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.