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Hot Links: Tuesday, August 25

Free agent targets, Ken Holland’s shopping list, the Oilers draft pick deficit, and what to do with Ethan Bear’s next deal? PLUS: possible formats for the 20-21 season, Mike Friggin’ Smith, and MORE!

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Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Morning, folks!

With the New York Islanders going up 1-0 in their second round series against the Philadelphia Flyers thanks to a 4-0 spanking last night, names like Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal have been popping up in our little corner of the internet.

Sure, last night they only combined for 2 points — both assists — but the fact that Barzal and Eberle are playing important roles for a team wearing orange and blue in the midst of a playoff run stings.

It brings me back to the 2016-17 offseason, when Peter Chiarelli decided to offload Eberle after a below-average performance in the playoffs for Ryan Strome and some cap flexibility. Only to turn right around and give all of that extra money to Kris Russell of all people.

Absolutely brutal.

And it gets worse. Remember the 2015 NHL Draft? When the Oilers could have walked away with Connor McDavid, Mathew Barzal, and someone like Carolina’s Sebastian Aho from their 1, 16, and 33 picks?

(Admittedly, Aho at 33 probably would have been considered a reach at the time. But to that I say, so?! Some team was able to identify him correctly, so why couldn’t that team be the Oilers?)

Instead, Chiarelli galaxy-brained himself — with the help of Bob Green, allegedly — into trading 16 and 33 for Griffin Reinhart. Last I heard, Reinhart was playing for Kunlun Red Star in the KHL, while Barzal has 59-148-207 in 234 NHL GP. He’s added another 5-10-15 in 18 playoff games. Aho has collected 121-142-263 in 310 NHL games while adding another 8-16-24 in 23 playoff contests.

I bring this up is because I keep seeing excuses for the Oilers’ performance on that fateful day. “The Oilers weren’t taking Barzal anyway so it doesn’t matter,” and things like that.

I just feel like it bears repeating: that the Oilers were going to get those picks wrong anyway is not the bullet-proof defense of the organization that people think it is.

Obviously selecting Connor McDavid was a franchise-altering coup, but the value they left on the table with that Reinhart deal is staggering.

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