Given the question marks on the blueline of the Edmonton Oilers and the obvious need to do something about them, Ryan Rishaug of TSN grabbed my attention this morning in an interview with Dustin Nielson when he said he believes GM Peter Chiarelli will be big-game hunting to get something done this off-season. First, Rishaug is connected. Second, the need is there.
“I think the Oilers are going to be big-game hunting for their blueline,” Rishaug said. “I think they’re going to be looking at big names and weighting out those options. I think Peter Chiarelli being so vocal about having a first-round pick in play, where that pick is . . . . I think they’re going to be big-game hunting.
“I don’t know exactly what it looks like. I don’t know how they do it, but I don’t think they’re going to be complacent in trying to fill this very obvious void. I’ve been saying for a long time it’s their number one need by a mile. I still maintain that. I think they’re going to try to be really aggressive in filling that need. I don’t know if they’re going to be able to get it done, but I do believe that they feel it is a massive need.” The entire interview is here.
Being aggressive makes sense to me. The problem is, when Chiarelli loads up that high-caliber, big-game gun of his, his track record shows he has a disconcerting habit of blowing off one of his own feet, or at least a few toes, as often as he hits the mark. The names we know – Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome, Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, giving up two draft choices for Griffin Reinhart. You can see a list of his work here. Chiarelli has filled himself full of lead a time or two. So, yes, I wonder how this plays out.
WHAT’S THE MOVE?
No knock on 24-year-old Swedish D-man Joel Persson, but interest in him by the Oilers – Rishaug put that out from Denmark early today — doesn’t come close to qualifying as big-game hunting. So, if Rishaug is on to something, how does Chiarelli get that done without ruining more perfectly good shoe leather? And what’s the target, aside from those wing-tipped size 11s?
One possibility that sent shivers down my spine was some spit-balling by Rishaug about Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen. Might the 23-year-old Finn be available with the Sabres having the first pick in the NHL Entry Draft, a selection they will use to take Rasmus Dahlin? Sure, could be. I like Ristolainen just fine and if the Sabres are willing to move him rather than provide some cover for Dahlin, that’s a call I’d make. The peril, as always, is in the ask going the other way.
If it’s Oscar Klefbom plus the 10th overall pick, do you make that trade? I don’t. While Ristolainen has put together three straight seasons of 40-plus points, I don’t see the difference in value (it can be reasonably argued there isn’t any) between Klefbom, who is coming off a down season after having 38 points in 2016-17, and Ristolainen being the 10th selection. I wonder if Chiarelli, who needs to do something after a disappointing season, sees it differently.
We don’t know, of course, for certain if Ristolainen is even in Chiarelli’s sights or if he’d be willing to part with Klefbom. As of right now, that’s just speculation, so it’s premature to assume that Chiarelli has already got a deal in the chamber. That said, I wonder how many of Chiarelli’s peers around the NHL might be picking up the phone to find out if there’s anything to this big-game talk or if there’s anything else they can “help” Peg Leg Pete with.
More than a few, I bet.