Could it get much worse?
I mean, sure, it could be worse. But not much worse. With three wins and just seven points in the club’s first eleven games, things are decidedly not good for the Edmonton Oilers right now. There’s a lot going wrong. Special teams are in the toilet, the team can’t score more than two goals a game, and all those offseason moves to “free up cap” that was subsequently given to a fringe NHL blueliner? Yeah, not good.
It takes a bit of effort to go from a bounce or two of the Western Conference Finals to being a real threat of missing the playoffs after a dozen games in on the following season. But here we are with this ugly truth. The Oilers need to win four in a row just to get back to a Bettman .500. Then, they’ve got to win more than the other teams in the playoff race.
Is there a trade out there that helps this team in the immediate future? Maybe. I’d wager 2 to 1 that it will later kneecap the team more than it helps.
I’m afraid too much has already been done. I’m genuinely afraid to see much more.
This past offseason has seen a slew of player transactions at the hand of Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, and I’m struggling to find peace with those that weren’t a McDavid or a Draisaitl extension. We’re already a year removed from Taylor Hall to New Jersey, or a whale of a deal for Milan Lucic. We spoke briefly about a four year deal for a third pair defenceman, but what about the deal that saw Jordan Eberle get sold to the Islanders for Ryan Strome? Strome’s got four points in eleven games so far, which seems almost perfectly in line with his 30 point performances of the past two seasons. Jussi Jokinen seemed like a fair bet at a year for a million bucks, but both Strome and Jokinen might be offered up to the highest bidder already. There’s no Jordan Eberle player on the other end of the telephone in exchange for Ryan Strome, and we’re likely to enjoy Strome for the remainder of the year.
Don’t trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nugent-Hopkins is easily the most valuable **tradeable** asset that’s not 97. Trading RNH is a deal the Oilers aren’t going to win. Right now, the team isn’t scoring goals with a top line that includes Leon Draisaitl. Moving Nugent-Hopkins is a no-win situation that might pry a winger on an expiring deal out of a bad team. Maybe it’s a defenceman from Vegas. Maybe it’s a forward that’s fallen out of favour in Montréal. It’s not worth what Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is to the team, and it’s not worth taking back what could turn out to be a near-useless deal in order to try and salvage a 90 point season.
Maybe the Oilers can pull themselves out of a miserable start. That’s what we’re all hoping for. But if the phone rings, and if the Oilers think they can find a suitable dance partner, they ought to check it three or four times before getting themselves in deeper than they already are.