the answer for your team lies in a trade, I think that’s abdicating too much of the responsibility from the players you’ve got on the roster.”

I find McKenzie’s choice of words interesting in this part. He said making a trade would be “abdicating too much of the responsibility from the players you’ve got on the roster.” Who built this roster? When does that person start feeling the heat? Maybe we’ll do that story another day. Anyway… go on.

“Can Connor McDavid, Patrick Maroon, and whoever is playing right wing be better? Yes, they can. Can Leon Draisaitl, now that he’s healthy and back playing regularly… if he was with Milan Lucic or even if he’s on the right side with McDavid, take your pick, but in any case, can they be better? Yes. And they need to be. Nugent-Hopkins, can he be better? Yes.”

I mean, can all of those guys be better? Totally. I don’t think anyone would argue that. But most of the guys that McKenzie mentioned here are the ones that are actually putting points on the board, albeit at a slower pace than expected. It’s the RW position and the bottom six that aren’t getting anything done. What about the wingers, Bob?

“The rotating cast of right wingers, whether it’s Caggiula or Slepyshev or Strome or what have you. Can they be better? Absolutely.”

Right. So what we know is that pretty much everyone on the team needs to play better — no surprise there. What I want to know is what needs to happen to get out of this hole and whether or not a trade is coming.

“I think if you’re looking for answers, the answer is better execution with the existing players you’ve got on the roster than it is some fanciful flight that, 10 games into the season, Peter Chiarelli is going to be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat and make a game altering trade this early in the season.”

On Saturday night, Nick Kypreos dropped an intermission nugget that lit Twitter ablaze when he basically said the Oilers are bummed about the Eberle/Strome trade and could be looking to move on. When asked directly about Kypreos’ rumour, McKenzie said:

“I haven’t heard anything along those lines. But in what universe does anybody think that a guy who on his best day is a 50 point player in the National Hockey League, who’s never scored more than 20 goals in the NHL and who has never scored more than 50 points or thereabouts, but has had years where he’s scored less and he comes in and he’s got three points…”

INSIDER CONTROVERSY! McKenzie called you out, Nick. Your rumours are wack, son. BURN! But just for a minute, play along here, Bob. What if the rumours ARE true and the Oilers are actually looking to move on from Strome after 10-games. What happens then? What say you?

“…so someone comes in and says, ‘Yeah, we may want to trade Ryan Strome.’ Oh good. Who do you think wants Ryan Strome right now? Seriously.”

Harsh, Bob. You didn’t exactly pull any punches there, huh?

“Let’s put this in a little bit of perspective. Does Ryan Strome need to be more productive and better? Absolutely. Are perhaps the Oilers unhappy with the level of production they’ve gotten from him? I would say absolutely, (just) as they are with a lot of different players”

Here’s the thing, though. The other guys you mentioned CAN be better, but we aren’t sure that there is another gear for Ryan Strome. At the time of this post, Strome is on pace for a 38 point season, which is right in line with where he was at over the past two season. Quite frankly, what we’re seeing is probably what we’re going to get. Am I right here, Bob?

“But let’s not make any mistake about why Ryan Strome was brought in. Ryan Strome was brought in to be a lower case Jordan Eberle because he cost less money with less of a financial obligation. He’s in the last year of a deal that pays him $2.5 million. I don’t have to tell you that’s $3.5 million less than Eberle was making and Eberle had more term.”

*checks math* He’s right!

“Was Eberle a more productive player than Ryan Strome? Yes, absolutely he is — there’s no question about that. Did the Oilers know that when they traded him? Absolutely they did. But did the coaching staff and the Oilers not like what Eberle was giving them last year, especially in the playoffs? The answer is yes.”

Alright, so the Oilers were unhappy with Eberle’s playoff performance — I get that — but why was the answer to move him and simply hope that there was an internal replacement or for a guy to outperform anything he’s ever done? Prospect development doesn’t happen on a straight line, ya know what I mean? Or did the Oilers expect that Ryan Strome would outperform his career average? WHAT IS THE ANSWER, BOB?!

“Let’s be clear on Ryan Strome. He was a guy that the Oilers hoped would be able to generate some level of offence. But, I mean, he wasn’t being brought in to be the guy. He’s not an elite offensive player that’s a difference maker on the offensive side of the puck. Now, should he be doing more than he’s doing? Yeah, but so should everyone else on the Oilers.”

