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What’s Next?

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:

Followed up by TSN’s Ryan Rishaug on Tuesday morning.

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.

MANNING

Jan 2, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Richard Panik (14) carries the puck as Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brandon Manning (26) and goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) defend during the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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.

BENNING

Mar 20, 2018; Raleigh, NC, USA; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Matt Benning (83) celebrates his first period goal with forward Connor McDavid (97) and forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

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.

KASSIAN

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.

CHIASSON

Dec 16, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Alex Chiasson (39) celebrates his goal against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) (not pictured) with forward Connor McDavid (97) during the third period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

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?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Burns14

    While I am all for trading these forwards for whatever you can get and clearing cap space for the summer. There needs to be subsequent moves to get NHL players (even fringe NHL’ers) to play on the club the rest of the year. Worst thing they could do is trade all these guys away, pull away guys like Marody and Benson from the winning team in Bakersfield and feed them to the Wolves in Edmonton.

    • the dope $teez

      Why though? That requires expenditure of assets. We are in full blown rebuild now, so we need to stock up on draft picks, cut as much dead weight as we can and then make some astute trades/signings this summer. This team is not going anywhere this year, without actively trying to lose we have lost 10 of our last 11, so it’s not really going to get any better.
      If KG or whoever ends up GM can rid us of 5 or 6 bad contracts and have a solid draft this year, that will be a win.

  • Odanada

    I’ve woken up from a night of blackout drinking with a clearer head than those that made the Manning trade.
    If Hitch was the main driver behind that deal, he should definitely retire.

    • KootenayDan

      Coaches coach and GM’s GM. I am not cutting Chiarelli any slack he is solely responsible for all decisions made during his tenure. If you are hired as POHO and GM you have total autonomy and if someone else is leading you astray nobody to blame but yourself.

      • Darcy yaceyko

        Don’t agree. That is probably true on other teams but not here. What have you been watching? You will never convince me that any good coach would keep Milan in the line up. And as far as the GM goes, it has already come out that the ROT had a lot of influence on the moves. But they just had a whipping boy in place to take the heat as usual. I would love for someone to do an interview with past GMs and coaches and get their take on the BS that still exists on this team. No holds Barred though.

  • cmandev77

    It is time to build this team properly. We are built through the middle right now, usually one of the hardest area’s to build. Hopefully we can get rid of some of these contracts or bury some in the AHL so we can go after some wingers in free agency. I would love to give Benson and some of the other young guys a chance but what they are doing in Condor town is pretty special so I say keep them down there until the season is over. When Puljujarvi is back from his mysterious injury I would put him on the 2nd line and KEEP him there until the end of the season. Play him with Nuge and see what he can really do. As for the draft, if we don’t win the lottery and pick 3rd or higher I would aim to draft Bowen Byram. Top spot to fill in the off-season, high end back up goalie, I am not sold on Koskinen as a starter.

  • Simba99

    Yes let’s trade all the players that make under 2 million that aren’t the problem while keeping all the overpaid and running this gong show. At least most of these players have and will buy into their coaches style of play and do what is asked of them. I’d have a team full of them over the many on this team that are outrageously over paid and are uncoachable, cause they think they run the show.

    • A-Mc

      Exactly. If we need to clear cap space, find a home for Lucic (6M) and find a home for Benning (1.9M). Benning’s spot can/will/deserves-to be taken by Ethan Bear. Lucic, and what he brings to the team these days, can be replaced by another 2M/yr player if need be. Petrovic will be gone, so there’s another 1.95M.

      Find some way for these 3 guys to get moved out (along with their cap) and the cap problems are back to “reasonable” levels

  • Odanada

    Kassian would look very attractive to an Eastern Conference team having to deal with Wilson and the Capitals.
    I watched the Leafs play Detroit a while back and a Wing ran Freddy Andersen and no one did a thing. I don’t see how they’ll progress far in the playoffs devoid of toughness. And they’re not alone.
    A smooth talker could make a good deal here. Get on it Keith.

  • EVILTED

    Starting my second trade. I will bet $100 by the time have my Red Seal they still wont have made the playoffs and or Connor will be gone. That’s 4 years. Any takers???

  • 50 Flex

    If Gretzky can continue to make good moves, I hope they keep him on as Assistant GM. Hopefully the new GM actually listens to his advice because it seems clear that Peter didn’t.

    • Garett14

      Keep in mind the moves KG has done are DECENT moves. Nothing to get too excited about. He has done fairly well drafting. However, he was apart of some awful trades in Boston and here in Edmonton. I have no problem with the new GM forming his own staff from scratch. Even if that means KG gets let go.

  • This team need to be broken down from top to bottom and expect it to take 4/5 years to be a real contender for the cup. The big question is does McD want to wait that long to be on a cup caliber team?

  • Soccer Steve

    Not at all surprised to hear Hitchcock doesn’t have a clue. He has been lying since he got here, which the media lapped up like dogs, and looks lost. Watching practice from the stands. Seriously, what is that about? The team was so much better off under Todd, yet they fire him because it was supposedly Pete’s last move. We saw how that ended up.

    Won’t be buying into to half-season tickets next year for my company. That’s all I can do in protest of this awfully run organization.

  • Hockey Forever

    This says it all.

    “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.”

