Did Jim Matheson Out the Oilers?

Elsa

"The Gilbert-Schultz trade seems a win-win for both teams, which is often not the case. The Wild wanted a puck-moving defenceman and the Oilers wanted a shutdown guy to play alongside prized rookie Justin Schultz." - Jim Matheson

One of two things happened. Either a Hall of Fame writer just leaked the most harmful piece of insider information in the history of the Edmonton Oilers, or a Hall of Fame writer got so excited to write a narrative that he got carried away with a story that isn't true.

I'll tackle the least interesting part first. Jim Matheson wanted to talk about the trade (which makes sense), and while he was doing it he got a little carried away and injected his own opinion on the matter, forgetting that Justin Schultz was signed long after the trade. Mistakes happen and I get that (Hell, I called Paajarvi Finnish in the top 25), and you can kind of forgive a writer for trying to make a story sound a little better or a little more interesting.

The far more damaging interpretation is that Jim Matheson is 100% correct. The Oilers wanted Nick Schultz to play with Justin Schultz. The problem is that at the time of the trade, Justin Schultz was a member of the Anaheim Ducks organization, which means the Oilers are guilty of tampering, and Jim Matheson just outed them.

There are two major problems I see with this. The first is that a member of the media isn't smart enough to realize that he can't just leak out information like this. The second is that the team would trust this sort of information to the media in the first place. No good could ever come out of letting Jim Matheson know that you tampered with a player from another team, but the Oilers just can't seem to help themselves when it comes to their network of "trusted journalists".

Tampering isn't a new thing in the NHL. The Blues were hit hard back in 1998, after a 4 year investigation found them guilty of tampering with New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens back in 1994. They were hit with a $1.5 million dollar fine and were forced to forfeit a 1st round pick to New Jersey. Not only that, but the New Jersey Devils were also allowed to swap 1st round picks with the Blues one time over a five year period.

If I'm the Ducks, I'd probably go after this quite hard. The Oilers defence will be to simply say that Jim Matheson doesn't represent them, but it will be interesting to see if anything comes out of this. Justin Schultz to Edmonton was rumoured for a while and that could also play a factor in how this is handled.

Sound off in the comments area... do you think Matheson revealed a big team secret, or was he just over-creative in his narrative? If it's the former, how do you think the NHL will handle it? What kind of punishment would the Oilers receive?

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