Oilers on “full court press” for help up front

Buckle up, Oilers fans. According to Ryan Rishaug, the team has scouts and staff deployed all over the league in an attempt to find the right player to help the Oilers push for the playoffs.

It seems inevitable the first-round pick will be in play for the Oilers as they seek help up front through the trade market. Bob Stauffer tweeted over the weekend that the team should be ready to move the first, which, given his sources within the organization, suggest that’s the main bargaining chip that Peter Chiarelli is shopping. Should Chiarelli be allowed to deal such a valuable piece? Dustin Nielson looked at that very question this morning. 

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There’s no doubt the Oilers are desperate to make the playoffs. The team failed to live up to lofty expectations last year but Bob Nicholson was adamant that the organization has a plan that they’re sticking to. Part of that plan, though, was to get back into the playoffs in 2019. An important note to consider is that the Oilers renew their luxury tickets on three-year plans which expire at the end of this season. The frustration that comes along with another season on the outside looking in could result in luxury ticket seals taking a hit. People won’t shell out tens of thousands of dollars if they don’t believe the team will be competitive.

Elliotte Freidman was on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 with friend of Nation Network Pat Steinberg on Monday. Freidman stressed how important the playoffs are for the business end of the Oilers this year and how that will likely lead to a move even if it isn’t the best thing for the team long-term.

I think the biggest question is going to be does there ever get to a point where ownership says, ‘We’re not chasing anymore this year.’ And to me, right now, the answer is no.

There’s a lot on the line there. Their season ticket renewals go out soon. At the arena there, some of those suites are up three years because they were three-year leases when they first bought in, and it’s going to be tough to re-sell them.

Look, from a hockey point of view it makes no sense for the Oilers to do this. But from a business point of view, you see why this kind of stuff happens. I think the Oilers should just play it out and see where it goes. I think this is a risk of being a really, really poor outcome for them. But from a business point of view, it looks to me like the owner is saying, ‘I want to get into the playoffs.’ And if that’s the case, this move is going to get made.

Now, I mean we’ll see. I don’t think this is the best course of action for the Oilers, but I’m not paying for everything there. And this just says to me that they feel they’ve got to make the playoffs from a business point of view, and that’s the way these decisions get made.

After Monday’s big win against Buffalo, the Oilers sit tied for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with Minnesota, Vancouver, and Anaheim. Colorado, who sits seventh, is in a tailspin. The competition for these final couple of spots isn’t strong and a good finish to the season would more than likely get the Oilers into the wild card.

I wrote over the weekend that it makes more sense for Edmonton to go after a player with term on their contract than it is for them to dive into the rental market. I mean, if they’re giving up their first-round pick in a pretty deep draft, the Oilers need to get a player who can stick around and be a part of the solution for the next few years.

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There’s also the issue of the salary cap. Edmonton is pressed right up to the upper limit after the acquisitions of Alex Petrovic and Brandon Manning, meaning a player is going to have to be sent out if somebody else is coming back in.

It’s interesting Rishaug mentions a “developing forward” and a goaltender. The latter is pretty obvious. Edmonton can save a good chunk of change if they decide to roll with Mikko Koskinen and Al Montoya in net, though trading an experienced goalie like Cam Talbot an incredibly risky thing to do. The developing forward line is interesting. Since Rishaug is talking about the cap, he’s probably talking about a player currently on the roster. To me, that points to Jesse Puljujarvi. The former fourth overall pick has struggled in Edmonton and can cost the Oilers $3,425,000 against the cap after his performance bonuses. Of course, I could be reading this wrong and he could be mentioning an AHL forward instead.

The trade deadline is on Feb. 26 meaning the Oilers have 16 games left to pull the trigger on a move. Thanks to the help of the weak Western Conference, the Oilers have managed to stay above water in the playoff race despite Oscar Klefbom’s injury. All signs are pointing to the team pulling the trigger on a big trade in these next few weeks.

    • HockeyGods

      Once, you said, “Oh Hockey Gods, give us the best player who ever lived and the linemates to make him shine and we’ll never ask for anything again, even though we suck for eternity!”


      Then, decades later you said, “Oh Hockey Gods! Give us the player with the most potential in the league! We shall not squander it and we’ll never ask for another thing!”


      You know guys, we’re starting to notice a pattern here.

  • Hemmercules

    “…..though trading an experienced goalie like Cam Talbot an incredibly risky thing to do”. It’s almost riskier letting him play net for the Oilers. The guy has been awful for over a year. Cut ties before you end up overpaying him to stay. He might do good on a team with a stacked D line but the Oilers don’t have that luxury.

    If there is a team out there that thinks Talbot an JP are good players they need to fleece that team while they can.

  • Ten Long Years

    So basically the Oilers will make the playoffs this year at any cost necessary so the owner can renew the corporate boxes. Oilers likely get swept then get lottery draft picks for the next 3 years until time to renew again. Rinse wash repeat…

    Go Oilers!

  • camdog

    All the Oilers need to do is fire PC at years end and those corporate boxes we’ll be easy sells. It doesn’t take winning to sell NHL hockey in Edmonton, it just takes hope.

  • Beut

    Why don’t we try to find an entire second line. Say something like Hall – Barzal – Eberle. That would allow Nuge and Leon to play with Connor. I’m betting that would make us a far better team. I wonder if there is GM out there who would take Larson and Spooner for that trio.

