With Peter Chiarelli getting the axe prior to the Oilers’ mid-season break, the matter of how to navigate the trade deadline becomes a lot more complicated.
A few weeks ago, it was a no-brainer that Chiarelli would be an active buyer at the deadline. Bob Nicholson gave Chiarelli a vote of confidence in December, saying that he would remain in his job if the team made the playoffs. A very ugly stretch that dropped the team down to 13th in the Western Conference capped by an embarrassing three-game losing streak at home ultimately changed Nicholson’s plan and Chiarelli got the boot. Now Keith Gretzky is in the general manager seat as the Oilers brass embarks on a decision-by-committee style until they find somebody else to permanently put in the role.
There’s no doubt the organization still wants to make the playoffs. The same issue of convincing fans to purchase luxury seats and boxes on three-year leases (which expire at the end of this season) still prevails. If the team doesn’t show hope, fans might start to show their angst with their wallets. Despite the clear desire to make the playoffs, Nicholson has explicitly stated that the organization doesn’t want to part with its first-round pick as the organization’s long-term health is the top priority right now.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday FRIDAY EDITION question. How should the Oilers handle the deadline? Should they still be trying to capitalize on the weak Western Conference by adding assets for a playoff push? Should they recognize that this team isn’t good enough to do anything worthwhile in the playoffs and instead sell where they can?
As bad as things have been recently, the Oilers are only three points out of a playoff spot. Oscar Klefbom is set to return after the break which will be a huge boost to the team. Before Klefbom was injured, the Oilers were 17-12-2, putting them on a solid pace to make it into the playoffs. If they can operate at that pace down the stretch, it’s very likely they can sneak in.
Still, would it really be prudent to give up assets like thriving prospects in the AHL and first- or second-round draft picks if the Oilers don’t look like actual contenders? Making the playoffs would be great but the Oilers realistically aren’t in the position to mortgage their future to make a run this spring.
The best case scenario, it seems, is for the Oilers to take a conservative approach at the deadline. If they can sell off assets like Alex Chiasson who are set to become unrestricted free agents, they should look into doing so. But if they can buy assets with cost-controlled contracts, they should do that too. Personally, I would avoid giving up the first-round pick and I would prioritize selling where I can.
What say you, Nation? How should the Oilers handle the deadline? Are they still in a position to buy? Should they look to sell? Who would you want to acquire and who would you be dangling as sale assets?
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