Game Day 42: Oilers vs Flames
This in from Sportsnet insiders Mike Futa, a former NHL asst. GM, and Kris Versteeg, an ex-player, their wish list for the Edmonton Oilers for Monday’s trade deadline.
Who should be at the top of Edmonton’s wish list?
“Oilers fans get ready for this one? Taylor Hall,” Versteeg said. “I think he can be that depth scoring they need. I’ve always wanted them to go out and get a defenceman, but Taylor Hall could be that guy. I think you could have him on the second or third line. I’d preferably play him on the third line, let Yamamoto and RNH play on that second line.”
Futa agreed with Versteeg. “I just think you’ve got a team that needs scoring. You got the two big horses that are tearing it up up front playing. Their back-up scoring has basically been Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie… Although he’s struggled dramatically in Buffalo, this kid still has magic in his stick… That would be a great fit for the Oilers down the stretch.”
1. It’s hard to imagine there’s anything but a small, small chance that Hall will come back to Edmonton at the trade deadline, mainly because of his high-priced contract and Edmonton’s lack of cap space. Edmonton would have to pay extra for Buffalo to retain salary and to take on an unwanted salary from the Oilers. It’s more likely a team that doesn’t have those issues would trade for Hall. Edmonton also lacks draft picks to barter, though it does have a number of strong “B” level prospects who might reasonably be moved in a deadline day trade. By “B” level prospects, I mean any prospects on the Oilers not named Philip Broberg, Evan Bouchard and Dylan Holloway. That trio will not and should not be going anywhere at the deadline on Monday.
2. On Twitter, I asked fans if the Oilers could trade Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall today (with Sabres retaining half of Hall’s salary to make the deal fit under Edmonton’s cap), would you like to see that trade happen? After 2900 people had voted, 68 per cent were against such a deal. This is no surprise given that Larsson is playing his best hockey right now with the Oilers, providing outstanding defence and physical play each game, while moving the puck in decent fashion. As for Hall, his scoring has crashed. He ranks 257th out of 416 regular NHL forwards this year, with just 1.34 points per 60 in 5-on-5 play. James Neal, by comparison, is averaging 1.45 points per 60.
3. I’m in the camp that thinks Edmonton should push hard at the deadline to make a deal. The team is still winning right now, but largely on the strength of some great goaltending and hot play from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. This team is struggling with its two-way play. In its first 30 games, Edmonton averaged 12.8 Grade A chances per game, while giving up just 10.2 per game. But in the last 11 games, the Oilers have averaged 8.3 Grade A chances per game while giving up 11.1. This is not a good trend. Edmonton has some obvious internal options to try — such as reuniting the Draisaitl, RNH, Yamamoto line — but Edmonton also needs another winger with chemistry with McDavid, one who isn’t named Leon Draisaitl.
4. As for tonight’s game against the Flames, Edmonton has 52 points in 41 games, while Calgary has 35 points in 40 games. Calgary is eight points back of Montreal for the final playoff spot in The Canadian, but Montreal has three games in hand. Calgary is now in garbage time for the rest of the year, but that doesn’t mean this team doesn’t have bite, including a few players who will inflict harm if you’re not wary. One hopes that the referees call plenty of penalties to keep the threat of injury at a minimum.
5. Kyle Turris cleared waivers, which is no surprise. Turris was signed as a defensive centre but struggled to cover attackers in the defensive slot. I’m going to suggest that the Oilers should take a hard look at the pro scout who recommended signing Turris. If that scout has a history of iffy decisions, maybe time to hire a new scout? Ken Holland’s troubles in Detroit may well have come about when he kept around under-performing scouts ways too long, both on the pro and amateur side.
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At the Cult
McCURDY: Holland playing poker at trade deadline
STAPLES: Kyle Turris placed on waivers
LEAVINS: Game grades, with Mike Smith stealing a game vs. Senators
McCURDY: Games 31-40 Player Grades, Oilers big guns keep firing