Alright...a few qualifiers before I start this article:
- I HATE writing "Armchair GM" stuff.
- Derek Zona asked me to.
- am one of those "good in the room" guys who does what is asked of him to help the team.
- I may be the only one who thinks #3 is actually true.
Now that we have an understanding, let's actually talk about this. Should the Oilers trade Jeff Petry? No. No they should not. I know this. I feel like most of you know this too, and yet...here we are. As TSN's Darren Dreger reported on last night's Insider Trading segment, the Oilers are in the market for a centre and Petry's name has been mentioned as a potential offering in return for some help down the middle.
So, for the remainder of this article, we're going to work off of one not so enjoyable premise...the Oilers are going to trade Jeff Petry to try and improve at centre.
Before we get to anything resembling an actual trade target, let's establish some guidelines for what is mandatory:
- The incoming player has to be a centre. (That's the whole reason we're having this conversation)
- The player has to be an ESTABLISHED Top 9 forward currently in that roll at the NHL level. (meaning proven experience as a #1, 2 or 3 centre) - NO prospects
- The player would have to be acquired from a team in the market for a right-handed top 4 Dman (this should not be difficult)
- The player would have to be acquired from a team with sufficient depth at centre to facilitate such a deal (this is MUCH harder)
- The financial terms have to work for both parties with regard to budget and or cap compliance. (Duh)
Oh Yeah, One More Thing...
DON'T LOSE THE TRADE! Grabing another team's 4th line centre and a bottom-pairing blueliner or prospect/draft pick might satisfy the minimum criteria, but that doesn't mean you should do it. To use the example Derek provided me in our conversation...there's a lot to like about Marcel Goc. It would have been great to sign him in the summer...but he's not worth Jeff Petry, and he's especially not worth Petry if you have to take a boat anchor contract like Rob Scuderi's to make the math work.
We're talking a significant upgrade here. Someone who squeezes Arcobello out of a job and makes him press Draisaitl so King Leon has to earn his spot. Anything less than this and...say it with me this time...YOU DO NOT TRADE JEFF PETRY.
Take a look around the league and you won't find very many possible scenarios that fit the criteria above. In fact, according to the count Derek and I completed...you get 6 teams. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, Arizona Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche. That's it. So, let's see what we can find when we start to drill down a bit...
Making a Short List
The Penguins aren't really a match right now unless you're going to settle for the Goc scenario outlined above. The injury concerns for both Crosby (who missed part of camp) and Malkin (who has yet to play and is apparently going to start on the wing when he does return) mean they aren't likely to deal a centre at the moment, nor should they. Maybe later in the season if all goes well, but for now...its not a great fit.
The same can be said for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The long-term injury to Nathan Horton may not impact their centre depth, but it is noteworthy. More notable though are the injuries to Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner. With Ryan Johansen just joining the team after his contract dispute, they are one groin pull away from a full on season-ending crises. Not exactly a time to throw Artem Anisimov's name around in trade talks.
The Minnesota Wild have been trying to find a home for Kyle Brodziak. Should the Oilers be interested? I'd suggest they should, but not at the cost of Jeff Petry. If they wanted to grab Brodziak and hold on to #2, that works for me, but sticking to the premise...there's no match here.
The Detroit Red Wings don't have a right-handed shooting defenceman. Would they like to get local Michigan product Jeff Petry? I'd suspect they'd jump at the chance. Sadly though, there's not a lot to offer to the Oilers here that would make parting with #2 worthwhile. Darren Helm probably comes the closest and I personally don't believe that's enough. Helm might be a legit NHL centre, but his career high 12g and 32p isn't exactly enough to take some of the offensive burden off of Arcobello or Draisaitl.
That leaves us with two "plausible" alternatives. I put that in quotation marks because while they meet the necessary criteria, I'm not really very confident in saying either one would ever be likely...(please remember this sentence when you pick the next two sections apart in the comments)
During the pre-season, there was some amount of logic that could be placed around this. The right side of Arizona's blueline is far weaker than their left side. The addition of former Oiler Sam Gagner gave them some additional depth up front and with the thought that Max Domi might make the team coming out of camp, you could conceivably see how Vermette (a UFA at season's end, just like Petry) could have been considered expendable. But, Domi has been sent back to the OHL now, so this scenario is far less likely than it may have been a couple of weeks ago.
Don't laugh...yet. Though the fact that you're probably rolling your eyes right now should demonstrate just how difficult it will be to find a winning scenario that merits trading Petry.
I would never attempt to rationalize a Ryan O'Reilly for Jeff Petry trade. The Avs would never do that of course. But, they do have a pressing need for help on the blueline, they have an over-abundance of top 6 centres (Duchene, O'Reilly, MacKinnon) and they do have some other needs the Oilers could address.
Enter, David Perron.
This might make your eyes roll even more, but it shouldn't. O'Reilly is a legit Top 2 centre. He can play difficult minutes, all situations and fills an ENORMOUS gap very, very well for the Oilers. Having established that COL has the depth at centre to move O'Reilly if they wish, Perron would address a need for offensive depth on the wing and Petry instantly becomes their best Dman on the right-side. Financially, the dollars fall within $1M of balancing, so maybe the Oilers take back a depth asset to balance the books. Petry only has the one year left, but both Perron and O'Reilly have an additional season before they become UFAs.
From an Edmonton standpoint, the entire premise here is that Petry was moving anyway, so there's no change to the affect to the blueline beyond what is inevitable in any deal involving Petry. Sure, the scoring depth on the wings is depleted, but the balance is much better and the team can slide Arcobello to the wing as a stop gap until a more permanent replacement is identified.
Do I think a Ryan O'Reilly trade is going to happen? I'd put the odds at about 1.3% (with a margin for error of 1.2%)...In other words...No.
But I think that fact is actually just illustrating my primary point. Unless a highly unlikely scenario such as the O'Reilly example above presents itself to Craig MacTavish, its going to be next-to-impossible to get fair value for Jeff Petry in any kind of deal to add to the team's centre depth.
Given that, and the adverse effect Petry's absence will have on an already below average defence, the option should not be to accept a lesser return in order to make something happen, it should be to NOT TRADE JEFF PETRY.
I hope I've made myself clear.