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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

2019 Deadline Produces Nothing But A Rumour

Not sure how to feel after sitting through hours of trade deadline coverage and not getting a single trade involving the Oilers? Well, I’m in the same boat. At the very least I was expecting them to move out someone like Alex Petrovic for a late round draft pick. We didn’t even get that.

It’s disappointing because the team will likely miss the playoffs and now they’re sitting with the expiring contracts of Alex Chiasson, Tobias Rieder, Alex Petrovic, and Kevin Gravel. I’m expecting at least two of those players, and possibly even all four, to be off to new teams (or leagues) come July 1st. The Oilers will have nothing to show for them.

There’s a little bit of anger in me as well. There were deals made for players similar quality to what the Oilers had, yet Keith Gretzky did not announce one trade. If Michael Del Zotto, Oscar Fantenberg, Matt Hendricks, Nathan Beaulieu, and Par Lindholm could bring back either late picks or prospects, then how could the Oilers not sell off one single asset and at least say they did something?

Then there is the part of me that is actually kind of happy. The Oilers didn’t go out and make a bad deal, which would have been more of a concern if Peter Chiarelli was in charge. They didn’t go out and trade their second-round pick for a rental or Zack Kassian for a fifth-round pick. That’s a positive.

While I’m mad they couldn’t offload some UFA’s, I can see why keeping Alex Chiasson is actually a good thing too. They probably could have gotten a fifth-round pick for him but now they’ll get another 20 games to see what they have in him and that will allow them to make a better decision when it comes to potentially re-signing him this summer. He was lights out for a third of the season, ice cold for the next third of it, and now we get to see how he plays down the stretch. That’s probably worth more to the team than a late round pick, although I stand by my previous statement that they should have traded the other three UFA’s for whatever was offered to them.

They clearly had a value assigned to each of their assets and didn’t budge off of that. So kudos to Gretzky for holding his ground I suppose.

The one thing we did get out yesterday was one very juicy trade rumours involving the Toronto Maple Leafs. Multiple Edmonton media members reported that the Oilers had discussions with the Leafs about forward Connor Brown with Matt Benning being involved in the deal.

Then today, a report out of Boston riled up the fan base.

I don’t know how much I believe that especially because no one in Edmonton has even hinted at that being a possibility, but it’s out there. I would imagine, during their talks about Connor Brown, the Leafs inquired about Adam Larsson and the Oilers shot it down and said maybe this summer. That would be my best guess.

Back to Connor Brown though, there was serious chatter. The fact that the Leafs have an abundance of young, offensive forwards and some serious cap problems to handle this summer means that the rumours connecting Edmonton and Toronto likely won’t go away anytime soon. So let’s look into Connor Brown a little bit more:

Brown is a 25-year-old right shot winger with 40 goals in 233 NHL games. His best season came in 2016/17 when he potted 20 goals while shooting 14.4%. This season has probably been his worst as he has only scored five goals with a shooting percentage of 7.2%. He has one more year left on his current contract with a cap hit of $2.1 million.

I went back to look at his 16/17 campaign to try and find out why he found so much success and found some interesting notes. That year he scored 17 goals at even strength. That’s nice to see because it means his numbers weren’t inflated by a great powerplay.

That season his most common linemate was Auston Matthews, who he played 432 even strength minutes with. They started 72% of their shifts in the offensive zone and Brown scored six goals and added six assists.

He also played 430 even strength minutes with Nazem Kadri. They started 51% of their shifts in the offensive zone and Brown scored seven goals and added five assists.

Compare that to this season, and you see a much different picture. His most common linemate has been Par Lindholm. The two have played 344 even strength minutes together, starting 35% of their shifts in the offensive zone. In that time, Brown has three goals and five assists.

He has also played 316 minutes with Nazem Kadri this season. They started 45% of their shifts in the offensive zone and Brown has produced two goals and eight assists.

In 16/17, Brown got the benefit of some great minutes with an elite centreman. This year, he hasn’t been used as a scoring winger and it has hurt his production. That makes sense.

