Unless the Edmonton Oilers turn things around fast, they should be sellers at the NHL trade deadline
The Edmonton Oilers should become sellers at the trade deadline and accept they aren’t going to make the playoffs this season. After a year where everything seemed to go right for the Oilers, the 2017-18 season has seen the opposite. From Cam Talbot struggling in goal to constant injuries on defense to underperforming forwards, Edmonton has had a miserable season compared to a year ago.
Technically, the Oilers are still in the playoff hunt. But they sit nearly double digits behind in the division and wild-card standings. Edmonton would have to leapfrog five teams to earn a wild-card berth and four of them have played fewer games than the Oilers. Freelance data visualization expert Micah Blake McCurdy gives them a three percent chance of making the postseason.
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With a deep hole to dig out of and fewer games to do it in, it’s not realistic to expect Edmonton to be a Stanley Cup contender this season. Even if the Oilers go on a miraculous run and make the playoffs, the extra energy they’ll have had to use over the remaining months of the season would leave little left in the tank for the postseason.
No way would Edmonton be able to carry a streak all the way to June and capture the Stanley Cup. This is why the team should look for the future. The Oilers should trade off expiring contracts and acquire whatever assets they can.
Edmonton has a great core in place that’ll allow the team to be competitive for years to come. This isn’t the hopeless Oilers from a few seasons ago. Which is exactly why putting extra prospects and draft picks in the cupboard for when the team is competitive next season or the year after is what the team needs.
Players such as Mark Letestu, Mike Cammalleri, Patrick Maroon, and Ryan Strome might not fetch first round picks in return. However, each of them could be valuable additions to any playoff club. All four are on expiring contracts (the first three will be unrestricted free agents while Strome will be a restricted free agent) and don’t really impact long-term plans.
Teams on the verge of contending could always use extra leadership like Letestu provides, or extra grit needed in a seven-game series from someone like Maroon. Goal scoring is always limited in the postseason making Cammalleri or Strome the perfect addition to any team’s offensive depth.
If Edmonton truly wanted to be bold, they could make the often rumored Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade. Nugent-Hopkins and the Oilers seem destined for a separation for salary carp reasons. There are several teams in need of center depth. Moving a contract with three years remaining at $6 million per season seems like a move more likely made in the offseason. However, contending teams often get desperate at the trade deadline and stranger things have happened.
The Oilers might not have the biggest names to move at the trade deadline but they do have ideal depth players potentially able to get any team over the championship hump. Acquiring extra second and third round picks the team could use in future years for their own deadline additions only helps long term.
With Edmonton going nowhere this season, even small moves can help the team take a step forward in the future.