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WWYDW(FE): Buy or sell?

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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  • Randaman

    Burger Bob said they wouldn’t sacrifice the future/youth for short term gain. I have to ask what else they can trade that they expect value from? There is nothing of value except youth. Trade Nuge? Stupid. Trade Draisaitl? Revolt! I say trade #98 or #56. Please keep the draft picks. At least the top two.

  • Florescent Oil Orange

    Try and trade any oudorous contracts you can. Bring in fringe players on expiring deals for a trial run and fill roster for remaining season. Basically try to set the table for the new g.m. who ever he might be. As for playoffs, if it happens great but truly with so many teams that have better roster construction fighting for so few spots. Don’t waste any thing trying to get there

  • RexHolez

    I would honestly consider trading nuge. He’s got how many years left on the contract? He’s gonna be 26 soon and is gonna be wanting UFA money If we’re talking another 3-4 year build, he’ll be 29. I’d be curious what you could get for him

  • I think it’s a little bit of both, not just specifically one or the other. If we can unload some of the guys for picks then do it but if we get a reasonable offer for a player who’s future we can control then I wouldn’t mind it. We should be looking to take a flyer on low-risk, high-reward players just like we did with Maroon 3 years ago. Personally I think we’ll unload Talbot and maybe some other vets and leave it there, can’t see any major moves with no full time GM.

  • tkfisher

    Do nothing. Let the roster ride. If they make the playoffs, good for them. That’s 100% the players. If they don’t, that’s on the GM and management. DON’T for the love of god mortgage any future for a run to save face now.

    • CMG30

      Ordinarily I would agree with you. The trouble is that we’re 4 years into McDavids career here. We no longer have the luxury of playing the building game. That’s why this organization continues to frustrate… they wasted the past two seasons tooling around with a GM that would have been dumped after the Hall trade if the organization was halfways competent. Any plan that now includes building through the draft stands a high probability of losing McDavid before we can see it through. The heat is on, we need smart trades and signings and we need light at the end of the tunnel. Basically the opposite of everything we’ve come to expect from this organization.

      • Hemmercules

        They still have Mcd for 7 more years. He’s way too classy to request a trade and he’s paid handsomely anyway. Enough with the quickie rebuilds and re-tools. Smart, calculated decisions and patience. Thats what builds a winner. Desperation moves are a fools game and the oilers need to stop it now. If the trade stinks, dont make it. If the money to sign someone is ridiculous, move on. Its actually really simple, if the Oilers had one iota of patience the last 5 years the team would be way better off. They somehow got this notion that they had to try to win a cup in Connors first three years when they should have been shooting to build a sustainable perennial contender instead. Not saying build purely through the draft but if it takes 3 or 4 years to put together the right team that isn’t capped out with terrible contracts then so be it. I have been watching a basically non playoff team for 20 years, whats another 3 or 4? With the guys they have now even a few smart additions and subtractions will at least make them respectable and able to fight for a spot every year until they tip the scale like Winnipeg and become a contender.

        • CMG30

          Yes, they still have McDavid for 7 more years but if the next 3 are now cast as ‘rebuild’ are you really sure McDavid is going to tolerate that? How about guys like RNH and LD? If we lose them in a few years then we’re going to just be drafting in the hopes of replacing them. We would be essentially running in place. However, as I pointed out originally, we’re not that far away. We don’t actually need many top end players, we need the role players. These can be found much easier through astute trades and signings. The trouble is that this team will continue to have a hard time signing the right free agents if it can’t start showing some progress.

          Oh, and the notion that teams that draft generational players should be at least in the conversation as a cup contender before the end of their ELC comes from other teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago who’ve done just that.

          • CityofWhat

            If the Oilers win 2 cups in McDavid’s last 3 years of his current contract I don’t see any way he leaves. Don’t quick fix anything, draft and develop well, try to unload the bad contracts if possible which I think with a shrewd, smart GM is possible and in 2 years we will contend. We have some good pieces here, it’s not like we are starting from 0.

  • rektangle

    I, personally, think that Chiarelli’s firing came from Katz. Why else would Bobby just decide to let him go in the second period – especially after giving him his vote of confidence just a few weeks prior. I bet that Katz was watching the Detroit game, and after they went down 3-1 he called Bob and told him to get rid of Chia immediately.

    I think the Oil need to reset and hopefully start fresh next season. What I mean by that – they should hang onto all major assets, pick up some prospects/picks where possible and prepare for the next GM. Is it really worth them sneaking into the playoffs just to be swept – we do not have a Cup contending team, and I’m tired of this perennial rebuild.

