The trade deadline is fast approaching in this year’s abbreviated season. The Oilers find themselves in a pretty good position. I can count on my hand how many times I’ve been able to say that since their last trip to the cup finals (it’s 2, one if you don’t count last year’s debacle at the play-in series).
A quick look at the standings has the Oilers sitting pretty. Right this minute, they’re second in the North Division, tied with Winnipeg. They’re four points away from the first place Toronto Maple Leafs. They’ve got under 20 more games in the regular season. If they can go .500 between now and then, they’ll cruise to a first round matchup against the Winnipeg Jets or the Montréal Canadiens.
Surely the club will pull out all the stops in order to make the best of this situation. I mean, when you’ve got the number one and number two point leaders in the entire league on your team, that’s a slam dunk, right? They’re gonna take the Scotia North Division by storm, yeah?
I took a glimpse at three budget priced rentals a few days ago (it looks increasingly like the Oilers won’t swing for the fences at deadline day due to their cap situation). I’d expect them to make at least one move on or around deadline day, but I’m hoping that Ken Holland and company pull out a few stops between now and then. At least, a few more stops than Luke Glendening and calling it a day. That’s not enough, and they’ll need to do more in order to make a proper push.
The Oilers are less than 20 games to the playoffs. The sprint begins now. Edmonton needs to go to shopping between now and the deadline, specifically for a top six winger and a third line centre. They are missing some assets to lure prospective general managers to the water, but a first round selection becomes pretty valuable to rebuilding teams around this time of year. I’ve all but resigned to the fact that the Oilers are likely out of the Taylor Hall sweepstakes due to cap space, but they’ve got to be in on an improvement somehow.
The trading block is especially tricky this season. One reason is Edmonton’s lack of cap space, the other is the restrictions in place due to Covid-19. If the Oilers are out on Taylor Hall, maybe they can be in on Ottawa’s Ryan Dzingel, or Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton. They can’t not do nothing. They have to add.
FORGET ABOUT THE FIRST
I’m apprehensive about shipping a first round draft pick when Edmonton has no second or third round picks. I’d be more wiling to part with a first rounder this year than most any other year. Look at it like this: who’s the consensus first overall selection this year? Be honest, you probably had to look. Okay, now who’s in line to be picked when the Oilers are up to select? Covid-19 has scuttled scouts’ ability to do their job this year, and it’s likely that there will be some fog at the draft table this year as the selections roll in. If the situation arises and you can deal the first round pick and upgrade the top six, get ready to bargain.
The Oilers are getting gaudy numbers from their top two players in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid and Draisaitl are one and two in league scoring, and it’s not particularly close A full season of Connor McDavid’s current pace has him blasting through 130 points. Right now, McDavid has 64 points and Leon Draisaitl has 57. In this abbreviated season, McDavid is on pace for about 95 points in 56 games. Draisaitl could coast into 80 points. It’s a good bet that these two will finish the season at 1 and 2 in scoring. Shouldn’t the Oilers make a deal to help the top six?
EXACTLY WHAT ARE WE DOING IF WE AREN’T GOING FOR IT?
So we’ve been doing this thing for a while now. Some fans have had season tickets since the inaugural NHL season way back in 1979. After a decade of riches in the 80s, things dried up. Since 1990, there’s been some pretty difficult moments to watch. Since 2006, there’s been a lot of moments that have been just flat out sucked. We’ve had some ups, and we’ve had plenty of downs. Toronto might be running away with the division, but the Oilers are firmly in a playoff position. Get in, win one, and then win another one. That’s how it worked in 2006, right?
2021 isn’t 2006, but you’ll still need 16 wins to take the big trophy home. The Oilers could have an opportunity over the next six days to carefully add to the roster in order to put the club over the hump. Failing to add to the roster isn’t an option right now. It’s another year of the McDavid / Draisaitl years, and it’s a long wait until the 2021-22 season.
The Oilers ought to go all-in at this trade deadline. If not now, what are we waiting for?