Alright, Bob, I agree with you that the other forwards need to be better, but we’re talking about Ryan Strome here. I want to know whether or not there is any smoke to the Kypreos fire. Are the Oilers going to trade Ryan Strome already? Is that even an option?

“I don’t know what universe, if the Oilers said, ‘Oh, we think might want to trade Ryan Strome now,’ where everybody in the National Hockey League would be saying, Oh great. Let’s line up for a guy whose numbers are average historically and is off to a terrible start.

Wait… the OILERS made that trade last summer. What does that say about them?

“Right now is a situation where the team is losing and you’re not getting as much from Strome and other guys as you’d like. That whole right side has been in a constant state of flux and they kinda knew that going in.”

Woof. If the Oilers actually knew/expected that the right side was going to be a garbage fire before the year even started then we’ve got some serious problems. We’re heading into November with the team at three games under .500 (four if you count the pity point) and six points out of a wildcard spot — that’s bad news in every way. The fact that we’re already talking about whether or not the Oilers are looking to trade the only return they got back from one of their highest scoring wingers is a disaster, whether it’s true or not. As they say, when it rains it pours.

Be sure to listen to the full interview over at TSN 1260.

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  • Natejax97

    I keep telling myself to chill out and wait until the 20 game mark to draw conclusions on this roster and our playoff hopes…but I am freaking out!!!!!

  • bwar

    The roster is worse than last year, especially with Sekera out, and shockingky the Oilers are a worse team. The new additions have been a major bust and the only guy that showed any potential to be able to have a positive impact on the roster was a 140 lbs kid straight out of Juniors.

    The Oilers can be better than they’ve been but right now they are digging themselves a deep hole that will not be easy to climb out of.

      • A-Mc

        i completely disagree. The D have been terrible; making constant mistakes. There have only been a couple games where the defense (combined with Talbot) have played up to par. This team misses sekera very much.

  • MrBung

    If the Oilers were losing games, but their special teams were better and/or they were losing close games, I would say this team is in shape to pull out of this funk. I only see them making a slight improvement but not the kind of winning streak that will see them getting into this seasons playoffs. This team is just not that good aside from a handful of players.

  • Consultant

    Trading away salary before the last year when we are swimming in cap space was dumb, the fact that it was a clear downgrade really makes me wonder about Chia. Eberle wasn’t perfect but he did many things well and I would have liked to have seen him try to redeem his playoffs. Trade him sure but wait until we can at least trade with a desperate team, like Montreal is now. Horrible trade, Chia wears it.

    • gordo

      no, eberle stunk in the playoffs when it really mattered. i kinda felt he shoulda not been protected in the expansion draft, but reinhart aint an nhl player either

    • If we waited another offseason and Eberle had an even worse season what would happen? With McDavids contract kicking in next summer and guys like Caggiula, Nurse, and Benning needing new deals we’d be deep down the hole and desperate. Other GMs take advantage of desperate teams, instead of Eberle for Strome we’d need to move Eberle along with a pick and Ethan Bear. Ebs was given numerous opportunities to succeed, when most coaches would’ve moved him to the third line McLellan put him on McDavid’s line, he never left the top-6 at all last year. It hurts to say it but Eberle simply just didn’t buy into the new style of Oilers hockey. Nuge was a different story, he struggled to find a role and was shuffled every two games but the effort was always there.

      • Reinman

        Ebs had a 70 point season under his belt. He has succeeded at the NHL level. Consistency is what we were looking for. I disagreed with trading ebs the whole time. You don’t trade a player because he has an off year… happens to lots of players. Look at lots of great players, you will see their numbers are rarely strong every year. That is part of our problem in Edmonton, we always trade our players away at their worst, get nothing for them, and then they go on to do good things for other teams. Sometimes, you just gotta let your players play through it, especially when they have shown they can succeed at this level n the past. Ebs is hardly over the hill.