    The next GM has to make things work.

    • CMG30

      They’re now in panic mode because they need to resell season tickets this summer. The mood of the city finally forced their hand.

      Bobby Nick never claimed to know much about hockey, he was always a business guy. It’s dollars and cents with him. Chirelli finally became too much of a liability.

      Even if the GM was teetering on the edge internally, they will never undercut him publicly because that would be a whole new level of dysfunction.

  • Mitch64

    the idea of trading yama or puljujarvi is dumb these players are both still 20 and expecting anything before a 22 is rushing. The oilers need to send both of them to the ahl until they dominate there, they need to score at will in the ahl. then the new gm must find a way to make a trade for underappreciated forwards that gm’s dont believe will have a big impact that way we need only spend draft picks to acquire. were talking maroon from the blues,dzingel, paajarvi from sens, or the like. they need to get guys vets that can follow the gameplan and work as a line, let the young guys deelop in the ahl because they dont help the team win now and we shouldnt have to sell the farm to win now

      • The Beej

        Yes. I agree. I am not an oilers fan but I have been watching the oilers rush their prospects for over 10 years. Since Gagner and Cogliano.

        To hear Nicholson in the presser the other day say he thinks they need to develop prospects more and not throw them to the wolves was laughable.

        It should not have taken him this many years to figure that out. No way he should have the job he has.

        This should have been noted and addressed within the first few months after he was hired.

        When they hired these guys in 2015 was there no lessons learned from the previous say 5 – 7 years?

  • Ohlyr

    The Oilers aren’t going to win anything this year, they are too slow and simply don’t have enough talent outside of their top 4-5 players. Their prospect pool is thin too. Ray Ferraro and Jeremy Roenick called a spade a spade. It will take a while to repair and re-stock this roster.

  • Free Bird

    I would prefer to end this cycle of infini-building and instead spend 1 or 2 mid-round picks for a shot at the playoffs. If they’re 3 points back of the wildcard spot and Klefbom is coming back, then I would buy light (like in 2016-17) and give this roster a shot. Hey maybe Lucic and Kassian become more relevant in the playoffs when the refs put the whistles in their pockets. McDavid, Drai, Nuge and Nurse deserve a shot this year. There is no cap space left, so you can’t add pieces without subtracting elsewhere.

    I would trade away Talbot, call up Montoya, but ride Koskinen for 90% of the remaining games. Waive Manning and bury him in the AHL when Klefbom comes back. Trade the 2020 5th rounder (or the 2019 4th if the Blues really want to haggle) for Maroon and hope he can fill a top 6 spot. Too many teams think they still have a shot, so the only other seller with a potentially decent forward who is a pending UFA and could be had for a mid-round pick might be LA with Hagelin. Take whatever came back from Talbot and trade for Hagelin.

  • BR

    Trade anyone fringe targeting low risk high reward players who have some speed and skill or bring in some bullets for the draft. Nothing major. If there’s a good hockey trade to make? Maybe moving one of our good young D prospects and someone like Kharia plus a 2nd for a cost controlled top four RHD who can move the puck or a top six winger with speed who can actually score would be ideal. Also unload dead weight for anything we can get. I think Chiasson is worth re-signing rather than trading. if we can get him under 1.5m over two years. A good middle six contributor.

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    Connor won’t ask for a trade. He may choose not to resign when his contract expires, but there is zero chance he (and most NHL players) ever demands a trade. The NHL isn’t the NBA and selfishness and arrogance gets you labelled as a diva or bad in the room. It is way more of a team game then most fans think. Connor gets it and he knows he can’t win without team mates. He also understands he cannot choose his team mates.

  • toprightcorner

    The goal should be to try and get rid of as much dead cap as possible to give the new GM something to work with this summer. I am not saying trade decent players,just dead weight.

    Do not trade Chaisson. With a new GM coming, he probably has interest in staying to play with Leon. Being a PTO and a bottom 6 forward the last number of years, he could likely be resigned for 2 years at $1.8 mill. He won’t get a huge offer.

    1) Trade Spooner and 2020 3rd round pick for 2019 4th round pick. (BOS may take him back with past success)

    2) Trade Manning and 2019 4th round pick for 2019 6th round pick (NJ has horriffic D, also BUF, CBJ, COL all who need more depth and toughness for the playoffs and have lots of cap space)

    3) Trade Kassian for 2019 4th round pick (CAR/CBJ/PIT) teams that have to face WSH and Wilson would add Kassian cause he can skate.