  • Consultant

    I think and I hope that the main difference between Chia and Keith is that Keith has a clue about negotiating. Don’t sound to randy, stick to your guns, make lots of phone calls, bluff, straight shoot, whatever…
    I actually think Manning could be traded for a not so bad contract/ forward. Playoff teams need tough dmen. Watch a playoff bound team get pushed around then call that GM that night and talk about Kass, Manning, Lucic. You never know, just keep trying Keith!! I’d trade Kass, Manning for a contract back but only if its less money, otherwise hold, trade Chiasson for a third and try to resign in summer… And Petrovic for a 6th…

      • Consultant

        I hope Keith is a better salesman… Petrovic – big tough defender, perfect for playoff depth, expiring contract, good enough player for Florida to have protected, we don’t need to trade him, we love the guy, huge character guy. We would maybe do it for a 3rd rounder… See just like that.

  • A-Mc

    I keep Kassian and i re-sign Chiasson (If $ is reasonable). They are legitimate NHLers and we need those. I’d rather a couple legitimate NHLers, than some maybe-picks that wont turn into anything for another 5 years.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      This is my kind of thinking. Too much worrying about “maximizing return” when we are talking about cheap-ish NHL veterans who can play up and down the lineup when necessary. Legitimate was a good choice of words A-Mc.

  • CityofWhat

    I wonder if Anaheim would be interested in Manning for Eves trade with the ducks retaining .300k- .400k for the next year. Eves has had injury problems last 2 years but we do lack NHL wingers and when healthy Eves is a NHL winger maybe a 3rd liner but could still help, one caveat is Anaheim is loaded on defence so I don’t know if it work for them.

  • Goaltender Interference

    Sorry – the narrative that Hitch wanted Manning doesn’t jive with the frequency that the guy spent watching from the press-box after arriving. If a coach wants a player on his team then he gets put into the starting line-up.

    Hitchcock has enough warts without people making stuff up about him.

  • Abagofpucks

    One thing that doesn’t come up much is what could we or how could we unload Russell, that’s 4 mil we could use next season to make this team better. With the possibility of somebody off the farm making the big club next season it should be looked at.

    • Consultant

      For Russell? One of the best shot blockers, character guys in the league? Tell them “First rounder is where we start” , then just pretend to loose the call/ hang up. Call back later that night when most GM’s are half drunk, pretend to forget who they wanted and let him talk you into a second rounder plus a prospect. Keep saying “fans are going to kill me for this” over and over again. I’m sick of crap returns, sell Keith sell dammit but whatever Chia was doing don’t do that.

  • FutureGM

    For the love of Zeus do not give away Benning. We traded Petry for a pick and still can’t find a 2RHD. not saying Benning is/should be there, but as a 3RHD the term and numbers are great so as to allow Bear and Bouchard growth next year.

    Also, should we not be beating the Russell drum? LHD is our only source of strength so trade from it!

  • Heschultzhescores

    What next. Clean up the wreckage from Hurricane Chia, and hope we can find the right people to rebuild. This was a category 5 storm powered by a lot of hot air mixing with super inflated, and egos saturated by fire water

  • Heschultzhescores

    Edit: What next. Clean up the wreckage from Hurricane Chia, and hope we can find the right people to rebuild. This was a category 5 storm powered by a lot of hot air mixing with super inflated egos, and saturated by fire water

    0

  • OldOilerFan

    Manning? I don’t want to even consider him any further – bury him and be gone. Benning, while I”m not sold on him I don’t think we should give up defense assets just yet. Kassian, I love the fact that he’s on a roll now sure, but where was he last year and the start of this one? So him I don’t mind. Chiasson – I think they should chat with him and if the numbers are reasonable sure sign him – we need guys like him, as least he hasn’t been waived before like half our roster. If the dollars aren’t there then get a pick. At this point I just hope they shed salary moreso than getting picks. IMO.

  • joilers

    Chiasson for a 3rd round pick? No way. 3rd rounders are a stretch at best…. Not a good chance this turn into an nhl talent. I would try and extend him at a reasonable contract for 2 years if possible. He is an nhl player. The 3rd wont turn into that.

  • Shane

    Of all the forwards challenged to perform better, Kassian is the only one to rise to the occassion. His reward, to get traded. That is literally encouraging mediocrity. If you want to change the culture you keep the players who give a $hit. This team needs a winning record in 2-3 years while you have Leon, and Conner in thier prime. A bunch of 3rd/4th round picks don’t do that. Besides who do you replace him with on the roster? Benson? Yamamoto? Marody? You’re sacrificing development of your best prospects for $900 000 in cap savings and a 1/5 shot of a 4th liner in a couple of years.

  • Bills Bills

    I am not buying the whole Hitch wanted Manning line. The whole idea that you would spread that hurts your credibility Dusty. Especially since Hitch has had zero issue with scratching the bum.

  • nijames

    KG os cleaning up the mess that PC and himself made. He was PC’s right hand guy so had a lot of say in a lot of things. He’s just part of the OBC by family ties and Oilersnation is drinking the Oiler koolaid

  • oiler_head

    Is there any value in considering trading Manning for Beaulieu (BUF) who has supposedly requested a trade? He had decent numbers in MTL before BUF where it clearly hasn’t worked out. I guess we would have to throw in something since he is an RFA at the end of this season. At least he might be a decent replacement in case Benning is shipped out. Maybe?