  • TKB2677

    If there is a person out there who thought Strome would replace all of Eberle’s offense, then they were fooling themselves. Eberle is a better offensive player than Strome that is a fact. I don’t think for a second even the Oilers expected Strome to put up the same numbers as Eberle could. When they made the trade I think the coach was tired of Eberle’s act. He had 2 seasons of watching Eberle do his thing which we Oilers fans had watched for years and at times he frustrated the hell out of us. I think Eberle having a crap season and then a brutal playoffs and costing them a game or 2 with his lazy play was the last straw. In Strome, I think they saw a right shooting center/winger that could move up and down your top 9 and with him being able to play 2 positions gives you some depth in 2 positions and flexibility in your lines. I think they expected him to put up md- high teens in goals and be around 40 pts which is probably 3/4 of what Eberle could put up then have a few other guys like Caggulia and Slep pick up the slack. I think they saw a player that was 3.5 mill cheaper than Eberle, they knew they needed to start cutting salary soon and waiting one more offseason would only mean they got even less for Eberle. If you wait for this coming offseason to trade Eberle and his salary, you would be forced to take literally nothing. You wouldn’t be able to take any salary back so you are looking for picks and prospects and you probably aren’t getting good picks or prospects in order to get a team to take on the whole 6 mill.

    • TKB2677

      I don’t disagree that right now the trade looks really bad. But if the Oilers did keep Eberle for this season knowing at some point they have to dump his 6 mill. But would you have been OK if they traded this offseason for some package of mediocre picks and prospects?

      By waiting until this offseason and McDavid’s 12.5 mill on the books, you are against the wall and absolutely have to get rid of salary. Teams would know this so they aren’t going to give you a lot because you have no leverage. You really need to get rid of the whole 6 mill so that probably means you have to take next to nothing back just to get a team to take on the whole salary. I am not liking the trade right now but I wouldn’t be happy with the Oilers getting nothing of value back for Eberle.

      • McRaj

        Would the team be better this year if they still had Eberle? Yup.
        Would the return on Eberle be worse than the return on Strome right now would be? Probably not.
        If Eberle had a bounce-back year (25 goals – 60 points), is the return stronger? Yup.
        Were we in a dire need to trade Eberle for Cap space for this season? Nope.
        Will the Oilers walk away from Strome for nothing? Possibly.

        I’m sorry but I was in support of the Eberle trade just for the sake of a trade and I regret it. I was wrong. It is obvious that it was a huge error and classic case of Oilers selling an asset while value is at its lowest point.

        • TKB2677

          How do you figure the return for Eberle if they held on to him wouldn’t be worse this offseason? You have McDavid’s 12.5 coming on the books so you have to drop a lot of salary. That means you aren’t taking back a player. It’s picks and prospects. I am not happy with Strome and not trying to stick up for him but at least you know in Strome he can play on your 3rd line right now. With picks and prospects there is no guarantee any of them work out and if they do, it could take years. How is that better?

          • btrain

            If it means making the playoffs and having a chance to compete for the cup do you not just take that chance? Especially when you look at your roster without 14 and there is nothing close to a sure thing to replace him. Also another season is another year of experience for guys like Caggulia, Sleppy, JP, and even Yamamoto. The organization would have had a much better idea of what these players are capable of instead of gambling on them and Strome to fill in Eberle’s production before they had to. If the kids did take a step, then if you have to trade Eberle for picks than so be it.

            At the end of the day, Eberle is on pace for a 67pt season (even with a slow start in the goals column) and Strome is on pace for 32pts this season on a team who’s only current better option at RW is ideally a center. Based on the past, this scenario was completely predictable for both players, which is a good reason to question the trade and gamble on the fact that Eberle would hold value, if not increase in value, by next summer.

        • LaRock

          What if Ebs doesn’t have a bounce back year? I agree with TBK that the starting return for Ebs was going to be lower due to the fact that there is going to be a cap space crunch. To keep his value up he HAD to have a bounce back, and if he doesn’t then the return would have been even lower than Strome.

      • puckle-head

        Trading Eberle for Strome was a ridiculous, massive overpay (kind of like trading Hall for Larsson was, or 2 high picks for Reinhart). It would have been better to acquire some combination of picks and prospects for Eberle than Ryan Strome. At least then we could have turned around and traded those picks/prospects for immediate help. We gave up a 25 goal scorer for Strome. We’d be lucky to get a 3rd round pick for him now.

        Basically, there are 3 ways to acquire valuable assets in the NHL. You are awarded draft picks every year you can develop into good players, you can sign free agents, and you can fleece someone in a trade. When Chiarelli started he had a lot of valuable assets, which he has effectively pissed away. They now need to acquire more talent to put on the roster. Drafting talent won’t help them in the short term. They could trade their draft picks, but their prospect pipeline is pretty bleak as is and they will need those value contracts when McDavid’s contract kicks in, and what position are the Oilers so strong in they can afford to weaken it to improve another area? We will all be staring at the free agent market next year, squinting to try and convince ourselves that signing that overpriced veteran is surely the answer.

