The NHL’s Trade Deadline is just over three weeks away.
Given the fact that players will have to do a two-week quarantine upon crossing the Canada-U.S. border, we’ll likely see teams start to make moves well ahead of the April 12 deadline.
As of right now, the Edmonton Oilers sit in a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the top spot in the Canadian Division, though due to having played more games than both Toronto and the Winnipeg Jets, they rank third in terms of points percentage. The race for the rest of the season is to earn home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
Edmonton is clearly among the list of teams who will look to add to their lineup ahead of the deadline. The question, though, is whether Ken Holland will be willing to make a big splash or if he’ll instead focus on smaller acquisitions to improve depth.
The team’s current needs are a top-six winger to play with either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl (depending on which centre has Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on their left) and a veteran to slot in at both the third-line centre position and on the left side of the blueline.
Over at TSN, Frank Seravalli listed the Oilers as a “soft buyer” because he believes Holland will be reluctant to move draft picks…
Then there is a smaller list of “soft” buyers searching for specific needs:
Edmonton Oilers: In need of either a scoring left winger or a second-pairing left-shooting defenceman, but the Oilers are not interested in rentals and not willing to move draft picks. Tough spot.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday FRIDAY EDITION question. Should Holland be open to moving this year’s first-round pick in order to make a big splash ahead of the Trade Deadline? Or is it better for him to focus on making smaller acquisitions to further improve the depth of the team?
Over the past decade-and-a-half we’ve only seen the Oilers be buyers at the deadline a handful of times.
There was 2006 when Kevin Lowe went all-in and traded the team’s first two draft picks and some prospects to acquire Dwayne Roloson, Sergei Samsonov, and Jaroslav Spacek, all of whom were key in the Oilers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. There was also 2017 when Peter Chiarelli mostly stood pat save for dealing Brandon Davidson to Montreal for veteran David Desharnais.
Finally, there was last season, which was Holland’s first deadline at the helm of the Oilers. He traded later draft picks to acquire Tyler Ennis and Mike Green and moved two second-round picks for Andreas Athanasiou. The hope for Athanasiou was that he could contribute down the stretch while also fitting into the team’s long-term plans. The Athanasiou move, though it didn’t work out, shows Holland’s reluctance to move high draft picks for a rental.
Here we are now and Holland doesn’t have much draft pick capital at his disposal. The 2021 second-round pick is gone due to the Athanasiou deal and the third-round pick is property of the Calgary Flames because of the Milan Lucic and James Neal swap. That leaves Holland with only the first-round pick in this summer’s top-90.
As difficult as it would be to stomach having an empty barrel at this year’s draft, the Oilers are a strong team and adding a game-changing player could be enough to push them over the top as Canada’s best. Of course, there’s also the challenge of Edmonton’s tight salary cap situation that would make adding such a player fairly difficult to execute.
I would imagine that we see a Trade Deadline similar to that of 2017 rather than 2020 or 2006 this year from Holland. A roster player for a veteran to fill either the third-line centre role or to add depth to the left side of the blueline would be my expectation.
What say you, Nation? Would you be comfortable moving this year’s first-round pick in order to make a big splash? Which player would you give up that pick for? Let us know!