Another year, another week of people getting themselves riled up only to face bitter disappointment. Welcome to NHL Trade Deadline day! Seriously though, I don't understand why people still get their hopes up. The trade deadline hasn't been exciting in, like, AT LEAST five years, if not more. 90% of the trades are completed in the days leading up to the deadline, and yet everyone still crowds around their computers, frantically refreshing Twitter, just waiting for that 10 player trade that rocks the entire foundation of the league. And then Eric Fehr gets traded for an 11th round pick and TSN spends 45 minutes talking about it because it's the only transaction of any note.
ANYWAY, for what feels like the 25th year in a row the Oilers were unbelievably quiet at the deadline. They traded Taylor Beck (Guess he'll NEVER get that shot playing on McDavid's wing now!) for Justin Fontaine (WHO???) in a trade that basically does nothing but hurt the Bakersfield Condors. As of today, Beck leads the Condors with 50 points in 40 games, a career high for AHL veteran. He got three games with the big club this year, and honestly he didn't move the needle at all for me. He's got 23 points in 90 career NHL games, and clearly wasn't long for the team, with younger guys like Khaira and Caggiula ahead of him on the depth chart.
In return the Oilers acquired Justin Fontaine, who is 4 years older than Beck, but is closing in on 200 NHL games, all of which were played in the last three seasons (not counting this current one). With the way the Wild have been going this season, combined with the fact it appears they're using a lot of centerman on their wings, it seems there wasn't a place for him on this years squad. He's only got 30 points in the AHL this year, so again losing Beck is a pretty big for Bakersfield, but Fontaine played 60 games for the Wild last year, so it appears he has a better chance at making the most of his time if the Oilers end up calling him up at some point.
The only way I see Fontaine getting in the lineup is if the Oilers wisely take Hendricks out (doubtful) if they start to lose some faith in either Khaira or Slepyshev (possible) or if someone gets hurt. For the most part this is a pretty nothing trade. Fontaine gives the Oilers a not-terrible depth option and as I said it didn't appear Taylor Beck was long for the Oilers, and both contracts are up at the end of the season, so the Oilers aren't locked in for any length of time with Fontaine.
I give this trade one Wilkie out of five.
Less than 24 hours before that we saw the Oilers part ways with Mr. Inspirational Story 2013 Brandon Davidson, in exchange for David Desharnais, who is as tall as I was when I was 11 years old.
I really liked Davidson, though I also think he's overvalued by a lot of Oiler fans. It's easy to see why though; 6th round pick who worked his way up from the AHL and who played well when forced to step into a top four role last season. So already you're ticking off not only the box of "GOOD HARD WORKER LUNCH PAIL HARD HAT GUY" that Oiler fans salivate over, but for the first time in probably forever the Oilers had a super late-round draft pick that found his way to the NHL and looked like he could be a valuable depth piece for a long time. AND putting a nice cherry on top was his whole "battled through and beat cancer" thing that made him unbelievably easy to root for. (Now here comes the part where I push up my glasses and go "WELL ACTUALLY" and everyone hates me because that shit is annoying) BUT, from where I'm sitting, right now he's the Oilers number 6-7 D-man, and on 90% of NHL teams not named the Edmonton Oilers, it's generally not that difficult to fill that spot on the roster. Is he a better option to fill that spot than, say, Jordan Osterle? I think so. Is he THAT much better of an option? I'm willing to listen to arguments, but I think the difference is marginal.
So the Oilers lose some depth on the backend in exchange for some depth in the bottom six with the acquisition of David Desharnais. And on a whole, I get it; the Oilers are obviously comfortable with the D-core they're rolling with right now (and that's an entirely different can of worms we can open) and the secondary scoring of the Oilers has all but vanished, alongside plummeting faceoff numbers (which are unbelievably overvalued, but again, can/worms, etc) so Chiarelli went ahead and got himself a veteran, bottom six centre. Fine.
Wait, what's that? The Oilers ALREADY had a player they could have called up from the AHL, who has been dynamite on faceoffs in his limited usage this year, can play both center and wing, has solid possession numbers, kills penalties, has 38 points in 23 AHL games this season and was one of the best Oilers on the ice in the last game he played? And they could have called him up and put him in that roster spot WITHOUT having to give up defensive depth as they gear up for a playoff appearance? HMMMMM...
