With the WHL trade deadline on January 10th, the Edmonton Oil Kings organization is facing some decisions. Currently sitting in last place in the WHL with only 26 points, the Oil Kings will need to decide how active they intend to be. The Oil Kings hopes of a post season have gone up in smoke opening up the possible courses of action. The three most probable options include taking no action, moving a high value player, or moving multiple lower value players.
The Oil Kings could choose to take no action before the trade deadline, maintaining the status quo and continuing to rely on the potential of their young players and prospects. After a rocky rookie season, many of those players have more WHL experience than players of the same age on other WHL teams. If they do nothing before the trade deadline, the Oil Kings confidence in their young core is clear. They believe they can win with what they have in their system already.
The Oil Kings might also end up as “sellers” before the trade deadline. They have a limited number of 18 and 19-year-old players who may interest other WHL teams looking to make a deep run into the playoffs. Chief among these players are Davis Koch and Trey Fix-Wolansky.
Koch and Fix-Wolansky lead the Oil Kings in scoring with 39 and 48 points respectively. As the only consistent offensive threats on the Oil Kings, trading them would guarantee a difficult finish to the Oil Kings 2017-2018 campaign. They are also the players which would gross the best return from other WHL teams. If the Oil Kings wish to stockpile draft picks, young players, and prospects for their continued rebuild, Koch and Fix-Wolansky are the players most likely to provide the highest returns. It is unlikely other possible targets like Brett Kemp and Matthew Robertson would be traded as they are younger and seem to feature in the Oil Kings plans the team in two or three years.
However, if the Oil Kings decide on a less aggressive approach they may try trading one of their lower value players for a lesser return. Players such as Connor McDonald and Colton Kehler have been significant pieces of the Oil Kings 2017-2018 season; however, their value to WHL teams may be lower. McDonald has been the Oil Kings top scoring defenseman but the WHL is a league known for it’s ability to produce talented defensemen.
With elite defensemen like Jake Bean to be considered, Connor McDonald may not be the have the same draw as Koch or Fix-Wolansky. As for the Oil Kings captain Colton Kehler, as a 20-year-old player, there are a limited number of teams who may be interested, and the return would be less because this will be Kehler’s last in the WHL. A more modest return for either player may assist the Oil Kings in rebuilding their talent pool.
With no trades having happened in the lead up to the trade deadline, it will be interesting to see what actions the Oil Kings chose to make or not make as their window closes.