    • Ten Long Years

      Wow, just imagine how good this team would be with those two lines. Isn’t it telling that if Chirelli suggested a trade such as Hall for Larsson, or Eberle for Spooner, or even Cagguilla for Manning (which just happened!!) they would be seen as ridiculous offers. Its no fault of the players and I’m not saying these players are no good, but to lose every trade every time is a clear sign of a GM in over his head. Time to move on before more damage is done.

    • Gravis82

      Seriously. Everyone had these lines basically penned in at that draft. All he had to do was simply pick the player that Bob Mackenzie said to pick, and do nothing after that.

      • kelvjn

        To be fair, at the time “everyone” penned Leon as the 2nd center and RNH as the overly expensive 3rd center or an unicorn … And the team still had with Nikitin and Ference on defense, and Brossoit/Nilsson on goal. Prior to that, “everyone” complained about all the smurf winger with no center depth or muscle. How times had changed.

      • puckle-head

        Which equals $40 m. Right now the top 6 forwards (by salary, not ability) make $38.4 m. So Chiarelli saved $1.6 m on the top 6, by sacrificing (an estimated) 28 goals so far this season.

  • Redbird62

    Puljujarvi will not cost the Oilers $3,425,000. I understand his big bonuses kick in if he gets into the top ten in the NHL in one of a bunch of offensive categories. That will only happen if he turns into rookie Teemu Selanne tomorrow and even then he’d probably fall short. If he miraculously performs at that level to earn the bonuses, he’d be worth every penny. Hell Jack Eichel missed out on his big $2 million bonus in 2017 because Draisaitl nipped him in top 10 for points per game on the last game of the season. Jesse’s cap hit for this year will be $925,000 and I don’t think his next contract will be a big raise again unless he all of a sudden goes on a tear for the next 35 games.

  • Heschultzhescores

    I swear, the OBC sit around drinking then make 3am drunken calls, and wake up regretting and forgetting their actions. Friends dont let friends trade drunk.

  • Ty Guy

    this season was supposed to be full of games like the buffalo one last night (first shot goals aside). I understand Conner was “sick ” last night? yes. yes he was….i would say 99% of the time he is sick.

  • Hemmercules

    Chia and Bobby Nicks probably get paid under the table by the owners of the other teams in the division. There is no other explanation as to why they both still work for the Oilers. Any sane owner would have kicked these guys to the curb a year ago.

  • NailsBomb

    I guess full court press means sending out, what, both our professional league scouts? What a joke. Every other team employs at least 3 or 4, none of which spend the majority of their time in the Bahamas (as far as I can tell)

  • WHH

    As many have said the first shouldn’t be in play if you want to build some depth and improve the team. As reported on a certain sports show there are those in the organization that want to use it. I thought it was Pete’s job and his alone to make these decisions. Yeah sure! Those in the organization. Now who would that be?

  • Heschultzhescores

    If it wasn’t for all Chia’s moves, we wouldn’t have to be making any moves. The nobody moves nobody gets hurt plan should be put into effect immediately .

  • Bills Bills

    Trading Jesse is dumb at this point. Enough with this. If they think mortgaging the future, just to get into the playoffs is a good idea, not only are they stealing the money of those suite holders but they are insulting their intelligence.

    Once that golden ticket was drawn, everyone thought the Oilers would be contenders by now. We had a chance but are going in the wrong direction still and the trades are becoming more puzzling.

    If they want those big ticket suites filled, the best move they can make is to fire PC. That will renew hope more than anything.

  • vetinari

    This is stupid for the organization… there’s also an expansion draft on the horizon and the player the pick turns into would likely be exempt. There are worried about selling luxury boxes rather than build a solid foundation. I hate Katz and this management group and wish they would all go find other toys to play with.

  • btrain

    How is it best for business to sacrifice future success for an early exit from the playoffs? Because of luxury tickets? C’mon. This team has been awful for 11 of 12 years and still sell out the building every night. Its also insulting to the potential buyers of these Luxury tickets to assume they are that ignorant to the sport that they can be duped by a single playoff birth and pay no attention to what was sacrificed to barely sneak in.

  • Boukalz82

    Maybe if we directed our anger towards Mr. Katz and not Chia Pete we might get somewhere.. He needs to stop allowing his childhood heroes to attempt to save their reputations at the cost of his franchise. No matter what line of work you are in, the key to success is to surround yourself with people who are good at their jobs… how can the fourteenth richest man in Canada not see this.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    How on earth do these , and no disrespect , bottom end connected media people know, SOMETHING BIG IS COMING, do you know how many times I have heard that at trade deadline day with guys like Duthie, Mckenzie etc predicting big trades. ? there is nothing major happening , the big deal was today for what ever his name is from the bruins as a waiver claim.

  • Janitor of Section 7G

    The fact that Katz seems to think that Oiler fans will be fooled into renewing their suites or seats by a mediocre (at best) team sneaking into the playoffs only to be knocked out in 4-5 games speaks to the overwhelming arrogance of the organization. Can our intelligence be insulted anymore?? Hire a competent management team this summer and leave them at least a few assets so they have a fighting chance at improving the team in time to keep McDavid around…