I think this is a guy that the Oilers should be interested in and if the price is Matt Benning, then they should be all over it. I don’t think Brown will come here and score 30 goals just because they plunk him next to McDavid or Nugent-Hopkins, but I’m very confident that he can be a 20 goal scorer and at the worst, he’s a solid third line winger.

In no world is he worth Adam Larsson, that’s straight up crazy talk, but if he costs you one of Matt Benning, or a third-round pick this summer, then I think you jump all over that deal. It’s a good gamble.

    • toprightcorner

      The only one of the 4 you mentioned that should have been traded was Petrovic.

      Chaisson is still a 12-15 goal scorer in the bottom 6 and will only get paid about $1-$1.2 mill. He says he likes it in Edmonton and it makes sense for Edmonton to fill it’s depth forwards with someone they know.

      Reider is in a terrible funk and because if that, he won’t get much as a UFA when the Oilers don’t qualify him. That said, they could probably sign him for $1 mill it less on a 1 year deal to play 4th line and PK. He will likely bounce back to at least 70% of his career average and score 10 goals and 20 pts. He could end up being a value contract.

      Gravel has played great as a #7 at $650k and he would be the perfect player to do it again next year at $700k. Again, you need to fill that position in the cheap and you know what he brings so there is way less risk that trying to fill it with an unknown.

      I could see the Oilers wanting to bring back all 3 of these guys at the right price so that is more valuable than a 5th and a couple 7th round picks.

      The other thing is that trading 2 forwards means you have to call up 2 more players from the AHL which would not be good for any if them.

      I am glad the Oilers didn’t make a small move just for the sake if doing something

      • Big Nuggets

        I have no problem with re signing Chiasson and Gravel when it comes time to fill out the roster next year. Those wouldn’t be my first moves though. We need to see what kind of moves they can make to free up cap space, then they can figure out what s needed to fill out the team.

      • Wadentheshade

        Not sure I would bring Reider back after the one year experiment has gone horribly wrong. His production has fallen off a cliff and he has been invisible in several games. Thinking there should be some better options out there?

  • TheOneWhoKnocks

    Oof. If we’re talking Larsson for Brown straight, you may as well call it “The 1 asset we received for an MVP winger” for Connor Brown.
    Those optics alone are so ridiculous, it makes me wonder if there’s even one hockey mind in that front office who sees it as such.

  • Gordoil

    I’m expecting at least two of those players, and possibly even all four, to be off to new teams (or leagues) come July 1st.
    If it’s off to new leagues your getting nothing for them now right. You get what you said there.

  • Hockeytalkguy

    This still doesn’t make sense to me with the Leafs asking for Larsson. Larssons contract brings roughly an extra 2 million to there cap. Is Dubas getting coaching from Chia on how to get into cap trouble. Perhaps the leafs are looking to move Gardner.

  • Datsyukian

    Meh…it will likely be another Toby Rieder. We need real quality wingers who can pot 20-25 goals per season, not “maybe” wingers, even if we have to give up valuable assets. There is already an abundance of mediocrity on this team.

  • KootenayDan

    Resign Chiasson let the other 3 go mind you I like Gravel as a 7th and nobody will sign a zero goal scorer in Reider so why would anyone trade for him. There are lots of Petrovics out there looking for NHL jobs. Love the Benning for Brown trade rumour even if it includes a sweetener.

    • Wadentheshade

      I think Mark Hunter would be a solid option at GM. London has been a factory for years producing NHL talent. Maybe something in the water there as well?

  • OilCan2

    The Leafs are going to have a fun summer with the pen. It remains to be seen if we can actually improve the team after July 1st. The new GM will have to offload a bunch of $$$ to improve by subtraction. He can then wait until camp for the Condors.

  • Oilfaninvan

    It really sucks that we couldn’t even unload a mediocre d man for any kind of draft capital. 19 teams have more draft picks than the Oilers in the upcoming draft! Giving up a third rounder for Petrovic (healthy scratch) might not seem like much but you need draft capital to when trying to improve your team when you have cap issues.

