The Oilers have moved on from young forwards too quickly plenty of times in the past

Ryley Delaney
6 months ago
Time is a flat circle.
It’s been a hot minute since the Oilers have had a third-line centre stay for a long period of time. Ryan McLeod is currently the third-line centre but hasn’t scored a goal in 38 games and now his name is starting to come up in trade speculation. 
The Oilers have made this mistake multiple times in recent history and they should avoid letting it happen again. Let’s go back in time for some similar situations in which the Oilers have moved on from a solid checking forward because he wasn’t scoring and it wound up biting them. 

Ryan Strome:

At the time, trading long-time fan favourite Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome to clear out cap commitments seemed like a foolish idea, yet not one of Peter Chiarelli’s worst moves. In the 2016-17 season, Eberle scored 20 goals and 51 points to help the Oilers reach the playoffs, a feat that had not been possible since the 2005-06 season.
He only registered two assists in the 13 Oiler games, and was moved to the New York Islanders in the off-season for Ryan Strome. Prior to the 2016-17 season, Strome only had one season with 50 points or more, scoring 17 goals and 50 points in 81 games in 2014-15.
In his first season after the trade, he put up respectable numbers as Edmonton’s third-line centre, scoring 13 goals and 34 points in 82 games as the Oilers failed to make the playoffs. He got off to a rough start the next season, scoring just a goal and two points in 18 games before being shipped off to the New York Rangers for Ryan Spooner (still not Chiarelli’s worst move).
Ryan Spooner scored two goals and three points in 25 games with the Oilers and played an additional 11 games with Vancouver after the Sam Gagner trade the same year. On the other hand, Strome popped off with the Rangers as he scored 18 goals and 33 points in just 63 games. A season later, he scored 18 goals and a career-high 59 points in 70 games.
Since Edmonton shipped him to the Rangers, Strome’s lowest point total in a season has never dropped below 40, unless you’re counting the 63 games he played in the same season.
The moral of the story is that Edmonton traded a right-shot centre after just 18 games of poor play, just for him to excel elsewhere. Trading young, effective, bottom-six players is the theme of this article.

Andrew Cogliano:

Going even further back in time, we have Andrew Cogliano, who was traded in 2011 for the Anaheim Ducks’ 2013 second-rounder.
The speedy iron-man put up respectable numbers in his tenure as an Oiler, scoring 57 goals and 146 points in 328 games before the trade. Post-trade, he’s scored 130 goals and 306 points in 909 games and played 830 straight games, the seventh longest in history before a suspension ended that.
The inspiration for this article is a Woodguy thread on Twitter about why it’s foolish to trade McLeod. He notes that when Cogliano was traded, he was about the same age that McLeod is at the moment. Cogliano had to move to a different team to figure out he was a third-line centre, but it was well worth it for his ongoing career.
I don’t think it’s out of the question to say that moving Cogliano for a second-round pick was one the team would come to regret. Cogliano developed into a good defensive forward when the Oilers lacked quality depth and the player they selected with the pick, Marco Roy, never signed a contract. 

Kyle Brodziak:

A few seasons before the Cogliano trade, the Edmonton Oilers employed Kyle Brodziak. The seventh-round selection in the 2003 draft had two successful full seasons with the Oilers, scoring 25 goals and 58 points between 2007 and 2009.
After the 2008-09 season, Brodziak was traded to the Minnesota Wild for a fourth-round pick and a fifth-round pick, both in 2009. Moreover, the Oilers gave up a sixth-round pick that turned out to be Darcy Kuemper. As you can imagine, neither of Edmonton’s selections at the 2009 draft panned out.
For the rest of his career, he scored 103 goals and 237 points in 742 games with the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, and the Edmonton Oilers for his second stint.

Curtis Glencross:

On February 1, 2008, the Oilers received Glencross from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Dick Tärnström. In his only season with the Oilers, he scored nine goals and 13 points in 26 games as the Oilers fell just three points short of the final playoff spot.
He wanted to stay in Edmonton due to being from Red Deer, but they evidently made little effort to re-sign him and signed with the provincial rivals. Stop me if you’ve heard this, but Glencross’ game blossomed in Calgary as he scored 118 goals and 249 points in his final 436 games. 

Jason Chimera:

Going even further back in time, we have Jason Chimera, who was largely drafted because of his tremendous skating ability. The fifth-rounder in the 1997 draft only played 130 games with the Oilers, scoring 19 goals and 36 points.
Like Cogliano, he was traded for picks and blossomed elsewhere. For the rest of his career, he scored 167 goals and 379 points for teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, New York Islanders, and the Anaheim Ducks. In his remaining 13 seasons, he hit the 30-point plateau eight times and likely would have done it a few more times if he stayed healthy.
If you’re wondering how those picks turned out, the Oilers selected Geoff Paukovich with the 2004 second-round pick, and Liam Reddox with the fourth-round pick the same season.

Dan Cleary:

The Oilers received Dan Cleary in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that included future captain Ethan Moreau. He spent four seasons in Edmonton, with the first three being a success, scoring 27 goals and 69 points in 163 games. Like everyone listed here so far, he had a rough final season with the Oilers before they bought him out in the following off-season.
The left-winger didn’t find immediate success like everyone else on the list, scoring just nine goals and 32 points in his first two seasons after the buyout. However, from the start of the 2006-07 season to the end of the 2012-13 season, Cleary scored 116 goals and 250 points in 463 games, all with the Detroit Red Wings.
Funnily enough, the eighth-seeded Oiler ended Cleary’s season with a late Aleš Hemský goal in Game Six of the 2006 playoffs.

Oct 27, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod (71) skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

So what have we learned:

Maybe Edmonton should stop trading away the bottom-six players that have great wheels? Yes, these players may have struggled to produce over periods of time, and McLeod may be struggling in his first 21 games, assisting on just four goals. However, he missed all of the pre-season and is getting back up to speed.
Despite that, he’s still doing the right things, such as controlling the pace of play and doing well against other team’s top lines. Not just that, but he’s shown success in the past, scoring 11 goals and 23 points in 57 games in 2022-23, and putting up 21 points the season prior.
McLeod is a solid, young third-line centre with speed and defensive ability and this is a role that takes time to develop into. There are numerous examples of the Oilers trading away similarly skilled players and becoming a worse team because of it. They should avoid making the same mistake again.

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