With another eventful Trade Deadline week now in the past, it’s time to sit down and reflect on the state of the team and what the next stages look like. Let’s take a moment and put together an Edmonton Oilers Trade Deadline review.
It was a tricky situation for the Oilers this trade deadline season. We’re watching yet another year of prime Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl go underutilized, but we’re also starting to see some of the complementary pieces coming into place around their core.
The 2021-22 season has been nothing short of a mixed bag so far, which is what made it so difficult to figure out what the team should do. Of course us fans are running low on patience and want to see winning happen now. I argue, however, that the team needs to pick its battles and hold off until they are a legit contender before going all-in.
What ended up happening at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline was a bit of a middle-ground solution. The Oilers did not stand pat and do nothing, but they also did not make any huge plays. Ken Holland and the management team chose to target specific depth needs rather than shake up the lineup.
Based on the team’s recent performance, a five-game winning streak and a 6-3-1 record in the ten games leading up to the deadline, Holland decided it was okay to make a bit of a push to upgrade the team. This is a fair strategy. The team under Jay Woodcroft has shown they can compete with the best in the league so it’s worth it to take a bit of a shot at a playoff run. But given the trajectory of the season and placement as a team just on the playoff bubble and holding onto their spot by a mere two points, not quite the time for a Florida Panthers level deadline.
Edmonton Oilers Trade Deadline Moves
Given this, the Oilers ended up making two trades at the deadline this year. The first is sending William Lagesson, a 2022 second-round draft pick, and a 2024 seventh-round draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Brett Kulak (at 50% retained). The second is sending a 2023 fourth-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Derick Brassard (at 50% retained).
The Brett Kulak Trade
I find myself, yet again, not upset with the player that Holland has decided to acquire, but the price that was paid. Specifically with the Kulak trade. Lagesson had hit a bit of a state of limbo within the Oilers organization and had been passed on the depth charts by others like Markus Niemelainen and Philip Broberg, so he was not going to get much of a chance and it would be difficult to retain him after this season. So fair play to try and trade for an upgrade. But then they’ve gone and given up (yet another) second-round pick, and a seventh-round pick. Especially if this is just as a rental. He is a free agent after this season so there is the chance of this being a longer-term move.
I don’t know what exactly Holland has against second-round picks, but it seems that one has really annoyed him in the past and he no longer wishes to have any. This particular addition to the trade is what irks me most. For someone who is likely slotting in on the third pairing, even at 50% retained, the upgrade from Lagesson to Kulak does not quite seem worth that much. The new acquisition will be likely splitting duties with Kris Russell, and is sort of in the same situation as the guy he is replacing. However, he is better, has shown he can stay in an NHL lineup regularly over his career, and is not a rookie (unlike the other options the Oilers have in this depth defender role), so there is a team composition benefit as well. But I ultimately don’t see this being a upgrade worth a second-round and seventh-round pick.
The Derick Brassard Trade
The other trade Edmonton made today, Brassard for a fourth, is much more reasonable. On paper, it has a bit of a low ceiling as his production has been inconsistent and dropping off a bit the past few seasons. But with 16 points in 31 games so far this season with the Flyers, he is on pace to have a solid year for a mid-line forward.
Brassard has been brought in as a bit of a contingency plan so the Oilers have an extra option in case of injuries or needing to change things up a bit. He is a versatile player, can play anywhere in the lineup, slots in at centre or left-wing, and on a good day with no injuries, gives a bit of a scoring touch to the bottom six forwards.
Final Thoughts: Edmonton Oilers Trade Deadline Review
For the rest of the season, we can expect a tight race for the final couple of playoff spots. Kulak and Brassard aren’t going to be game changers, but they will provide a bit of depth coverage to the lineup that will help the Oilers’ all around game. Basically, just providing the team with more options and better matchup choices for lineup optimization.
Ideally, Kulak becomes a regular on the third pairing while Brassard splits time between the third and fourth lines, depending on the day and injury situation.
All-in-all, the approach the team took to the deadline was enough to avoid being criticized for doing nothing. They also avoided hemorrhaging the future by giving up too many prospects and high draft picks. Although I do not like giving up a second in the Kulak trade, it is (hopefully) not a make-or-break deal for the team. The prospect pool might start feeling the effects of a lack of mid-round draft picks soon, however.