If you'd forgotten that the Oilers still had the NHL rights to Philip Larsen you're probably not alone. I'm a pretty giant nerd when it comes to that kind of thing so I knew they still had his rights (yay me), but after two seasons playing in the KHL I thought the odds of him ever returning to the Oilers, or even the NHL, landed somewhere between slim and none. Not even in my wildest dreams would I have expected him to be the Oilers first trade deadline deal this year. But as surprising as it was that's exactly what happened yesterday when the Oilers swapped his rights for the Canucks fifth round pick in next year's draft.
And so tonight the Oilers embark on a two-day, two-game road trip to California having to adjust to life without Philip Larsen. It won't be easy. In the Kings and Ducks the Oilers will faceoff against the Pacific's Division's top two teams, meaning that there won't even be time to ease into a post-Larsen world. But with the Oilers coming off what was probably the easiest stretch of their schedule having lost five games in a row, there is every reason to think that the departure of Philip Larsen will have absolutely zero impact on the Oilers fortunes.
The Kings are once again the best team in the Pacific Division, with a 35-20-4 record and a division leading +21 goal differential. They lead the league in with a CF% of 56.3%, nearly 3% better than the second place Dallas Stars. After a missing the playoffs last season the Kings have rebounded nicely and will again be considered a Stanley Cup favourite when the playoffs start in 20-ish games from now. As the Oilers inch closer to officially missing the playoffs for a tenth straight season I can only imagine what that must be like. It's probably not as fun as it sounds.