  • Kelly Youngblood

    Benning obviously wasn’t the right shot D man Toronto wanted for their cup run. If Benning for Brown was suffice McDavid would have a new winger today. I wonder if Larsson for Brown & Liljegren would have moved the dial.

  • Stu Gotz

    Just adding a positive spin here for a change. How about those Flames….another night another win. Relentless energy and winning attitude. Bring back the BOA as early as next season!

  • madjam

    How can you realistically expect to be a playoff team with only two offensive stars- McDavid and Draisaitl that are surrounded by a caste always near bottom of NHL for depth ? The cast to stay stagnant with that group going into next year gives little optimism for next year . Gretzky does not appear to be the executive to move the club forward , nor those around him .

  • Loilty

    Matt Benning isn’t the worst defenceman. He’s been a plus player his entire career and he’s played well as of late with Andrej. He currently sits at plus 8 with 10 points, has produced 15-20 points the 2 years prior, sound great for a 3rd pairing defenceman? He’s young a right shot, throws big hits and has a decent shot. He needs work on his defensive game, but there’s still a lot of upside. He’s just the next whipping boy the media wants to run out of town and get next to nothing for.

    • Big Nuggets

      To me he just seems like the easiest guy to move. He is good enough for bottom pair so there is a case for keeping him. But we also need to find help scoring and if we can use Benning to get a decent winger it would be alright. Benning might become redundent next year if one of Bouchard, Bear or Jones makes the team.

    • BobbyCanuck

      I have warmed up to Benning quite a bit over the last month or so, I think we may have a player in him, I wanted him fired into the sun at the start of the year

    • Cowbell_Feva

      Matt Benning is 2 strides too slow to play in the NHL. Full stop!
      Add on he is undersized and therefore unable to match the physical presence of large forwards on defensive zone cycles, and you have a player in over his head at the NHL level. I still don’t understand why he has been given as much rope as he has been given. I would play Gravel or Petrovic or Manning over Benning anyday of the week. However these players don’t have a dad thats an Oiler alumni and uncle that is POHO and GM on another NHL club either….

      And how anybody thinks his muffin of a shot is good, I will never know.

  • Ratt McNuge

    No deals were made because the Oilers have little to offer and because teams aren’t going to try to help the Oilers in any way. Other teams love how the Oilers are failing and are just sitting back and laughing watching McDavid’s career wasting away. The next GM is going to have his hands full trying to fix this mess. Let whatever free agents there are walk in the summer. Maybe sign Chiasson for cheap if he wants to stay. Find some way to unload Lucic. Sign some decent free agents, make decent deal or two, and draft well this June. Then hope for the best. That’s about all you can do.

  • camdog

    Oilers defenceman rankings are easy to find. You go to nhl.com, go time on ice for d-man per game. It’s the best and most accurate way to evaluate defenceman if coaches are decent. There’s a reason why Benning plays same minutes per game as Gravel. Right now Benning is a number 7 d-man on this team with a full roster. Fortunately Jones is in the minors crafting his game.

    I’ve used this same stat line to determine Davidson was a number 7 as well. If you get chills when a third pairing d-man is elevated to second line, then he’s not a good third liner. We’ll see if his minutes get elevated as Sekera’s begin to increase. If they don’t he’s a goner this off season.

  • TKB2677

    I saw Stauffer come out and say in a tweet “at no point was Larsson discussed in any trade”. I believe it was the old Leafs just making crp up like usual.

    Every single player in the league at one point is going to the Leafs are they not?

  • Cowbell_Feva

    There is no way any GM takes a AHL defenseman (Benning) and trades him straight up for a previous 20 goal scorer. The Oilers would have had to sweeten the pot to offload Benning.

  • Uncle Iroh

    “In no world is he worth Adam Larsson, that’s straight up crazy talk”

    Yeah man, what were they thinking, didn’t they know Larsson is worth Hall LMAO

  • Wadentheshade

    Chances are KG didn’t have a lot of guys ringing his phone and if he did then obviously the deals didn’t make sense. Chai was dealing for his life at the end and we know how that turned out. Another year with him at the helm and the asset cupboard would be completely bare. Not making any snap decisions is probably a good thing.