Random Thoughts: NHL Trade Deadline and Rumours Edition

1 year ago
After last night’s matchup with the New York Rangers didn’t go so well, I woke up with a few random ideas rolling around in my mind that I could use your help figuring out. This week, I’m looking at deadline rumours, the Oilers’ slow return from the all-star break, and watching other teams make deals.


Twice a year, we’re treated to a handful of weeks that feature all kinds rumours and speculation that set the hockey world ablaze. If you’re a fan of this kind of noise as I am, the weeks leading up to the trade deadline (and the draft/free agency) are a smorgasbord of possibilities that are both exciting and annoying. And since the Oilers are tied to basically every name under the sun these days, it’s easy to slip away into fantasyland in the hopes that Ken Holland will make a big swing to improve the roster with a stud or two. That’s why we get so carried away with rumours that may seem impossible like seeing that the team is kicking tires on Erik Karlsson. Do we want him? I do. Do I think it’ll happen? Probably not.
As deadline day draws nearer, however, the reality is that most of these trade proposals and ideas won’t ever come close to happening, which can be both a blessing and a curse. And when you’re in a position like we are — battling to get into a top-three spot in our own division — I think it’s fair to get our hopes up that the team will finally make a big splash. But even though smaller tweaks are the most likely outcome, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t expect more from the highest-paid GM in the league to carve out a plan to improve this hockey team that’s supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender. Even though the realistic expectation is that the Oilers probably won’t do a whole lot at the deadline without some kind of money-saving miracle falling in our lap, that’s going to be a tough sell for a fanbase that expects so much more than what we’re getting.


The most obvious and frustrating angle about this time of year comes as a result of other teams pulling off moves that we never seem able to match. The perfect example is last night’s trade that saw the Leafs acquire Ryan O’Reilly (50% retained) and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 second-round pick, the Ottawa Senators’ 2023 third-round draft pick, plus Toronto Marlies forwards Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette. It was the kind of creative money-in, money-out trade that we’re often told is impossible, making the reality of other teams taking these swings to be incredibly annoying.
That’s not to say that Kyle Dubas didn’t pay a lot to make this move work — he did — but what I admire about this transaction is that he didn’t look at Toronto’s tricky cap situation and decide that nothing was doable. Instead, what he did was go out and grab a player with Stanley Cup experience to try and win now without worrying too much about what happens next season. As much as I try to ignore what everyone else is doing to avoid getting jealous about trades that the Oilers may or may not have been in on, the reality is that this gets increasingly more difficult with each name that gets moved to a competitor.


A couple of days ago, NHL insiders reported that the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs were the two markets that Patrick Kane was most interested in. Well, now that both the Rangers and Leafs have landed different players in Tarasenko and O’Reilly respectively, that makes me wonder who else is on Patty Kane’s list of potential suitors. In the last year of his contract, Kane could be a really nice addition for any team looking to bolster their offence, and I wonder how likely it would be that the Oilers might check in on what it would take to get him. Even though I still think landing a defender is the most important item on the ol’ to-do list, seeing everyone else tap out on landing the former Conn Smyth and Art Ross winner could open the door for a sneaky little steal here. Dare to dream?


Even though I will be the first to admit that things could be worse than going 2-1-3 in the six games played since coming back from the all-star break, I’d be lying if I wasn’t frustrated about the results. Not only did the Oilers lose three games to teams that are currently outside of the playoff picture, but they also gave up a three-goal lead to the Rangers in what can only be described as an infuriating collapse. Yet, despite the lacklustre results and frustrating losses, the Oilers are still grinding out invaluable loser points that are softening the blow, and I don’t think it will take much for them to get back on another run.
That said, no one is going to help the boys get back on track and it will be up to them to figure out where they’re coming up short. The point here is that the Oilers aren’t actually playing that poorly, but rather that they’re just not dialled into the details of their game. And while I personally believe that they’ll pull themselves out of this funk in short order, the season clock is steadily ticking away and we’re quickly getting to a point where time is running out.


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