The Oilers were far from front and center during Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, making just two swaps – first, a three way trade that essentially sent veteran Erik Cole away in return for Kings winger Patrick O’Sullivan; and a second deal that sent a second round draft pick to Buffalo for winger Ales Kotalik.
Unfortunately for them, their Northwest Division rivals fighting for a playoff spot did a fair deal more.
The Flames went for broke big-time, making the biggest deal of the day to acquire veteran center Olli Jokinen, and also bringing in blueliner Jordan Leopold for his second go-around in Calgary.
The Canucks added a veteran D-man when they took advantage of Philadelphia’s salary cap situation and plucked Ossi Vaananen off waivers.
The Wild? Well, they didn’t deal or acquire anybody, but they did sign starting goalie Niklas Backstrom to a four-year, $24-million contract extension.
The Avalanche? I said playoff contender, not draft lottery frontrunner.
So what does Edmonton’s pair of moves mean for their post-season chances? Not much. Management has known for some time the pressure was on the players who showed up at training camp and any potential in-season additions would only be supplemental in nature.
However, big change still could be on the horizon. And you need only look to the 2009 NHL entry draft this June to see the next pressure point in which those changes might occur.
Not only will there be many more potential trade partners for the Oilers at that time – in the off-season, all teams think they’ve got a shot at the Stanley Cup – there also may be a few cash-strapped organizations willing to unload talent for cap relief.
It’s almost a guarantee GM Steve Tambellini will have to part with one of Edmonton’s young players in any deal. That’s expected; if you want something of value, you’ve got to part with something of value.
Should the Oilers fail to make the playoffs, you can bet their off-season changes won’t be of the slow and tinkering variety.
Instead, those changes will be swift and sweeping. And that includes the coaching staff.
This column also appears in the Edmonton Metro newspaper.
Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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