Oilersnation Roundtable: Will the Edmonton Oilers make a significant move before the end of 2023?
By Cam Lewis3 months ago
Back-to-back wins in commanding fashion have calmed the storm lately, but the Edmonton Oilers were the talk of the league last week when they dropped the first three games of their road trip.
They blew leads to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers and got blown out by the Carolina Hurricanes while allowing 17 goals across the three games. Speculation started to fly that the Oilers would need to make a panic move to stop pucks from going into the net. James Reimer, MacKenzie Blackwood, and Jake Allen were among the names suggested as possible solutions, while the cost of dumping Jack Campbell has been rumoured to be a first- and third-round pick.
On Friday, ahead of Edmonton’s Thanksgiving matinee with the Capitals in Washington, Elliotte Friedman spoke about the Oilers on 32 Thoughts, noting that he got the sense the team wanted to ride things out to avoid making a move they would regret.
“It’s crazy around Edmonton now. A whisper on one end of the league is connected to ‘is this what the Oilers will do to facilitate a trade?’For example, when this Corey Perry thing happened on Thursday afternoon I had a bunch of people sending me notes ‘You think it’s Perry and Mrazek to the Oilers?’ When Anti Raanta left the game after the first period on Wednesday night, people were texting me ‘do you think he will be traded to the Oilers?’I honestly believe the Oilers are going to try to weather this as much as they can without doing anything they will regret for generations.I look at them and I see a lot of things that still need to be fixed and I see a team that’s determined not to make a really bad trade.”
The suggestion that the Oilers should stand pat through this difficult start has been divisive. Many argue that general manager Ken Holland shouldn’t be allowed to dig himself out of the hole that he’s dug for himself, others say that the team needs to do whatever possible to win during both of the two seasons in which Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are under contract regardless of the long-term ramifications.
For this week’s roundtable, we’re simplifying the question — will the Edmonton Oilers make a significant move before the end of 2023?
Mar 28, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) warms up before a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
Short answer: yes.
Long answer: There’s a potential trade partner for the Edmonton Oilers I haven’t seen many, if any, suggest in the Columbus Blue Jackets. They’ve been as poor as expected this year, going 7-12-4 doing things like scratching Patrik Laine, and shortening shifts for he and Johnny Gaudreau. They’re a team in limbo, with a future direction murky.
They have $3.8-million in cap space and some players strewn through their roster that might help the Edmonton Oilers. Namely, a goaltender in Elviz Merzlikins. The Latvian’s numbers don’t inherently jump out with a .906 save percentage and 3.13 GAA across 166 games and five years of action. Those numbers, however, have been plummeted by a terrible 2022-23 season, and if you remove it as an outlier, he’s carried a .913 save percentage and a 2.86 GAA. Playing in front of a better Edmonton squad could help improve things, too.
He has three years left after this on a contract that pays him $5.4-million, $400,000 more than Jack Campbell’s. With the Oilers looking to move on from him, Columbus could prove an interesting spot for Campbell, given he worked with their goalie coach, Manny Legace, last off-season. It went so well in Campbell’s eyes that he requested and was granted Legace to come to Bakersfield to help him work on his game.
There could be something here, but it would take two to dance. Nonetheless, I do feel the Oilers need to make another splash this season in the way of a trade. We saw what acquiring Mattias Ekholm did to the club down the stretch last season, and if they begin to put together a run and get back into a playoff position, the team deserves to be rewarded for that.
I don’t think they will, to be honest. If a trade does happen, I could see it very much being a “nibble around the edges” kind of move that sees us bring in a bottom-six forward or a third pairing defenceman. I just can’t see the Oilers make a trade that sends a major pieces (or Jack Campbell) out of town this early in the year. At this stage, some teams still think they’ll be able to make the playoffs and don’t realize they’re sellers yet, and that really limits the options on who may be available and what teams you can even contact.
As much as I understand the disappointment with where we’re at right now, the only player I could really see being on the trade block in the short term would be Philip Broberg. Regardless of your or my thoughts on him, it seems like none of the coaches he’s played for (Tippett, Woodcroft, Knoblauch) really want to use him that much. He’s averaging 10:32 in TOI so far this season, which is down from his career average of 12:36, and I wonder if he’s a player whose name still carries some value that the Oilers might consider flipping. That said, I’d still put it at like a 20% chance.
The significant move for the 2023 part of the 2023-24 has already happened — firing one of the better young coaches in the league — and it’s something that the team might wind up regretting down the road.
The Oilers can make another big splash during the regular season but they have to wait until closer to the trade deadline to do so. Dumping Jack Campbell and trading for a new goaltender now will be wildly expensive and they need to keep some bullets in the chamber to improve the team and give them a boost heading into the latter part of the season.
There’s obviously a worry that the Oilers won’t even be in this position come February or March but the playing field is giving them a lot of room for error. Despite having a 7-12-1 record, they’re only six points back of a playoff spot with a pretty underwhelming group of teams to jump.
There’d probably be more urgency otherwise, but the Oilers are good enough to climb back into a playoff spot with what they have. If they aren’t good enough to jump teams like Anaheim, Nashville, and Calgary over the next few months, they aren’t worth a major investment ahead of the deadline.
Recent articles from Cam Lewis
- Stuart Skinner, Calvin Pickard combine for rock-solid weekend after Oilers GM expresses faith in team’s goaltending
- G59 Game Notes: Oilers look to keep winning streak going against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins
- G58 Game Notes: The middling Seattle Kraken have decisions to make ahead of the Trade Deadline