Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers stand pat on deadline day, team sets groundwork for future deals

On a day where the Edmonton Oilers could’ve moved assets like Zack Kassian, Alex Chiasson, Alex Petrovic and Matt Benning, just to name a few, the team opted to instead stand pat.

Interim GM Keith Gretzky made it clear during his post-deadline press conference that the team did, however, set groundwork for moves down the road.

“There was conversation on a few things that would have helped us,” Gretzky told reporters an hour after the NHL’s trade deadline passed.

“If it didn’t happen today, maybe it’s down the road in the summer time. We laid some groundwork for the salary cap and hopefully we can re-visit it later.”

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It’s a clear insinuation that there is much work to be done to this organization — we all know that given the contracts held by Milan Lucic and Kris Russell. Lucic, due $6-million for another four years and Russell, due $4-million for another two, are making much more money than their production is giving.

Both deals won’t be easy to make not only because of the contracts, but the fact that both players carry modified no-trade clauses.

Ottawa, for example, is a team that will struggle to even reach the salary floor. Could there be a chance to convince Russell and or Lucic to waive their clauses to head there?

The Blue Jackets are another team that could be in need of some help reaching the floor next season. They will have big ticket UFA’s in the form of Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Sergei Bobrovsky as they enter an offseason with nearly $50-million in cap space.

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As a GM of a team on the outside looking in of a playoff berth, Gretzky said he didn’t want to trade players just to say they made a move on deadline day.

“We think that with the players we have, we can still win some games here,” he said.

“We’ve played well lately.. we’re still in the hunt. I talked to a couple players and told them ‘I’m not going to move you just to make a move.'”

He discussed options like Chiasson and Kassian with teams, however, Gretzky said they couldn’t find a deal that worked adding he wasn’t ready to trade players away for futures. Instead, he wanted to hold onto players like the aforementioned two for a playoff push.

Gretzky made it sounds as if the desire was to attain assets that would not only help Edmonton today in their playoff hunt, but also assets that would help them in the near future.

Now sitting eight points out of the final wild card spot heading into Monday’s games, the Oilers will need many hot hands should the team want to make the playoffs.

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Follow me on Twitter: @zjlaing

  • Randaman

    My take is that the vultures were circling and testing Gretzky’s resolve. Good on him for standing pat. Setting new trad3 standards is obviously required after the last joke of a GM.

    • Gravis82

      Trading any of those players for nothing would have been a win. Missed opportunity. There is no need to set a new precedent, he won’t be the next gm. His job was to clear salary, he didn’t get it done.

    • the reasonable person

      It’s kind of sad and I get the frustration but what was needed was to get bent over short term in a fire sale to make room to do things properly. And of course it didn’t get done. KG could not have been blamed for moving guys out for little return nor should it have been seen to set any sort of precedent for actual hockey trades in the future.

    • Yea im glad he didn’t go big game hunting. I’d bet the sharks in the water thought they smelled fresh blood when they saw an interim GM. Keith didn’t try to “prove himself as the guy” in order to remove the interim tag. Im just disappointed we couldn’t move some of the contracts though

    • What the Puck

      So many wingers on the move and we couldnt even entice one to play with the best player in the world. Conning fans with hope and no action is low down and dirty. This nightmare will continue. Disappointed. Truly.

  • Spydyr

    Having Reggie back has helped the team. Surprisingly he has played very well and the team was so poor defensively his presence has made a difference. I hope he can keep it up and even improve. That being said it just goes to show how out of touch the “Oiler Braintrust” is with quotes like ““We’ve played well lately.. we’re still in the hunt.”

      • Spydyr

        It is surprising because of his age and missing almost two full season to major injuries. He was not the same player late last year when he came back form his knee injury. Then another major injury on top of that.

        For Sekera to come back after a few conditioning games play as well as he had is astonishing.

        • Gravis82

          He’s not that old and is a fantastic player. He was our best defence man in the playoffs and didn’t suddenly get old just because he hurt his knee. He wasn’t trending down before and is not now.

