Ten miserable years Oiler fans have had to endure watching their team miss the playoffs. And while their beloved team may hold the record for the highest consecutive post-season drought, they still find hope anyway they can. Whether it be the arrival of Connor McDavid in Alberta’s capital, the incredible new arena that will host the Oilers in the coming years, or even the hiring of a proven GM. But even after all these upgrades, will it still be enough to kick the losing culture out of this team? With the trade deadline approaching Monday it is no question the Oilers will be a selling team; and while there may be no big deals made until the off season, the question has to be asked. Can Peter Chiarelli assist in undoing the damage that has already been done? This team will undoubtedly be building around McDavid as his career carries on, just as Pittsburgh did with Sidney Crosby. Just looking at the amount of talent surrounding him already has most hockey analysts scratching their head as to how they still have a bottom 5 power play, or how even their only all star Taylor Hall is now only in the talks for the Canadian team. Chiarelli has made it clear that no one is safe, as they shouldn’t be, and that there will be an interesting future for this team. As he put it,
“Anything is possible, but I can tell you I’m not really looking at that type of deal now. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be looking at that for the spring and summer.”
“I would explore any option,” he said. “I want to improve this team and if we have an excess supply of certain types of players, yes, certainly I would look at it. Having said that, they’re good players and it has to be the right deal.” – Edmonton Journal
While Taylor hall leads his team in points, he would clearly get the highest return on a potential blockbuster trade, possibly gaining some veteran talent to help kick-start McDavid’s glowing impending future. Would it be a bold shake up by Chiarelli? There’s no question about it. But maybe that’s exactly what this group needs. Gaining draft picks for Teddy Purcell and Justin Schultz may not look like a significant move to the average fan at his moment, but Chiarelli knows what he’s doing. Two 3rd round picks for 2 questionable players is a gift that any smart GM would take. Come draft day in June we’ll be seeing just how smart these moves were. After his time in Boston, fans wanted his head on a pole after trading star forward Tyler Seguin. But shortly after the city was rewarded with a cup. Could he do the same here? Only the time will tell.
The most obvious problem with the Oilers is the horrid display of defense they’ve been showing. Watching loose pucks being potted in the back of the net, instead of cleared by the mesmerized defencemen time and again has been exhausting to watch. While its exciting to see rookies such as Darnell Nurse and Brandon Davidson getting a lot of ice time, a team like this cannot rely on rookies to quarterback their power play, or produce from the blue line when they need it; as they did with Justin Schultz. This team started the 2015-16 season strong, and it looked as though we might finally get to see a run for the playoffs the fan base had been craving for, but with McDavid being forced to sit, so did any attitude of winning the Oilers had gained. The future of Edmonton’s team is in the hands of Chiarelli now, all we can do is sit and wait to see what comes Monday.
By Nick Henitiuk