Yesterday Travis Hamonic took back his trade request. I’m not surprised one bit either. I’ve been saying for some time now that fans of the Oilers should be prepared for an underwhelming summer. Now that Hamonic is off the market, I’m one step closer to being right. Not that I’m writing this to validate my assumptions and jack up the ego or anything. To be honest, I’d much rather be wrong about this one but Chiarelli’s up against the wall this summer and he’s going to have to pull off a helluva deal to get out of this predicament.
Something doesn’t feel right about this Hamonic situation… Check out this quote that came right after the rescinding of Hamonic’s trade request that was captured by Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:
“I love it here & want to be here & want to win a Cup here. I never wanted to leave here and couldn’t be happier to stay here.” – Travis Hamonic
He never wanted to leave and couldn’t be happier to stay there? Come again? That doesn’t sound like a person who wanted out. Arthur Staple seconded the quote on Oilers Now yesterday as well… Was there even a trade request or what? Does this have anything to do with the Islanders ownership shuffle? On July 1st, Charles Wang won’t be the majority owner anymore and it wouldn’t be irresponsible if there were major speculations going on with that whole organization.
On the note of trade requests, the players making them are not batting well. From off the top of my head Jonathan Drouin, Kerby Rychel, Travis Hamonic (apparently), and Nail Yakupov are all batting goose eggs. Which leads me to believe that Yakupov will be an Oiler for at least one more season.
So getting back to the summer of underwhelming, the remaining targets are as such:
Justin Faulk (CAR) – I don’t care how much Bob Stauffer pumps this guy’s tires. Nuge for Faulk plus because Rod Brind’Amour is tied to Nugent-Hopkins seems a read to me. Faulk is leaving Carolina like Shea Weber is leaving Nashville. Sure the ‘Canes need a top line centre but that young defense needs at least one more season to show that they’re capable of… Chopping wood and carrying water… HA! The wildcard coming out of Carolina might be the 32-year-old right-handed offenseive dman, James Wisniewski.
Tyson Barrie (COL) – I think it would be a HUGE mistake for the Avs to move this guy. But their 10th overall pick and Barrie for the Oilers’ 4th overall is a deal that appeals to me but I’m not sure how much it appeals to the Avs. There’s just as much a chance they could get a dman at #10 than #4 IF that is in fact the way they’d like to go.
Jason Demers (DAL) – He’s a solid no.4 for me with potential to be a no.3. An older less-skilled version of Travis Hamonic. A good shutdown defender but I’m very wary of paying him over $5 million dollars per year on a long-term deal. Also, I reckon the Stars will let Alex Goligoski walk and re-sign Demers. The value of the right-handed dman prevails. But the one hope or nail in the coffin to the Jason Demers to Edmonton scenario is Todd McLellan who coached him in San Jose.
Sami Vatanen/Hampus Lindholm (ANH) – These are the guys that make more sense to me despite being in the same division. Anaheim won’t be looking to add salary so that, in theory, could take Nuge and Ebs off the table. Perhaps this is an instance where Yak or Pouliot could go in a deal and of course that would depend on if McGinn and Pirri sign in Anaheim.
Down on Nuge?
Lastly, Nuge didn’t have a great year last season and now he’s on the block… A bit premature, no? But now he’s on his way out-of-town? As we know, players do not develop in straight lines and RNH has just had his first down season but surely that is no reason to trade him and he seems to be coming up in proposals more and more recently. The team finally has depth at centre and now everyone wants to show him the door?
Check out what the Penguins are doing with their unicorns… Crosby on line 1, Malkin on line 2, and Kessel on line 3… If Pittsburgh wins this year, will that be “the model” going forward? I mean if we take that and apply it to the Oilers, do you think it would be effective?
Line 1 – Pouliot/McDavid/Yakupov
Line 2 – Hall/Draisaitl/Eberle
Line 3 – Maroon/Nugent-Hopkins/Caggiula
Line 4 – Hendricks/Letestu/Pakarinen
Extra: Kassian, Lander
Caggiula is a leftie, that much is true, but surely he’ll be given every opportunity to make the roster at any position. Chiarelli did say he’ll have to learn the pro game and learn to control his emotions, so perhaps his spot will go to Kassian or Iiro or who knows, maybe Anton Slepyshev, Matty Tkachuk or Pierre-Luc Dubois will be there…
I’m not convinced that a healthy Oilers defence needs a mindblowing upgrade. I believe it only really needs one piece. A puck mover for the second pairing. Maybe that’s Sami Vatanen but the onus should be on adding quality hockey players whether they be left-handed or right-handed. At this point, can the team afford to be picky? Davidson, Reinhart, Oesterle and Sekera all played their off sides last season.
1st Pairing – Klefbom/Sekera
2nd Pairing – Davidson/Vatanen
3rd Pairing – Nurse/Fayne
Extra: Reinhart, Gryba (If re-signed)
Can’t Give Up Now
I think the team has eaten shit for too long to just up and trade the pieces collected for being terrible for so long. They made up 40 goals in their scoring differential last year from the season previous and that was with a banged up roster and a disappearing act from Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl for the last 30 games.
This team can and will do better because it has the pieces to do it. Not only that but the young players are a year older, stronger, wiser, and healthier. Nurse will be a much better player next season as will Yak. So don’t be surprised if Chiarelli isn’t pressured into making a bad deal because he wants to see what he’s got as a whole before tinkering with it or he’s waiting to see what the salary cap landscape looks across the league before picking his spots.
If there are some deals to be made, I have to wonder if they’ll just be the type to change-up the team chemistry a bit.
“The reason why he’ll play is that his hockey sense and his GRIT and when you combine those ingredients with skill, these guys find a way to play.” – Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli on Drake Caggiula