  • Muddy

    Warning this comment may not be received well but……. I personally like the line combo of Nuge Strome and Lucic. I think it needs a bit more time to grow but in the third period on Saturday Strome was starting to develop a bit of chemistry with Lucic. Give it 3-4 more games, I’m not panicking until mid November when my last $3600 payment for season’s is due…

  • MrBung

    If the Oilers were losing games, but their special teams were better and/or they were losing close games, I would say this team is in shape to pull out of this funk. I only see them making a slight improvement but not the kind of winning streak that will see them getting into this seasons playoffs. This team is just not that good aside from a handful of players. Chia is in a real bind.

    • hockeyartist

      I agree. Chia has dealt his major assets in Hall and Eberle and now has a 3rd line winger and a defensive defenceman to show for it. He can make more trades but whos he going to trade to get a top 4 with some speed and offence. Can you imagine a line with McDavid speed followed by a line with Hall speed. I would take a definciency in defence for that kind of explosive transition. He is indeed in a bind.

      • Where's the Lamb Sauce

        Maroon — McDavid — Puljujarvi
        Hall — Draisaitl — Eberle
        Caggiula — Nuge — Pitlick
        Slepyshev — Letestu — Kassian
        Malone/Khaira/Pakarinen
        Sekera — Klefbom
        Russel — Demers
        Nurse — Benning
        Gryba

        Talbot
        Broissoit

    • Neddd

      @MrBung

      MrBung do you ever have an original thought? Actually don’t bother answering, you answered already as this post is the exact same one you posted earlier in the thread….
      When I called you boring and repetitive you really didn’t need to prove me right by posting the exact same thing multiple times.

      The Oilers are not playing well right now, very true. I’m sure this has you absolutely giddy with excitement. But the good thing is that the team has a very talented, strong young nucleus who are only going to get better which causes you such consternation I’m sure.

      Tell me MrBung, when the Oilers won the lottery for McDavid, you couldn’t sleep for a week, could you? I’m sure this has caused you allot of stress in your life which I think is absolutely great. Your anger is palpable, which I find quite enjoyable, please continue to post here and display your petty jealousy as it brings a smile to my face.

      • MrBung

        @Neddd. You sound like you are trying to convince yourself. 90 percent of the comments on here are not an original thought. You choose to go after me because I am critical and keeping it real and it is not what you want to hear. It is tough to accept that the Oil are not going to make the playoffs this season.

  • WHH

    Some players can help get you to the playoffs and some players help you win in the playoffs. I agree there was no hurry to trade Eberle. Use him now to help get you to the playoffs and then trade him during the year or at the deadline. You get a better start to your season and then get something for him going into the playoffs.

    • btrain

      All well and good but writing a guy off based on 13 career playoff games is not very solid ground. It would literally take a couple multi-point playoff performances and suddenly things look a lot different for Eberle as a playoff performer. For Eberle, a multi-point night is not unrealistic. I know its been brought up before but here is Datsyuk for example:
      First 4 playoff appearances:
      42 games played, 3 goals and 12pts, .35pts/game
      This is a player who had 0 goals in his 3rd and 4th playoff appearances despite having 30 and 28 goal seasons.
      5th playoff and beyond:
      115 games played, 39 goals and 98 pts, .85pts/game

      Datsyuk had not one but 4 lackluster playoff performance and he still wasn’t written off by Detroit. 12 games and Eberle is destined for never scoring an important goal in the playoffs, ever!

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    To really cause a stink, if the Oilers miss the playoffs the only move in my mind is to trade Draisaitl. 8+ cap hit, signed long term and he would carry big value. Keep Nuge and get that one time scorer and top pairing dman. All other options just don’t work.

    But then again, it would help if the special teams did something and the goaltending was more steady.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      Drai (with you guys retaining salary) and a couple of picks for Bennett? A GM like Chiarelli would jump at that.

      (I’m totally trolling right now, sorry! Sorry everyone!!)

  • camdog

    If there’s a mole in the organization aka an ex teammate of Kyperos that won a cup with him in his Rangers days, that mole needs to be terminated. Anybody disappointed in Strome has obviously never watched him play. If there is somebody in management disappointed in his performance that individual should as well be fired.