          Hasn’t played in 1 year and is our best d man already,..and we think d is a strength? We need 3 more top4 Dmen in the long run, hopefully Bouchard is one of them

  • neojanus

    Yeah, Gretzky sounded delusional here. Turning down any assets for a RD likely sitting on the bench of 17 more games, just because you’re pissy that the original trade sucked, is silly.

    Proves that he’s drinking some of the same Koolaid that killed this team.

  • ---schadenfreude—

    “Now sitting eight points out of the final wild card spot heading into Monday’s games, the Oilers will need many hot hands should the team want to make the playoffs.“

    They need more than that.

  • OldOilerFan

    If you had some UFA’s at the end of the year then make a deal for them. Please don’t try to sell me you still need everyone for the playoff push. This lineup is not making the playoffs….

  • Soccer Steve

    The optics in Ottawa are so, so, so bad. You honestly think there’s a chance they bring in Milan Lucic and tell their dwindling fan base we had to bring this ghost of a player in to reach the floor (real dollars vs. cap dollars will fall on deaf ears there)? That they have to get on board with a rebuild that begins with Milan Lucic? No way. Never.

  • the reasonable person

    Very disappointing. They were supposed to clear out whoever they could (outside the obvious keepers) for whatever they could get. I had come around to trying to sign Chiasson instead of dealing him but this is still disappointing. I thought the Oil did play well on Saturday but they’re not making playoffs. What are the options for improvement next year without cap space? Apart from any prospects making the team and maybe another 18 year old in the lineup from the draft. At some point they have to clear out room to build even if they give away serviceable bottom guys for little return.

  • BR

    Good to not get pushed around by other GM’s. Got to make sure people know there’s a new sheriff in town. Fair enough standing pat, would be good to re-sign Chiasson, Kassian is a heart and soul guy, big cap hits can be dealt with better in the summer around draft time.

    • the reasonable person

      I don’t know about this line of thinking because what the Oilers really needed was cap space. Everyone knew they would not get anything much in return. What was needed was not done, again. This is ridiculous.

      • 99CupsofCoffey

        Answer me this: What other team in the league was willing to take on our Cap Space on bloated contracts? None. They have to pay the player too if there’s a trade

        • the reasonable person

          They won’t be any good next year or the year after. So they might as well have ditched Chiasson, Kassian, Petrovic, and Benning for any picks they could get. You get picks for Chiasson and Petrovic, cap savings by not resigning either, and cap savings by losing the end of Kassian and Benning’s contracts for picks. Yes they will have to get creative to lose bad contracts but these players could have been sent away now for assets, they could save on needed cap space by not resigning Chiasson or Petrovic, and they would lose 2 contracts and about 4 mil next year in exchange for picks if they could have found interest for Kassian and Benning, which I doubt is a stretch. You have to start somewhere and I don’t like the approach taken today. What is next for heaven’s sake and how does it get us into contention with Connor still here? The reality is Chia’s mess needs to be cleaned up first and it’s not gonna be pretty.

  • FanBoy

    I thought KG had a good deadline. If all we could get for Chiasson was a 4th then I wouldn’t do it. I understand not trading Petrovic for a 7th rounder in case of injuries.

    BIG if, but if we go on a little bit of a run here, I’d rather have Petrovic and Chiasson than a 4th and 7th. Although Chiarelli is already gone, I thought KG did a good job in building up the organization’s manhood in not getting fleeced for pennies on the dollar. Good on him.

    • OldOilerFan

      But…. even if we did go on a run and I’d suggest that’s highly unlikely, Petrovic won’t be one of the guys to help that cause. There’s guys on the farm they could bring up that would have the same impact or similar so I’d have sooner gotten something for him and clear some space.

  • Jimmer

    Keep Sekera for 1 more year then sell him off as a rental at the trade deadline. Crossing your fingers he can be 75% of what he was 2 years ago.
    Why? Gives Bouchard 1 full year in Bakersfield before coming up permanently. Unless a younger more mobile shot blocker/PK specialist is out there for 2 million less…then you need to keep Russell. As for Lucic…compliance buyout in two years seems to be the only option.