Yeah, yeah, we're all frustrated that Anton Lander is AHL Wayne Gretzky and NHL, uhh, Anton Lander, but he brings almost everything else to the table at the NHL level. It's strange to me how fans can look at someone like Matt Hendricks, who ALSO has almost no offence at the NHL level (38 points in 206 games with the Oilers) and value him because of intangibles like "hard work, grit and leadership". But with Anton Lander all they see is someone not scoring and don't see any value in his intangibles, which are actually tangibles. And speaking of which, in the interest of science let's compare some numbers over the last 20 games:
Kassian - 3 g, 7 p
Desharnais - 2 g, 6 p
Hendricks - 3 g, 4 p
Slepyshev - 1 g, 4 p
Lander - 1 g, 4 p
Caggiula - 1 g, 3 p
HMMMM VERY INTERESTING. For a player that brings no offence he brings roughly the same amount of offence as other guys currently playing in the bottom six for the Oilers, INCLUDING the guy the Oilers just traded for to take Lander's theoretical spot with the big club. (I understand this is basically like saying "this piece of bread is the least moldy piece in the bag")
So to recap; Anton Lander is good at faceoffs, good defensively, kills penalties, and scores at roughly the same rate as the rest of the Oilers bottom six, but is not good enough to play in the Oilers bottom six. GOT IT!
Like I said, I'm more or less fine with the trade itself, even though I know Davidson will go on to have a long career as a solid depth D-man in the NHL. Just once again this seems like questionable asset and roster management by an Oilers team who's been doing similar things for too long. They're probably cutting bait with Lander after this season, which I assume will be good for both parties, I just think there's a valuable defensive player in there that the Oilers and the fans have miscast as a third line scorer.
BUT who knows, there's always a chance Desharnais is the 2017 version of Mike Peca, and he helps stabilize the Oilers center depth on route to a deep playoff run.
I give this trade two Wilkies out of five.
And THEN Peter Chiarelli went out and did absolutely nothing else! Well they signed a massive, overage defenseman from the OHL to an entry level deal. But other than that it was a pretty slack day for Chiarelli in the Oilers front office.
I'm glad the Oilers didn't blow their wad this year to the detriment of next year or the year after (or even the playoffs this year). I was legitimately worried we were going to see Nuge traded for, like, Cal Clutterbuck and a 2nd or something. But in true Oiler fashion, on this day the worst move the Oilers made was one they DIDN'T make!
I desperately wanted the Oilers to snatch P.A Paranteau off waivers in October when the Islanders were dumb enough to put him on there. We're talking about a veteran, right wing scorer, coming off a 20 goal season with the worst team in the NHL last year! But the Oilers just HAD to give that roster spot and the one they should have given to Kris Versteeg to Caggiula and Puljujarvi. The Oilers THRIVE off putting rookies into the lineup immediately so it is what is. BUT THEN, today they could have acquired Paranteau for a fucking SIXTH ROUND PICK??? I'm sorry, but is this not the same Edmonton Oilers team that is desperately looking for anyone not named McDavid or Draisaitl to score a goal or two every now and then? Could this team not have used a player whose 13 goals would have him tied for 5th in goal scoring on the Oilers with Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Powerplay Specialist Mark Letestu®? On top of that he's only making $1.5 million and his contract is up at the end of the season. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PETE THROW A FUCKING FOURTH ROUNDER DOWN IF THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES!
That is the type of move that good teams make when they're trying to shore up their roster for a deep playoff push. So I guess that more or less tells you where the Oilers are at in terms of their expectations in April.
I would have given this trade five Wilkies out of five, but I guess we'll just have to wait until next to year see if the Oilers can pull off a Full Reid.
So there we have it. After yet another completely foreseeable letdown of a Trade Deadline, the Oilers are at best pretty much exactly the same as they were a few days ago, and at worst slightly worse off than they were when they had Brandon Davidson as their 6-7 guy. But, I mean, what are the odds a D-man gets hurt between now and the playoffs?!?!?