Oilers interim General Manager Keith Gretzky has started to clean up the mess created by Peter Chiarelli and, to be fair, everyone else still employed by the team including Gretzky himself.
He’s done a decent job so far moving Spooner and Talbot for two warm bodies but the expectations have been set so low that Gretzky is being lauded by some as a genius for pulling the trigger on two average deals.
So, what’s Gretzky’s next move and how soon should we expect it to come?
THE JP DECISION
I’m not too sure who gets moved out of town before the deadline but I would assume some sort of decision will be made on Jesse Puljujarvi by the weekend.
Sportsnet’s John Shannon tweeted this on Monday:
Oilers’ management re-iterates, that at this time, Jesse Puljujarvi will not be going to AHL Bakersfield.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) February 18, 2019
Followed up by TSN’s Ryan Rishaug on Tuesday morning.
I’d expect Puljujarvi to be assigned to Bakersfield on the weekend after he come off IR. Very good chance he spends the rest of the season there. Nicholson was clear about the need to develop players properly at his presser, and this move is overdue.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) February 19, 2019
What I find amusing about this is the possibility that these two tweets are actually an excellent look at what’s happening in the Oilers organization. We have been told that not everyone is seeing eye-to-eye on the Puljujarvi situation. This looks like Shannon’s source wants to keep him around and Rishaug’s source is in the send him down camp, fascinating.
THE DEADLINE DAY OPTIONS
The Oilers don’t find themselves in a very good spot prior to the deadline. The team’s current spot in the standings and recent play of late leads many of us to believe they need to be full blown sellers prior to the deadline. The issue is that in order to be a seller you need to have something the market is interested in and I’m not really seeing it.
Nobody wanted him on waivers because who in their right mind would take on that cap hit? Claiming Manning would have almost been as stupid as giving up a top-nine forward to get him. It’s easy to send Manning down and simply put the blame on Chiarelli for bringing him in but Ken Hitchcock is just as much to blame for him being an Oiler. Hitchcock wanted Manning and had talked to several of his former coaches to get a good feel for the player. I’d go as far as saying Hitchcock was pushing for Manning just as much, and possibly more, than anyone in the organization.
Nobody is trading for Manning, nobody is taking Manning for free and the Oilers are stuck with Manning next season as well. Lovely. If Gretzky somehow moves Manning, he should immediately be named General Manager. Moving Spooner for Gagner is one thing, finding a taker for Manning would be an act of god. When Caggiula found out Manning was on waivers, he laughed. True story.
Matt Benning is an interesting name to look at. He will make $1,900,000 next season and if the blueline stays healthy he will be, at best, a 6th/7th d-man. Rishaug suggested on the Nielson Show Tuesday morning that Benning might be attractive to a team if the Oilers retain some salary but I’m not sure the Oilers can afford the luxury of retaining cap space on a Benning trade.
With a few d-men coming up through the system it wouldn’t be a bad idea to move Benning for a mid-round pick. I’d much rather accept a 4th rounder for Benning then a 3rd and having to retain salary.
If there was ever a time to sell high on Zack Kassian it’s right now. Big Kass has ten points in his past 14 games and I’m not sure his offensive value has ever been higher as an Oiler. I don’t think any team is watching him play with McDavid and Draisiatl right now and thinking they could trade for him and toss him on their top line. They are, however, probably intrigued by what he could bring to the table on a third or fourth line in the post-season.
If Kassian was making $1,000,000 or even $1,200,000 he’d be a guy I’d very much consider keeping around next season but at $1,900,000 it may be best to take an asset and move on.
The Oilers PTO wonder is without a doubt their most attractive tradeable asset. Chiasson has 17 goals but just one since January 1st. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team takes a chance on him with the hope he can go on another mini-heater in April and May. He fits into every cap situation a team could be facing and was part of a Stanley Cup winner last spring. I know Chiasson has talked about wanting to sign in Edmonton but that’s probably just because he knows they give out sweetheart deals. If a 3rd round pick is on the table I’d move him. Hell, if he likes it so much here, he can sign with the Oilers in the off-season.
I don’t think it’s completely out of the question that the Oilers could somehow land a warm body in the form of a prospect for Chiasson.
YOUR MOVE KEITH
Those are the four pieces I find the most intriguing. One guy who most certainly won’t be moved plus two guys who could be possibly be moved and a forward the team should be able to move if they want. If I was a betting man, I’d say one of the players above is not an Oiler come next Tuesday. What Say You?