    • Die Hard Oiler Fan

      Agreed. I like Sekera a lot, and admire him very much for battling back after two major injuries. Everyone curses the Lucic contract (rightfully so), but paying Sekera $5.5M as third pairing LD is a problem too (I am assuming both Klefbom and Nurse will be staying). Both Jones and Lagesson are impressing in Bakersfield this season. Hopefully at least one of them is ready to make the jump at some point next year, or by the latest, at the start of 2020-21. If so, that would be roughly $4.5M in cap space freed up, which would go a long way towards filling one of the other holes in the lineup. Thanks to Chia it is going to take a few years longer, but we will get there. In the interim, enjoy that for the first time in like forever, there is some young talent leading the success on the farm (16 in a row)…..go Condors !!

  • Soccer Steve

    Why are people making up the storyline that the Oilers wanted to show the league were aren’t to be pushed around anymore? Why are people letting this awful management off the hook for another clear and obvious failure of asset management?

    Boycott the Oilers until real change. Seriously. Some of us fans are such marks, it’s embarrassing.

  • 24_McClelland

    All these terrible deals, bad contracts in the PC era….Chiarelli dumped nuclear waste in a well that already had alarming levels of lead and arsenic. Lotsa luck to the next GM.

  • Mr.Snrub

    >About to miss the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 years

    OBC – Man this hockey thing is hard! Should we try and clear some cap space? Get creative to move one bad contract? Pick up a prospect or two for a UFA? None of the above!

    Oh well Spring 2026 is only 7 years away. Connor will be a free man and Ginger Katz will fire the Old timers after they go 1-19 over the preceding 20 years. Patience Oiler fans and follow “The Plan”

  • The Plan

    Playoffs…Hmmm. Something is in the water alright…straight vodka.

    I’m still curious about the JP situation. Remember his first year when they played him just enough to burn a UFA year. It didn’t make sense at the time but there is an obvious pattern here. I’m glad they couldn’t/didn’t trade him. What ever happened to Hitch “fixing” him? That didn’t last longer than the presser in which he made those remarks.

  • Axe

    KG and the oilers stood pat today and obviously this is generating a lot of debate.. There is obviously merit to both sides of the argument. I can understand how some people think it was good that he didn’t let other teams fleece the oilers in the potential returns for some of these players. At the same time I agree with those who would have liked to get some return for players that will very likely leave as UFAs this summer and clear some cap space while at it.. I feel like this shows how big of a mess Chiarelli has left the oilers in.. Is it to the point were other teams are offering them peanuts for their rentals knowing how desperate the oilers are? Maybe… The bottom line for me is this underscores the importance of hiring a new GM that can inspire some confidence in the media, fans and players. Although I think KG was ok during his tenure as interim GM, I would feel more comfortable with an outside GM who wasn’t part of this debacle all along and who has more distance between himself and the OBC

  • Ass Eatn Szn 69

    Delusional that they think they can make the playoffs. If they do it will be strictly because 97-77-29-93 went on a major tear. And even if they did the results would have been the same as if they unload Chiasson, Benning, Petrovic, Kassion, Russel and Brodziak.

    This team has no concept of Cap management or replacement level players.

  • ---schadenfreude—

    This is a reminder for anyone with hope.
    The oilers will
    Not make the playoffs. This year or next year or beyond that until the organization is completely cleaned out.

  • A-co

    It’s insulting as a fan to hear anyone in this organization talk about the playoffs…it’s disappointing that they were unable to move a couple bodies to clear cap space and obtain a couple picks in the process…

    • Todd the electron rod

      Even more so, KG said he hoped to be a buyer at the deadline. He did nothing. Then went on to state how great the team is playing and they are in the playoff hunt. I guess you should have bought then? Always a good news narrative that falls a it short.

  • OilCan2

    I think what KG meant was the team we have now is capable of getting a high draft pick this year. The new GM will have his hands tied this summer so we will be forced to go to internal solutions which may not be so bad with the Condors rolling.

  • Wadentheshade

    The trade deadline for the Oilers is like having a garage sale and putting all your broken useless crap for sale. Shocking no one wanted it?!?! KG can’t be blamed one bit. Sometimes you are better for the deals you don’t make than the ones you do. If he wasn’t adding value then why make a deal.