  • Soccer Steve

    “…but why was the answer to move him and simply hope that there was an internal replacement or for a guy to outperform anything he’s ever done?”

    You have to cut out the entire cancer. He was a weak-willed, soft player who could not, and probably will not, be able to hack it in the intensity of the playoffs. They needed to rid themselves of the money as well. It’s pretty simple with hindsight.

    What isn’t simple is how poorly we’ve started out – no finish, shaky goalie, etc.

  • Wiggleswag

    Strome is playing as a 3rd line center and has been for some time. He’s got points like a 3rd line center. This team is losing because they aren’t playing defense (as a team). They can be better and these stupid rumours will stop when the winning starts.

  • Ed De Hod

    We can blame Chia and pretend he is the problem all we want, but he is not the real problem.

    The problem with this team, and what the media won’t dare to discuss, is the coaching.

    Todd has been out-coached for most of his games here, if he didn’t have McDavid he would have been exposed and fired long time ago.

  • BingBong

    We all knew the Strome for Eberle trade was basically a salary dump, and a way of getting rid of a guy who cost us playoff games with his lack of production and fear of getting hit.
    Strome is nothing special, but everybody knew this. What’s unfortunate is the rest of the roster (aside from MacD and Drai) appears to be nothing special as well.
    If guys were just playing the way they did last year, we’d be fine. But so many players have regressed so far that we’re having a tough time winning. All we can do is hope that they start playing better.

  • Serious Gord

    Far too early to throw in the towel on strome.

    Look at how the hockey world was perceiving the Weber/Subban trade ten games in the season last year. And look at it now. Things can change and change quickly.

    Chis had sound reasons for getting rid of Eberle who, along with Lucic, should bear most of the blame for the team not going even deeper into the playoffs last year. Both players were expected to be ‘money’ in the playoffs and both were quite the opposite.

    If Strome develops into a competent third centre an thus enables RNH to be moved for cap room this summer it has to be considered a good deal. We will have a much better idea if that is likely to happen within the next 30 games.

    In that interval however, the oil could very well play themselves out of the playoffs. If they do, this trade will only be one of several possible/probable causes.

    • ET

      So now you want to trade RNH, get Serious Gord. He’s one of the few bright spots this year and is still coming into his own. Don’t doubt that our incompetent GM would move him though. Still hope we miss the playoffs so that Bob and Darryl will have no choice but to get rid of Peter and Todd as those 2 clowns are going to lead us to nowhere. Before we now it Connnor’s contract will be up and we will have wasted his generational talent with no cups to show for it.

  • McNuge

    Personally eberle trade isn’t the problem. Sekera is important, only d man pulling his weight or uptick is Nurse. Jokinen is a bust and then some. The bottom 6 contribute 0 basically and winning teams can’t have that. Klef is a shell of the damn we saw last year, anointed #1 way too quick. Nurse is playing better than he is and him and Larsson looked good in the post season when played last year.

  • OilersGM

    The problem is Chiarelli why doesn’t everyone see that.
    He knew the team was lacking scoring and what did he do trade a more proven scorer for a less proven and does everything base on hope.
    After the first line everything else is based on hope and that simply isn’t good enough. Chiarelli should’ve gone hard after Stamkos to play with McDavid and never signed Lucic or Russell. Russell is not the problem but he is overpaid for in my opinion a number 5 D at best. Chiarelli sells proven for hope, sells low on every trade (Wheeler, Seguin, Hall, Eberle) buys hope in every one of those trades never mind Reinhart. He is given way too much credit for what. Maroon, Kassian and Talbot ok but Maroon is playing with McDavid, Kassian well we all know what the story was there and Talbot was a backup to Henrik and Sather did a favour for the Oilers. I still think we make the playoffs but on the back of the best player in the league.
    Without McDavid and Draisaitl where would this team be? We all know the answer to that.

  • I think McLellan has them thinking and second guessing themselves so much so that they’re gripping the stick too tight, having brainfart costly mistakes, particularly on special teams, but 5 on 5 they have one of the nest puck possession and shot rate, yet one of the lowest shot to goal percentages.

    I’d get the players to relax, have fun, but be focused–get into “the zone”.

  • Brossoit31

    maybe if we had not signed lucic to 6 million a year we wouldnt be having this problem. I know that he brings a lot to the table but we cant be paying people who cant score 6 million.