    4) if there was a UFA that I would want to add, it would be Dzingel. If he clicks with McDavid or Draisaitl in the top 6, he could be a guy worth signing and he may want to stay to okay with those guys. I would trade Benning and Manning for Dzingel and 3rd. Benning would be in their top 4 best Dmen and Manning would play top 6.

    • Gravis82

      Chaisson needs to be traded yesterday. He is unsustainable and you can get an assett for free and by the time we are a contender he will not be here. Get anything you can from him. The goal is to win the cup, not the next game. We are not making the playoffs this year so time to plan ahead.

      Do not trade anyone and give away your picks! that is insane. It will make things worse lol. Those contracts suck, yes, but we are stuck with them until they expire. That means not playoffs for a while unfortunately. Dont sign any UFA until we have added more to the core and look like we could make the playoffs without a UFA signing with cap room. THEN sign a UFA. We are about 3 years away from that now.

      What you said above, is what chiarelli would have done.

  • Hockey Bunker

    Players in and out willy nilly is the problem. Over the break need to sit down with Hitch, everyone needs to shut up and listen to what he says. And then go get those types of players and dump others. Follow his plan, whatever it is. Getting to the playoffs doesn’t change that this team is a disaster. If Hitch can get the right type of players he can make each player better and get them playing harder and smarter including McD. Having a vision and a process is more important than who at the moment. Clearly a bunch of high draft pics does not a team make. Set the table for the future and forget about suites and crap that leads to bad hockey decisions. Nobody is buying that this team is any good playoffs or no playoffs. Best player in the world and the worst team in the league. Process matters.

  • toprightcorner

    the Oilers should be trying to clear cap space for new GM, but one guy I would like to add would be Dzingel. If he clicks with McDavid or Draisaitl, he could be a 25 goal scorer and a decent price and could be resigned next year in the $4 mill range.

    With OTT having such a terrible defence, with only player making more than $1.3 mill, they could take Manning as well as he would be an everyday player there. I think there are 3 ways to make this trade.

    1) Benning and Manning for Dzingel and 3rd/prospect (Oilers could then use that 3rd or there own to help trade Spooner)

    2) Manning, Hebig and 2020 4th for Dzingel and Paajarvi (Paajarvi is strictly for cap from OTT this year, is UFA end if season)

    3) Benning, Manning and Hebig for Dzingel and Pageau. Pageau would be a perfect 3C, just came off of an Achilles and $3.1 next 2 years.)

    I think OTT is someone the Oilers can push Manning and Spooner to as they will need to add to get to the cap floor with Stone and Duchene likely leaving.

    After Lucic gets his signing bonus on July 1, he has way less salary than cap hit and that is when the Oilers may be able to trade him to OTT. Something like Lucic, Hebig and 2020 3rd for Zack Smith. Lucic only costs $2.75 mill more for next 3 years of Smith’s contract but is $9 mill more cap hit. Add in Lucic’s last year and total cost is $6.75 more but $15 mill more towards cap. This could really help OTT reach the floor over the next few years.

    3) Benning

    • nijames

      Ridiculous trades, do you think you are trying to trade with PC?? No GM would make any of the trades you put up. Benning and Manning in the same trade, you would have to be an idiot to want either of those guys

  • KootenayDan

    I could see the team trade for a player with term left on his contract using picks in later rounds. It’s not about making the playoffs anymore it’s about improving the secondary scoring or defense one actual NHL player at a time.

  • Lowe enuf

    I don’t share the common confidence in acquiring draft picks. Unfortunately the Oilers have shown no ability to identify players who are ready to play in this league. Quality organizations find picks who can step up and fill a role. Nail, Kailer, Jesse, Griffin, none of these guys are ever going to amount to significant NHL assets. Until the Oilers clean house in the pro and amateur scouting departments a new GM will suffer the same fate. This team needs any Toronto style house cleaning.

  • Flint

    Thanks to Chia, Oilers can’t buy anything and have nothing to sell (unless they are insane). Better to be patient and hope the team comes around in a couple years time with players like Bouchard, etc.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    I can’t remember if I already said my piece…but here goes anyway. Apologies if it is the second post.

    I think we need to get rid of all the bloated contracts on this roster before we can think of being competitive. That should be the first move. In the meantime get rid of all the spare parts (not the big fish, not the first, not young prospects) for draft capital. Wait until the bloated contracts (most of them) come off the salary cap then invest heavily in talent when they do. But we need to do the painful, hard part of getting out of cap hell first.

    Obviously this year we will be in sell mode, but only our spare parts. No major pieces moving out – McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge, Nurse, etc…