After all the talk, the trade deadline turned into an uneventful day for the Edmonton Oilers. Or did it?
The return for Dustin Penner was as good as anyone could have hoped, but he was just one Oiler fans were expecting to change addresses. Ales Hemsky remains, as does Jim Vandermeer, Ladislav Smid and others. Two moves in all were made. Two?
For my money, less was more for the Oilers this year.
First, too often GMs are intent on moving players and end up taking less than market value. And with all the action that happened ahead of the deadline, Monday was a buyer’s market.
Teams kicked the tires on players other than Penner and American Leaguer Shawn Belle, but GM Steve Tambellini and the rest of the Oilers brain trust obviously didn’t believe enough was offered.
The Kings were reportedly interested in Hemsky more than Penner, but when L.A. balked at parting with top prospect Brayden Schenn, Edmonton offered up the lesser of the two players.
Penner is skilled, but prone to taking nights off and he doesn’t use his 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame to nearly its potential. Hemsky, of course, isn’t always a gamer either, but he’s sublimely skilled and worth more than Penner.
Second, keeping Hemsky et al in the fold will only help Edmonton’s turnaround, even if he’s moved at the June draft. Foisting too much pressure too soon on youngsters is a dangerous game and that’s what moving the veteran core would have done to the still wet-behind-the-ears core of the future.
Imagine the headlines: Baby Oil Era Begins; The Future Is Now; Passing The Torch; Blah, Blah, Blah.
Moving more people out the door for picks and prospects would have taken the prospect of finishing last overall from a virtual lock to a certainty, but would also have left Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Sam Gagner (he’s only 21, remember) and even Jeff Petry and Taylor Chorney to do the heavy lifting by themselves, immediately. Let the kids ride out the season playing second fiddle to the older guys and then revisit your options.
Edmonton is still the odds-on favorite to finish last overall and virtually ensure itself the No. 1 pick at the draft and Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson. (Ottawa will make a serious run at 30th as well, but would likely have its sites set on Swedish forward Gabriel Landeskog.)
In the long run, passing on offers for less than he believed his players were worth will serve Tambellini and Edmonton’s future well.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.
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